Thursday, May 18, 2023

Chillerama (2011)


Chillerama is another horror anthology that is multilayered like a celluloid onion.  A film that has succeeded in making a liar out of me.  See, a little while ago I reviewed another horror portmanteau (I'm using the word too, now), the title slips my mind at the moment, but in the review I made a statement that has now been proven to be incorrect.  In the review I said nobody ever watches one of these films and raves over the wrap around story.  Well, this film proves me wrong because the wrap around story that initially just connects the first three stories but then ends up being the actual fourth story in the set might be the best story in the bunch.  But before we get to that, let's talk about the first short of the film.  That story is called "Wadzilla", equal parts Godzilla and The Blob with a few other nods for seasoning.  This one concerns a giant man eating sperm that eventually grows big enough to dry hump the statue of liberty.  This one has guest stars galore with Eric Roberts playing General Bukkake, Ray Wise of Twin Peaks fame as Dr. Weems, Lin Shaye as a baglady, and there's even Ron Jeremy as Captain Fatso.  This one has a ton of quick one liners and some subtle looks that if you blink you miss it.  Quite a few little Easter eggs are scattered throughout to the point where if you know, you know (IYKYK) so even the most veteran of movie watcher might miss one or two references which increases the films re-watch-ability.        
Next up is I Was a Teenage Werebear which is about a group of young men who turn into leather wearing "Daddies" when they get turned on.  Probably the most controversial of the bunch but I enjoyed it.  I liked the Beach Blanket Bingo type theme being re-imagined as a horror musical.  A couple other things I will say about this is fuck eBay (again IYKYK); and there's a chance I might be a werebear.  Following that is The Diary of Anne Frankenstein and man, I wanted this to be good.  When I first read about this segment I thought for sure this would be my favorite part of the film.  Adam Green wrote and directed and it even has Joel David Moore of Dodgeball and Grandma's Boy fame playing Hitler.  How could it fail?  Somehow it does and instead of the best of the bunch it's the weakest for me.  Which takes us back to the linking story which is titled Zom-B-Movie.  As I said this might be the strongest and my favorite story of the bunch.  But besides that it's also a sentimental favorite because it finally allows a long lasting character actor to step up and be one of the heroes and lead characters in the entire film.  This of course being actor Richard Riehle who when you see him you will probably think to yourself: "Oh, okay, that guy.".    

In the tradition of great character actors of the past like Dick Miller and Royal Dano, Riehel has made films in six different decades with his first films coming in the 70's and he's still going today in the 20's.  Here, he gets a starring role.  Throughout the film he is the main character.  He's the driving force behind the wrap around story as well as the final story when it gets going.  He gets his chance here to show comedic acting chops and he nails it.  Good for him, but great for us as we get to reap the benefits of his one liners and oh so many quotable moments from other films from the past that he recycles and uses here and almost makes it feel like it's the first time we are hearing these famous lines.  



While there are those that don't like some of the themes that run through the film I found most of it enjoyable and wasn't offended or even put off by anything although again, for the second time (at least) this year I find myself mentioning that I usually like my horror films (or any film really) to have just a smidge less semen/sperm/cum in them.  Perhaps smidge is the wrong word.  Dollop?  That might be a better word.  I caught enough of the jokes and all the nods to other films, not all of them being horror either in fact, to really enjoy this.  The "Diary" story and some less than stellar effects costs this one just enough to bring it out of the "great" realm but I will say it is pretty good and well worth a watch.  Three and a half blue pieces of popcorn out of five. 



Monday, April 24, 2023

CreepTales (1986 or 1989 or 2004 depends on who you ask)


We have another horror anthology (or "portmanteau" as someone has recently reminded me) this time.  It of course is my favorite sub-genre of horror flick so I always go in to these with high expectations.  As is the norm, we have several horror shorts that range from somewhere in the neighborhood of a half hour to a few minutes.  With many different writers and directors it's sure to be a little asymmetrical from story to story.  The confusion in the year of origin comes from the fact that filming began in 1986 but not finished until 1989.  But when was it released?  Yup, you guessed it, 2004.  Don't look at me that way, go look it up.       


All of the shorts have a connecting wrap around story that involves a couple of ghouls (or are they demons?  perhaps just your run of the mill monsters) try to rent a video on Halloween.  By the time they get to the video store it is closing and they really want to watch CreepTales.  They then decide to go dig up their Uncle Munger who was buried with a copy of the film.  They take it home and have a bunch of other monsters/ demons/ghouls over to watch it with them.  Only problem is Uncle Munger wants his copy back!  I won't talk about all of the stories but I will highlight a few of them.  The first one I will talk about is "Snatcher" which stars SpongeBob voice actor Tom Kenny as a purse snatcher who is having a great day.  That is until he snatches the wrong purse.  It's not a long story, maybe ten minutes and it's mostly a montage of purses being snatched.  It's a good time and it has a really fun ending.    

Next we'll move on to Groovy Ghoulie Garage.  This one concerns two friends who on Halloween night have to go pick up the sister of one of them who has recently been kicked out of school.  On the way there their car breaks down so they wait for a tow truck to take their car in for repairs and where do they go?  Groovy Ghoulie Garage is where.  From here on in things just don't seem right about the town or the Halloween Party they go to in town while they wait for their car to be fixed.  While I've seen this story done before (and better I'll admit) which makes it predictable it has some sort of charm to it.      

The last story I want to mention is the final short.  "Sucker" concerns a woman who lives in a filthy and cluttered house.  A traveling salesman offers her the answer to her problems.  The dust buster (or Dirt Demon I think he calls it) will clean up anything she points it at.  It only comes with two rules: use it for no more than thirty seconds at a time and do not point it at any person.  But what if pointing it at her husband will solve her biggest problem?  She has 24 hours to us it as the salesman will be back for it tomorrow.  



While it's stories vary in quality, a couple are real stinkers that I didn't even mention but none of them are very long.  I enjoyed this one and even though I usually give anthologies portmanteaus a higher grade than they deserve I will still give this one three and a half houses of skulls out of five.  Hey, in it's defense it does have Forrest J. Ackerman acting as creative consultant!  That has to count for something.

Wednesday, April 5, 2023

Bunnyman (2011 original version/2019 Grindhouse edition) Just in time for Easter!


 OK, so there's two versions of this film.  The original and a re-edited "Grindhouse" version which is the version I saw.  First I want to say I am glad my Horror Honey Denise was with me when I watched this because if not, all of the times I pointed to the TV screen and yelled "What the Fuck?!" would have gone unacknowledged and I would have had a difficult time explaining it to anyone!  The basic film is a poor retelling of Texas Chainsaw Massacre with Leatherface in a bunny suit.  I'm not really sure where my dislike for the movie falls into the original version because while I appreciated the effort to make it look like it came from the 70's there were a few things done that to me are a film maker no-no's.  I'll attempt to name a few:

1. There is a scene where some of the cast "time travel" which is just some scenes of 1970's New York with a voice over of the characters talking about what they are seeing after they walked through a wormhole.  

2. Not to be outdone by that there is also a clip while they are all walking through a field and some sort of nature scenes just begin.  There's a bear, there's snow capped mountains, there's a tribe of South American cannibals ("Good thing they don't see us.", comments the voice over) and then we go back to them walking through a field.  I'm sorry, what?

3.  At one point we get an on screen message that reads: "Meanwhile In Another Movie" which then takes us to a dimly lit bathroom.  A girl comes into the bathroom, strips down, and begins to take a shower.  Enter the Bunnyman who then kills the girl which takes us back to the original film.  I think I wanna see more of that movie.  Maybe that's in one of the sequels?

4.  In one scene all the actors are suddenly speaking German, Swedish, Russian or some other language that sounds like this.  Just one scene and then back without any explanation or nothing.  Maybe have a SAP button on screen showing it being switched and then they speak Spanish and it switching back?  Nah, that might make too much sense.  

5. A couple small things where a record player is playing in the background and it's so loud you cannot hear what the characters are saying.  Then a few scenes later (and more than one time this happened) there is absolutely no sound.  Like it was filmed without the sound turned on.  Admittedly it's a scene of cars moving down the road but don't have NO sound.  Give me something.  That's just lazy and cheap.

Now I did like some of the Grindhouse effects like making the film look older than it is.  It's a little excessive at times but it's OK.  While some people have criticized the film for the split screen effects and the scene wipes I liked that.  I mean that's Grindhouse.  Then we get the intermission which while not being anything new it was decent.  But some didn't like this either.  Look, we don't complain when Tarantino does it so why complain now?  While I'm sure some of the things I have complained about might be there for comic relief but it's still some head scratching inducing stuff.  If it wasn't for the humor, then there is a real problem.  


I honestly don't know how to rate this as some of the things I have commented on are some of the best parts in a bad way if that makes any sense.  Putting this close to the "so bad it's good" range but not quite.  I went to the Horror Honey for some input on this one and she was in the same area I was in the two or two and a half range so I'll stick with two Tony's Pizzas out of five.  Something tells me this one wasn't meant to be as funny as it was.     

Sunday, April 2, 2023

Knock at the Cabin (2023)

    A very interesting film from M., certainly much better than Old that I watched about two months ago. Knock begins with what seems (to me at least) to be a tribute to the original Frankenstein when the hulking Leonard (Bautista) meets little Wen (Cui) and begins to help her catch grasshoppers. The two share a few moments of friendly chatter and I could see that there is some sort of connection that Leonard has with children as he relates to her very well. Or at least he has with this particular child. Things quickly take a turn as Leonard is joined by the other three members of his group.

  Although Redmond (Grint) isn't in the film very long he gives an intense few moments as he meets his fate. As he is pulling the white cloth over his head I could feel his fear but also was convinced he knew this was something he had to do and was dedicated to performing his part. In fact there isn't a weak performance in the film. If there is anything negative to say it is that after the first twenty to thirty minutes of the film Chui (who is impressive none the less), begins to shrink into the background and her impressive talent from the opening scenes melt away and becomes a standard child actor. Nothing wrong with that as she is still better than most child actors I see in films today.    


What I want to also point out is the job Dave Bautista gives here. I've known Bautista since his days as a wrestler in the WWE. Wasn't much of a fan as for the most part he came across mostly as just a muscle head who did what he did best which was have a lot of muscles and be mean. Here, he is also large (probably the biggest I've ever seen him) and menacing but I also see another side of him. I see his humanity, his understanding that what he is asking this family to do is nearly impossible to do. He tries to be as understanding as possible and gives them as much of a chance as he can to do the right thing. Even though he knows that allowing them to take their time deciding brings him even closer to his own demise.


 All of the "Horseman" exit the film nearly as quickly as they came in to the film. It would have been nice to get some back story on them as I felt more attuned to the four of them than I did the family. The question is are they crazy? Apparently not, but Eric, Andrew, and Wen can't know that. I mean really, put yourself in their situation and tell me it's easy to decide what to do. And if it's easy to figure out who you would kill in your family then your family isn't as close as it could be. What I hope we could get is a prequel where we see the "4" each receiving their "call" and how they met and so on. I dunno, maybe call it "Before the Knock" or some shit like that. I think if I had more backstory on them I could have given this a higher score.  Another way it gets close to a four for me is because it gets the hometown discount.  The truck stop restaurant we see at the end of the movie is a place I've been many times growing up in South Jersey.  The only difference is it's actual name is The Evergreen Dairy Bar.  When my family and I would go "down the shore" when I was a kid we would stop here on the way for a quick breakfast or lunch.  Good memories in there. As it is I think three and a half grasshoppers out of five is a fair score but a prequel could add to the story and perhaps it would be good enough to bring this to 4. 



Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead (2006)

 Oh dear lord baby Jeebus where do I start with this one?  Well first of all, Poltrygeist is directed by Lloyd Kaufman who also gave us The Toxic Avenger and subsequent film installments as well as the Nuke 'em High series of films.  So if you are familiar with any of those you sort of know what to expect upfront.  Actually that's a lie because I've seen some of them and am familiar with Kaufman's work and I've met the guy too so I'm a Kaufman fan and I was not prepared for what Night of the Chicken Dead was going to be.  It's Lloyd Kaufman turned up to 11!      

The film centers on American Chicken Bunker your basic fast food restaurant... that just happens to be built on Indian burial ground.  The ghosts curse and/or possess the chicken causing everyone from customers to employees to become zombies.  Not only do they become zombies but they begin to sprout wings and grow beaks!  All of the characters are named after fast food restaurants.  There's Arbie, Wendy, Denny, Micki, and Carl Jr.  There's even a guy named Paco Bell who is killed in a meat grinder and ends up trapped in a Sloppy Joe.  Yes, the sandwich talks!  Then there's Jared, whatever you do don't go in the bathroom after Jared!
 I was surprised when the first half of the movie turns into a gory horror musical (think Rocky Horror meets Rob Zombie)where some of the numbers were quite entertaining.  Some of them you can tell the actors were not hired for their singing ability.  I say that because some of them were shit at both singing and acting so I'm not really sure why they were hired.  This isn't for everyone even if there is something in here to offend just about everyone.  It's gory, it's gross, it's disturbing but it's side splitting funny as well.  It begins with Wendy telling her boyfriend Arbie to go to college and make something of himself to which he responds: "My dad is a retard and my mothers blind.  Who's gonna take care of them while I'm off gettin' smart?".  It's those kind of lines that let you know you're also in the middle of a love story.  And if that doesn't prove it to you then it's in the closing minutes of the film when Wendy and Arbie have survived one near death experience after another that our heroine Wendy, looks at Arbie and says: "You had me at 'shit covered mongoloid'.", well sometimes the love stories write themselves.   

I liked all the Tromaville references throughout the film like Arbie wearing a Toxic Avenger T-shirt, the Tromaville Cemetery, even Arbie's uniform made me flashback to what Toxie wore in his first film.  Sometimes horror parodies are just bad ideas, maybe this is too, but it's made by people that like horror films.  That actually makes a difference.  And while the gore and the special effects some of which are really good and I was impressed with them, there were some really disturbing effects as well.  Rarely do I look away due to a scene being too graphic or gross or for any reason but there is one moment in here like that for me.  I turned my head and shouted "NO!!" pretty loud.  I was surprised by how much I was caught off guard.  So this definitely falls into the "So bad it's good" territory and I will give this three and a half C.L.A.M protestors out of five.  I feel a higher grade would seem like I was condoning the racial or religious insults as they are fairly cringe inducing at times.     

Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Bloodsucking Freaks (1976)


Do you like torture?  Then you'll love Bloodsucking Freaks!  Do you like films about cannibalism?  Well you can feast on Bloodsucking Freaks!  You say you like sadomasochism?  Then Bloodsucking Freaks can't be beat!  Did you mention that you would like a dark comedy satire of the shady underbelly of the theater world?  Then Bloodsucking Freaks is the show for you!  Do you like Nell Carter?  No?  Good, cause the bitch ain't in here.  But what is in here is an oddball of a comedy horror that I had little expectations about going into and while this isn't going to win any awards from me I will say I got more than I expected, and sometimes, that's enough for me.  What we actually have here is a film about a disturbed man putting on macabre shows whose audience thinks it's seeing a put on show but what they are really seeing are actual scenes of torture, dismemberment, and murder.  Originally this was titled The Incredible Torture Show  before Lloyd Kaufman of Troma Entertainment got his hands on the rights and changed the title.

What Kaufman also did, and was a little bit naughty in doing, was re-edit the film where he put all the scenes that had to be cut out in order for the film to get an R rating back in and then re-releasing the film.  Still with an R rating!  He got in a lot of trouble for that from the  MPA who soon after sued him for it.  Lucky for him all he had to do was apologize and the Toxic Avenger's Daddy was let off the hook.  Unlike a lot of the victims in this film that is!  This one has a little bit of everything from gore, to jokes, to disturbing scenes of torture, even including one of the "slave women" (as the victims of Sardu's human trafficking ring are called) being used as a dart board.  It's actually sort of a funny scene made so by the way Sardu and Ralphus gleefully throw the darts at the girls naked rear end.  Celebrating like two little boys playing a naughty game of pin the tail on the donkey.

Sardu and Ralphus are played by Seamus O'Brien and Luis De Jesus respectively.  Now don't go looking them up because there is not much else they have been in.  In fact somebody please punch me in the face so I might see some stars while I'm watching this trash (I use that term lovingly) because the chances of seeing any are slim and none here.  Directed by Joel M. Reed, this is the film he is most known for but not exactly in a good way as many protested the release of Bloodsucking Freaks as an unnecessary splatterploitation (I might have just made that up) film that was more gross than engrossing.  Today the film has a decent sized cult following and while I wasn't blown away by it I didn't hate it.  The gore isn't that bad as the special effects are low budget and while the film does feature eyes being plucked out of the skull and bodies being dismembered, nothing ever actually happens while we watch.  It all happens in a blink and you missed it sort of way where the camera always seems to cut away just when it matters most.  So while not for the kiddies (lots of nudity in here as well) it's not as bad as I expected going in.  I've seen worse gore and seen scenes that looked way more realistic than we get here.   

Now the film also has a weird connection to the world of professional wrestling which I am known to enjoy from time to time.  Wrestler Chris Jericho, who has been around for over thirty years,  used the name Ralphus when he was in WCW back in the late 90's.  Jericho decided he needed a bodyguard and he introduced his new assistant named Ralphus which is taken from Bloodsucking Freaks.  So what do I give this one?  It's hard to get a handle on this but it did make me laugh (intentionally, I think) more than I expected and while graphic I didn't find it gory or disturbing.  I mean the story is disturbing but not the effects.  I'll give it three games of backgammon out of five.  I know that seems high and if I ever re-watch it I might give it less but I did what I did and I said what I said and I stand behind it.   

Sunday, February 5, 2023

The Eyes of My Mother 2016


I've never been more split on my feelings about a film in quite awhile. The Eyes of My Mother has me straddling the fence between really good and no big deal. But for it to have me this divided there must be something there. But then again, for it to have me this torn there also must be something missing. 

I'll break it down into a small grouping of Pros vs. Cons: 

Pro: While being shot in black and white the film is absolutely gorgeous. Framed and lit perfectly for just the proper creepiness. Especially worth noting is one particular night scene where the barn is backlit and there is a sense of foreboding. The glow of the full moon, although completely blocked from view, lights up just a touch of mist in the air to lend an otherworldly feel. Some of the interiors of the farmhouse feels like looking at a horror film that was made in the 1940's and while the time period may have been the 1970's (Bonanza is shown on the television so I'm only guessing here) the home (and the family for that matter) feel lost in time. 

Pro: The film is very compact with a tight running time of just 76 minutes so there isn't any room for needless scenes. Also there is only one main character (Francisca) as all of the other characters are very limited in their screen time. So the film basically lives or dies with Kika Magalhaes and while she does a decent enough job here I didn't feel much sympathy for her nor was I rooting against her either. Maybe there was a disconnect for me due to it being partly a foreign language film and while I don't have an issue reading subtitles maybe I don't read them the way they are intended. So this "Pro" almost ends up being a "Con" if I continued to talk myself into it that is. Which brings me to the cons.


Con: There's something going on with horror films today that I can't quite put my finger on but it disturbs me. Perhaps it is the negative stigma of being a horror movie that, for the most part, the genre is still looked down upon. Most of them anyway. And honestly how is "good" or "bad" decided in Hollyweird these days? Mostly ticket sales and those little gold statues given out every year called Oscars and we know how Oscar feels about horror. In order to get any recognition from the academy a horror movie has to be damn near perfect. Only 18 horror films have received Oscars in the 90 plus years they have been given out. And most of those are for costume, makeup, sound, or something not in the big six awards. The Silence of the Lambs being the exception but again, here's a film that won Best Picture and the fact that it is a horror film is more looked over than it is loved for. It's almost as if some people say "Yes, it's a horror film, but we'll let that go. It's still really good for a horror film.". Fahhh Q!!! But due to this I feel that for awhile now horror films have tried to be either too cutesy in all the black comedy/absurdist films flooding the market these days or too damn artsy fartsy. Yeah I said artsy fartsy and when I'm not saying that I'm telling all the damn kids to get off my lawn! But this one falls into that artsy fartsy category to me. Loaded with blood and gore but since it's a black and white film instead of being gory it's art house. Which all feels like something films are falling back on instead of just making a good film and damn the critics or detractors because if it's good people will like it. Of course probably not the right people to get the film put on the map but who knows. Let's be real if you're making a horror film it shouldn't be for recognition. It should be for the love of the genre because if not why bother. Horror, to me, more than any other genre seems to be a labor of love. 

And now I've gone off on a tangent and I forget what my original thought was. But yeah, this one felt a little too artsy fartsy to me. Maybe I needed it to be more gritty or less polished. Maybe half of what I praised it for is also what I'm criticizing it for. Maybe I'm just full of shit though too!

Con: Remember when I praised the movie for being only 76 minutes? This felt like two hours. Which isn't a good thing. This could easily have been edited down even more and just been a really good episode of the new Twilight Zone. I know I'm a fickle prick and what do I know? I know this much: I'll give this two and a half decapitated cow heads out of five. It tried. Maybe too much.

Friday, January 27, 2023

Hospital Massacre (1982)

Hospital Massacre or as it was called in the version I saw X-Ray is a 1982 (some would say '81) slasher film that has a holiday theme.  This time the holiday is Valentine's Day which is perfect for this time of year.  Even if it may or may not be the perfect film for the job.  Starring is Barbi Benton (Deathstalker and Playboy fame) as Susan Jeremy a divorced mother who is starting a new job but before she can start she must pass a physical and apparently there is an issue with the results of her checkup.  While there she meets an intern named Harry (Charles Lucia who also starred in Society and Tank Girl) who seems to think someone has tampered with her results just to get her to stay in the hospital.  The same hospital where someone just happens to be going around killing patients, doctors, and nurses alike.  The first person she suspects is her ex-husband Tom.  But is it him?  The rest of the cast is mostly unknowns but there are a couple I wanted to mention simply because of the part they play here.     

 Barbi's doctor is played by John Warner Williams that's him up there watching her undress before her exam.  Not only is he creepy that way but he's even creepy as he slowly examines her.  Way too slow and way too handsy plus if a doctor ever makes that much eye contact with me as he's examining me we're gonna have a problem.  For fuck sake the way he takes her blood sample even feels a little like assault.  Then we have a hospital room where all the people in it are in some sort of traction and seem to be writhing in agony.  This feels like something out of a David Lynch film.  Somehow there's a hospital drunk walking around as well.  Not sure how the hell that happens but this is back in the time where you could smoke in a hospital!  Even if your a patient in the hospital!  There's one other room I need to talk about and that is the one that Barbi is put in when they decide to keep her for observation.  This room has three old ladies also in it with her, but one is played by a man.  

Don't ask me, I'm not the director, speaking of which, that honor belongs to Boaz Davidson who also directed The Last American Virgin and Going Bananas.  Who is the killer and why does it seem like Barbi is the main target of the killer and has been so from the beginning is something Barbi will have to find out or die trying.  Now, we do have a "Tait" alert (for more on that see my review of Corona Zombies here: ) I mean with Barbi and her breasts how could there not be?  The Taitometer goes off at around 33 minutes.  Of course it's during the physical exam so it's super awkward.  An interesting fact about this one is that it was filmed in an actual abandoned hospital.  More bloody then it is gory for a slasher, it's just a really odd movie and while I was entertained (some of the time), I was nearly equally bored.  Which is never a good thing.  Again, another film that would really fit into the two and three quarter range but we don't do quarters here so I'll round up.  Three Jack in the boxes (you'd get that joke if you saw the film) out of five.  But it's a weak, confusing, and bizarre three.  








Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Corona Zombies 2020


Goddamn it Charles Band, you have stoked the fires of our love hate relationship once again and to make matters worse you did it in the middle of a global pandemic while poking fun at the very same pandemic. And I didn't hate it.

Corona Zombies is mostly a pieced together Frankenstein version of a horror comedy but at least he MSTK's all the dialog from Hell of the Living Dead. The parts taken from Zombies vs. Strippers was used as is. The rest of the film is a few short new scenes made for the film and actual news footage mostly taken from news conferences from the beginning of the pandemic from March/April of 2020. Which gives us a clip of Trump reassuring the country that we will all "probably be all right" even if we were to get the virus.


There are so many jokes and one liners dubbed over the original Hell of the Living Dead, several of which pay homage to previous zombie films. Some of the jokes are hits but some miss. We find out some of the "footage" of the zombies attacking strippers is to from the Tits and Giggles strip club in good old downtown Cherry Hill, New Jersey. Now as someone who literally lives in the next town over from Cherry Hill I have to say this is a misstep as there isn't nor has there ever been anything closely resembling a strip club in Cherry Hill. That's what Pennsauken is for! Anybody from southern New Jersey knows that! But I'll give him a pass for that and chalk it up to another jab at Joisey!

Yet another jab comes from the Scrambles Soup Company, where the virus originates, after they roll out their new variety of soup: Bat. Scrambles of course is a reference to Campbell's Soup company which has it's headquarters in Camden, NJ which is another of the towns bordering my own.  Cripes, according to Charles Band, I live right in the middle of ground zero for this version of the pandemic. 


Now, I want to add something new here for the 2023 year and that will be the addition of the Taitometer. What the hell is that, you ask? Well, I'll tell you. My Horror Homie Cerpts (here on blogger: ), the Horror Honey, and I get together and watch movies (mostly horror) and we always make a point of checking to see how long it takes for the first flash of a bare breast to grace the screen. 'Cause you know, what good is a cheesy, low budget horror film if it can't feature a few sweater puppies being freed in their natural habitat (or is that habi-tait)? It's called the Taitometer because us being Jersey boys we see a woman topless and the first thing we yell is "Hey look at the taits on that!" in the best stereotypical Garden State accent we can muster. So for Corona Zombies we have the inaugural Tait-O-Meter (maybe that's a better way to feature it, hey it's still a work in progress and I also apologize for all of this chauvinistic behavior which, yes, we know it's chauvinistic behavior, do we care? not one bit we are poking fun, not parting of) score and that is 12:30. Yes, at approximately 12 minutes and thirty seconds into the film we get our first flash. A modest showing for a horror film even more modest for a Charles Band horror film. I've seen some that scores mere seconds into the film.

Scoring the film is a little bit of a mine field this time for me as it's mostly a clip show of recycled material which I usually hate. I especially hate it when cartoons do it, but at least here, this is a little different in that all the lines (at least from Hell of the Living Dead) are re-dubbed with different dialogue to repurpose the original scenes. Think What’s Up, Tiger Lily? and you're on the right track. The news scenes are ironic, the new scenes are mostly meh, and the stuff used from Zombies vs. Strippers is OK, I've never seen it so I'm not sure how impactful those scenes were if the situation was different. I liked Hell of the Living Dead so it has that going for it, a couple of the new lines made me laugh out loud, the new scenes had a few good moment (who showers with a bra on though, that was a bit odd), and the first half of the film is way better than the second half but the film clocks in at around an hour so twenty five minutes isn't too painful to sit through at least once. When I do all the math (and there's more than you might think I'll tell you) I come up with something in the neighborhood of three Wuhan ("I love that group!" ~ Barbie) viruses out of five. Be forewarned that with this one the term "Your Mileage May Vary" carries substantial weight.


Wednesday, January 4, 2023

Violent Night (2022)

 (Santa contemplates retirement as he takes a break in a London pub on Christmas Eve)


Very rarely do I know little to nothing about a film before I watch it. When it came to seeing Violent Night I knew very little. This is what I knew: the guy playing Santa was from Hellboy and Stranger Things, of which I've only seen Hellboy. The only other thing I knew was I had seen one other film Wirkola had directed, that being Dead Snow, which was OK at best. 

Now, what I thought this film was and what it actually ended up being were two drastically different things. I've seen Silent Night Deadly Night, parts one and two, Christmas Evil, Silent Night, and others, so I've seen my share of Santa goes crazy and kills a bunch of people films which I thought this was. Well, Santa does go a little crazy and he does end up killing a bunch of people but the people he kills are the bad guys. So I was pleasantly surprised with that aspect.


(Three of the annoying family members that I could have done without)


Usually in a Christmas horror film I don't expect to get very much story if any at all. This one has some. It also does something I never saw coming and that is it attempts to explain some of Santa's magical abilities although admittedly by Santa himself, he's not really sure how it all works and while some might find that to be a cop out I find it a little charming. I enjoyed how the film gives Santa a bit of back story and something like an origin tale (not much of one but wait, there's more in the sequel, I hope) that adds a bit to the story as well as some Santa lore. The Cult of Santa is very much alive in this one. All you have to do is believe.

Harbour is great as a disenfranchised Santa who is ready to call it quits with Christmas in the beginning of the film. He has one more alcohol fueled Christmas Eve in him and then he's quitting. I liked the interaction shown between Santa and his reindeer, there's history there and even though he's ready to quit, he still has his standards he's trying to enforce. Enter the Lightstone family and their yearly Christmas Eve party.

(Santa helps save the Lightstone family and little Trudy helps to save Santa as well as Christmas!!)

Held at the private estate of the matriarch of the family Gertrude, expertly played by Beverly D'Angelo who isn't new to the Christmas film genre. The party is tense and uncomfortable as not one member of the family wants to be there. Alex Hassel and Alexis Louder play Jason Lightstone and wife Linda who are estranged but are spending Christmas together for the well being of their daughter Trudy. Trudy is played by relative newcomer Leah Brady who by the way very nearly steals the movie and anyone that knows me knows that me saying that about a child actor is saying a great deal. 

Most of the "bad guys" are peripheral characters that are just there for fodder for the killing machine that is Santa Claus. John Leguizamo, usually I can either take him or leave his in most of his films (To Wong Foo being one of the exceptions), does a decent enough job as "Mr. Scrooge", the leader of the bad guys.  All the bad guys have Christmas themed code names.  There's also AndrĂ© Eriksen and Mitra Suri who play Gingerbread and Candy Cane respectfully who go looking for Trudy who has escaped into the mansion and is in contact with Santa via a walky-talky type radio. For a few minutes a very graphic horror version of Home Alone ensues and man, I didn't know I needed an horror genre version remake of Home Alone until right now!

This is a very graphic Christmas horror comedy that I enjoyed more than I thought I was going to. A couple of the characters are annoying and some of the fight scenes felt a few minutes too long which is what keeps this one from scoring higher than it does but if you asked me what I would have graded this going into it I would have guessed two and a half stars with it getting three stars if it was really good. A nice post New Year's Day surprise as I tossed it over and almost gave this four stars but three and a half is a surprise to me so I'm satisfied and am glad I didn't wait nearly a year to see this at home next holiday season.


Chillerama (2011)

      Chillerama is another horror anthology that is multilayered like a celluloid onion.  A film that has succeeded in making a liar out o...