Friday, July 21, 2017

Exterminator City - 2005

There's low budget and then there's no budget.  This blog has primarily dealt with low budget, but we'll take our first sort of foray into no budget here.  Now, I can't actually say no budget about this movie.  I don't know exactly how these things work, but it's my understanding that you'd have to pay a girl a decent amount of money to appear naked or topless in your film, and since every single girl in this is naked or topless, they must've had some money to pay them to appear that way.

Everything else in this movie is obviously done by like 1-2 guys, and a budget of nothing.  There's hand built, seriously clunky looking robot hand puppets, very early MST3K looking contraptions that barely seem to function.  There's a lot of terrible dialogue by guys that obviously thought they were pretty genius for making a "comedic" script that featured robots calling each other words like "bitch".

The director Clive Cohen has zero other movies he's remotely connected with, and zero information on IMDb.  That's something I will now always miss about IMDb, is the message board dialogue started on each page by various other movie viewers.  Inevitably on each lonely IMDb page there'd be someone else, like me (or maybe eve it would be me) who would start a message board about someone like Clive Cohen.  They'd say something like "Where is he now?" or "What the heck?" and they'd be wondering if someone out there on the information superhighway knew any insider information on Cohen.  I miss those boards.

Exterminator City....well, I don't miss movies like this.  This is the kind of entertainment that I can't exactly tear apart from limb to limb, cause it obviously took creativity, talent, and artistry to make it.  It's not funny though, it's not interesting, and it's like watching something made by middle schoolers.  Trust me, I used to film shit with my friends, and half the stuff we made was about as good as this, not even fucking joking.

There's literally scenes of huge titted women walking around their homes topless and going about daily tasks, and we're supposed to what, accept it because "it's funny"?  Sorry, no.  Sorry, you don't get a pass just cause you intentionally made your movie campy and self aware.  I don't know.  This is the Charles Band type of shit where it's made specifically to pander to the high dopefiend and his drunkard friends as they sit in an induced stupor and snicker at the movie while daring each other to taste the bong water.

I don't have lots more to say to it.  it is relatively entertaining despite my roast up above, and there's certainly worse films out there.  It came on a circa 2005 DVD, and I haven't watched a DVD that poorly produced in a really long time.  I remember buying my first DVDs in about....2002, roughly 6 years after they existed from what the internet tells me.  At first they didn't have menus or anything, just jumped right into the movie.  This has one item on the menu, which is obviously home made.  You start the movie, and you have to watch trailers.  This is like VHS shit where the trailers are literally PART of the movie.

So, Exterminator City.  Hm, I don't know.  Strangely enough, after venting all this, I feel like giving it decent marks.  Perhaps it's the fact I put it on when I was tired, and I was still entertained to an extent.  Perhaps it's something else.  I'll never know.  But hey.  Clive Cohen, good job, wherever you are.  You drunk son of a bitch.  2.5 stars.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Burnt Offerings - 1976

Two 1976 movies in one day?!  Oh my fucking god.  Goddamn.  I'm a little bit drunk, but I watched Burnt Offerings stone cold sober, so this is a drunk review of a sober movie basically.  Interesting huh?  Now you're reminded about why you read this dumbass blog.

Burnt Offerings is a Amityville inspired, super by-the-numbers haunted house movie.  Which is not to call it bad.  In fact, I might even take that bit back about it being a haunted house movie.  It's billed as a haunted house movie, when I would say it's more of a demonic possession and mystery film.  I dunno.  I'm a bit of a genre freak in case you haven't noticed.  I fucking hate when things are labelled as something other than what I would classify them as.  Get Out, the recent "horror" movie (which I give 5 stars) is labeled horror.  Yeah right!  That movie is a straight mystery thriller.  No fucking horror elements at all.

Burnt Offerings has Oliver Reed of Venom fame as the father figure of a family that moves into a huge dilapidated mansion which is actually located (in real life) in my current home town of Oakland California.  Bay Area, bro-han.  Oliver Reed, his hot wife Karen Black (drool) and their wormy son all live in this mansion which is practically given to them, and they have to take care of the weird old woman who lives in the top floor.

Pretty much right away it's established that the woman either is dead or doesn't exist at all, Karen Black develops an obsession with her, and Oliver Reed begins to be influenced by some sort of demonic force.  I'm obviously at the point where I don't give a shit about their character names.  Oliver Reed falls under evil influence and attacks the wormy son, tensions rise, and eventually they all decide they must leave the house.  But what about the old lady who lives in the place?

Basically, I was expecting a low level haunted house movie, and instead I got a bizarre mix of ghost film, demonic possession, and a mostly average flick in general.  I'm not really in the boat right now of "I have tons to say about this".  I fact, I can't really even say if I liked it or not.  It felt....basically like anything else one might watch.  Had it's good and bad.  The actors, good.  The plot, meh.  The scares, zero.

That would be one thing I'll say.  Zero scares, and one of those movies where I don't even know what would be considered scary in 1976.  I guess the father attacking the son is scary in concept, but I mean, seriously yo.  It was a right down the middle, meh experience, which I'd normally give a 2.5, but for whatever reason, I'll give this 3.  Maybe because Karen Black is hot.  Probably.

Friday, July 7, 2017

The Witch Who Came From the Sea - 1976

Hundra director Matt Cimber made this odd little film, The Witch Who Came From the Sea (I'll call it Witch for brevity) which was another one of these well know video nasties.  I don't remember if I added Witch because of Matt Cimber, because it was a video nasty, or why specifically I added it at all, but suffice to say that's extremely common for me to add something and forget why.  Classic me.

The Witch is a very bizarre, very fucked up story of a woman who may or may not have psychic powers and also may or may not be going insane.  This movie walks the line between fantasy and reality very well, and very often.  It's also one of those movies where despite the clear resolution in the end, it's still unclear exactly which scenes were reality and which were imagined.

In the beginning of Witch, we see the main woman, Molly, at the beach with her two nephews, Tadd and Tripoli.  As she watches some hunky guys down the beach, we slowly watch as they die, seemingly caused by Molly's intense stare.  This is chief among the scenes I don't know if were real or not.

The movie slows down from there and we follow Molly as she goes about her life.  She works at a local bar and restaurant, she spends a lot of time with her sister Cathy, and Cathy's sons Tadd and Tripoli.  Why the two boys are named Tadd and Tripoli is never explained. The questions we really wanted answered in this film simply never are.

One night while watching football, she sees and is attracted to two of the star football players.  Next we know, she has found these two in real life.  She seduces them, takes them to her room, and begins to tie them up to the bed with promises of kinky sex.  Molly does have a lot of nudity, so be prepared for pretty small but perky tits that you can glue your eyes to in many scenes.  Anyhow, she ties up the guys, and to their dismay puts her clothes back on.  Molly then produces a razor, and begins cutting.

This movie did a great job of walking the fantasy and reality line very well.  There is eventually some explanations, but they never do explain everything.  It's said that Molly was a victim of childhood sexual abuse by her obese fisherman father.  Her sister Cathy possibly was too, but that's never said.  The two footballs presumably remind her of her father?  I don't remember that being part or not.

There's also a bizarre mermaid and ocean motif in the film that's never explained.  Molly gets a weird mermaid tattoo midway through the film, just after the two killings.  You know, I'll say it now:  This movie was very weird but really good.  It was enjoyable, and I honestly could keep talkign about small plot points for forever it seems.  The Witch did have an amateur feeling to it, sure, but the acting and the strangeness of the story more than made up for it.

This qualifies more as a video nasty than Don't Go in The Woods (click on the link "nasties" in the first sentence).  It's got tons of nudity, it's got blood, and it has themes of rape, incest, and child molestation.  Yet, it feels curiously subtle, and like all the bad shit that happens in the movie is reasonable.  For that, and for the awesome feel of the film in general, I'll give it 4 stars.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The Final Terror - 1983

I believe I was about halfway through this movie when I decided it was pretty awesome.  That was a nice feeling.  The Final Terror, which is a pretty awful name, was actually pretty awesome!  Other names up for contention, by the way, were: The Creeper, Three Blind Mice, The Forest Primeval, and Bump in the Night.  I get it, it's hard to name horror movies.  I do get it.

The Final Terror was step on the ladder for many of the people in it, which is always a good sign.  Director Andrew Davis later directed a classic Steven Seagal film, Under Siege, as well as one of my favorite Harrison Ford films, The Fugitive, an Academy Award winning film.  The film also stars Joe Pantoliano, Daryl Hannah, Rachel Ward, and Adrian Zmed.  A lot of them got famous literally about a year or two after this was filmed, which was in 1981.  That was enough to push this film finally out into theaters in 1983.

The charm of this movie, and the reason that I decided I liked it, is the complete picture.  This film has it all.  Like I said it has the actors.  Then, the music is great.  The music is always an important part of the horror film genre, where little things like atmosphere make all the difference.  Shot in the beautiful redwood forests of north California, the setting looks amazing.  Finally there's the actual horror elements which come into play as well.

Plot first, several friends are going up to the woods to go camping (original, right?!).  They are driven there by a generally pissed off and cranky Joe Pantoliano.  The friends are eight people, I think.....  There might have been too many characters, that is one thing I'll say straight out.  They're driving up to somewhere way up a river, to do a mix of camping and rafting.  Once they arrive, it's camping, pranking each other, and scary stories told around the fire.  Soon enough, a prank is played on Marco and he goes missing.  All the group sets off to search for him, and then the kills begin.

I mentioned there are a lot of characters in this.  The group of friends is big, and I'm not entirely sure why that is.  In fact, I thought early on, and on reflection I still think that Daryl Hannah never has a single line.  That's because there's just too many characters, and I sort of got them confused.  When everyone is a attractive blonde/brunette except for the two black characters, it's very easy to get the whitey's confused.  Most of the characters also do very little.  Besides walking around, screaming when need be and other such reactions, they are mostly just there.

But one thing I liked and why I decided I liked this movie is that about the halfway point, one character is dead and one is kidnapped, and none of the friends know it yet.  The friends find a cabin in the woods where it seems the killer is living.  As they look around the cabin, the killer is holding the kidnapped girl below the floorboards, machete held to her face.  It's a cool, chilling sequence.  And that's when I realized that plot aside, this movie was a cool mix between Texas Chainsaw and Friday the 13th.

The difference between a slasher like Friday and a horror thriller like Texas is of course, the grittiness and the disgust associated with the killer.  Leatherface in the first few Texas movies is disgusting, putrid, surrounded with decay and mental instability.  Whereas Jason is superhuman, almost a hero, and never really threatened, Leatherface is just a fucked up big guy in an apron.  These small things done to give the killer a level of humanity or depth are really where a horror movie can up it a notch.  Nothing is scarier than knowing that the guy after you might not just kill you.  He might do fucked up, sick or just plain hurtful things to you first.

The other interesting thing, spoiler alert I suppose, is that there's not a lot of deaths in this movie.  Most of the characters live.  This to me is a lot more realistic of a plot.  Despite the fact that the end had a small dumb plot point, this movie felt super realistic to me in a lot of ways.  Basically every part of this could and might happen.  There's no glaring parts that were idiotic like so many of these movies.  There were no supernatural parts.  This movie felt very honest about it's intention, and it was very well done in that way.

Amazon Prime has really shitty quality, and I bet that watching this on DVD would have been an almost 5 star experience.  However, I am only going to give it 4 because the quality was god awful.  Also, some scenes it's hard to tell exactly what was happening.  There's a scene where for some reason the girl who can't swim randomly gets out of the boat, and I have no idea why.  Also, the end was pretty dumb with a last minute, predictable twist.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Jason Goes to Hell - 1993

Where does that phrase "jumping the shark" come from, anyways?  I have no idea.  I think it refers to Evel Knievel jumping sharks, but since that's considered "cool" and "jumping the shark" is considered bad, I wonder bout these things.  I guess the vernacular phrases we use every day rarely have reasons for why they exist, and language as a form makes no fuckin sense anyways.

Jason Goes to Hell is a very "jump the shark" moment in the Friday the 13th series.  It had perhaps already jumped when Jason went to Manhattan, however at this point it seriously went just plain fucking wrong.  Jason, without any explanation whatsoever, can suddenly change bodies?!  In the first opening scene, which is again never explained, a girl typically runs from Jason only to have the police ambush him and literally blow him up.  Except that his heart doesn't blow up, which apparently means he's still alive.  But his body is destroyed, so now he can literally infest the "idea" of Jason into other people?!

Some red lights fly out of Jason's chopped up body, infest the morgue attendant, and soon he consumes the heart of Jason which makes him into a psycho killer.  The temporary bodies Jason is in run out after some time, so he not only kills people randomly, but kills people with the intention of hopping bodies.  That's all well and good, and later it turns out that he can indeed be stopped, as long as it's at the hand of someone that's related to him.  He has a sister that's alive, as well as her baby daughter.  So it's up to them to stop Jason permanently by stabbing him in the heart with a special dagger.

Ugh.  If it sounds like this is stupid and/or complex, that's cause it is stupid.  It's complex, not in a good way, but in a way that makes you angry and realize just how low the bar was set at this point.  In Jason Goes to Manhattan, at least Jason was legitimately in the film, he had a reason to go to Manhattan, and it was such a small change to the series that is was fine.  In this one, it's not only fucking with the location, but with the mythology, the killer, the basic story elements, etc.

There are quite a bit of kills, and so therefore we come to the one part of the movie that is acceptable: the violence.  There's tons of kills in this, and a lot of them are pretty creative.  Also, I guess that the whole idea of Jason switching bodies is kind of cool, it's just that it needed to be introduced WAY before this dumbass film in order for it to make sense.  Also, there is never an explanation given as to how Jason comes back after being killed in this one.  I guess that was spoiler alert, Jason dies in the end, by the ways indicated, and then in Jason X, Jason just randomly is back at it.

So, this movie was pretty awful, and in fact these three (Manhattan, Hell, X) and even Freddy Versus Jason could all be seen as why this franchise is effectively dead unless they reboot it again like they did in 09.  Anyways, whatever, 1 star.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

There's Nothing Out There - 1991

The IMDb plot summary of this movie reads: "When a horror film buff tries to warn his friends of impending danger during March Break, they scoff at him, that is, until sinister things begin to happen."  Sound familiar?  Cause to me it sounds sort of like Scream.  Wes Craven is a genius obviously, but I do wonder what would've happened if this film had perhaps a tiny bit more talent behind it or any known name.

There's Nothing Out There (TNOT) plays out like a version of Scream that's about 45% sillier, and 100% more amateur.  This movie has, instead of ghostface killer, a weird mutant tadpole monster that I honestly don't think was ever explained.


It's the classic plotline as lampooned by The Cabin In The Woods.  Seven friends in an isolated cabin and one of them is a horror film aficionado.  They go through the typical bullshit as the wary horror film friend forewarns about the impending doom.  This was all well and good until there was an actual part where one of the characters is trying to escape the monster in the film, then suddenly a boom mic is visible.  The character sees it and actually grabs it and swings on it to escape the creature.  If that's not breaking the fourth wall, I don't know what is.

So it's incredibly self aware (at times) and it is basically a comedy in those ways wherein it glorifies it's "cleverness" and also it's "self awareness".  These things combined would not only make it a precursor to Scream, but the entire horror genre circa 2017.  I am trying to say that this is basically how a lot of horror films now are, especially low budget independent ones.  They are self aware as fuck, they have their intentions visible from scene one, and they make their characters and plot and everything secondary to that.

This film does follow that formula, hell one could say this film is the definition of that formula.  And I have to say, as impressive as that is, the novelty wore down.  The first 45 minutes I was pretty optimistic, and I wanted to like this and give it a great review.  In time, it wore out it's welcome and I was pretty bored.  The problem was that even with tits, monsters, originality, etc, this movie never felt like it was that interesting.  It just sort of kept going, and instead of being interested, I was bored and antsy.  That and I drank too much in the beginning so I was pretty drunk.

So I will admit that perhaps my short attention span was due to being drunk, but I doubt I missed out on much.  I'll give it 3 stars, and I'll scratch it off my list.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Strike Commando - 1987

Back to back with two of the most infamously bad directors.  Godfrey Ho represented China, and now Bruno Mattei represents Italy.  Bruno Mattei is known for the Z grade of action film which this film represents perfectly, and it also stars Reb Brown of Space Mutiny fame.  I've touched on Bruno Mattei with the fun Terminator and Aliens rip off Shocking Dark as well as the other type of film he's known for, sleazefest exploitation films like Women's Prison Massacre.

Strike Commando is sort of like your average run of the mill actioner that is set in the Vietnam war.  Reb Brown stars as the incredibly dull, completely undeveloped good guy who needs to find out the hidden link between Russia and Vietnam.  He is given permission to investigate this in his own method, which means no team and no pesky commanders.  But then once he gets captured, it means no help is coming either.

The capture scene and escape was reminiscent of The Deer Hunter, but the movie this really ripped off was Rambo part 2.  In part two, Rambo was sent to Vietnam by a bunch of uncaring diplomats that turned their back on him once he was out the door.  If Deer Hunter is first rate (which it is) and if Rambo 2 (sure, that works) was second rate, then that puts Strike Commando probably in....6th rate.  Yeah, this movie was not "good" in any sense.

Doing about 5 minutes of research just now, I found something kind of odd.  Reb Brown was mostly an action film star, nothing weird about that.  However, it's funny cause all of his action movies are based around Vietnam.  Now, I know there's nothing really odd about that, he was the right age and all.  It's just funny to me that one actor would end up getting cast as a Vietnam-era soldier multiple times.  He must've felt at the end like he practically did go to Vietnam.  He probably spent more time on the sets of movies about Vietnam then some actual soldiers spent in Vietnam.

All side tracking aside, this movie was not good.  It was the sort of movie that makes you watch, you don't get side tracked as easily as some other films, however I kept wondering how much was left, and I kept noticing how second rate everything was.  Reb Brown makes a really uninteresting star also.  It's no wonder he never "took off" as a star.  Being Captain America in the 70's and acting in one movie with Gene Hackman are no doubt his career highlights, and I am not surprised in any way.

The film was made in the Philippians, and the scenery is nice.  It would look better on a high transfer DVD instead of Amazon Prime, but hey I take what I get.  According to the 2 minutes of research I just did, this is not available on DVD at all, which would not be surprising since it's public domain no doubt and I'm sure no one gives a shit about it in any way shape or form.

I give it a subpar film, Z grade in intention 2.5 stars.  It was actually not all that bad.  Good riff fodder probably.