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- David Cronenberg

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February 15, 2015

Flicks: Apocalypse LA (2014) aka Yuppies Whine For Hours

Look-out, Zombie Apocalypse! Here comes five whining yuppies with big time complaints.

Apocalypse LA (2014) aka Disaster L.A. aka Yuppies Whine For Hours is another questionable film that has found a home at WB and The Sy-Fy channel. Far from the enjoyably campy, trashy variety of zombie film (Return of The Living Dead) the film is crippled by a cast of bland, unlikable, whining yuppies. The cast seems to draw their inspiration for their roles as survivors by recalling the sheer terror of paper cuts or maybe the deep sorrow of getting their food mixed up with their bros at Taco Bell.

There is an unmistakable lack of character and an inability to commit that is all too apparent in these actors that is troubling to say the very least. It's like having a sheltered and marginally educated person attempt to portray Julius Ceasar - it's not gonna go well at all.

To cripple a decent premise even more (90% of LA are zombies and the city is on fire), writer and director Turner Clay chooses to have his actors whine like small petulant children when faced with overwhelming existential crises such as: picking keys up off the floor, running two blocks, running down stairs, facing stationary enemies, facing off against a handful of zombies, operating a radio and so on.

Much like Skyline (2010) it has really good digital effects but it's stars are terrible. Also, like Skyline, starring the wooden and charisma-less Eric Balfour, the movie is completely and utterly unwatchable. It's like five Eric Balfours got together in their cramped LA apartment and decided that running in circles, while whining, would be a super great idea for a film.

Did I mention the practical effects? Think wet paper towels draped on actor's faces. Think melted Klingon make-up from the 1960's re-purposed for today - 50 years later. The practical effects are so bad that you are almost glad that there are only four or five "zombies" in the entire film. Did I mention the current population of LA is 3.8 million? Kinda makes you wonder how fast the crew ran out of paper towels...

What really makes the movie so bad is that it is done in earnest. There are dozens of heart-to-heart scenes that last just a few seconds and are totally unbelievable. This led to Rotten Tomatoes giving the film a 13% - which is probably far too generous.

Do yourselves a favor and avoid this one at all costs.

IMDb, Disaster L.A. (2014)
Horrornews, Disaster L.A. (2014)
Rotten Tomatoes, Please God Let This Be The Last Zombie Apocalypse Movie

October 2, 2014

Flicks: Gingerdead Man vs Evil Bong (2013)

Two underground horror baddies find out that cookies and weed are a diabolical combination!

Two latter day movie monsters clash in film that is completely filmed in Troma-vision but is in fact a Charles Band Full Moon Entertainment picture... complete with Asian rastas.

Monster #1: The Gingerdead Man - a Child's Play type of villain with serial killer Millard Findlemeyer's soul - originally played by Gary "Frickin" Busey. He first appeared in a short called The Baker's Dozen by Jethro Rothe-Kushel. This was made into a feature in 2005 by Full Moon.

Millard Findlemeyer, still a tasty but homicidal graham cracker, goes about looking for more victims in the next two sequels to follow including: Gingerdead Man 2: Passion of the Crust (2008) and Gingerdead Man 3: Saturday Night Cleaver (2011).

Gingerdead Man vs Evil Bong
Bro-o-o-h, this cookie is like... totally killer!

Evil Bong (2006), Monster #2, began in life as a Tommy Chong vehicle. This production happened just after his time in Taft Federal Prison from 2003 and a fine of $103,000 for selling bongs and paraphernalia in US vs Chong. The description for this films is: "a old giant bong proves to have strange magical powers. When smoked, said bong sends a person to a bizarre drugged-out alternate realm from which there is no easy escape."

In Chong's case that "alternate realm" was a nine month sentence bunking with the "Wolf Of Wall Street" Jordan Belfort.

The Evil Bong, a wise-cracking water bong that kind of sounds like Frankie Lymon, starred in two sequels after the original: Evil Bong II: King Bong (2009) and Evil Bong 3-D: The Wrath of Bong (2011).

This film, combining the two absurd "monsters" is much more watchable that the truly terrible Puppetmaster vs Demonic Toys (2004) or the other six films from the individual franchise. A great watch for Troma fans.

Official Site, Full Moon Entertainment
IMDb, Gingerdead Man Vs. Evil Bong (2013)
IMDb, Gingerdead Man (2005)
IMDb, Evil Bong (2006)

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September 15, 2014

Flicks:Wyrmwood (2014)

A masterfully paced adventure in an Aussie landscape of burrowing ghouls and brutalized survivors.

A gutsy independent horror film has just wrapped principle photography on September 12th in Sydney and New South Wales in Australia. The film is Wyrmwood from brothers Kiah and Tristan Roache-Turner. It's set to make it's first appearance in South Korea on October 3rd at the Busan Film Fest. Afterward, it will be available for US and UK audiences.

This film, from the extended clips that have been made available, looks very interesting. Your ol' pal The Sleaze-A-Saurus is waiting with baited breath until this film reaches domestic markets. It's got great pacing. There's a grit and realism in the film that seems to escape big budget films that have cashed on the zombie genre. I would go so far as to put it near the brilliant Zone 261 (2014) in terms of realism and tension.

This film received an additional $11,000 in crowd-funded support from fans in March that allowed Kiah and Tristan to add some interesting post-production effects such as toxic fumes exhaled by the creatures, CG gore and punched up sound effects. Here's the pitch video from Indie Go Go.

Two zombies artfully explain why the Internet is going to give them 10 grand to finish their film.

The official description is this: In the aftermath of a comet breaking up over the Earth, most of the planet’s population quickly succumb to a strange disease which turns them into "zombies". Few survive, and those who do quickly discover all existing fuel sources have been rendered unusable by the plague.

Wyrmwood production photo by Emma Bjorndahl

Wyrmwood production photo by Emma Bjorndahl

Trapped in a wilderness filled with living dead, unable to travel to any safer location, survivors have little to live for. One of those survivors, family man Barry (Jay Gallagher) has lost everything except his sister Brooke. But even as the disaster unfolds, Brooke is kidnapped by a gang of paramilitary thugs and dragged off to a horrific medical lab run by a psychotic "doctor" who is performing a series of deranged experiments on plague survivors.

For distribution information and upcoming screenings go to: Roache-Turner Films.

Roache-Turner Films, Wyrmwood
IMDb, Wyrmwood
Facebook, Wyrmwood

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August 21, 2014

Flicks: Son Of Blob (1972)

A chip off the old Blob directed by Larry Hagman? Yes, this really happened.

In 1958, the first Blob movie crept into theaters nationwide. A bright-eyed Steve McQueen, who was 28 at the time, starred in a James Dean type role as the world's oldest misunderstood teen, "Steve". The film made $240,000 or roughly $1.9 million in today's dollars.

In 1972, the first Blob sequel, Son Of Blob (1972) or Beware! The Blob was released to a much different America. No longer was the illusion of a perfect nation intact as it was in the post WWII years. My 1972, many cultural leaders that had catapulted to meteoric heights had been snuffed out, assassinated or succumbed to drug abuse. America had watched it's President die live on television in Dallas in 1963, his brother murdered in 1968 in LA, Malcolm X murdered by the very people he was trying to free from segregation in New York and MLK Jr. killed by a sniper's bullet in Memphis after years of persecution for the same cause. Viet Nam was raging out of control. Jim Morrison, Janice Joplin and Jimi Hendrix had each died due to drugs or alcohol before a larger "revolution" could take place. The King himself had mutated into a bad Las Vegas lounge act and was wearing sequin adorned super-hero costumes.

This America had seen it's best and brightest die before their appointed hour and the rest huddle for shelter in the ashes. The revolution, although truly transformative for the country, was seen as a failure. These events left a deep emptiness in America's psyche that could not be over-looked. Consequently, there were no more "golly gee whiz" or "hunky dory" attitudes present from American films from the 1950's.

Now, the youth and the hipsters were isolated "freaks" whose leaders had all vanished and whose revolution had crumbled. This is the era of the early 1970's. As the Watergate break-ins were happening (May 28 and June 17th 1972) and in the years after Woodstock was a strange time for the country. This is the time when Son Of Blob was released.

As if all the aforementioned catastrophes were made into an unstoppable giant creature made of globs of acidic pink and red goop, the Son Of Blob came to life. As a low-budget picture, the film used cheap locations in Venice, California. Although a comedy, this film features the disenchanted remains of a counter-culture that collapsed under the weight of it's own expectations.

IMDB, Beware! The Blob (1972)
IMDB, Steve McQueen
Wikipedia, Elvis Presley

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January 2, 2014

Flicks: Evil Toons (1992)

A self-fulfilling prophecy regarding David Carradine, Dick Miller and four porn starlets? My life is now complete.

Evil Toons (1992) is the perfect storm of early 90's pseudo-horror films. In the opening scene David Carradine re-enacts his own accidental suicide in 2009 by hanging himself. Then, our friend and yours Mr. Dick Miller (Bucket Of Blood, Gremlins) rents out the late Mr. Carradine's Hollywood mansion to four working porn starlets. Actual porn starlets, including the perfectly proportioned red-head Monique Gabrielle (Amazon Women On The Moon, Deathstalker), Barbara Dare (Adult Video News Best New Starlet Award winner), dark haired vixen Madison and Suzanne Agar. All of them, at the height of their careers, somehow decided to work on this R rated campy "horror" film!

This movie was written and directed by the prolific Fred Olen Ray. Ray has directed 133 titles and counting including: Bikini Chain Gang (2005), Thirteen Erotic Ghosts (2002), Invisible Mom (1996) and Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers (1988). Still working today, Ray just wrapped up post-production on two more films scheduled for a 2014 release. This movie is kind of a Cool World (1992) or Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988) starring a horny Tasmanian Devil and a tattered copy of Sam Raimi's Necronomicon that goes flopping around the mansion.

Despite this film, Monique Gabrielle retired from acting and married adult film director Tony Angove in 2003. Today, she lives in South Florida and runs a porno movie production company called Monique's Purrfect Productions. Madison has been nvolved with the tattoo industry since the early 1990s and now runs her own tattoo parlor called the Madison Tattoo Shoppe in North Hollywood, California.

IMDb, Evil Toons (1992)
IMDb, Fred Olsen
IMDb, Monique Gabrielle

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December 13, 2013

Slash Mess: Hatchet I, II and III (2006-2013)

What if the original Friday the 13th movies had today's talent and technology? You'd have the Hatchet film series.

The Slash-Mess holiday is here, hu-mon. Prepare thyself for dread. True dread - with HATCHET.

Hatchet is a three part horror movie series by Adam Green that takes place deep in the bayous of Louisiana. A strange curse has made a disfigured little boy into an seemingly immortal maniac with a need for vengeance and a flair for bladed weaponry and power tools - at the end of part two he actually power-sands a guy's skull inwards.

So... this series features a long list of horror film legends including Robert England aka Freddy Krueger, Tony Todd aka the Candyman, Sid Haig aka Capt. Spaulding (House of 1000 Corpses) and stunt-monster Mr. Kane Hodder in the star role of Victor Crowley/Mr. Crowley.

Hodder is a well-known, fan favorite actor in the fandom of Friday the 13th for playing Jason Vorhees in parts 7, 8, 9 and 10 (Jason X). He has worked as a stunt man for almost 100 films including Texas Chainsaw Massacre as Leatherface and acted in many other underground horror films such as Wes Craven's The Hills Have Eyes II (1984), Pumpkinhead II (1993) and as the Beast in Project:Metalbeast (1995). Hodder stars in all three Hatchet films that began in 2006 and ended in 2013.

Hatchet I (2006)
Hatchet I (2006)
May I axe you a bladed implement related question, Holmes?

City livin' yuppies and tourists, joined by the sullen Marybeth (Tamara Feldman) and two fledgling actresses/bimbos that are fresh from a Girls-Gone-Lesbian amateur porn shoot, head deep into the actual swamps surrounding New Orleans. A group of eight, including veteran character actor Richard Riehle (Tom the inventor of the "Jump To Conclusions" game from Mike Judge's Office Space), seek out a swamp tour to examine the rustic countryside instead of enjoying Mardi Gras.

Now, if you have ever seen how much vomit and wet garbage covers Bourbon Street during Mardi Gras you may understand these folks collective decision a little better. Getting back to the movie...

Acting under the seemingly helpful advice of Reverend Zombie (Tony Todd) they quickly end up taking a short bus to the dark side of of the bayou. After de-busing, the group goes on a guided night tour of the swamp complete with the worst Cajun accent ever captured on film delivered courtesy of Parry "Kung Pow Kingfish" Shen. Also, random boobs spring out from unsuspecting blouses.

Before long, a cheap foam alligator strikes, the rain machine pours and the hillbilly version of the Predator, who we have not seen or even heard about for the first 40 minutes of the film, still hasn't swooped down from the canopy. At long last, through a pretty darn awful story told by Marybeth and shown in a sepia-toned "History-Vision" we discover 100% of the mad murderer's back story - one that seemingly goes back to the 1930's?

In these exposition scenes, we see a disfigured Jason Vorhees styled kid and learn that there sure are a lot of accidents in Backwoods, Louisiana. After being taunted by kids, Victor Crowley is killed accidentally by his own father during a rescue from their burning one room country shack that other mean kids had accidentally set ablaze.

We then learn that the morose Marybeth is really searching for her lost father and brother who were presumably lost in the swamp and slain by the ghost of the disfigured Victor Crowley.

Hillbilly Jim and Victor Crowely
After haunting the WWF as "Hillbilly Jim" in the late 1980's, Victor Crowely became a successful and well-liked homicidal maniac in Louisiana.

Finally, after seeing the stunt-monster once as a child, and nearly an entire hour into the movie(!), we are finally confronted with crazy Mr. Victor Crowley who closely resembles former WWF wrestler Hillbilly Jim. Victor lives up to the movie's title and promptly cleaves Tom From Office Space into two tidy pieces with his trusty hatchet. He does so in front of God and the short bus tour group alike.

Then, something incredible happens. No, not the credits. In the very next shot Victor, courtesy of an extremely capable FX crew, tears the entire top half a character's head off by pulling her upper skull free from her jaw. RIP Mrs. Tom From Office Space and hello "Where was this movie for the past hour!?!"

Unfortunately, the movie veers quickly away from John Carl Buechler's special effects to a plot and performances straight out of Jason Takes Manhattan complete with great ideas like: "Oh mah God! We just walked in a big circle." AND "Let's check out that spooky old cabin over there. Maybe they can help us." Don't forget that classic: "Guys, it looks like he's dead. Let's all go walk in another direction."

Despite being "killed" twice, Victor continues to act under the assumption that the short bus swamp tour group had something to do with additional his original disfigurements and death, or maybe because he don't take too kindly to trespassers, and goes about making sushi out of one hammy actor after another.

Near the end of Hatchet, the end of the original Friday The 13th movie is re-enacted. In Friday The 13th Part I, the sole survivor of the previous film is dragged to her death by the unmasked and reanimated corpse of Jason Vorhees who suddenly springs from the waters of Crystal Lake and into her canoe. In the end of this film, Marybeth is dragged underwater from her bass boat and the end is just as shocking as the original Friday The 13th's ending.

At the end of this film it appears as if no one remains for Crowely to play lumberjack with. Roll credits.

Hatchet II (2010)
Hatchet II (2010)
What happens when a movie just a grade above a Sci-Fi channel "feature" gets a sequel? Hatchet II, brohams. Hatchet II.

As the previous movie ended with a cliffhanger we just had to have a sequel. Didn't we?

Adam Green returns to the silver screen to write and direct the thrilling sequel to Hatchet I creatively entitled "Hatchet II". The lead, Marybeth, the Ellen Ripley of this gripping saga, is now played by the adorable Danielle Harris while Tamara Feldman was busy appearing in three TV series including Dirty Sexy Money and One Tree Hill. The sequel, more than likely due to budgetary concerns, is not shot on location. It was in fact filmed within a murky, small sound stage inside of a cyclopean, darkened Hollywood studio instead of New Orleans.

This beauty ends with Tony Todd being chopped up in two and abruptly flayed by way of a clean jerk from Crowley. In the final seconds, Marybeth, once more the sole survivor of the rampaging Crowley, caves in the giant stunt-monster's misshapen head. Then, she unceremoniously fires a single shotgun blast, point blank, into his skull.

These last few scenes are incredibly tedious to watch yet the FX departments, both the practical effects courtesy of the Special Effects Team led by Tom Ceglia and digital from Lit Post, did an extraordinary job. They are not to mixed up with the ham-handedness that permeates the rest of the film.

Hatchet III (2013)
Hatchet III (2013)
A sequel to a sequel turned out to surpass the original movies? Hold the phone, Ennis!

Hatchet returns once more with a new director, BJ McDonnell, who is known for his camera crew work on horror films and series such as The Walking Dead season two. McDonnell directs Adam Green's third and final Hatchet script and miraculously Alien III doesn't happen. Another major theatrical blunder was averted thanks to McDonnell who shows off some extremely impressive FX and re-focuses the movie around the killer and his final victim a la John Carpenter's original Halloween.

In a genius opening scene, that literally picks up exactly where the previous film finished (three years prior in real-time), with a smoking barrel pulling away from a bloody crater in Victor Crowley's skull - in the general vicinity of where his face used to be - Marybeth relaxes just just long enough to have a emotional breakdown. This gives Crowely, and what is presumably the Vorhees curse, just enough time to make good a quick escape.

This film is very watchable. Once again both the practical effects courtesy this time of David Nash and the digital effects from Jason Richard Miller set the film apart. It is nearly on par with the new Hills Have Eyes re-makes but is much closer to the first two Wrong Turn movies. It's fun, in a way that the Wrong Turn franchise isn't, and the effects are impressive and realistic.

As for Victor Crowely himself, Mr. Hodder is currently featuring or co-starring in 18 new movies to be released in 2014-15 according to IMDb. To date, Hodder has worked as a stunt man in a current total of 97 films and tv shows and has performed in 101 films and counting.

IMDb, Hatchet
IMDb, Kane Hodder
Horror Happy Hour, Hatchet
Kicked Seats, Hatchet 2 (2010)

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