Sunday, February 24, 2008

Demon Wind (1990)

Demon Wind:
Priceless garbage, lay down and bask in its’ badness! This film is soooo awesome. The only reason I rented it was because I thought it was hilarious that the VHS box had a holographic cover. I figured it would either be bad in stupid, boring way, or bad in a senseless, over-the-top, hilarious way. It was the latter of the two. The plot is a real snoozer until the 45 minute mark and then the zombie/demon carnage begins. Despite the hack script, there are very professional gore jobs and decent horror action sequences. Italian zombie fans will notice the plot was ripped off The Beyond and the zombies resemble the hellish creatures in Bava and Argento’s Demons and Demons 2. This film has so much in common with Italian zombie films, I had to search everywhere for information about it just to make sure it wasn't Italian.

Monster Dog (1984)

Monster Dog AKA Leviatan
Claudio Fragasso, aka Clyde Anderson (Zombie 4: After Death, Troll 2) directed this cinematic time capsule of 1980s headbanger horror starring Alice Cooper. Cooper stars as Vincent Raven, international rock superstar, “the biggest rockstar in the world” in the poorly dubbed dialogue of his girlfriend. He is also a werewolf, and has returned to his ancestral home in the old country to film his latest music video with his band, and confront the family lycanthrope curse. The film opens and closes with an original music video from Cooper, and I must say it is worth every penny to buy the bare bones DVD with the piss-poor transfer just to have the music video, whether you like his music or not. The film also features Fragasso’s trademark overused fog machine, and a motley crew of actors who overact or underact, but can’t seem to do anything in between.

Pledge Night (1988)

A Shapiro/Glickenhaus production, directed by Paul Ziller
         I never knew egg beaters could be used as a murder weapon until I watched this wacky little film. In fact this teen slasher movie has some of the most inventive death scenes ever committed to celluloid. A boy is strangled with someone’s spinal cord, a guy has a cherry bomb shoved up his ass, a hand comes up out of a toilet to kill another guy, and there’s a demon that keeps popping out of frat brothers chests, like in Alien (1979). This time the killings are done by a supernatural psycho named Acid Sid. These and other oddities more than make up for the lazy, amateurish feel to the movie. But the ample amounts of the red stuff, and the obvious toilet humor (just loot at the VHS cover), gives this one the Beavis and Butthead seal of approval.
The Shapiro/Glickenhaus production team has also created some pretty rockin' exploitation films such as the Basket Case series, Maniac Cop, and my favorite martial arts movie of all time, No Retreat, No Surrender 2: Raging Thunder (1988).
With it’s crazy twist ending and soundtrack by Anthrax, this 1990 slasher film bears a strong resemblance to Killer Party (1986). Joey Belladonna ,the singer from Anthrax makes a cameo appearance and then gets killed. Filmed at Rutgers University in New Jersey.

Jess Franco's Demoniac (1979)

Demoniac AKA Exorcism, Directed by Jess Franco

Let’s all thank Jess Franco giving us this time capsule on film. The atmosphere of this French trash pile absolutely oozes 70s Euro trash pussystink from every pore. And the dialogue is something you have to hear to believe. A bizarre, perverted old man, on the run from Interpol, is murdering prostitutes while hot on the trail of a satanic cult. It’s actually one of the more memorable Jess Franco films I have seen. If you like trash cinema, particularly of the Eurosleaze variety, you really can’t go wrong with a Jess Franco film. This film was re-released uncut on DVD under the title EXORCISM, but with an appalling lack of cover artwork. See above right image. Boooorrriiiiiiiiiinnnggg!!!!
The whole reason I watched this VHS tape in the first place was because the cover art was DOPE! Frequently DVD companies can secure the rights to the film but not the original artwork. Sometimes the company doesn’t even know who owns the rights to the artwork, especially if the film is old or from a foreign country.

Eaten Alive! AKA Mangiati Vivi! (1980)

Eaten Alive aka The Emerald Jungle, aka Doomed To Die, original title in Italian: Mangiati Vivi (1980, D. Umberto Lenzi)

Personally I think this is the best out of all the Italian cannibal movies, and definitely the one with the most character. Umberto Lenzi was at his most absurd, sleazy best. This one has every sick gag featured Cannibal Ferox and Cannibal Holocaust, just as much gore, and more. There is rape, gang rape, ritual gang rape, penis cutting, penis eating, breast eating, it has everything Cannibal Holocaust and Cannibal Ferox have, except, of course, originality.

The Deadly Spawn (1983)

The Deadly Spawn aka Return of the Alien’s Deadly Spawn:

Over the top gore and disgusting alien creatures make a winning combination in Douglas McKeown and Charles Hildebrandt’s low budget drive in flick. The alien, which strongly resembles the killer venus fly trap from Little Shop of Horrors, reproduces asexually and spawns thousands of little eel like creepy crawlies that slither and fan out across the countryside, a gag imitated countless times in dozens of B-movies since the films conception in 1980. Which films spawned, inspired, or copied the various creature designs and sight gags contained in The Deadly Spawn is a discussion in itself. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery then the artists behind this century’s horror films hold each other in higher esteem than those of any other film genre.
This film was originally released in the early 1980s by Continental Video in an oversized video box as Return of the Alien’s Deadly Spawn, but has been re-released on DVD by Synapse as The Deadly Spawn. The DVD features audio commentaries, deleted scenes, and picture quality far superior to any version previously available on VHS. Hats off to Synapse for giving a cheesy old monster movie the tuxedo treatment.

Encounter At Raven's Gate (1988)

I’m not sure what to make of this film, or who to recommend it to. All I can say is I liked it, it was amazingly well made, and it definitely held my interest throughout the duration of its run time.
Visually, film has amazing composition. The cinematography and directing is striking. The audio is quite striking as well, like during the dog attack the sound of digiridoos (spelling?) blends with the dog’s growling.
The film reminded me there are still many things in nature we do not completely understand yet. Some things seem to defy scientific explanation. Having just finished viewing this film for the first time, I could probably write a dozen pages about this film and how I interpret it. Someone else could do the same and our ideas might be quite different.
For one, this film is about is how every once in a while, whether you live in the city or the country, sometimes everybody’s biggest problems can come to the surface all at once. In this film, the s--- hits the fan for several different people in the same place, but in different ways. There are no flat, one-dimensional characters here.
I don’t want to muddle people’s impressions of this film with comparisons to other movies. There is definitely some “X-Files” type stuff going on, and parts of it reminded me of Close Encounters of the Third Kind. But in general this film is quite unique, and is virtually unknown in the United States.
There is no DVD available in NTSC Region 1, and the copy I watched was a dusty old VHS tape issued by HBO, I recently found it in the Sci-Fi section of the old, cluttered video store I work at. The cover looked interesting. Usually when I find a film made in certain foreign countries, I assume a lot of people there must have liked it if it a US distributor picked it up. Of course that is not always true, and thousands of great foreign films never get released here, while plenty of crap finds its way here thanks to the money hungry corporations monopolizing the distribution networks. But I’ve always had good luck with films from Australia, such as Chopper, Razorback, and The Last Wave.
I really hope this film gets a DVD release over here. I would love to view it with better picture quality. I am also curious to know if this film was big hit in Australia.

My Thoughts On Upcoming Horror Remakes, Part 1

My Thoughts On The Silent Night, Deadly Night remake
This could be good if...
-the guy that directed The Fog remake doesn't direct it. That was one of the most generic remakes of recent. I heard he was attached to the project at one point. What were they thinking? Probably all the extra money they would make from teeny boppers willing to shell out 10 bucks at the theater because the film will be rated PG-13.
-They don't wimp out and sanitize the damn thing like they've done with so many remakes and sequels recently. It better not be PG-13. It should be a "hard R" rating with loads of gore and shock value.
-I think the key to a cool remake is just the word "more." For example, the Dawn of the Dead remake, was well received by audiences. I think it was because there were more zombies, gore, bullets, mayhem, there were even several more characters trapped in the mall than in the original. They even made the zombies fast. The Romero zombie survival strategy kind of went out the window with zombies that could actually chase you down.
Anyway, another thing about the original Silent Night is it's social commentary on Catholic guilt, sexual repression, and even the linking of sex with violence in the killer's mind.
I still wish they would stop remaking 70s and 80s horror movies, no matter they do it. Why can't these filmmakers be content with ripping off ideas or making loads of copycat movies? They never seemed to have a problem with that up until a few years ago.
Horror trivia hounds may recall that Silent Night Deadly Night came out in 1984, but loads of other "killer Santa Claus" movies had come out years before. I don't know who pioneered the idea, but Christmas Evil came out in 1980. Silent Night Deadly Night just happened to be more popular than that one (and deservedly so in my opinion), so it is remembered better than the others.
By the way, I'd like to thank Anchor Bay for reissuing their DVD of this classic. Hell yeah.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Howling VII: Worst Movie I've Ever Watched?

Film Review:

Howling 7: New Moon Rising:

I love this movie because it sucked so bad. You really have to see it to believe it. It's a really unique film. After finishing it, I actually rewound the tape (nobody's ever issued it on DVD) and watched it again, just to be sure it was actually as bad as I thought it was the first time I watched it. I really want to buy this movie and just put it on as background noise whenever I'm doing something else. It's just amazing how bad it is. It shows me what makes a movie good by showing what makes a movie bad.

Oh man. This is the Holy Grail. The absolute worst of the worst. Forget Troll 2, Komodo vs. Cobra, 2 Sick, forget EVERYTHING, this is hands down the worst one. This is inspiring. Here is a list of the magnificent attributes of HOWLING VII: New Moon Rising.
-No actor appears to be under the age of 30. Only one of the characters appears under age 40. This movie is like a nursing home for elderly and middle aged never-has-been actors.
-The acting is not even wooden, it is petrified wood. There is a country western music soundtrack. There are line dancing sequences. And even those appear as tired, staged, and half hearted as the rest of the film.
-The dialogue features the corniest jokes imaginable. It is absolute bottom of the barrel bar room banter, stuff that you would not laugh at no matter how wasted you are, even if you were a werewolf.
-All of the action and werewolf scenes before the climax are clips from the previous six Howling movies.
-The original footage of the werewolf comprises a total of only 10 SECONDS of the entire film! The time elapsed from the transformation of the werewolf until it is gunned down in a hail of silver bullets is just under 30 SECONDS!
-The picture quality is just above that of a home camcorder.
In addition to some of the highlights mentioned above, here are some interesting facts about the techniques used to make a film like Howling 7:
-None of the actors used were professional actors. The cast is composed of writer and producer Clive Turner, a few local country western musicians, and a handful of townspeople in the filming location of Pioneer Town in Yucca Valley, California.

The campfire sing along song towards the end, the one that starts out “Oh they don’t make drugs like they used to…” is priceless.
This film will have you shaking your head, cringing, and dropping your jaw scene after scene, line after line, country song after country song. This is the baddest of the bad, the lowest of the low, and I loved every minute of it.

Short Reviews for some unremarkable films

Short reviews for a few unremarkable films:

Curse 4- Despite its Italian cast and crew, this film is void of both gore and nudity and the plot has nothing to do with the previous films in the Curse series. The scene where Christ comes to life, gets down off the cross, and kills the priest is the film’s only redeeming quality.

Breeders- This one is a real cheapo sleaze fest with tons of nudity. An alien species is taking over the bodies of New York men and raping virgin after virgin in order to procreate. It’s kind of like Humanoids from the Deep but really amateurish. Keep an eye out towards the end and you will see a naked blonde in the vat of alien semen that looks suspiciously like Rosanna Arquette. Turns out it wasn’t her though. That would’ve been funny.

Chainsaw Sally- Imagine a Texas Chainsaw sequel with a tiny fraction of the budget but a much sicker sense of humor. Instead of Leatherface we have Sally, a mild mannered librarian by day, a cannibalistic bondage freak by night. She lives with her gay brother in a shack strewn with various weapons, torture tools, and horror movie memorabilia. Sally is literally to die for, played by the stunning, raven-haired sex bomb, April Monique Burril. Gunnar Hansen, the original Leatherface, has a minor role. What little funding went into it was used wisely, and there’s some great cinematography with the digital camcorder they shot it on. The film was also cleverly marketed and every web geek has heard of it. I propose a sequel!

Nightlife- A rather generic entry into 80s teen horror, this one is sort of like Night of the Creeps but without the cleverness. There are some pretty good gore scenes and necrophilia jokes, however, and when the film turns sick it doesn’t wimp out.

The Dark Power- This is boring amateurish stuff with little gore and only one nude scene. This one starts out giving us high hopes but fails to deliver. The zombies are little more than a few dorks in Halloween masks. Its only excuse is that it was a student film, shot in Kernersville, NC, near Greensboro. Otherwise it’s so bad it’s just bad. Next!

Hellgate- The funniest thing about this South African production is the accents. Several cast members put on fake American accents, some use their South African accent, and others switch back and forth randomly. South Africa has actually put out a few really good horror films such as Dust Devil, and City of Blood. This is not one of them but I still enjoyed it. There is quite a bit of gratuitous nudity, decent gore, and a plot that makes absolutely no sense.


Here is a review I wrote about a horror movie I recently discovered.


AKA Nightmare in a Damaged Brain, AKA Bloodsplash

1981, directed by Romano Scavolini

George is a very troubled young man. When he is not strangling and stabbing young people, he is stalking houses, hiding in the closet, and generally acting creepy. Every once in a while when things get to be too much, he has a seizure.

Nightmare is a unique slasher film. It does not follow the usual cookie-cutter routine of the dark faceless figure knocking off teenagers one by one. Instead it tells the story of a schizophrenic psychopath institutionalized since childhood when he murdered his parents with an axe. After being treated with an experimental drug, the doctors pronounce him cured and he is released back into the world. From there the story takes us on the road from the seedy peep shows of Manhattan’s 42nd street to the white sand beaches of Daytona Beach, Florida where he grew up. George returns to his childhood home. He stalks its current residents, stalking the house and killing them one by one over the course of a week.

The film itself has an uneasy feeling to it, from the grainy picture quality to the lack of music. George rarely speaks during the film, but his wide eyed, schizoid stare tells us everything we need to know about

This is one of several slasher movies that Tom Savini worked on in the early 1980s, and is probably the bloodiest. It was released in 1981, the same year as his equally jarring films The Prowler, and The Burning. Like the latter of the two, it saw a limited release on home video and slipped into obscurity. On some VHS releases it was titled Nightmare in a Damaged Brain. Hopefully, like The Burning, it will see at least a basic DVD release. This is a truly original horror film with a style all its own, regardless of who did the effects.
I am hoping that a DVD will be released of this film. Code Red has announced plans to release in on DVD sometime in 2008. I hope they follow through.


Check it out people. Here is my blog spot I'm trying out to chronicle my quest for the trashiest gore films ever committed to celluloid. Why? Because I just got hi speed internet, fool! So sit back and follow my adventures in obscurity in The Trashy Horror Charlie Show!

Perhaps a little about myself: My name is Charlie Counselman, and I am trying to develop my writing hobby. In addition to movies I like to travel, especially in "third world" countries. I like hip hop and electronic music, asian food, I work at a video store, and I collect DVDs. I live a pretty straight and narrow life, I'm an upstanding citizen, I suppose. I am really good with people and I can talk to anyone. 
I was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts on November 7, 1980. Coincidentally, this was the day President Reagan was elected. I was supposed to be born on Halloween, that would have been more appropriate. My mother was a psychologist, and my father was a professor at MIT. They still live in Boston. I have an older sister who lives in Providence, Rhode Island. Nobody else in my family really likes horror movies.
Growing up I rented alot of movies. I came up in the golden age of home video, the 80s and 90s. My folks refused to get cable TV so I rented a lot of stuff, and saw a lot of random movies on network TV. Growing up in the Boston area, I swore by one particular chain of video rental stores called Videosmith. They have since gone out of business, like most independent movie stores. It was there that I would spend substantial periods of time browing the horror, action, and cult films sections. 
These days I live in Greensboro, North Carolina and work at another independent video store. I watch alot of dusty old VHS tapes of films nobody has ever heard of. I only know a handful of people here whose movie knowledge equals mine. Hopefully this internet thing will introduce me to some more people that can expand my horizons in terms of film. 

In the mean time, let's get down to business. Let's go dumpster diving for some cool films.