Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Lake Placid 3 - coming soon from Sony Pictures

Available on DVD/Blu-ray October 26, 2010

The Red Band trailer for LAKE PLACID 3 is now available for download!

LAKE PLACID 3: The monster crocodiles return in a frightening new installment of the successful horror franchise when the unrated Lake Placid 3 debuts on DVD October 26 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. Colin Ferguson (TV’s “Eureka”), Yancy Butler (Kickass), Kacey Barnfield (Resident Evil: Afterlife), and Michael Ironside (Terminator Salvation) star in the latest incarnation of the campy, blood-thirsty horror series. Fans will eat up the steamy, sexy and gory Lake Placid 3 when it arrives on DVD for $24.96 SRP, boasting unrated, unreleased scenes suitable only for adult audiences.

Get ready for a living, feeding nightmare when a swarm of gigantic crocodiles terrorizes a secluded country lake. When local wildlife is brutally mauled and campers are reduced to carcasses, biologist Nathan Bickerman (Colin Ferguson) knows a voracious predator is on the loose. So does a feisty female hunting guide (Yancy Butler) out for her next trophy. As the body count rises, the local sheriff tries to keep things quiet and keep the tourists coming. But when the horrifying, hulking truth emerges, can anyone stop these cold blooded killers before they claim their next victim? Lake Placid 3 is pulse pounding, adrenaline pumping, pure horror film fun.

Lake Placid 3 has a running time of 93 minutes and is unrated. The film contains graphic violence and full frontal nudity.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Population: 1 (1986, Rene Daalder)

The Screamers were one of the first LA punk bands of the late 70's.  Back before hardcore bands like Black Flag, The Circle Jerks and The Adolescents were cropping up, much like the late British punk movement of the same time, punk was more of an attitude than a defined sound.  You had bands like The Alleycats, The Eyes, X, The Dickies and The Weirdos who all had their own unique sound.  The Screamers should also be included, considering their unconventional drum/vocals/dual keyboard lineup - hardly what you'd expect from a punk band.  Their sound however was just as fast, aggressive and loud (or maybe more so) than many of their contemporaries.  Tomata Du Plenty, the singer for The Screamers, was simultaneously charismatic and fierce - making him the perfect lead for a movie like Population: 1.  This film also includes other members of The Screamers and several of their contemporaries, not to mention some teenager named Beck (seen playing an accordion for about 10 seconds).

Population: 1 has a fairly simple plot.  Tomata Du Plenty plays the last man on Earth living in some sort of bomb shelter/shack thing.  Tomata spends the film's 60 minute running time giving us a personal history lesson, replacing many of the historical figures and occurrences with himself.  He also tells us the story of his past love (Sheela Edwards).

Population: 1 is basically an arty, hour long music video made by people who knew they would never be on MTV (and probably never wanted to).  The film is silly, fun, very 80s, clever, weird and danceable!  Tomata is a hoot to watch, switching from acting to singing and dancing, not just crossing that fourth wall between actor and audience, but smashing it into a million pieces.  Now that I think of it, Population: 1 is more of an arty, hour long, post apocalyptic, punk musical than a music video.  Depending on your taste, you may find the film very dated or you may enjoy the nostalgic 80's feel (the visuals reminded me of The Cars' "You Might Think" music video).  Kudos to Cult Epics for preserving this neat little film (and for sending me a screener).  Their 2 disc DVD has a restored director's cut, concert footage of The Screamers, unreleased music tracks, still gallery, trailers, interviews, Tomato Du Plenty tribute and more!  A really great set for a fairly obscure film.

RATING:  7/10

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Don't Go in the Woods (1981, James Bryan)

I have vivid memories of seeing Don't Go in the Woods for the first time.  I was probably 16 or so and I rented it from my local Blockbuster on VHS.  Remember when Blockbuster actually had good movies, not just 376 copies of the latest Jennifer Aniston RomCom?  I was already a huge horror fan, which started with my love of Friday the 13th.  I would pretty much watch anything that took place in the woods or a summer camp.  It even extended into non-genre titles (Meatballs part 2, Little Darlings, Poison Ivy - the one with Michael J. Fox, not Drew Barrymore, Indian Summer, etc, etc, etc) as well.  I remember watching this film at home and, oddly enough, my mother sat down and started watching it with me.  I still remember her saying "sometimes you just have to watch a movie like this", something I've always held close to my heart.  I watched the film again a few years ago and, like the first time I watched it, I thought it was fun but nothing great.  After reading the chapter on James Bryan in Stephen Thrower's exquisite Nightmare USA I decided I'd give the film another shot.

A group of four friends go hiking in the woods, reluctant Peter (Jack McClelland), shy Ingrid (Mary Gail Artz), prankster Joanie (Angie Brown) and straight-laced Craig (James P. Hayden).  Almost immediately they, as well as several other tourists hiking in the same area, become the target for a crazed, hermit/mountain man dressed in animal fur who lives in a shack and hunts people.  Peter and Ingrid manage to escape but after the local authorities sit around licking their nuts, they decide to go back into the woods to find their friends. 

I guess for this film, third time is a charm.  I absolutely loved it!  It was cheesy, poorly acted, silly but entertaining to the highest degree.  The gore started immediately and didn't let up until the end.  It was great how they just kept throwing random people into the film for the sole purpose of being slaughtered.  Normally a slasher film takes some time to get things going, it might start out with a few kills but then there is some down time.  Don't Go in the Woods had no down time.  It was all action.  After one person would get slaughtered, the next victim would quickly be introduced.  The group of four were all fun to watch and the maniac was a truly scary and awesome villain.  Though you could tell it was all fake, some of the makeup effects and kills were quite brutal and creative.  I highly recommend picking up Code Red's 25th anniversary DVD, which has interviews with the director and cast, two commentary tracks and a ton of other stuff.

RATING:  8/10


Creep (1995, Tim Ritter)

Here we have another film by Tim Ritter, the man (well high schooler) who helmed one of the first shot on video horror films -Truth or Dare: A Critical Madness (see my review here).  Creep was made 9 years later and surprisingly looks every bit as amateurish as Truth or Dare.  Guess that's just how this director rolls.  I actually heard of this film through the wonderful book Golden Age of Crap by Nathan Shumate of Cold Fusion Video Reviews (my review of the book coming soon).  I could tell that the taboo-smashing sleaziness of the film made it a must see.  Thanks to MVD Entertainment for being kind enough to send me a screener for Creep (and Truth or Dare).

A psychotic prison escapee named Angus Lynch (Joel D. Wynkoop), whose disturbed parents made him and his sister Kascha "touch" each other as kids goes to find said sister (Kathy Willets), who now has an illustrious career as a stripper.  He ends up stabbing her abusive, elephantine boyfriend and the two go on a killing spree.  The film also follows cop Jackie Ketchum (Patricia Paul), a sort of female Dirty Harry (I guess you could say Dirty Harriette?  Sounds like the name of a Garbage Pail Kid...or a filthy sex act).  Ketchum, whose father is the Police Chief, gets suspended after forcing a freaky lady at a grocery store trying to poison baby food to eat the poison (reminds me of something out of Bad Lieutenant, except she didn't get high and fuck the lady first).  Obviously there is a connection between the Ketchums and the Lynches but we don't find that out until the end.

Creep was quite an interesting experience.  As I stated before, this is low budget at its lowest.  Ritter is still using some crappy hand held video camera, in camera special effects and shooting locations that are probably in his hometown and owned by friends.  Speaking of friends, Ritter is also employing pretty much the same cast of talentless, mulleted, mustachioed meatheads as in Truth or Dare, as well as a few female "actresses" who are about as arousing as sticking your penis in a beehive.  "Star" (aka over the hill porn star) Kathy Willets and her leathery, freckled implants (with "fake" burn mark that probably wasn't - you know how strip club owners can be) was not a pretty sight.  Actually though, the film was surprisingly disturbing and watchable.  I did find myself laughing out loud a few times at the dialogue, acting, haircuts, etc but there was just something mesmerizing about it all.  The character Angus Lynch is easily one of the most vile and despicable characters I have ever witnessed in any film.  His unpredictable actions and complete disregard for human life is startling and revolting.  If this film were more professionally made it could be a classic, but as it is, it's still a fun piece of low budget film making.

RATING: 6/10

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Truth or Dare: A Critical Madness (1986, Tim Ritter)

After horror films started taking off on the home video market in the early-mid 80's, producers realized they could make films cheaply to be released straight to video.  They could shoot them on video and release the films themselves to net a higher profit.  Truth or Dare is one of the early films shot on video and released straight to video.  With a budget of $250,000 and a 17 year old director still in high school, the results are, well, exactly what you'd expect.  Now, 14 years later, the film is available again on DVD from MVD Entertainment Group (after being out of print for quite some time).

Truth or Dare is the story of Mike Strauber (John Brace), an average guy who goes nuts after he finds his wife humping his friend.  Mike decides to drive around to get his head together and decides to pick up a female hitch hiker.  They go into the woods together and start playing Truth or Dare.  Things get ugly when they start mutilating each other, only to find that the woman is in Mike's obviously polluted psyche and that he is mutilating himself.  Woah.  After 13 months in a hospital to recover (we are told this by some very low tech scrolling text followed by an endless number of "..."s), Mike plays Truth or Dare again, this time with some fellow (imaginary) patients.  After cutting part of his face off, he then makes himself a mask (in metal shop, of course) to cover up his new hunting knife makeover and escapes the hospital.  Mike then goes on a killing spree (this time for real) and it is up to a bunch of bumbling cops to catch him.

Truth or Dare was an...uh...interesting film.  If it wasn't so damn weird and off the wall, I would say it was terrible.  The truth is, the film was quite watchable (though it would have been more so with a six pack and a bunch of friends to throw beer cans at the TV screen).  The acting is some of the worst ever committed to film (..er..tape) and it is so dated that you expect to hear the latest Banarama and Kajagoogoo songs at any moment.  Unfortunately we get some crappy synthesizer and schmaltzy piano music (I use the term music loosely) instead.  Surprisingly though, these elements, combined with some viciously taboo kills and unexpectedly well done stunts (which is I'm guessing where most of the budget went), are what make the film so fun.  Oh and if you're a fan of terrible music, you'll be excited to know that AJ McLean from the Backstreet Boys plays the young Mike Strauber (which just adds to the oddness of this movie).  Yes, this movie is terrible and resembles many of the movies my friends and I used to make in high school, but its sheer ridiculousness makes it watchable.  Make sure you have plenty of beer and fellow bad movie loving friends to share the enjoyment.

RATING: 4/10 (this is an average of the film's 2/10 quality level and its 6/10 fun level)

Truth Or Dare? A Critical Madness

Friday, August 20, 2010

Deathsport / Battle Truck (1978/1982, Allan Arkush & Nicholas Niciphor/Harley Cokeliss)

Here we have yet another new release from Shout! Factory's Roger Corman Cult Classics line.  This time, we are greeted with a double feature of futuristic action films.  I was excited when this title was announced because I had been looking for an affordable copy of the previous, out of print versions of Deathsport for awhile, to no avail.  I had heard that Deathsport was the official sequel to the brilliant Death Race 2000 , which instantly made me excited.  Battle Truck however, I had never even heard of but figured it was probably worth a watch, based on the cast and its association with Corman.

Deathsport is the story of Kaz Oshay (David Carradine), a futuristic Range Guide (whatever the hell that is) who is captured by the evil ruler Lord Zirpola (David McLean) and imprisoned to be subjected to Deathsport, which has replaced the death penalty.  Deathsport is where the accused must survive a minefield on a motorcycle.  Oh, did I mention this film takes place in the year 3000?  Anyway, Kaz meets up with Deneer (Claudia Jennings) and as they try to escape, they are pestered by Ankar Moor (Richard Lynch), who has a secret bond with Kaz.

Battle Truck is another futuristic, sci-fi tale taking place after "the oil wars" where gas becomes impossible to find.  A small militia, lead by Colonel Straker (James Wainwright), who travels around in a gigantic armored truck (hence the film's title), finds a huge diesel reserve.  Straker's daughter Corlie (Annie McEnroe) refuses to go along with her father's evil ways and runs away.  She is found by desert loner Hunter (Michael Beck) and is brought to the nearby Clearwater Farm, a democratic community who accepts her as one of their own.  Corlie is soon kidnapped by her father and is then  pursued by Hunter to destroy the evil army and save Corlie.

Surprisingly, I didn't really like Deathsport.  In fact, there were a few scenes that I found unintentionally hilarious and cringe-worthy.  The story was hard to follow and the characters weren't very developed.  The use of matte paintings as backgrounds has NEVER been more obvious than in this film and the acting left much to be desired.  Even Carradine, who I usually love, was sleepwalking through the film.  There were a couple of positives about the film, a) Richard Lynch who is so eerily handsome and ugly at the same time and always dastardly and b) the scene with a naked Claudia Jennings stuck in the torture chamber surrounded by what looked like electrified stripper pole wind chimes.  The film's transfer was decent with the far more weathered "uncut" scenes added back in to make for the most uncut version available, something I don't love, but prefer over a cut version.  Oh and if you are looking for a sequel to Death Race 2000, check out Cannonball!, a film directed by Paul Bartel (Death Race 2000) and starring David Carradine (review coming soon).

Battle Truck on the other hand was awesome.  A very watchable, entertaining and surprisingly well made film (despite what I'm guessing was a super low budget).  The story and characters had some uncharacteristic (for a Corman film) depth, the acting was top notch all around and the action scenes, scenery, futuristic vehicles and costumes were all intricate and refreshing.  Michael (The Warriors) Beck did a great job as Hunter as did Annie McEnroe as the rebellious Corlie.  The rest of the cast were also fun (James Wainwright, John Ratzenberger, Bruno Lawrence) and the stunt motorcycle and vehicle work were amazing (especially the scenes with Hunter riding through the desert on his motorcyle).  Overall a very unexpected gem that deserves to be seen.  Shout! Factory's transfer for this scarce film looks clean and clear and features a director commentary track.

RATING:  4/10 (Deathsport) / 7/10 (Battle Truck)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Piranha (1978, Joe Dante)

Some of my dedicated followers (Hi Mom!) may be saying right now "Uh Starmummy, you stupid bastard, you already reviewed Piranha a year ago!"  Though this may be entirely true Mom, I thought it was worth revisiting, for two main reasons.  A) Alexandre Aja's "re-imagining" (or whatever the hell they are calling remakes these days) of Piranha in 3D is coming to theaters this month and B) Shout! Factory's new re-release of this out of print cult classic (on DVD and for the first time Blu-Ray) deserves some attention.

I'll summarize the plot quickly here (you can read my old review for a more detailed synopsis).  Two teens sneak into an abandoned research facility in the middle of nowhere, go skinny dipping in the random pool that they find there (always a good idea to go swimming in a pool found at an abandoned research facility) and get eaten by killer piranha living in the pool.  An investigator goes to look for them and, with the help of a recluse living near the facility, they accidentally release the piranha into the local river.  They must then find a way to stop the piranha from reaching a nearby summer camp and resort.

A refresher on this film proved worthwhile, for a few reasons.  I actually enjoyed it more than the last time I watched it.  Though not a perfect film, its mix of humor and horror worked well (though I am still one of two people I know who like Piranha 2 better).  The makeup FX work was very well done and the fact that the film had the audacity/balls to kill off a bunch of kids was refreshing (not that I condone child murder or anything).  The main reason I'm glad I gave the film a chance is due to the love provided by Shout Factory's new re-release.  The picture quality looks very bright and clean with very few blemishes and the sound is clear as well.  The bonus features alone are worth the price of the disc, including director/producer commentary, behind the scenes footage, making of featurette, bloopers, outtakes and much more.  Toss in a nice booklet, reversible cover art and a lenticular cover sleeve (on the DVD only) and you've got another fantastic release from Shout Factory.

RATING:  7/10 (though the quality of the bonus features make it a 10/10)

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Humanoids from the Deep (1980, Barbara Peeters)

FINALLY, the long out of print horror classic Humanoids from the Deep has been re-released by my current favorite company Shout! Factory .  Originally released on DVD in 1999, this film has been out of print for several years but can now be had again finally, on both DVD and Blu-Ray.  I have seen many of Roger Corman's exploitation classics and Humanoids was one that I knew would be right up my alley.  Not only were the Humanoids designed by makeup FX wizard Rob (The Thing) Bottin, but it starred the great Vic Morrow right around the time he started making cheesy Italian films for Enzo Castellari and only two years before his tragic death on the set of Twilight Zone: The Movie.

Humanoids from the Deep is as descriptive a title as it comes for an 80s horror/creature film.  The film is about mutant creatures who live in the water and eventually come on land looking for human women to breed with.  After a suspicious explosion occurs in the water, local fisherman Jim (Doug McClure) suspects something is not right in the town of Noyo, where he lives.  After some dead dogs are discovered, another local fisherman, Hank Slattery (Morrow) accuses Native American Johnny Eagle (Anthony Penya) of the killings.  Johnny opposes the fish canning company Canco, who wants to build in the area, and whom Slattery is in favor of.  They soon find that they have a bigger problem on their hands when the Humanoids start killing people and raping women.

Humanoids from the Deep was one of few films I have seen that actually lived up to the hype I created for it from wanting to see it for so long.  The film had plenty of gory killings, slimy badass monsters and plenty of women losing their bathing suits.  Morrow does a phenomenal job of playing the town jerk, not too far off from his racist asshole role in the Twilight Zone movie.  The rest of the acting (save some of the Humanoid fodder) is surprisingly accomplished and doesn't scream the low budget that some of Corman's other pictures do.  Speaking of budget, nothing here seems ridiculously cheap or cheesy, especially the monsters who kick all kind of ass.  If you're looking for a monster movie with lots of gore and T &A, Humanoids from the Deep is the film for you!

RATING:  8/10



Monday, August 2, 2010

Shout! Factory releasing more Roger Corman Cult Classics TODAY!

That's right folks.  Today marks a very special day for many horror fans. 

FINALLY Roger Corman's much sought after Humanoids from the Deep is being re-released on DVD and Blu-Ray by the great Shout! Factory.  

 Not only that but also the much loved Joe Dante classic Piranha (on DVD and Blu-Ray) is here just in time to wet our appetites for the new Piranha 3D to hit theaters.

Lastly, a double feature of Death Sport (the official sequel to Death Race 2000) and Battle Truck (DVD only) will hit store shelves today too!

Pick them up at your local DVD seller or order them from Amazon using the links below.