Monday, October 31, 2011

Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Touch of Satan (2011, Shout! Factory)

Along with The Atomic Brain comes another lost MST3K gem, The Touch of Satan.  Mike Nelson, Crow and Servo are back in this season 9 episode of demonic possession.  Another Shout! Select title only available on their website, The Touch of Satan was a must see for me mainly because of my love for MST3K and 70s satanic films.

The Touch of Satan follows young drifter Jody who pulls down a rural road to eat his lunch by the river.  He is spotted by Melissa, a young woman who lives in a nearby farmhouse.  Jody and Melissa soon fall in love but Melissa has some secrets that she can't hide much the hideously deformed old woman also living in the farmhouse killing anyone who enters.

The Touch of Satan could definitely be considered a lesser entry in the satanic horror movies of the 70s and once again, the worse the better for MST3K since this turns out to be one of the most enjoyable episodes I've seen.  Frequent cracks about the film's awkward pauses and overall slow pace provide many jokes for the crew.  Though the film had some promise of not being terrible, it turned out to be just that but it really didn't matter because it just made the episode funnier.

RATING:  9/10

Order The Touch of Satan along with The Atomic Brain and you'll receive a free MST3K Stress Ball (while supplies last). 

Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Atomic Brain (2011, Shout! Factory)

Once again Shout! Factory brings us a great lost episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000, The Atomic Brain.  From MST3K's season 5, this feature stars Mike Nelson along with his robot co-hosts Crow T. Robot and Tom Servo.  This episode is a Shout! Select title only available through Shout! Factory's website.

The Atomic Brain follows an devious older woman who wants nothing more than to be young.  She has employed a mad doctor to transplant her brain into the body of a young woman.  3 beautiful young women are selected to stay at the woman's home and laboratory.  Which woman will be chosen as the body donor and will the transplant be successful?

The Atomic Brain is another horrid, no budget film that proves as fodder for the crew of the Satellite of Love.  The laughs come frequently, targeting the ridiculousness of the movie's plot.  One of the biggest laughs comes from the crew's hilarious quips about one of the young women's horrid attempt at a British accent.  Also included with The Atomic Brain is another great short titled What About Juvenile Delinquency?  This short follows a group of derelict kids who beat up an older man that turns out to be the father of one of the gang members they were on their way to pick up.  The MST3K shorts are always my favorite thing about the series and this one is no exception.  Overall this is another episode that gets laughs from start to finish and is sure to please MST3K fans.

RATING:  8/10

Order The Atomic Brain now along with Touch of Satan and you'll receive a free MST3K Stress Ball (while supplies last).

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Lethal Ladies Collection (2011, Shout! Factory)

The brilliant Roger Corman's Cult Classic line continues with this fantastic three film set - Lethal Ladies Collection.  This set includes two films by Filipino exploitation great Cirio H. Santiago - Firecracker and TNT Jackson, as well as a female spy film Too Hot to Handle.  I had never seen any of these films before so it was a treat getting three hard to find exploitation films in one set.

Firecracker (1981, Cirio H. Santiago) stars Jillian Kesner as Susanne Carter, a martial arts expert who goes to the Philippines to find her missing sister.  While she is there, she meets up with Rey (Raymond King), a local fighter and Chuck Donner (Darby Hinton), another karate expert who works for the local mafia.  Susanne tries to infiltrate the mob and get close to Chuck to find out what happened to her sister.

TNT Jackson (1974, Cirio H. Santiago) stars Jeanne Bell as Diana "TNT" Jackson, another martial arts expert who goes to Hong Kong to find her missing brother (sound familiar?).  While she is there she gets entangled with a drug smuggling ring, a double agent and her brother's killer.

Too Hot to Handle (1977, Don Schain) features Cheri Caffaro as secret agent Samantha Fox.  Samantha uses her physical prowess and martial arts expertise (yes, again) to kill some gangsters in the Philippines.  She seduces every man she meets and eventually falls for the local policeman who is following the trail of bodies she is leaving.

So in case you couldn't tell, these three movies are all pretty similar, especially Firecracker and TNT Jackson, which are basically the same film.  Regardless, the three leads all do terrific jobs of kicking ass and seducing the villains.  Fortunately the films have enough martial arts action, bloody deaths and good performances to make them all must see pictures.  Plus they all fly by in less than 90 minutes, so there are really no slow parts.  Of the three, I'd probably say TNT Jackson was my favorite, but they are all quality exploitation films.  Special features include a handful of trailers, as well as an audio commentary with Cheri Caffaro.  The prints are all in surprisingly great shape with just enough grain to make them feel authentic.  Shout! Factory did a magnificent job with the transfers and sound, which is becoming expected based on their previous output.  Overall, this set is a must have for martial arts, female revenge, exploitation, cult and B movie fans.   

Firecracker:  8/10
TNT Jackson:  9/10
Too Hot to Handle:  8/10

This set is available directly from Shout! Factory HERE

Dead Cert (2010, Steven Lawson)

Recently released by Shout! Factory, Dead Cert is a new cult film that crosses the British Gangster genre with the Vampire genre.  Sounds like it could be really good or really bad.  I was intrigued when I read the premise and the cast of cockney tough guys like Craig Fairbrass, Jason Flemyng and Danny Dyer made for what I would suspect to be worthwhile.

Fairbrass plays Freddy Frankham, the owner of brand new gentleman's club who has a run in with some gang that turn out to be vampires.  It seems that the club was built on sacred vampire land and after a bet, Freddy loses the club to head vampire Dante Livienko (Billy Murray).  Freddy and his gang decide to get the club back, not knowing what they are getting themselves into.

Dead Cert is a good mix of gritty British crime, similar to Guy Ritchie's films, and modern day vampires.  The movie is stylishly filmed with lots of fast paced editing and decent vampire effects.  The story is pretty simple but the performances of the lead actors make Dead Cert a lot of fun to watch.  My only gripe with the film is that some of the characters are a little underdeveloped (especially the vampires) but I would still recommend the film to horror and crime movie fans.

RATING:  7/10

Dead Cert can be ordered directly from Shout! Factory on DVD HERE or on Blu Ray HERE

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Dead (2010, Howard J. Ford & Jonathan Ford)

The Dead is a new zombie film which is receiving a limited theatrical release this month.  Released by Global Cinema Distribution, this gut wrencher has been getting rave reviews for its use of terrifying, slow moving zombies and its dangerous African locations.  Directed by Howard J. Ford and Jonathan Ford, this one is poised to be a cult classic. 
The Dead stars Rob Freeman (Saving Private Ryan) as Army Lieutenant Brian Murphy who crash lands off the coast of Africa.  He barely makes it to shore, but once he does, he has to make his way through a swarm of flesh eating zombies.  He eventually meets up with an African Army Officer named Sgt. Dembele (Prince David Oseia), who is searching for his young son.  They attempt to make it to the closest airport in hopes of finding a salvageable plane (Murphy is a engineer who fixes Army vehicles).  But they must also avoid being bitten by the zombies that have begun to take over the world.
The Dead succeeds on many levels.  First is the Zombie FX.  There is a nice mix of practical and CGI FX that blend well together and look pretty realistic (and very nasty).  You will see severed limbs, nasty bites, bullets to the face and different states of decomposing dead.  Another aspect of the film that brings it a step above your typical zombie movie is the beautifully shot exotic locations.  Filmed on location in Africa, we see everything from the stunning shorelines to the lush forests to the barren deserts and the impoverished villages.  Though the story is pretty simple and the film moves along at a leisurely pace, what you are a left with is a very respectable addition to the over crowded zombie genre.  One other tiny gripe is that some of the acting seems a tad amateur but overall, this is definitely worth a watch (and better than most zombie films coming out now).
RATING:  8/10
Check HERE for upcoming screenings.