Saturday, November 26, 2011

Thankskilling (2010, Jordan Downey)

What better way to celebrate the festive holiday of Thanksgiving than a movie about a foul mouthed Turkey who kills college kids during their Thanksgiving break?  Well, I can't think of any other way!  MVD brings us this cult classic just in time to sit our bloated asses on the couch, pry the remote out of Grampa's sleeping hand and dig in!

Thankskilling is the story of a 500 year old turkey named Turkie who comes back from the dead to get revenge on the "white man" who killed him after the first Thanksgiving (I calculate that to be less than 500 years ago, but who's counting?).  Kristen, Ali, Darren, Billy and Johnny are 5 college kids coming home for Thanksgiving break when their car dies in the middle of nowhere.  They decide to camp out for the night and meet up with Turkie.  They must get home and find a way to kill Turkie before he kills them.

With a tagline of "Gobble Gobble Motherfucker!, it's pretty obvious that this film is not meant to be taken seriously.  Thankskilling was a lot of fun and the comedy really worked.  Turkie was one of the funniest villains I've ever seen in a horror film and his one liners were hilarious.  Throw in some surprisingly good makeup FX and lots of bad acting and you have an instant cult classic.  The film was only 67 minutes too so there was no time for any slow parts.  Sure the film was ridiculous and you have to be in the right mood to watch it, but it definitely worked and was one of the most enjoyable films I've seen in a long time.

RATING:  10/10

Thankskilling is available directly from MVD HERE

Friday, November 25, 2011

Jessicka Rabid (2011, Matthew Reel)

Coming December 13th from Troma is a disturbing little horror film called Jessicka Rabid.  Unlike anything I've ever seen before, this is a rough film and definitely not your typical goofy Troma film.  It seems lately Troma has been picking up more outside low budget films as opposed to self made films (for better or worse) and in this case I'd say the risk paid off.

Jessicka Rabid is about a family of sadistic low lives who keep a girl as their pet.  This girl, Jessicka, has been abused and mistreated so long that she thinks she is a dog.  She is abused by the family and any visitors that come to their house seem to know her and abuse her too.  Jessicka finally gets loose and goes on a killing spree against those that imprisoned her.

Jessicka Rabid is a disturbing little film that goes beyond your average horror title.  Not overly gory but unbelievably brutal and sick.  You can't help but feeling bad for Jessicka and all of the abuse that she goes through.  A very dark film with some of the most revolting characters you'll ever see, this one is not for the faint of heart.  Director Matthew Reel uses a fuzzy, hand held camera to film all of the brutality, giving it a news reel like quality, a la Last House on the Left.  Whether this film style is due to budget or not, it works incredibly well, making the horrific story that much more real.  Some of the acting is noticeably amateurish but almost in a good way because it really seems like these people aren't acting, but just living out another day in their twisted world.

RATING:  8/10

Pre-Order Jessicka Rabid directly from Troma HERE

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

News Flash: Shout! Factory announces holiday event 100's of home entertainment titles on sale now


Attention Loyal Fans, Pop Culture Enthusiasts and Collectors…

100’s of Titles on sale! 
CD’s, DVD’s and Blu-ray’s up to 70% off! 


Shout! Select Sale
In celebration of this collection, we’ve lowered the price of all Shout! Select titles 20% off! Due to popular demand, these offers have will be extended and available through 11/28/2011.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Never Too Young to Die (1986, Gil Bettman)

What is the weirdest movie you've ever seen?  Before an hour ago I don't know what I would have said but now I do.  It is Never Too Young to Die.  What makes this seemingly typical bad 80's movie so weird?  Pretty much everything.  From the completely random cast to the mishmash of genres to the fact the title has absolutely nothing to do with the movie, this one takes the cake.  Is it bad though?  Very.  But is it so bad it's good?  Read on.

Never Too Young to Die starts off with the one time James Bond, George Lazenby playing (shock!) a secret agent named Drew Stargrove who is trying to stop a madman from polluting the city's drinking water.  The madman ends up killing Stargrove but needs to find a diskette that Stargrove has hidden.  Enter Stargrove's son Lance played by the eternally cool John Stamos, a (23 year old) high school student.  Lance meets one of his father's accomplices, Danja Deering, played by 80s singer/model/actress Vanity and together they get into trouble with the madman who killed Lance's father.  Oh, did I mention that the madman behind all of this is a leather clad, heavy metal-cabaret singing hermaphrodite named Ragner played by none other than GENE SIMMONS?!?

Seriously.  What the fuck?  Throw in Robert Englund as Ragner's right hand man and you have one of the most awesomely non-sensical casts ever assembled.  To be honest though, the cast is the only reason I decided to watch this movie out of the millions of movies out there.  It was just too strange to pass up.  Other than the cast, the fact the film makers tries to mix so many genres into one movie is another factor in its weirdness.  I guess I'd call it a secret agent, romantic action film with a post-apocalyptic look, a little bit of gore and a drag musical number for good measure.  Now for the title.  Ok, so it was uttered by one of the characters in the film, but it really has nothing to do with it.  But I guess it's kind of a catchy title so I can see why they kept it.  It's probably better than my title Stargrove vs the Heavy Metal Hermaphrodite.  So, what's the verdict?  I actually must admit that I enjoyed this film way more than I should, but honestly it was the cast that did it.  None of the actors are actually talented but just seeing them thrown in together seemed like a stroke of genius.  If you don't like the cast then I would stay far away from this movie because it is pretty bad.  But it definitely fits into the so bad it's good category.  You even get a touching moment where Stamos tells Simmons that he is pretty and Simmons tries to kiss Stamos in return.  There is also a big reveal at the end that I predicted shortly after the movie started.  There is much to laugh at and probably sitting around with a few friends and a case of beer is the best way to watch this trainwreck.  I guess I'll give it a slightly above middle of the road rating only because the film was really bad but also quite enjoyable.

RATING:  6/10

As far as I know this film has never been released on DVD but you can get old VHS copies relatively cheaply.  Why this isn't on DVD is beyond me because I'm sure there is a niche of weirdos who would eat it up....or should I say...LICK IT UP.   LICK IT UP.  OH OH OH.  IT'S ONLY RIGHT NOW!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Klown Kamp Massacre (2010, Philip Gunn & David Valdez)

Coming December 13th from Troma, Klown Kamp Massacre is a low budget horror film using one of the most tried and true subjects in horror - CLOWNS (or in this case, KLOWNS).  I was lucky to have a childhood where clowns didn't plague my nightmares but I know plenty of people who did and it wasn't pretty.  Having to avoid the circus and anywhere else a clown might pop up doesn't sound like a fun childhood for me.  Klown Kamp Massacre isn't your typical killer clown movie though.  Read on and see what I mean.
The best way for me to describe Klown Kamp Massacre is to call it Friday the 13th with clowns.  Basically an aspiring clown named Edwin gets ridiculed many years ago at a clown camp and then goes on a killing rampage, offing all of the fellow clown campers.  Now, it's the present and the clown camp is being reopened by an aging clown named Bonzo.  Edwin makes his way back to camp and starts knocking off the clowns in training, one by one.
Klown Kamp Massacre has a good mixture of horror and comedy.  The death scenes are expertly done with scalpings, sliced throats, beheadings and several more grisly sights to make your stomach turn (the blown off face and the headless female clown are two stand outs).  The use of practical effects (as opposed to CGI) really makes a difference in delivering the gory goods.  The film also benefits from an over-the-top script using silly characters (they are clowns remember), juvenile humor and zany sound effects.  One other pleasant surprise was the quality of the cinematography.  It seems like a good HD camera was used and the directors were obviously schooled in their craft so the film definitely looked better than what a paltry budget usually delivers.  Throw in a twist ending, a spoof (or was it?) on the whole rapping clown/Insane Clown Posse scene, some clown fornication and Lloyd Kaufman and you have a funny, gory, well made horror film.  Obviously this isn't high art, but it's watchable and entertaining if you're looking for something different in the over-crowded horror genre.
RATING:  7/10
Pre-Order Klown Kamp Massacre directly from Troma HERE

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Fan of the Dead (2008, Nicolas Garreau)

Raise your hand if you've never seen George A. Romero's Dead trilogy (Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead and Day of the Dead)....
Ok, now those who raised your hand can go wallow in shame while the rest of you can continue reading this review.  One of the best loved and most important trilogies in horror history, Romero's zombie trilogy mixes political and humanist themes with oodles of blood, gore and entrails.  It is not surprising then that fans would want to see the locations used for these masterpieces...and if you (like me) are one of those fans, this is the DVD for you.
Fan of the Dead is a travelogue of sorts, filmed by French Romero fan Nicolas Garreau who traveled to the United States (mainly the Pittsburgh area) to visit all of the filming locations used in the Dead trilogy.  We see the basement where Night of the Living Dead was filmed, the Monroeville Mall where Dawn of the Dead was filmed and the underground bunker used in Day of the Dead.  We also follow Garreau as he travels to a convention featuring many of the stars of Dawn of the Dead as well as a tour through the Monroeville Mall by Dawn of the Dead star Ken Foree.  Almost every location used (even minor locations that are briefly seen) in the films are visited and shown to see how different (or similar) they look now, as well as a few nearby locations used in the Night of the Living Dead remake and Romero's Creepshow. 
Fan of the Dead shines for a few different reasons.  The first is just how many different locations we get to see and people we meet along the way (cast, crew, locals).  Garreau's optimism and excitement for traveling across the Atlantic to visit these sacred horror grounds is apparent and his enthusiasm is contagious.  I found myself very entertained throughout the film and anxious to see where I would be taken next.  This is a great companion piece to Roy Frumke's Document of the Dead documentary and a must have for all Romero fans.  I could complain about the shaky camera work and the English narration, but for what the film is, it's perfect.  Though casual fans might not get as much out of the film as die hard fans would, I'd say it's still an important piece of film making.
RATING:  8/10
You can buy the Fan of the Dead DVD directly from MVD HERE

The Death of Andy Kaufman (2011, Christopher Maloney)

Andy Kaufman, star of Saturday Night Live, Taxi and (in a lesser known role) Larry Cohen's God Told Me To, is one of the wildest, hilarious and brilliant comedians of all time.  Much has been written about Kaufman and there was even a biopic starring Jim Carrey.  Kaufman's mysterious death has long since been a topic of discussion among fans and conspiracy theorists.  I have been a fan of Andy Kaufman for a long time and always wanted to know the truth about his death so this DVD seemed like the perfect way to find out the truth.
The Death of Andy Kaufman features director Christopher Maloney on a pilgrimage to find out what the truth is surrounding Kaufman's mysterious death.  There have long since been rumors that he faked his death and is still alive.  Maloney displays many inconsistencies with the reports of his death and how he actually could have faked it.  He travels to places that he has heard Kaufman was spotted recently to see for himself if there is any truth in the rumors.  After all the facts are laid out and the conspiracies mostly debunked, the film shifts into a loving tribute to one of the greatest comedians of all time.
The Death of Andy Kaufman is a smart, well made documentary on a much disputed topic.  Death conspiracies always interest me and this is no exception.  The way the film shifts from the conspiracy theory to a film about Kaufman's contributions to the entertainment business makes it quite original and uncovers more about Kaufman than just his death.  There is a lengthy interview with Kaufman's brother that shows that even he can never be completely sure that Kaufman is dead but that it's more important to just remember him for the genius and kind person that he was. This documentary also features a half hour interview with the director and trailers.
RATING:  9/10
This DVD can be purchased directly from MVD HERE

Iggy and the Stooges - Raw Power Live (2011, MVD Entertainment Group)

Iggy and the Stooges have long since been one of my favorite groups of all time.  The Stooges, Funhouse and especially Raw Power were constantly in rotation in my teenage years and still manage to pop up in my MP3 player frequently.  Hearing that the band were going out on tour last year to perform Raw Power with guitarist James Williamson was very exciting and getting to actually see it on DVD is even better.  Recently released from MVD, this important document was a must see for a long time fan like myself.
Raw Power Live is not your average concert video.  6 fans were selected to film a performance of Raw Power at the All Tomorrow's Parties Festival on September 3rd, 2010 from different angles, which would be edited down into this here video.  The fans also got to interview the band, which is included here too along with liner notes by the band's current bassist Mike Watt (The Minutemen, fIREHOSE).  The band rip through the entire album and encore with some of the group's other classics like I Wanna Be Your Dog, No Fun, 1970 and more.
Iggy Pop, who was 63 years young when this was filmed last year, proves here that he still has it.  Shirtless (as usual), Iggy runs around the stage, dancing, jumping and just going nuts.  His voice doesn't seem to have aged at all and his band mates (Watt, Williamson and original drummer Scott Asheton) are all in top form.  After hearing this material played over the last 30 years by different groups of musicians backing Iggy, it's great to hear them played by 3 of the originals (and Watt, who can do no wrong in my book).  The interviews filmed by the 6 competition winners were also great to see.  Hearing these guys speak out, especially Williamson who has been out of the music business for 30 years, was a fan's dream come true.  Overall, this DVD is a must for fans of Iggy and the Stooges, classic punk and just good old dangerous rock n' roll.
RATING:  9/10
This DVD is available directly from MVD HERE

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Herschell Gordon Lewis: The Godfather of Gore (2010, Frank Henelotter & Jimmy Maslon)

Herschell Gordon Lewis: The Godfather of Gore, released by Something Weird and Image Entertainment is a new documentary by Frank Henenlotter (Basket Case) and Jimmy Maslon.  Considered to be the creator of the Gore genre with his 1963 film Blood Feast, Lewis has a huge cult following and a legacy spanning over 50 years.
The Godfather of Gore follows HG Lewis's beginnings in the film industry, partnering with producer/soundman David F. Friedman to make a bunch of Nudie Cutie films.  Soon after, the pair released one of the first "Roughies" (Scum of the Earth!) and then the infamous Blood Feast.  After the huge success of Blood Feast, Lewis and Friedman released two more infamous Gore films (2000 Maniacs and Color Me Blood Red) before splitting up their partnership.  Lewis continued on with more splatter films, including A Taste of Blood, Wizard of Gore and Gruesome Twosome until he dropped out of the movie business with 1972's The Gore Gore Girls.  This documentary features lengthy interviews with Lewis, Friedman, Frank Henenlotter, John Waters and many of the cast and crew of Lewis's films, chronicling every one of the Godfather's films through The Gore Gore Girls.
The Godfather of Gore is a brilliant documentary on the career of one of the film industry's most prolific, influential and adventurous film makers.  With a running time of an hour and 46 minutes (plus an extra hour of outtakes), this film is as in depth as you could get on Lewis's career.  Besides the loads of interviews and film clips, we also get an HG Lewis trailer reel, a rare Lewis short (Hot Night at the Go Go Lounge) and a gallery of HG Lewis Exploitation Art!  Anyone who has an interest in the origins of horror and exploitation NEEDs this in their collections!
RATING:  10/10 
Order The Godfather of Gore DVD directly from Something Weird Video HERE 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Machete Maidens Unleashed! (2010, Mark Hartley)

Mark Hartley, director of the much loved Ozploitation documentary Not Quite Hollywood, returns for another film about a criminally under-looked genre - Filipino Exploitation.  Though this genre may sound obscure even for the seasoned exploitation fan, we learn that the Philippines were actually used for some of best loved examples of the genre.  Dark Sky Films finally brings us the long awaited U.S. DVD release of this brilliant new documentary (released November 1st).

Machete Maidens Unleashed! illustrates how the Philippines were used to great effect (and little money) during the boom of 60's and 70's drive-in exploitation films.  Famous film maker Roger Corman explains how he chose this country because he knew he could get "more for less" (exotic locations for a cheap price).  Along for the ride are Corman proteges Jack Hill (The Big Doll House, The Big Bird Cage), Cirio H. Santiago (TNT Jackson, The Muthers), Joe Dante & Allan Arkush (Hollywood Boulevard, many of Corman's trailers) as well as local Filippino director Eddie Romero (Beast of Blood, Black Mama White Mama).  Also included are the stars of these films: Sid Haig, Judy Brown, Pam Grier, Margaret Markov, Christopher Mitchum and many more. 

Machete Maidens Unleashed! leaves no stone unturned in the history of Filippino exploitation.  We learn about the many hardships the actors and directors faced when filming in the dangerous jungles where the gun-toting army soldiers and dangerous animals were lurking around every corner.  The interviews go quite in depth, especially for such a niche topic, making this a dream for exploitation lovers.  Hearing the stories the interviewees had, especially the ones of the dangers they encountered, will keep you glued to your seat through the whole film.  Besides the film itself, this new DVD is packed with hours of bonus features including a reel of trailers of the films discussed (some of which are better than the films themselves), extended interviews, production stills and much more.  One of the most entertaining and informative documentaries I have seen on any subject, this DVD (with all of its bonus goodies) is a must have for exploitation, drive-in, horror, cult and B movie fans.

RATING:  10/10
Order Machete Maidens Unleashed! directly from Dark Sky Films HERE