Wednesday, December 28, 2011

To Be Twenty (1978, Fernando Di Leo)


Released this year by Raro Video for the first time in the U.S., is To Be Twenty (Avere vent'anni) from the master of Italian Crime films Fernando Di Leo.  Though nothing like his classic polizioteschi films included in Raro's Fernando Di Leo Crime Collection, To Be Twenty is no less interesting (and shocking).  Being a fan of Di Leo, I had to see this one especially after hearing about its controversial ending (which luckily wasn't spoiled before watching it).
 
To Be Twenty stars Lilli Carati as the loud mouthed, promiscuous Tina and the beautiful Gloria Guida as the more soft spoken Lia.  After being left behind at a hippy beach party, the two decide to hitchhike to a notorious commune where they can live for free and have all the free love they want.  When they get there, they realize that the owner Nazariota (Vittorio Caprioli) is nothing more than a scam artist and the girls are forced into prostitution if they want to stay (something they don't seem to mind).  Their "Young, Hot and Pissed-Off" ways eventually catch up with them in a shocking ending that has to be seen to be believed.
 
Contrary to what I've read, the ending, though definitely shocking, is less unexpected than I had originally thought it would be.  Without giving anything away, the girls are actually pretty annoying and unlikeable and to see their selfish and careless ways catch up with them is almost like a sick sort of justice (though perhaps a little harsher than what they deserve).  From the synopsis I had read, I expected the girls to be more innocent in their wild ways, which turned out to be not so true.  One thing I really liked about the film is how the Lia and Tina's personalities are revealed as (or become) the exact opposite of our initial impressions.  We find Tina to be all bark and no bite while Lia's quiet personality turns out to be more carefree.  I have read that Di Leo's intention with the film is to show the power of feminism and free love, but for me the end result was the exact opposite - that free love and selfish actions will end in disaster.  The supporting actors in the film all helped flesh out the story with one of my favorites, Ray Lovelock, playing the burnt out druggie Rico and Giorgio Bracardi as the no-nonsense commissario who busts the commune.  Raro's 2 disc presentation of To Be Twenty is another example of why we are so lucky to have them finally releasing films in the United States.  We are graced with the director's cut of the film (featuring the notorious ending) as well as the theatrical cut, which drastically changes the film into an incoherent mess.  Unfortunately though the theatrical cut's presentation is much better with a beautiful transfer while the director's cut is a little more worn, though still very watchable.  Despite this, the extended cut is definitely the one to watch regardless of condition.  Also included is a photo gallery, director filmography/biography and the film's screenplay.  The best feature though is a half hour documentary on the film featuring interviews with Di Leo and some of the film's cast and crew.  Definitely a good companion to the film.  Overall, the film isn't perfect but it is definitely a fascinating example of an exploitation film with a message (despite how obscured the message is) and is a must have for fan's of Fernando Di Leo.
 
RATING:  9/10
 
To Be Twenty is available directy from Raro Video HERE
 
 

Friday, December 16, 2011

Murder Obsession (1981, Riccardo Freda)


Murder Obsession (Follia omicida), just released by Raro Video, is a hard film to categorize.  Sure it's a horror film mostly, but it also has supernatural/occult elements as well as a hint of giallo mixed in for an added kick.  This eclecticism shouldn't be surprising though considering the various genres director Riccardo Freda dabbled in - everything from horror (The Horrible Dr. Hichcock) to spaghetti westerns (Death Doesn't Count the Dollars) to sword and sandals (several Maciste films).  Two things that attracted me to this film, besides the genres presented, were Stefano Patrizi, who I have enjoyed watching in several polizioteschi films and Anita Strindberg, the beautiful star of many fine giallo films.
 
Murder Obsession stars Patrizi as the horror film star Michael Stanford who, along with his girlfriend Deborah (Silvia Dionisio) decides to visit his estranged mother.  Along for the trip are some of the cast and the director of their current film.  Michael's mother (Strindberg) is overjoyed to see her son for she has been very lonely since Michael's father was killed.  We soon learn that it was Michael who killed his father when he was a child and after spending many years in a psych ward is now starting to have strange visions and blackouts.  Soon, each of the guests start dying one by one and Michael is the main suspect.
 
Murder Obsession was a weeeeeeird film.  The mixture of different genres worked well for the most part, though the one major supernatural scene had some flaws.  Granted it was supposed to be dream-like, I'm not sure fake giant spiders and bats on strings can constitute dream-like.  The real chicken having his head cut off though was definitely cringe-worthy and effective.  I have two other minor gripes with the film, the first being a couple of the major deaths in the film (one by chainsaw, one an axe to the head) were pretty poorly done.  The second, which is just me being picky is the film's title, not only does it not really pertain to the film but it just sounds awful.  Other than that, I actually enjoyed the film.  As I mentioned previously, I liked the cast a lot.  Even Laura Gemser who I've only previously seen as eye candy in Joe D'Amato's sleazefests held her own.  The film also had a decent story with a lot of suspense and I really couldn't guess the ending until the big reveal - and even then it kept you on the edge until the final disturbing frames.  Raro's DVD is quite satisfactory and other than a little bit of grain, the picture is very good.  The film is presented in English with a few scenes that abruptly switch over to Italian (with English subtitles), which was a little distracting but didn't really detract from the film.  Lastly, this DVD comes with a 10 minute interview with makeup FX man Sergio Stivaletti who worked on the film.  Though not without its flaws, Murder Obsession is a fun watch with more than enough gore, atmosphere and plot twists to please most horror fans.
 
RATING:  7/10

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Wanna see a Toxic Avenger 5 music video?


The band is called Reason and they made the song for the Toxic Avenger 5 soundtrack, titled "The Toxic Avenger" (No joke, they've been in contact with Troma for 3 years about it). Now they are making a music video for it. But before they do that they need to raise money.

Here is the link to help: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/reasonofficial/reasons-the-toxic-avenger-music-video

Legendary singer Sean Peck is featured on the song and they also got Dennis Woodruff to star in the music video, and in the fundraising video.

So help out this worthy cause if you can.

All God's Creatures (2011, Ryan Cummings & Frank Licata)




 
All God's Creatures is an independent, micro budget film ($25,000) that made its premiere at the 2011 Hoboken International Film Festival.  Though not available on DVD yet, I was lucky enough to receive a screener from the producer.  It's always fun getting screeners of low budget, indie films because you never know what you are going to get (and I've received plenty of stinkers before).  Occasionally, a film really stands out and reminds me how important independent films can be in this world of Transformers and pointless remakes.  This is one of them.
 
All God's Creatures stars Josh Folan (who also wrote the screenplay) as Jon Smith, a seemingly normal young guy who works at a coffee shop.  Though looks can be deceiving because Jon has a little problem...he likes to bring girls back to his apartment, kill them and dismember them.  After a few meetings with some innocent victims, Jon meets Delia, another seemingly normal person who has her own secret life.  Delia is a prostitute who posts ads on Craigslist.  She is trying to get some money together so she can take her sister out of the abusive home she is currently living in.  After initially rejecting Delia, Jon finally relents and opens up to her (without revealing his biggest secret).  He soon decides that he will quit his murderous ways so he can be with Delia.  However, the past soon rears its ugly head and they both must face their demons.
 
All God's Creatures was a disturbing, violent film focusing on addiction, acceptance and the power of love.  I couldn't help but be reminded of American Psycho when introduced to the character of Jon, but the film is much more than just some yuppie who kills people.  It was really a love story that happened to focus on two characters with dangerous secrets that were willing to give it all up for each other.  The dialogue was well written and the story had some nice unexpected twists.  For such a low budget picture, the cinematography and the acting were both very professional and I didn't find myself confused or bored as I normally am.  Usually a film like this would show its budget but All God's Creatures is an exception.  Overall, I enjoyed the film and hope that it gets wider distribution.
 
RATING:  8/10
 
 
 
 

Streets / Angel in Red (2011, Shout! Factory)




Released last month by Shout! Factory, here is another great disc from what is probably my favorite line of DVDs out there - Roger Corman's Cult Classics.  This line features films either produced, directed or distributed by Roger Corman over the last 50 years (though most of the titles are from the 70s and 80s).  Streets and Angel in Red were both released in the early 90s and both deal with similar themes of trying to make ends meet in the slums, doing what ever you have to do to survive.
 
Streets stars a young Christina Applegate as Dawn, a teenage streetwalker who we later find out is also a heroin addict.  She witnesses another prostitute being attacked and after being spotted by the attacker, she narrowly misses being killed.  A young runaway named Sy (David Mendenhall), who is aspiring to be a musician comes to her rescue and together they wander through the dangerous streets trying to avoid the attacker, who is looking for them....and who is also a cop!
 
Angel in Red tells the story of Mickie (Leslie Bega of the Sopranos fame), a young streetwalker who lives with her brother Robby (Jason Oliver).  Robby was abused by their father and now has brain damage.  Sharkey (Jeffrey Dean Morgan in his screen debut) plays Mickie's dangerous pimp Sharkey, who Mickie loves and Robby looks up to as a father figure.  After beating up one of Mickie's prostitute friends and after another gets beat nearly to death for not making enough money, they try to leave Sharkey which starts him on a rampage.
 
Streets and Angel in Red both provide a frightening look into the dark underbelly of life on the streets.  Streets has a great cast, an interesting story and a lot of action.  Applegate proves that she is more than a one trick pony by displaying a lot of emotion and not just being "the dumb blonde".  David Mendenhall and Eb Lottimer also do a more than adequate job supporting Applegate.  Angel in Red, which is actually a remake of another Corman Classic film, 1985's Streetwalkin' (starring Oscar winner Melissa Leo and Pet Semetary's Dale Midkiff).  Though basically a re-tread of the original with not much more to add, the main standout in the film is a very young Jeffrey Dean Morgan who plays the psychotic pimp Sharkey.  Though Dale Midkiff's performance in Streetwalkin' is terrifyingly brilliant, Morgan definitely holds his own.  Interestingly enough, director Katt Shea went on to popularity with a few more films with women as the leads (Poison Ivy with Drew Barrymore and The Rage: Carrie 2).  
 
RATING:

Streets:   8/10

Angel in Red:  7/10

This is  a nice entry in the great Roger Corman Cult Classics line, which is a Shout! Select title, meaning it's only available directly from Shout! Factory HERE

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Body Puzzle (1992, Lamberto Bava)

 
Released December 6th from Raro Video USA, is an Italian, post-giallo thriller called Body Puzzle.  Directed by Lamberto (son of Mario) Bava (Demons, A Blade in the Dark), I didn't know too much about this film before watching it.  I have seen a couple of Lamberto's films and this one sounded like it had an interesting plot.  I am always skeptical of horror movies made after 1985 because that is when horror started moving away from the realism and into the fantastic (and ridiculous sequels).  There are several films from that era that are classics but for the most part I usually aim for older films.  I thought I'd give this one a shot anyway.
 
Body Puzzle stars Joana Pacula as Tracy, a widower whose husband died in a motorcycle accident.  After someone breaks into her house and puts a severed ear in her refrigerator, a detective named Michele (Tomas Arana) is assigned to the case.  Simultaneously, a murder victim is found missing an ear which proves to be the severed ear's owner.  Tracy begins finding more body parts left in her house, each one accompanied by another murder.  After establishing that the person leaving the "presents" has a key to the house and is most likely tied to her late husband in some way (whose grave was robbed), it is up to Michele to put the pieces together (no pun intended) and find the killer before he gets to Tracy.
 
Body Puzzle was a stylishly gory film with a surprisingly fresh story.  Well thought out with lots of twists and avoiding many of the genre trappings, I would almost call this film a classic.  I was very surprised (based on my snobbery of newer horror films) how much I enjoyed this, which only proves that, among other things, it's always a good idea to keep an open mind about movies and their genres.  The cast all played their parts well, especially the three leads (Pacula, Arana and Francois Montagut as the killer) and there were plenty of stabbings, severed body parts and blood for us horror fans.  Also, for us Italian film fans out there, there are a few noteworthy cameos that just add to the fun.  Giovanni Lombardo Radice (aka John Morghen in his English friendly films), who we all know from Cannibal Ferox, Cannibal Apocalypse and City of the Living Dead, plays a gay acquaintance of Tracy's deceased husband.   Also making an appearance here is Spaghetti Western legend Gianni Garko, best known as his role in many of the Sartana films.  Raro's release of Body Puzzle has a beautiful widescreen transfer along with a nice, informative booklet (why can't all companies include booklets with their DVDs?).  I definitely recommend this film to fans of Italian horror and giallo films.
 
RATING:  9/10
 
 

The Nickel Ride / 99 and 44/100% Dead! (2011, Shout! Factory)




Out today from Shout! Factory is another spectacular Action Double Feature finally bringing two long lost classics to DVD for the first time.  Being the huge fan of 70s action films I am, this release was a must have for me.  Starring the likes of Jason Miller (The Exorcist), Richard Harris (Orca...yes, I picked Orca out of his illustrious career), Edmond O'Brien (The Wild Bunch), Linda Haynes (Rolling Thunder), Bradford Dillman (Piranha) and Chuck Connors (Tourist Trap...yes, I picked Tourist Trap out of his illustrious career), I was sure I wouldn't be disappointed with these two films, which frankly I had never even heard of before this release was announced.
 
The first film in this set is The Nickel Ride, which stars Jason Miller as Cooper, a mobster who has been in charge of the same block of town for many years.  Friendly with all of his neighbors, he soon becomes paranoid that he is out for "a hit" after a few of his deals fall through.  His boss assures him that he is safe and that his new driver (Bo Hopkins), a loud mouth cowboy is there to assist him, but he can't help feel that something is askew.  Cooper takes his girlfriend (Linda Haynes) out to the country to let things cool down, but the worst is yet to come.
 
The other film in the set is the oddly titled 99 and 44/100% Dead!  Starring Richard Harris as an aging hit man named Harry Crown (looking eerily similar to Michael Caine in his Harry Palmer films), he is hired by crime boss Uncle Frank (Edmond O'Brien in his last role) to kill rival kingpin Big Eddie (Bradford Dillman).  He is assisted by his jealous girlfriend Buffy (Ann Turkel) and young protege Tony (David Hall) but when Buffy is kidapped, the job becomes personal.  Out to get Harry is the dangerous assassin Klaw Zuckerman (Chuck Connors), who has a personal vendetta of his own.
 
I just can't get enough of Shout! Factory's Action Double Features.  After the Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry and Race with the Devil set and the Fighting Mad and Moving Violation two-fer, I didn't think it could get any better - but I was wrong.  The Nickel Ride and 99 and 44/100% are both quirky, unconventional mobster films that exemplify why the action genre in the 70s was so great.  Though similar in theme, The Nickel Ride and 99 and 44/100% could not be more different.  The Nickel Ride is a dark, low key, character driven drama that has surprisingly little action - though when it does, it delivers.  Miller and Haynes are great as the troubled couple, unsure of what the future will bring.  Bo Hopkins turns in a great performance too as the eccentric Turner and would easily steal the show if it weren't for Miller's complex portrayal of Cooper.  I can't help but compare The Nickel Ride to one of my favorite films, The Friends of Eddie Coyle, for its focus on the characters more than the action.  Like Mitchum's role as Eddie Coyle, Miller's brooding Cooper is a classic example of a tragic hero who knows his days are numbered.  99 and 44/100% Dead! is a more quirky and off beat affair, though no less entertaining.  At first I was unsure if the film was a spoof or not, with its strange introduction and Henry Mancini theme song.  As the film gets going though, the tone definitely becomes more serious.  There are some nice shoot outs, stand offs and an amazingly dangerous looking car chase, not surprising considering director John Frankenheimer's filmography.  Harris pulls off the role of Harry Crown quite well, blending a perfect mix of coolness and danger.  Connors as the appropriately named Klaw is also a highlight of the film. 
 
In closing, for fans of 70s action films that don't follow all of the boring, derivative formulas, you can't go wrong with The Nickel Ride and 99 and 44/100% Dead!  This double feature also includes trailers for both films and the widescreen transfers are crisp and virtually pristine.  Offered up at a low retail price, this set is too good to pass up.
 
RATING:
 
The Nickel Ride  - 8/10
99 and 44/100%   - 8/10
 
Purchase this set directly from Shout! Factory HERE

Monday, December 12, 2011

Nightmares (1980, John Lamond)


Nightmares, released by Severin Films concurrently with Bloody Birthday, is another 80s horror classic, this one coming from down under.  Because of where it was made, most would just categorize it as an Ozploitation film and leave it at that.  Nightmares is however much more than that.  I would describe it as a cross between Ozploitation and a Slasher movie, but it also has many similarities to the Italian Giallo films of the 70s.  Despite what kind of film it is, let's look at if it's worth the time it took you to read my rambling first paragraph.

Nightmares stars Jenny Neumann as Helen Selleck, an aspiring actress who lands a role in a play with a group of misfit actors.  The real oddball though seems to be Helen herself who frequently has flashbacks of her mother sleeping with various men, leading to her accidental death caused by Helen.  She has never been able to be with a man before until she meets cast mate Terry Besanko (Gary Sweet), who she starts falling in love with.  All is not fine though when each of the cast members starts dying horrible deaths at the hands of a black gloved killer who uses broken glass as a murder weapon.

Nightmares was a stylish, hallucinogenic, gory little cult film.  It had a lot of suspense and it was fun trying to figure out if the killer's identity really was as obvious as it seemed.  I wasn't completely satisfied with the ending but it was definitely an original take on the slasher/giallo movies I am used to.  This film further solidifies the weirdness that seems prevalent in most every Ozploitation film I've seen (in this case, not a bad thing).  The film does work and with the gore and girl quotient high, its a nice oddball for anyone's horror collection.  Severin's disc of Nightmares is superb with a beautiful widescreen transfer, a short documentary on Slasher films, an audio commentary by John Lamond and Ozploitation expert (and Not Quite Hollywood director) Mark Hartley, as well as an excellent trailer reel of John Lamond films.

RATING: 7/10

Order Nightmares directly from Severin HERE

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Bloody Birthday (1981, Ed Hunt)



Released earlier this year from Severin Films is a creepy little movie from the year of the slasher - 1981.  Though not technically a slasher, this is more of a "killer kid" film, but it does possess some of the traits that define a slasher.  Though I had never seen Bloody Birthday before, I had heard the title several times over the years and the DVD's brilliant cover artwork (taken from the original movie poster) made it one I had to see.
 
Bloody Birthday tells the story of Curtis (Billy Jacoby), Debbie (Elizabeth Hoy) and Steven (Andy Freeman) - three children born 10 years ago during a total eclipse.  As it turns out, the eclipse caused the trio to be missing part of their personality - their emotions.  The kids start murdering the townspeople one by one, carefully covering their tracks after each kill.  Only their neighbors, classmate Timmy Russell (K.C. Martel) and his teenage sister Joyce (Lori Lethin) suspect that the kids are responsible.
 
Bloody Birthday is one of the finer examples of the early 80s horror boom.  The story is more original than the Friday the 13th clones being released weekly at the time and the acting was also surprisingly good (especially since half of the cast were children).  You can't deny the influence of past films such as Village of the Damned and The Bad Seed, but instead of ripping off those films, Bloody Birthday updates some of the themes into a contemporary setting with new ideas.  The kids here are gun-toting, opportunistic, manipulative murderers.  The film is well made all around, with enough violence and suspense to keep you on the edge of your seat.  And let's not forget Earth Girls are Easy's Julie Brown in the peephole.  Classic.  Severin's release of Bloody Birthday is excellent, with a nice anamorphic widescreen picture that looks great.  Also included is a 51 minute audio interview with director Ed Hunt, a 10 minute interview with star Lori Lethin and a 15 minute documentary on the history of slasher films.  Throw in four trailers from other Severin discs and you have a great film in an equally nice package.  Did I mention it has the original poster art too (not the ugly cover on the old VCI release)?
 
RATING:  9/10
 
 
Purchase this DVD directly from Severin HERE

Monday, December 5, 2011

Mystery Science Theater 3000: Volume XXII (2011, Shout! Factory)




Here we go, another great collection of terrible movies made bearable only by the hilarious crew of the Satellite of Love.  Joel Hodgson, Mike Nelson, Tom Servo and Crow T. Robot take the worst movies imaginable and rip them to shreads, making light of the bad acting, shoe string budgets and confusing story lines (assuming they actually have a story) that make these true B movies.  This collection, available from Shout! Factory on December 6th, collects more forgotten gems and puts them in a handy 4 DVD set.

Starting off the set is a Japanese Planet of the Apes rip-off, derivatively titled Time of the Apes.  What starts off looking like a bad Toho Monster film, our main characters (two kids and a scientist) get trapped in cryogenic freezers while the world collapses.  When they wake up, the world is overrun by apes.  This was originally a Japanese TV series from 1974 but was edited down in 1987 to one feature length film.  I must admit that I rather liked the ape masks/makeup.  They were pretty well done.  The rest of the film?  Boring, ridiculous, pathetic, confusing garbage.  Just the stuff I love to see on MST3K.  This film gets the riff treatment to full extant...and it deserves it.  Some big laughs but the stinkiness of the film starts to drag and even the SOL crew have a hard time making it watchable.

Next we have The Brute Man.  Is it me or does this sound like a cheap cologne commercial.  Oops, wrong Brut(e).  My mistake.  This film stars horror legend Rondo Hatton, an actor who had a memorably disfigured face (caused by a disease called Acromegaly) and often appeared as thuggish characters.  This day and age, this would seem like exploiting someone but back in the 30's and 40's it was just a way for Hatton to make a buck.  Just look at Michael Berryman, another character actor known for his distinctive appearance caused by a rare genetic condition.  Anyway, here Hatton plays The Creeper, a man who is out to get revenge on those that disfigured him.  He befriends a blind woman and begins stealing to raise money for an operation for her.  The Brute Man, the last film Rondo Hatton made before his death, is a suckfest to the highest degree.  The film is boring and the acting is pathetic.  Hatton's appearance definitely fits the character but it definitely seems a little (ok, very) politically incorrect.  Before the film however is one of my favorite parts of MST3K, a short.  This one, entitled The Chicken of Tomorrow, shows the fascinating(ly boring) way technology has improved chicken farming.  Mike and his robot pals are in fine form here, cracking jokes left and right for this cinematic tragedy.

Next we have Mighty Jack  What is Mighty Jack?  I'm really not sure.  Some sort of Japanese sci fi spy series condensed into a film.  The movie's plot was about as interesting as watching grass grow but the Satellite's crew make it a fun watch.  Not the best episode of the set, but the worse the film, the better the riffs and this film was pure crap.

With The Violent Years I have saved the best for last.  Written by famously bad film maker Ed Wood comes a tale of a teenage girl who is neglected by her parents so she and her friends start robbing gas stations.  The crimes soon progress into murder and the girls are starting to get greedier too.  The film's end has a tender message that I won't give away, showing that crime (and casual sex) doesn't pay.  Also included with The Violent Years is another short - Young Man's Fancy.  According to this little educational picture, the more electricity you use, the more a guy will like you (sounds kinky).  Young Judy tries to impress her brother's nerdy friend Alexander Phipps (what a name) when they come home for school break.  He shows more interest in going to a lecture on electricity so Judy uses all of their fancy schmancy electrical appliances to whip up a delicious meal.  After all, a way to a man's heart is through his stomach, right?  Whatever.  With Young Man's Fancy and The Violent Years, this episode is one of the best MST3K episodes I've seen and the clear champion of the set.  The well timed riffs seem constant and you'll find yourself laughing outloud at this one.

So, to wrap up this review you really can't go wrong with this set.  With one of the funniest episodes of the series and four of the worst movies ever made, MST3K fans will not be disappointed.  Also included in this set are intros, a making of MST3K documentary, a Rondo Hatton documentary, interviews and more.  Plus there are the cool Steve Vance mini posters that are always a nice addition.

RATING:  7/10

Order your copy direct from Shout! Factory HERE and you'll receive a free MST3K Stress Ball (while supplies last).

Friday, December 2, 2011

Astron-6 (2011, Troma Entertainment)


What the @#*! is Astron-6?  Well don't ask Troma head Lloyd Kaufman because he can't even remember the name in the DVD's hilarious intro.  The real question though is WHO the @#*! is Astron-6?  Astron-6 is made up of 5 young Canadian film makers (Matthew Kennedy, Adam Brooks, Conor Sweeney, Jeremy Gillespie and Steven Kostanski) who got together to create films, shorts, fake trailers, real trailers and other such nonsense.  So who is the 6th member of Astron-6, you might ask? According to an interview I read with one of the Astrons, it's the viewer.  I feel privileged.

This DVD, coming December 13th from Troma, is a two disc compilation of these above mentioned movies, shorts and trailers that span pretty much every genre you can think of.  The main focus though is the group's love for the 1980s which seems to influence much of their output.  Whether they are spoofing an 80's teen comedy, an 80's Italian horror film or an 80's Sci Fi film, the 80s seems to be the most prevalent element in this collection. 

So let's talk about what is actually included in this DVD.  According to the DVD case, the running time is 80 minutes however Troma's site lists it at 300 minutes.  I really have no idea if either of these are accurate but there is definitely a lot of stuff on here.  If you like low budget cult films or anything from the 80s, I guarantee you will find something in this set that you like.  The longer films in the set definitely were my favorites, which included an 80s comedy on crack called Cool Guys, an Italian zombie spoof called H.I.Z. (Erection der zombi) and the dramatic teen comedy mash up Punch Out.  Of the trailers included, my favorites were the Zombie spoof Inferno of the Dead (one of the funniest things on the set) and cheesy Sci Fi spoof Lazer Ghosts 2: Return to Lazer Cove.  The series of shorts comprising the Gore Blade:  Warrior King of the Universe segment, a spoof of Barbarian films was also very entertaining.  The remaining titles were hit or miss for me but with a collection like this, there is more than enough great stuff to make it worth your hard earned dollars.  The films are all low budget but you can tell that the film makers love what they are doing and definitely have some experience in movie making.  I am really looking forward to their future output.

RATING:  8/10

For more info on Astron-6 or to buy this DVD, check out the links below:


http://www.astron-6.com/

http://www.troma.com/films/astron-6/

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Chillerama (2011, Adam Green, Tim Sullivan, Joe Lynch, Adam Rifkin)


The first time I heard about Chillerama I knew I had to see it.  I was familiar with the four directors involved and being a fan of anthology horror films, it was refreshing to see another one come along that might actually be good.  I had seen Adam Green's Hatchet and Frozen, Tim Sullivan's 2001 Maniacs and Adam Rifkin's Detroit Rock City and liked them all a lot so I had faith.  Just released on DVD and Blu Ray this week from Image Entertainment, I was finally able to see it and definitely was not disappointed.

Chillerama begins at a drive-in theater that is about to close down.  The owner (Richard Riehle from Hatchet and Office Space) is going to play a few never before seen, "lost" horror films to make it a special last night.  The first film is about a giant sperm destroying New York called Wadzilla.  The second film is called I Was a Teenage Werebear and concerns a sexually confused high school student (Sean Paul Lockhart) who gets bitten by bad boy Talon (Anton Troy) and becomes his inner beast when he gets aroused.  The third film is called Diary of Anne Frankenstein and stars Avatar's Joel David Moore as Hitler and Kane Hodder as the Jewish monster Meshugannah.  Between the films we see a zombie epidemic break out at the drive-in.

Chillerama is probably the best horror anthology film to come along in the last 25 years.  Not only does it have buckets of blood and gore but it will also have you rolling on the floor laughing.  The stories all take  classic monsters (Godzilla, Frankenstein, the Wolfman and Zombies) and put a fresh twist to them, usually rooted in dirty humor.  I can't pick a favorite segment because they were all great, but Adam Rifkin gets bonus points for not only directing Wadzilla but for also starring in it (as the lead character who "spews" forth the monster).  Each film has it's own special qualities though.  Tim Sullivan's I Was a Teenage Werebear wins in the "message" category, using the classic werewolf story as a metaphor for coming of age and dealing with your true feelings.  It also had some nice catchy (and hilariously inappropriate) songs and lots of silly, over-the-top gore.  Adam Green's The Diary of Anne Frankenstein wins as the funniest segment with a mixture of a poor use of the German language, a Jewish, dancing Frankenstein and a noticeable continuity error with a particular stuntman.  Joe Lynch's wraparound segments titled Zom-B Movie ties everything together nicely with a bunch of horny zombies, neon blue zombie jizz and the perfect setting for all the madness.  Image Entertainment should be praised for not only releasing this great anthology but also for its many extras included.  We get behind the scenes footage of the films along with deleted scenes, director's commentary and interviews.  I read some talk about there being future installments of Chillerama using different directors and if they are anything like this, I am all for it!

RATING:  10/10

Visit the official Chillerama website to order the DVD or Blu Ray HERE