Monday, November 19, 2018

Monster Party (2018, Chris von Hoffmann)

Monster Party, just released from RLJE films, is a new film from Chris von Hoffmann, director of last year's Cannibal horror flick, Drifter.  The premise for the film instantly grabbed me and the prospect of seeing Robin Tunney again made it even more enticing.

Monster Party starts out with a group of teens (Casper, Iris and Dodge) breaking into and robbing a house.  We soon learn that Casper (Sam Strike), needs a large amount of money to save his father from being killed over gambling debts.  Iris (Virginia Gardner) mentions that she is going to be working as a caterer for a rich family's party, so the three decide that they will use this opportunity to rob the house to bail out Casper's dad.  We soon learn that the homeowners are not your average family and the guests are far more dangerous than the three young thieves.  Oh, and if that's not enough, wait until you see what is in the basement!

Monster Party was a gory, flashy thriller with some blacker than black humor thrown in for good measure.  The premise is very original and well crafted, with enough spraying blood and faces ripping off to satisfy horror buffs.  A few of the peripheral characters could have been cut out with more focus on the leads, but overall it was a blast.  I liked the cast a lot too, especially Tunney, Sam Strike (fresh off last year's Leatherface) and Julian McMahon.  An overall fun film filled with shocks, gore and humor.

Monster Party is available now to stream or purchase digitally, as well as Pre Order the Blu Ray and DVD versions (which will be released on December 18, 2018) HERE.

Friday, November 16, 2018

King Cohen (2017, Steve Mitchell)

Going back through my old reviews always brings a tear to my eye.  I can still vividly remember watching some of the films for the first time and how much of an impression they had on me.  I used to work at a gas station and had many hours to sit and watch movies, which I more than took advantage of.  Sometimes I would fit up to 10 films in over one weekend.  At the time, I was just getting into cult films and my knowledge of the genre (and many sub-genres) was limited, to say the least.  I had no idea if a film was going to be an absolute gem or unwatchable garbage, so I would just watch anything.  One director whose films had a real impression on me, and always ended up being gems, was Larry Cohen.

King Cohen follows the amazing career of Larry Cohen, from his time as an aspiring comedian to the present, which still finds him writing constantly.  In the 1960s, Cohen was writing for television and created such shows as Coronet Blue, The Invaders and Blue Light.  After being fed up with producers, Larry then decided to go out on his own and produced, wrote and directed his first film in 1972 titled Bone.  Though misunderstood at the time, Bone has since become a cult classic and was one of the films I remember watching back in my gas station days.  Next up was the hugely successful Black Caesar with Fred "The Hammer" Williamson, and its sequel, "Hell Up in Harlem".  Cohen then went on to a successful career, probably best known for directing horror films (Q: The Winged Serpent, It's Alive, The Stuff) and later, a surprising turn as a Hollywood screenwriter (Cellular, Phone Booth).

Director Steve Mitchell (who wrote his own classic cult film, Chopping Mall), gets very in depth as we learn how Cohen managed to break away from the big studios and make the films he wanted to make without compromise.  These films are so great because they are the work of a pure artist who was determined, wouldn't take no for an answer and who put every penny of his admittedly small budgets on the screen.  We also see many of Cohen's stars (Fred Williamson, Michael Moriarty, Eric Roberts) and fellow directors (John Landis, Martin Scorsese, Mick Garris) stress the importance of what Cohen was doing and how there will probably never be anyone like him again.  La La Land Records (aka the Soundtrack Gods!), enter into the home video market with King Cohen, their first film release (and hopefully the first of many).  The Blu Ray also comes with a CD soundtrack of original music by Joe Kraemer, the composer of such films as Jack Reacher and Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation.

Purchase King Cohen directly from La La Land Records HERE

The Mentors: Kings of Sleaze (2018, April Jones)

As a long time lover of Punk Rock,The Mentors were one of those bands I was always a little too scared of to get into.  As mentioned in this film as a common misconception, I always assumed the hoods the band members wore were Ku Klux Klan hoods, not Executioner hoods.  I was familiar with the name "El Duce" and knew the band had shocking song titles ("Wine You, Dine You, Sixty Nine You", and "Service Me or Be Smacked" are two of my favorites), but other than that I knew very little.  Luckily, April Jones' new ROCKumentary, The Mentors: Kings of Sleaze, has filled in that gap in my musical knowledge.

This film focuses heavily on Eldon "El Duce" Hoke, lead singer and drummer of The Mentors, whose hilarious antics and songs became the stuff of legends.  Along with founding guitarist Sickie Wifebeater (Eric Carlson) and bass player Dr. Heathen Scum (Steve Broy), The Mentors blazed a trail of debauchery in a genre they created called "Rape Rock".  Basically this term describes the band's mix of punk rock and heavy metal with hilariously, politically incorrect song titles and lyrics.  We learn about the band's formation, many lineup changes, downfalls, the death of El Duce and the resurrection of the band.  Along the way we also hear from the many old and new band members of The Mentors as well as members of other legendary bands, such as Raven, St. Vitus, The Dwarves, Gwar, Fang, Exodus.

The Mentors: Kings of Sleaze proves itself to be a successful documentary because it not only entertains you, but also teaches you the history of a crucial, underground band.  The film could also be somewhat of a cautionary tale of the dangers of alcohol, but it is more of a celebration of the life of an important figure whose music and memories will live on forever.  The fact that The Mentors are still active (with Sickie and Heathen in tow), is a testament to the band's legendary status.

Kings of Sleaze is available to stream or purchase (either on demand or DVD), as well as other merchandise HERE