Thursday, December 22, 2005

Panic Beats-1983

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Jacinto Molina directs this take of murder and betrayal. If his real name doesn’t ring a bell, you might better know him as Paul Naschy, keeper of about 9 other pseudonyms. Ah, Paul Naschy—it seems that every time I picked up an issue of Fangoria after a hiatus, it featured an article/interview with Paul Naschy. While Naschy seems to be most associated with the Wolfman, he’s dabbled in zombies as well—he both wrote and starred in El Espanto surge de la tumba (Horror Rises from the Tomb) and La Rebelion de las muertas (Vengeance of the Zombies)—both in 1973. Ten years later in Latidos de panico—Panic Beats—Naschy would write, play the dual roles of Paul/Alaric de Marnac, and direct. Interesting to note, Naschy is reprising this role of Alaric from Horror Rises from the Tomb, in which Alaric is a medieval French warlock who is executed along with his wife. This character is loosely based on real life monster, Gilles de Rais—a 15th century French nobleman, who kidnapped, tortured and murdered numerous children.

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Panic Beats tells the tale of a man named Paul and his sickly wife, Genevieve, who suffers from a heart condition. As advised by a doctor, Paul moves his wife out of Paris to his family mansion near Perrouze, France, for some peace, fresh air, and other things that are supposed to be good for her health. The house is cared for by Maville, who has taken care of Paul since he was a child, and her niece Julie, whom you don’t quite like straight from the beginning. As they are preparing for the arrival of Paul and Genevieve, Maville relates to Julie the story of Alaric de Marnac, a knight and ancestor of Paul, who lived from 1515-1565—there’s a large portrait of him hanging in the house with a look on his face like he ate the last piece of cheesecake.

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The opening scene of the film gives you a hint: Alaric, fully garbed in knight-gear, rides his horse after his naked wife, who has apparently been unfaithful. He ends the scene quite nicely by beating her to death with his double-headed morning star. After killing his adulterous wife, he goes on to kill the three of their five children (which, by the way, she sure didn’t look like she squeezed out five kids) that he didn’t think were his. Of course, in good Naschy fashion, he falls into “witchcraft and devil worship”, drinking blood and all that good stuff. His brother-in-law eventually kills him, with an arrow through the heart. Later, as Julie and Genevieve stroll down a path, Julie reveals that Alaric is said to return every 100 years to punish the Marnac women who live in the house—which would, of course, be Genevieve.

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It’s little wonder that Genevieve has a heart condition as she freaks out at everything. They get mugged on the road, she freaks out. She sees a snake, she freaks out. There’s some bloody eyeball mush where her lunch should be…she freaks out. Somehow, this house doesn’t seem like the ideal place to take a woman with a heart condition. Hmmm, something’s suspicious! There’s some bad stuff going down in the Casa de la Marnac, but who’s responsible? Is it Julie? Is it Paul? Is it Alaric? I’m not going to tell you, but I will say that while not being set historically, Panic Beats gives off a nice gothic horror feel—which is something I always enjoy.

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Like Horror Rises from the Tomb and Vengeance of the Zombies, the zombies in Panic Beats appear late, but better late than never. The seem to be the punished Marnac women, acting as the opening number for the arrival of the vengeful Alaric de Marnac, with their faces so putrefied that their features are almost obscured and their long straggly hair looks treated with their own bodily decay.

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Julia Saly (Genevieve) is a familiar fixture with Naschy, also appearing in El Retorno del Hombre-Lobo (Night of the Werewolf, 1980) and El Carnaval de las bestias (The Beast’ Carnival, 1980) and can gasp and swoon with the best of them. Lola Gaos (Maville) also appeared on Jorge Grau’s Ceremonia sangrienta (The Bloody Countess, 1973) and had worked previously with Saly in Rafael Gil’s La Guerilla in 1972.

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Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Midnight Skater-2002

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I picked this one up a little over a year ago at the Horrorfind Convention. Well, I probably would have never bought it had I not seen that these were the same folks that made Teenage Zombie House Massacre and shared my thoughts on the latter. Anyway, Stacy Silvers convinced me to buy a copy and I figured a review would be cool.

Tagline: Something strange is happening on a small-town college campus…

Synopsis: Students have been disappearing and the only clues left behind are a bloody corpse and the name “Midnight Skater.” A group of nosy kids take it upon themselves to put an end to the mystery, but find out they may be in over their heads! They’ll have to make their way through the college's dark side of drugs, lies, and murder in order to find out who is behind it all. Prepare for an all-out gorefest in one of the most bloody twisted tales of horror ever told!

As the synopsis tells the viewer, people are disappearing and the name “Midnight Skater” is seen. Otherwise, it has the movie description somewhat askew and leaves me wondering if the author of the synopsis actually paid attention to the film. There is no bloody corpse left behind, although we quickly find out that a maniacal killer is on the campus and preying on young ladies. We also see that the “Midnight Skater” is not the killer because he skates by the home of a victim and stops briefly to listen in on her screams.

There is a group of six college students who are out to discover the mystery of the “Midnight Skater” and stop his vandalism spree on the campus. They do not mention the missing girls at all. The group devises a number of plans to capture the skater and bring him to justice. They finally decide to start staking out the campus in order to capture him and stop his vandalism. Danny, one of the group’s members, finds himself torn between hanging out with his best friend Alvin and helping the gang stop the campus vandal. Alvin also happens to be the roommate of the homicidal maniac.

Add to the mix, a designer drug known as “Z” being distributed by a couple of drug dealers who hang out on the campus. Something goes terribly wrong with the popular and highly addictive drug, turning partying college students into flesh eating zombies. The bumbling gang of would-be heroes ends up in a huge mess between the living dead, a mysterious and menacing skateboarder, and a machete-wielding lunatic.

This is a twisted film, just as the case promises. The gore is plentiful, although not very realistic. In the delivery of much of the gore, the viewers might find themselves having to turn away or be somewhat appalled. One particular moment that got to me was a castration scene. Yeah, these guys didn’t pull any punches when they went for the splatter.
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The acting was okay for the most part. Some of it was pretty pathetic and most of it was less than convincing. Some of the actors did well in their rolls though, particularly Alvin although his nerdiness might have been overplayed to an extent. In a way, I wonder if some of the acting was intentionally poor. Regardless, the acting was not enough to make me stop watching the film or prevent me from watching it again on other occasions.

The dialogue was entertaining and original for the most part. Even though viewers might get tired of the constant barrage of nerd jokes, the humor was on for me. That’s not to say that I have the most normal sense of humor mind you. A Scooby Doo reference was also thrown in well at one point. I enjoyed a number of the films lines, such as:

“You’re feisty. I like that in my victims.”

“I have the strength of ten men. The power of the purple ninja flows through me.”

”Did you just piss your pants?”

“That’s the best sex I ever had with a dead body whose arm was cut off that I was using to spank myself on the ass.”

Maybe, they’re better in context. Who knows?

The zombies were decent, but nothing spectacular. Lots of black make-up around the eyes and some crusty white flesh seems to be the gist of it. They shamble and eat flesh. Some of them speak, mainly calling out for more “Z.” They can be killed in a number of ways aside from just the typical dispatching of the head or destroying of the brain. With these zombies, damage that would kill most people seems to keep them down for the count.

The score is decent, although one particular surf rock songs seems to be overused in the film. There is also a campy, but catchy eighties metal style song called Midnight Skater at the end, which always serves to amuse me.

Over all, I say this film is well worth watching. Collectors and fans of the zombie subgenre should definitely have this one in their collection. I watch it on occasion and make most visitors to my home sit through it. What one doesn’t enjoy of the film itself is made up for in the sadistic and over the top humor of the film.
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Directed by Lucas Campbell

Review by hatefuldisplay (Ron Clark).

Monday, December 19, 2005

Macchie solari (1975) aka Autopsy

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Autopsy is no zombie movie—don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. It is, however, what you might expect when you sit down to partake in some classic Italian Giallo, expect maybe slightly more convoluted.

Mimsy Farmer plays Simona, a pathology med student working on her Masters thesis concerning the “difference between simulated and authentic suicides.” It seems as good a cause as any, I suppose, but Simone is certainly not the person to undertake this task and she proves this to us in just the first few minutes of the film by acting batshit crazy.

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The film opens on a series of suicides, as apparently, Rome is having an epidemic of them. A women slits her wrists, a man puts a plastic bag over his head then throws himself in a river, a man sets his car of fire with himself in it, and finally, after killing his two kids, a man shoots himself in the chest with what looks to be a semi-automatic machine gun. Sounds promising, doesn’t it? Next, we’re in the morgue with Simona, her perverted morgue co-worker and bunches of bodies. During the autopsy she’s performing, she begins to have delusions that the corpses around her are getting up, screaming, smiling, flailing and ultimately having sex with one another. This is the extent of the “zombie” action, with the very brief exception much later in the film when a “suicide” victim returns in a quick hallucination in which she says something of no importance.

It’s not only all downhill after this; it’s also around corners, down back alleys and through winding tunnels. I’ve seen it said in other reviews of this film that one of its strong points is that it is “intricate” or “complex.” I am of the opinion that these reviewers feel that the more tangled and torturous a film is, somehow, the deeper and more intellectual it is. I strongly disagree. There are examples of where that can be said, such as Momento, and other where it cannot, such as Autopsy. This film is full of mystery, it’s true, but it’s not the sort of mystery that makes one ask “Who dunnit?” so much as “What the hell is going on?” It’s one thing to be intrigued and quite another to have to pause occasionally with your viewing partner just to try and see if you’re even close to being on the same page.

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With the rash of suicides, there is one in particular that causes some ruction. Betty Lennox has shot herself in the face and her brother, Father Paul Lennox, is convinced it was a murder and not a suicide. The Lennoxes eventually become intricately involved with Simone, her boyfriend Edgar, her father Lello—but strangely, have nothing to do with the opening suicides. Simona has a theory that the rate of suicides go up in the summer months due to sunspots, but the film has less to do with that and more to do with her own relentless frigidity that Edgar tries desperately to thaw at every given opportunity. I for one could never figure out if Simona is going crazy because of her work and the goings-on around her, or if she was pretty screwed up to begin with. Frankly, it doesn’t really matter.

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Director Armando Crispino, also responsible for L’Rtrusco uccide ancora (The Dead Are Alive, 1972) and Frankenstein all’italiana (Frankenstein: Italian Style, 1975), could have done better with a more coherent script. But then, he wrote the script, with co-writer Lucio Battistrada, who also co-wrote The Dead Are Alive with Crispino—so I suspect the blame for that lies squarely with them.

The score was composed by Ennio Morricone, also famously responsible for Per un pugno di dollari (A Fistful of Dollars, 1964) and Il Buono, il brutto, il cattivo (The Good, the Bad and the Ugly ,1966). This might be the films’ only saving grace, while not quite as memorable as some of his other work, it certainly helps rather than hurt this film.

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As for the players, Mimsy Farmer (Simona) also appeared in Lucio Fulci’s Il Gatto nero (The Black Cat, 1981) and Ruggero Deodato’s Camoing del terrore (The Eleventh Commandment, 1987) with Last House on the Left’s David Hess. Classic horror hippie Ray Lovelock (Edgar) also appeared in Umberto Lenzi’s Un Posto ideale per uccidere (Oasis of Fear, 1971), Jorge Grau’s Non si deve profanare il sonno dei marti (Breakfast at Manchester Morgue, 1974) and Lucio Fulci’s Murderrock-uccide a passo di danza (The Demon is Loose, 1984). Barry Primus (Father Lennox) played Rake Brown is Scorsese’s Boxcar Bertha (1972) and Hermann Goering in Roger Corman’s The Red Baron (1971). Maybe if you’re a fan of any of these actors, you might find this worthwhile. If not, you might want to pass.

It'll take you... apart!

There is one horror that goes beyond the living dead!

Great Line
Edgar: “Enjoy what’s left of the summer. Then, if you want,
just to please you, we’ll all commit suidice.”

Sunday, December 18, 2005

They Came Back-2004

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Les Revenants (They Came Back) is one of those “not-your-typical-zombie-movie” zombie movies. If you’re looking for rotting, shambling, drooling flesh-eating corpses, then you might want to look elsewhere. However, if you’re open to something that takes a little more interpretive effort—and you don’t mind subtitles—then you might want to pop this one in.

In a nameless French town, 13,000 persons who have passed away within the previous ten years have mysteriously comeback. It is apparently a worldwide phenomenon, with about 70,000 recently deceased returning to the living realm. The deceased return well kempt, with a high resistance to infection and a slightly lower than normal body temperature. They’re also, obviously, not quite the same as they once were when alive.

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The city is at a bit of a loss as to what to do with them, and over the course of about a month, they conduct research, they do tests, they try to figure out what makes these people tick. The deceased are slow to communicate, they have lapses of awareness, and though their motor functions seem unharmed, they have a certain sluggishness about them. And although they don’t sleep; they’re always moving. The other problem the city faces is how exactly to allow these people to become productive members of society, and, in the process of attempting to solve this problem, the inevitable prejudice and class issues arise.

Upon their arrival, the deceased—or, “returnees”—are given the refugee treatment and herded into the city’s civic center to wait away the hours, days, or weeks until a family member comes to claim them…if they are claimed at all.

The thing this film does best is addressing an issue that is so rarely openly tackled: grief and mourning. And it does this in a very unique way—instead of talking about the process of grief as something to get-through and overcome, this film somehow turns the issue of its head.

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When we lose a loved one, we mourn, we suffer, we long for their return. We vow that there is a void that can never, ever be again filled. This film makes you question whether that’s actually true. The fact is that the void does fill—it fills physically with other people, and it fills emotionally through the treacherous work on the part of the mourner—it takes a lot to get on with life after losing someone close. So much so that upon they’re re-arrival…you might not know what to do.

Les Revenants allows us to examine the different reactions of those who had been left behind, and who have been returned to: An elderly man who lost his wife, a couple who had lost their 6 year old son, and a young woman who lost her live-in boyfriend. All react differently in what seems to me a perfectly unimaginable situation.

In the end, the question of how these people could be integrated back into the society they left behind is answered; they can’t. And the living are the last to realize this, though the dead seem to catch on rather quickly, despite their torpid drifting. Contrary to what we insist is true, there really isn’t an eternally empty void left behind—reality changes, we change with it, and we go on.

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Directed by Robin Campillo

Dead Meat-2004

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Think 'Shaun Of the Dead' set in rural Ireland, with a wee bit of 'Blair Witch Project' thrown in and you're on the right dirt track for getting a feel of what 'Dead Meat' is about. This Irish independent zombie flick starts with the usual hoo-haa about viruses spreading. This time, however, it's due to a bizarre strain of mad cow disease, resulting in rampant local farmers terrorising the countryside in which our heroine, a blatantly Irish looking lass playing a French girl, finds her cute little pajama clad arse stuck. Along the muddy way our feisty lead bumps into local gravedigger, Desmond. Together they make their way over to Desmond's farmyard, wherein they find a terrified child and a mad-as-tartan couple of yokels kick-starting their jeep.
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There's a chaotic beauty to this flick which you'll either love or hate, but it'll have you guessing just what the feck is going to happen from green pastured start to blood soaked finish. The gore really impressed me for the most part, whilst at other times looking iffy. Similar could be said regarding the zombie make-up. However, some innovative touches, such as an infected cow attack and a field full of sleeping zombies (like cows they sleep whilst standing up) made this little number a direct entry into my Indie horror top ten.
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There may be a few niggles for non-Irish viewers to be wary of, such as the unapologetically thick Irish dialogue and local trademark humour. Both could well be hit-or-miss with an international audience.

All in all, this is a winner, which makes me proud to be an Irishman. Oh, to be sure to be sure!

Tagline: It's not what you eat, it's who you eat!
Directed by Conor McMahon

Review by Spiral (Wayne Simmons).

Thursday, December 15, 2005

A Dark Place-2004

Story: Three friends (Rusty, Mikey, and Matt) move into a new house. Before they have even unpacked, a badly injured man staggers out of the woods and into their back yard. They call the police; only to find out that four people have been killed with similar bite marks and over thirty people have gone missing from the same wooded area with no clues ever found.

Rusty, in the typical tradition of horror films, decides to head into the woods to take a look around. He gets a bite taken out of his arm and begins to isolate himself and act strange. After two days, Rusty goes over the edge by crashing through a sliding glass door and running off into the woods.

Matt decides to take the law into his own hands and go after Rusty. Mikey feels that the whole situation is a bit much for him and heads back to wherever the three moved from. Enter Jon, the brooding hero type with a thirst for revenge for the loss of his woman and we have the final showdown between Matt, Jon, and the zombies who have been plaguing the forest. Right, I wasn’t that impressed with the complexity of the plotline either and may have made it sound a bit worse than it actually was.

Zombies: These are definitely not your Romero-style zombies. Although the filmmaker calls them zombies, they seem closer to vampires or some other species of creature to me. They run, grunt, and apparently don’t take very big bites when they attack. We don’t get many clear shots of them, but the zombies appear to be pretty normal looking people covered in mud. And, guess what? One of the film’s features tells us that is exactly what they are: mud-covered people.

The zombies can be killed by conventional means. No head wounds are necessary. In fact, the brooding hero prefers wooden stakes. I know. Zombies?

Gore: There is some decent blood in this film. Those looking for some heavy and nasty wounds will not find it here. A majority of the bleeding is done quickly and then cut away or cut away from the injury to show spurts of blood moving away from the point of attack. I suppose most of the injuries inflicted at these points are to be left up to the imagination of the viewer. The one exception to this is a decapitation scene, which goes by fast enough to look all right.

Score: The score is okay. I was expecting more of a cluster of bands in the background and was pleasantly surprised to find that they actually made their own score for the film with synthesized music and a keyboard. The music is dull at times, but suits some of the scenes well enough to create a somewhat creepy ambience.

DVD Extras: Extras include outtakes, features on how the film was made, and the film’s trailer.

Acting/ Dialogue: I must say the acting was not overly convincing. On the other hand, it was not cardboard. The actors demonstrated emotions appropriately and did a decent job at times. The dialogue was not too bad, although it was a bit campy at times. Here are a couple examples of the lines I found to be interesting:

“You can’t get him back now.”
“Why can’t I?”
“He’s in a darker place now.”
“They made it personal. I’m keeping it that way.”

Overall, I rate this film 2 and ½ out of 5 skulls. It’s a fair independent attempt. It lasts all of 45 minutes, so additional time could have made it more difficult to sit through or improved the film. I have no idea which. I won’t be holding my breath waiting for more films by these guys, but I suppose I would watch something else by them if I were bored.

Tagline: Their world seemed normal, but shadow loomed.

Country: USA

Year: 2004

Directed by: David Matheny


Chris Smith ... Matt
Kyle Mangrum ... Jon
A. J. Barrero ... Rusty
David Matheny ... Mikey

Review by hatefuldisplay (Ron Clark).

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The Devil's Fetus-1983

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I like to think that all films in some way reflect the creator’s idea of society and culture. Even those American stinkers, the Z grade schlock a zillion leagues below even the B grade stinkers. Even with those, you can probably discern something about what the writer and/or director is thinking. Even if they insist that they only wanted to make a silly, gory movie (which I don’t doubt that’s merely what they meant to do), I will still insist that everything we create is somehow or another affected by our own personal opinions about the world around us. Without that input, even subconsciously, we suspect we’d create nothing.

That being said, the thing I realize most about watching a movie like Mo tai (aka The Devil’s Fetus) is that I know absolutely nothing about Hong Kong culture. I would think that if I did I would be able to pick out something in this movie that makes a statement—even a little one. I don’t buy that they just make wacky films that no one understands. I often wonder what Hong Kong audiences think of American B to Z horror movies. Are they entertained but somehow just don’t get it?


A grandmother (Granny) and her daughter-in-law (Auntie) are at an auction, and at this auction Auntie, on a whim, buys a jade vase. She takes this vase home, where Ganny, Auntie, Uncle, brother and sister-in-law (Mr. and Mrs. Cheng) and their two sons (Kent and Kwo Wei) live together. That night, Auntie lounges around in bed, absently picks up the vase from the nightstand and considers it. Now, just seconds before the action starts, it suddenly dawns on you that you know exactly what’s going to happen. And you’ve guessed correctly, she gets down and dirty with the vase, which suddenly transforms into a hideous blue-grey-green slimy demon with a wild white mane of hair (which doesn’t so much say “demonic” to me as much as it says “old man”). Needless to say, she becomes rather attached to this vase and begins to act strangely.

Soon after, Uncle comes home from work one night only to open the bedroom door to the repulsive scene of the slimy-nasty demon humping his wife. In moments, the demon changes to a vase when the husband bursts in angrily then smashes the vase on the floor. The room fills with a noxious mist that contaminates the husband. His face become swollen and blistered. He is eventually, to his horror, able to pull it right off his head, revealing a squirmy-bloody-maggoty mess just before he seemingly tosses himself out the window.

The family is obviously devastated. The next evening, while Auntie mourns, she thinks she hears her husband’s voice calling to her. She ventures out of the bedroom to investigate, only to be knocked over the upper balcony to her own death by a flying kitty cat. Now the family is really devastated. At Auntie’s funeral, the priest has a bizarre vision of the woman in the casket. Her belly swells and pulsates until indeed a little ghoulish baby pops through. He warns granny that the couple weren’t meant to die at this time and would wander the earth until the can go on to their next birth. Their bedroom is turned into a shrine and it’s to be undisturbed.

Many years pass. It took me a while to realize that many years did pass, as there’s nothing to suggest that they have. Take my word for it.

Kent and Kwo Wei are grown, and Auntie’s daughter Juju is visiting. They seem a contented family, with a German Shepard named “Boby” and Granny, who spends most of her time praying in the temple and banging on a wooden object with a wooden stick. She does this a lot. Kent and Juju pay a visit to granny and whilst visiting, they decide to burn some incense at Auntie and Uncle’s shrine, during which Juju makes a mess of some carefully placed ritualistic ribbon/parchments, which of course, ruins everything.

As they leave Granny’s, one of the parchments flies out of the window and attaches itself to the car bumper. When they arrive home and they’ve entered the house, the parchment glides off of the bumper, only to be eaten on the porch by Boby the dog. This, as you can imagine, sets of a chain of events that can only lead to horrific disaster.

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For the remainder, I’ll just give the highlights. The demon is now inside Boby, which eventually gets transferred to Kwo Wei, who immediately takes on the generic automaton gaze and deliberate walk. There’s dog attacks, there’s dog eating, there’s maid raping, there’s near drowning, there transsexual masturbation, there’s worm eating, there’s a dude being crushed by a room (yes, I mean exactly that) and yes, there’s more slimy demon-sex. A lot of this is done with the accompaniment of some wicked 1980s video game-esque sound effects that make you nostalgic for that Atari system. There are also a couple of signature Hong-Kong-ish battle scenes that don’t make any logical sense, but are really great to watch.

So, where’s this Devil’s Fetus the title keeps going on about? That I’m not entirely sure of. I don’t recall there being mention of a daughter from Auntie and Uncle prior to their deaths—so where did this Juju girl come from? Is she the Devil’s Fetus? I don’t know. Was the demon’s goal to make a Devil’s Fetus? The priest’s vision would seem to indicate that this was the case, but later, with the masturbation scene (you’ll know what I mean when you see it), I’m left to believe that the demon’s only purpose was to get as much Asian poon-tang as it could before he was thwarted.


This is Lau Hung Chuen’s debut film, and boy, what a smashing way to start a career. He was working with a pro, however, as producer Wei Lo produced Fists of Fury (1972) with Bruce Lee, not to be confused with another Wei Lo production, Fist of Fury (1976), with Jackie Chan. The only other little bit of interesting Devil’s Fetus trivia that I know of is that Pak Kwong Ho (Mr. Cheng—who gets crushed by the room) more recently had a bit part in John Fawcett’s Ginger Snaps (2000).

Although there’s no earthly reason why I should have been able to walk away from this film feeling as if I’ve really learned something of substance about Hong Kong culture and/or social taboos, I’m going to pretend that I did. And seeing as though I don’t actually know anything about the culture, I’m going to do what critics do best and I’m going to make something up. Put this in your pipe and smoke it:

The Devil’s Fetus is obviously a torrid tale of the horrors of infidelity. Chuen’s apparent message is that the unmitigated sexual desire that can lead to unfaithfulness is not only damaging to the marriage, but also harmful to the family in ways that can eventually manifest down through the generations causing difficulty in maintaining healthy relationships.

Now that that pesky pretend interpretation is out of the way, let's get down to the important question: Is this a zombie movie? In my opinion, no. Not really. However, if you consider the likes of the first Evil Dead movie, or say, Bava's Demoni, to be a zombie movies...then maybe you'd think this one was too. There's never the raising of a corpse--just the possession of a live person that then takes on zombie-like characteristics.

Runtime: 84 min
Country: Hong Kong
Language: Cantonese

Sha Fei Au Yeung .... Granny Cheng
Eddie Chan .... Kent Cheng
Wing Cheung Gam
Pak-Kwong Ho .... Mr. Cheng
Tan Lau

Saan Leung

Sau-Ling Lui
.... Juju (as Sau Fan Loy)

Directed by Lau Hung Chuen
Produced by Wei Lo

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Choking Hazard-2004

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Anyone who thinks the Japanese are the only ones that make crazy movies should think again! Choking Hazard is one crazy zombie (or woombie!) movie from the Czech Republic!

The story is about a group of people that meet at an hotel in the middle of nowhere, to attend a course on the meaning of life, and then the zombies attack. Or more correctly Woombies - Woodsmen Zombies!

This has a bit of everything, a blind philosophising zombie, kung-fu zombies, a Jehovah’s witness porn star(!) even break dancing zombies! It’s just a stupid movie, but in a fun get the beers in kind of way!
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The gore hounds amongst us should be kept happy as there is a fair amount of blood and brains flung about right from the start. The gore and jokes do a good job of covering up any faults in the acting, which to tell the truth isn’t that bad. This is a B-Movie and proud of it.

The only real problem I had with this flick (and it’s only a minor one) is that nothing is really explained (mindless psycho-babble aside). Why are there zombies everywhere all of a sudden? Was there a virus? Who knows, and who in all honesty really cares! You’re going to watch this for laughs, blood, guts and zombies. That’s it, nothing else!

Turn your brain off (leave a little on though for the subtitles), kick back and enjoy the show!

Director : Marek Dobes
Writer : Stepan Kopriva

3 and ½ voodoo dolls

(Courtesy of my good self and Joe Horror magazine!)

Review by Pain (Jude Felton).

Monday, December 12, 2005

Feast of the Funky Disco Zombies-2003

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Synopsis: OK, this is a very innovative way for the dead to return to life. A rap "artist" named Strizzy K releases a new single titled, "Baby, Freak My Kizzerp" using samplings from some occult disco songs from the seventies. As the song gains popularity and gets played across the continent, the zombies start to rise to consume human flesh.

Seven friends are holed up in an apartment, waiting for the National Guard to clear their community. Whe a zombie gets into their apartment, the friends decide to flee to a safer location. They choose a worm farm, which happened to be a disco club in the seventies.

Gore: There were a few gruesome killings in this film. Unfortunately, the lighting and camera FX change during most of these scenes, taking away what gorehounds might be looking for in this film. There are a couple of good after-shots of killings. This might make up for a little of the actual death scene FX to some.

Zombies: The zombies look decent. They shamble and eat flesh. They talk, which might turn some people off. Most of the words used by the zombies are seventies disco-type slang. The zombies do some disco moves as well.

Lighting: The lighting was pretty good in most of this film, aside from a few scenes. Overall, I feel they did well in that department.

Score: The film's score isn't bad. Some of the music fits the mood of the scenes. Other areas include techno and disco music. Overall, I have to say the score works for this movie.

Cartoon clips: This bothered me a bit. There were a few parts in the film in which zombie cartoon clips were spliced into the film. Much like House of the Dead, it didn't work for this film either.

DVD Extras: The DVD includes film outtakes, trailer, and the video for "Baby, Freak My Kizzerp."

Overall, this is not a bad watch for some one looking for an amusing horror film and something that zombie enthusiasts might want to acquire.

Review by hatefuldisplay (Ron Clark).

Wild Zero-2000

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Wild Zero is a Japanese zombie film that plagued my "movies to buy" list for quite some time. The price didn't go down much anywhere, so I finally broke down and bought it. Well, this turned out to be one of the most bizarre zombie flicks I've come across.

Synopsis: Well, this might be difficult to explain. A metorite crashes near a Japanese city. Some UFOs start hovering above the Earth. Zombies start walking the Earth in search of human flesh. Oh, and a Japanese rock band pisses off a crime kingpin. I think that covers the main aspects of the story.

Gore: Well, this film has plenty of gore. We have exploding heads and torn out internal organs. Well, the head shots look kind of crappy. There is one in which part of the head remains, which does look good though. The other gore looks pretty damn good though.
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Zombies: The zombies in this film are slow and eat flesh. It seems a bit inconsistent, as the zombies seem to gain intelligence and the ability to talk and reason later in the film. At another point, they seem to ignore humans and not be trying to attack them, after trying to kill and consume them for the first half of the movie or so.

The zombies are blue. Some of them look terrible. Others look alright. On the darker scenes, they look good. Perhaps more night time zombie attacks would have improved this a bit.

Score: Well, most of the score was Japanese rock and some English-lyriced rock. Not bad though. Some of it fit the mood well.

Characters: I think the characters n this film helped it a lot. There was the Japanese greaser rock/metal band, Guitar Wolf, the misguided cowardly rocker named Ace, three traveling weirdos with no money, the criminal kingpin Captain (who wears very homoerotic clothing), a transvetite, and a female arms dealer. Very interesting ideas in the characters of the film to say the least.
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Overall, I rate this film 3 1/2 out of five skulls. It was quite original and had some very campy and strange aspects to it. Definitely worth seeing, but it won't be for every one.

Review by hatefuldisplay (Ron Clark).

Zombie Nightmare-1986

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Jack Bravman spent the late sixties producing a series of saucy exploitation flicks (beginning with Sex Family Robinson (1968.) It only makes sense that his career would amass to a series of bad horror, in the middle of which sits Zombie Nightmare. Written by David Wellington (who went on to direct television), this movie suffers in so many areas that it’s hard to know where to begin, should one really begin at all.

What’s most annoying about it is that it starts out so strong. Picture this, if you will: Ignore the voodoo snippet from later in the movie (placed here as if to whet your appetite to the zombie madness to come) and you have Motorhead’s “Ace of Spades” screaming at you…up comes a bad 80’s digital thumbprint, and then in flailing red letters, the name of Adam West. For just a brief moment, you almost think that this was a good decision. Then you realize, before the opening credits are even over, that the film has just shot it’s wad and it’s almost pointless to go on. But you do, because you are obviously a sadist.

Tony Washington seemed like a good kid, he and his mother watching his father play a little softball with the community. It‘s the 50‘s (or so I think…the only way you can tell this information is coming to you via a flashback are the outfits that the thugs are wearing…greased hair, rolled jeans and black Con All-Stars, despite the short-80’s-shorts a ballplayers is wearing) and in come the token kids-from-the-wrong-side-of-the-tracks. For no reason other than they are bad, racist kids, they attack a local black girl walking down the street. Luckily, the game is over and Mr. Washington and his family are nearby. Mr. Washington (John Fassano, director of Rock and Roll Nightmare (1987) and Black Roses (1988)…yes, the horror/metal connection goes deeper) confronts the thugs and ends up knifed. Okay, so we know it’ll be a revenge story. Great.

Flashforward. Tony (John Mikl Thor, who also scored this film, not to mention scoring, writing and acting in Rock and Roll Nightmare…I told you so, we are now entangled in the web that is bad horror/metal movies…and much later scores and plays a part in Graveyard (2003)) is now I high school student (which according to how time usually plays out, might make him approaching his forties. He looks good!) and despite his metal hairdo, seems like a good, All-American kid. He goes grocery shopping for his mom, and even saves convenient store clerks (named “Mr. Peters”, with thick Italian accents) from vicious ruffians. That is, until he is run down in the street by a carload of idiot teenagers. Oops.
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Of course, the by-standers do the most obvious and logical thing and that is to drop his lifeless corpse off at his moms, rather than take him, I don’t know, to a hospital. She, wracked his grief, also does the most obvious and logical thing, She calls on Molly Mokembe (Manuska Rigaud), aka “Girl Harassed by thugs those many years ago,” to pay back a favor. Rigaud may just be in the running for worst voodoo priestess interpretation, with her wild hair and her jittery-voice, accompanied by a wicked underbite. It’s sometimes difficult to make out what she says, but I think I got the most important bits. Something about “revenge” and a “state between life and death” and needing “the blood from de live an-nee-mal-l-l.”

Anyway, Tony (or “Thor” as I like to call him) rises, screams and is handed a baseball bat, which he uses to beat the bloody hell out of his victims, among other means to kill.) He is clad in what he was wearing when he was killed himself, a black hoodie, a pair of grey joggers that appear to be pulled up to his knee, set off by a striking pair of very white socks, pulled all the way up, and some white tennis shoes. I have a feeling that this is the way Thor dresses, even when he’s not on a crap-zombie-movie set. Also, for whatever reason, after death, his hair is suddenly short. But then, continuity is not one of the strong points here.

God, I could go on and on about what is horribly wrong with this film, but then I wouldn’t be able to tell you about Adam West. Not that it matters. West plays Captain Tom Churchman, a cop with a shady past, who likes to harass other cops, namely Frank Sorrell (Frank Dietz.) Sorrell is guilty of actually trying to solve the murders of the idiot teenagers. West is a long way away from his Batman past, and even further away from what is hopefully a better zombie movie, Voodoo Island (1957), where he plays a Radio Operator (unaccredited, of course.)

Is there anything else redeemable, or even interesting about Zombie Nightmare? Well, depends on if you’re a big Tia Carrere fan (yes, Cassandra Wong of Wayne’s World (1992).) Here you get to see her act catty, bitch and moan and then get wasted. Hoo-rah.

Taglines: “Her power goes beyond life... his rage survives even death.”
“Your worst dreams are about to come true!”

Directed by Jack Bravman
Written by David Wellington
Produced by Shledon S. Goldstein, Eleanor Hilowitz, Charles Storms

Adam West .... Capt. Tom Churchman
Jon Mikl Thor .... Tony Washington
Tia Carrere .... Amy
Manuska Rigaud .... Molly Mokembe
Frank Dietz .... Frank Sorrell

The Child-1977

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For many a year, Harry Novak has brought us soft core fun like Country Cuzzins (1970) and The Pigkeeper’s Daughter (1973.) How blessed are we that he found it in himself to offer us up some zombie action? Okay, blessed might not be the word I want to use…

Poor Alicianne (Laural Barnett) has taken a job at the Nordon house, to act as nanny to the young Rosalie (Rosalie Cole.) Poor Rosalie needs extra special care, as she is still grieving the death of her wacko mother. Okay, not poor Rosalie, as she’s a bit of a spoiled little freak show herself. She draws psychopathic pictures and feeds kittens to zombies in the cemetery next door. I can’t really tell for sure whether or not she raises the zombies herself through her telekinesis (which you are provided an example or two of), or if they’re just…there. And for whatever reason don’t mind doing the bidding of this bratty little kid.

Whatever the case, it’s clear that when you have an unpleasant kid who wields some sort of occult-like power, chances are you’re going to end up with everyone dead. This is pretty much the case. When all is said and done, we’re left with the classic Find-A-Structure-And-Board-It-Up motif, so popular in zombie films.

Don’t get me wrong, the movie has it’s moments. But they are few and far between, which wouldn’t be so exasperating if it weren’t for the maddening score by Rob Wallace. Wild piano, with dreadful synth accompaniment (what’s with the electronic duck-quack sound?) absolutely destroys any amount of suspense they were obviously going for. And they did try…maybe a little too hard. While fog in a cemetery is always spooky, so much of it that it obscures the action in frame sort of defeats the purpose and leaves you, not goose-bumpy, but straining your eyes to see what the hell is going on.

The zombies themselves, however, were neato. In one poorly executed scene, they swarm upon a car (with our heros trapped inside, of course.) For just a moment, they were scary. They are not unlike a cheaper, darker, crustier version of Karlof’s “Mummy.” They also reminded me of Cesare in The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1919), in that white on black thing going on. So, Cesare-Karlof-Mummy…only done very badly. You get the picture. And they are all over and they are scary and then they start rocking the car back and forth, as if they’re college students rioting after a game (only much less destructive.) For a long time they make no attempt to get into the car. They just rock it, back and forth. One even throws a spindly looking branch at the windshield. The point is: a perfectly good zombie swarming ruined by being completely anti-climactic.

Tagline: “Let's play hide and go kill...! "

Also Known As:
Kill and Go Hide (1977)
Zombie Child (1977)
Runtime: 82 min
Country: USA
Language: English

Directed by Robert Voskanian
Written by Ralph Lucas
Produced by Robert Dadashian
Exectutive Produced by Harry Novak


Laurel Barnett .... Alicianne Del Mar
Rosalie Cole .... Rosalie Nordon
Frank Janson .... Mr.Nordon
Richard Hanners .... Len Nordon
Ruth Ballan .... Mrs.Whitfield

Sugar Hill-1974

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What do you do when some white guy gets his flunkies to beat your man to death in the parking lot of the club he refused to sell? If you’re Diana (aka Sugar) Hill, you raise some zombies and exact revenge. What else?

Morgan (Robert Quarry, aka Count Yorga) is a ruthless thug, bent on owning Club Haiti. But Langston (Larry D. Johnson) just refuses to budge. So, it’s face down in the parking lot wearing a strangely sparkling leisure suit with a wavy lapel. What a way to go.

Sugar (Marki Bey) goes back to her family homestead to find Mama Maitresse (Zara Cully, aka “Mother” Jefferson from the original cast of The Jeffersons), Voodoo priestess, who claims to be out of the business, possibly on moral grounds, but once you get her going, seems very enthusiastic about her work. Together, they rouse Baron Samedi (Don Pedro Colley), the Haitian “loa” of death, wearing a top hat and spinning a cane. He’s responsible for controlling passageway from the world of the living to the world of the dead, and is supposed to enjoy cigarettes, food and the rum in which 21 hot peppers have been steeped…or, in the case of this film, all he wants at the end of the day is a little action.
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So, the dead do indeed rise, in the form of slaves that died circa 1840-1850, on the way over from Guinea. Still wearing their shackles (which rattle and clank just before they do in a henchman) and brandishing machetes, these ‘fro-sporting zombies stare with their silvery, bulbous eyeballs (make-up courtesy of Hank Edds, who also provided make up for Polanski’s Chinatown that same year.)

Lt. Valentine (Richard Lawson), Sugar’s former lover, is on the case and for no apparent reason suspects voodoo is behind it all. Between his research and flirting with Sugar, he manages to get absolutely no where, not that it matters.

Ah, the Blaxploitation genre, at which one both laughs hard and shakes head sadly, thankfully spat out a horror sub-genre. Along side the likes of Blacula (1972), Blackenstein (1973) and Dr. Black and Mr. Hyde (1976) comes Sugar Hill, the undead’s foray into the world of women’s pantsuits and catfights, not to mention the unashamed use of the word “Nigger” and, more amusingly, the term “Honk.” Who can we thank for this? For one, you can thank Tim Kelly, well known mostly as a playwright (also penned “Zombie” and “Shake with a Zombie”.) Sugar Hill was adapted from his play “Black Voodoo.” You can also thank director Paul Maslansky, who thankfully never directed again, but did bring us the Police Academy movies as a producer. And, of course (and not surprisingly) Samuel Z. Arkoff, of American International Pictures. God, what else this man is responsible for…well, that’s another book entirely.
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You’re either going to be highly amused by this film, or slightly offended. In either case, it’s worth a watch for many reasons, two of which I’ll provide for you here. There aren’t too many movies out there that give you an attack-of-the-disembodied-chicken-leg scene. And if that’s not enough to get you to rent this one, you’ll be charmed when you’re exposed to the opening and closing song “Supernatural Voodoo Woman” by the Originals (Motown Records, from the album “Game Called Love” (1974), which also features the song “She’s My Old Lady.”) You don’t want to miss out of having this stuck in your head for days and days.

Tagline : “Meet SUGAR HILL and her ZOMBIE HIT MEN...The Mafia has never met anything like them!”

Also Known As:
Voodoo Girl (1974)
Zombies of Sugar Hill, The (1974)
Runtime: 91 min
Country: USA

Marki Bey .... Diana 'Sugar' Hill
Don Pedro Colley .... Baron Samedi
Robert Quarry .... Morgan
Richard Lawson .... Lt. Valentine
Zara Cully .... Mama Maitresse
Betty Anne Rees .... Celeste, the moll

Sex, Chocolate and Zombie Republicans-1998

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What happens when you mail out a chain letter to all your friends, family, and the like? Well, chances are they will ignore it (as they should), and of course, horrible bad luck shall befall them. Worst case scenerio…everyone turns into a zombie Republican.

Silly, naïve Jessica has received an old chain letter, and, like an idiot, does it’s bidding. When things don’t go as she expected and her friends and loved one toss the letters instead of sending them off, each of them falls victim to their worst fear…or general annoyance. Rayna, who prefers her man to stay awake, even if only for a few minutes after a romp in the bedroom, (here’s some of your “Sex”) finds that she can do nothing but immediately put every man she comes into contact with straight to sleepy-time land. Ginger, a health conscious, yoga contorting would-be model, finds she can’t control herself and eats every piece of chocolate within chomping distance, including the baking stuff (yeah, there’s your “Chocolate”.) This results in an onslaught of acne the day before a big birthday card photo shoot. Oh No. There’s more, but I can’t really go over them for lack of space. Bowman (also responsible for the likes of Cybersex Kittens (1995) and Revenge of Mr. Willie) apparently likes a cast of thousands.

But onto the important part. The zombies. It would appear that in addition to the broad-spectrum of bad luck, parents of Jessica’s friends, formally tree-hugging aging hippies, have now become zombie Republicans (and we have finished our title.) And it’s spreading. Can Jessica affect the winds of change in the luck of her friends? Can she keep the world from being overrun with zombie Republicans? I won’t tell, because if I had to sit through 110 minutes to find out, so should you.

That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it. As a matter of fact, there’s a certain amount of ridiculousness I appreciate (in all things really, not just my zombie movies.) And Bowman likes to cater to this in heaping mounds of silliness. Not to mention a heart-warming homage to Romero’s Night of the Living Dead (yes, another one) towards the end, where masses of Zombie Republicans swarm the house. The make-up is shoddy, which means it’s not that far a cry from Night ’68. My only complaint, really, is that it just went on…forever. It wouldn’t stop. I am a cheese connoisseur, but after a while, even I was looking at the clock, wondering who the hell his editor was and why didn’t this person speak up when there was still time to do something about it.

Oh well, they can’t all be perfect, now can they?

This movie is an exercise in absurdity. Shot on video with little to no production values, you have to take what you can get. So, my advice would be to relax and take it for what it is. Another piece of advice would be this: If you are a Republican, just don’t watch it. It’ll just hurt your feelings. On the other hand, if you’re also a big fan of the boob shot, by all means, pop this puppy in and try to ignore the liberal one-liners.


Jessica…Jenna Faustino
Rayna…Elyse Ashton
Ginger…Andrea Gillie Kemp
Nicole…Denise Reiser
Frog…Mark Darcourt
Lindsey…Elena St. John
Darlene…Debbie Dobbs
Cindy…Linda Etoh Pine
Kevin…Ted Leavengood

Corpses Are Forever-2003

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I've watched this three times. And not because I wanted to. Even after three viewings, I still couldn't figure out exactly what to do with I decided to cop out and cheat. In 1994, Roger Ebert utilized the Devil/Angel on my Shoulder technique to review The Hudsucker Proxy. I'm going to use that here because, well, it's just easier this way.

I find Ebert's little angel and devil perched too upon my shoulders, only for some reason they're dressed in 70's fashion a la Truck Turner, which I'm not surprised by, nor do I have a problem with. And, thank God, they are dictating this review of Corpses are Forever.

Angel: Oh, gee, how fun is this? A Zombie/Spy movie. With spies and zombies. And an exciting, intricate story and a B-/Horror Movie All Star Team cast, the A-list of the B-list! Jose Prendes, who wears many hats on this production, plays Malcolm Grant, a CIA operative injected with some sort of DNA-based...uh...stuff, which allows him to live through someone else’s memories. In this case, serial killer, Quint Barrow, also played by Prendes...

Devil: Wait. Just wait one minute. What does Prendes do on this film? Okay, he stars, playing two characters. He wrote it. He directed it. He's also credited for producing, co-scoring, and special effects. "Wearing many hats" could be a more pleasant way of saying "spreading self too thin." Now, the writing. What you call an exciting and intricate story, to me, seems like a lot of blah, blah, blah for the sake of being "exciting and intricate." I've watched this three times and I still don't completely know what's going on half the time, and it's not for the lack of ability to figure it out. I just don't care enough to. Okay, the fact is that I didn't even watch it three times. On the third viewing, I got about a third of the way through, and I just couldn't go on. Hell, one could figure out the end of Chinatown easier a third of the way through! And frankly, I question the writing if they think it's a logical idea to have our hero driving around in an old convertible during the zombie menace. Are you saying that, as a writer, he thought it would work, and as a director, he had a choice between what worked for the story and what he thought would "look cool" and he chose the convertible (with the top down, mind you)? This is a guy who has written 31 scripts and 9 books in 4 years...what is it they say about quality over quantity?

Angel: Well...hey, he had a lot on his plate. It's a lot of work, directing and acting. Maybe it was more coherent in the script stages, but sometimes there are distractions and not everything is covered as well as he'd like them to have...

Devil: Hence, why it might have been a good idea to leave the acting to the actors, and concentrate on the directing. The film leaves me with the feeling that if it wasn't going on within five feet of him, he didn't care. I mean, there’s a scene in which Richard Lynch is addressing his little army of commandos. He's got a map on a large, plate glass window. And through said window, one can witness lots of things, like cars driving by, people pumping gas. You know...civilization. During a zombie apocalypse. Unless that was a zombie pumping his own gas, I could be mistaken. Someone could have maybe suggested, I don't know, moving the map and the scene to a wall and not a window. And, I understand that maybe Prendes' access to hundreds of people willing to play the undead may have been limited, however, a little fancy camera work and he could have made that group of twenty look like a group of 50, or even one hundred. But no. Someone had a zombie holocaust and no one invited the zombies. Sort of disappointing. That, and the fact that most of them are from the Flyboy-from-Dawn, bent-ankle, foot-drag school of zombidom. Was there no direction for them?

Angel: Okay, Mr. Grumpy Trousers, as I was saying about the've got your Richard Lynch, who gives it his all, and saves the film, really. Brinke Stevens plays Dr. Thesiger, maker of the DNA stuff. Linnea Quigley, who, while still delivering her lines in that strangely flat monotone, manages to come off as being downright cute, even covered head to toe in blood. Debbie Rochon plays Marguerite, Grant's love interest, who enjoys plastic clothing and being not so very nice all the time. Felissa Rose plays Gina, a woman infected by a zombie and on her way to becoming one. Conrad Brooks...doing what Conrad Brooks does, which most, I'm sure, can guess. Bill Perlach plays the preacher, and frankly, I found him to be the most enjoyable character. Last but not least, a quick appearance from Don Calfa, playing Jack Stark, Grant's former boss.

Devil: I love the cast. I do. I have a real soft spot for these actors and actresses. Lynch can indeed be commended for his performance. Brinke and Linnea will always be cherished among genre fans. Rochon is a favorite; she's got the best attitude. We're all happy to see the return of Rose to the genre. Conrad Brooks...well...yeah. Anyway. Bill Perlach is a wonderful fresh face and I do hope to see more of him elsewhere (I'd also like to see him in focus.) And Calfa. Well, who doesn't love Don Calfa? It's a real shame all his lines were unintelligible due to bad sound (was that actually a jet flying overhead that I heard?)

Angel: Oh, there you go...pick, pick, pick.

Devil: Sound is an important part of the film, unless you're making a silent film. Which maybe Prendes should have considered doing, especially after listening to his accent as the Quint character...what was he? English, Aussie? Did he even have the accent in later moments of the film?

Angel: Shut up. Maybe the sound guy just sucked.

Devil: Well, obviously the sound guy sucked, but you don't shoot a whole movie and not realize your sound guy sucks. Unless, of course, you're too busy acting and you don't notice...

Angel: Why? Why are you being so incredibly critical of this man's efforts? You like other low-to-no budget films. What is it about this film in particular that bothers you?

Devil: That's a good question. There are a lot of things that bother me about this film. But I think primarily, it's the fact that there's nothing about this film that made it impossible to shoot on DV. But he chose 35mm. Thus eating probably most of his $200,000 budget, which came from a trust fund. If it was shot on DV, he could have spent more money on the wardrobe, which looked as if it could meet the demands of any high school play. Or maybe the effects, which probably would have sufficed at any backwoods Haunted House/Hayride. He could have paid for a real sound guy. He could have maybe put some money out for a long lens, with which to shoot the overly choreographed fight scenes, which, as is, are laughable. Who chooses to shoot a fight scene from a slightly elevated angle, thus revealing every more-than-a-foot-away-from-the-zombie's-face miss? Maybe he could have compensated his actors and actresses better, at the very least. It's maybe a little upsetting to me that there are a bunch of indie filmmakers out there that could've spent this money more wisely and made a better quality, more entertaining film. But they just don't have the trust funds for it. It just seems...I don't know...self-indulgent. Much better has been done for much less.

Angel: Such as...

Devil: Clerks $27,000. The Blair Witch Project, $60,000. Just recently, the documentary Super Size Me, $65,000, and that guy ate McDonald's three times a day for a month on that budget...

Angel: Okay, I get the picture. But...but...*sigh*. Fine, you got me. Do we want to describe the story anymore?

Devil: No, we don't.

Angel: Grab a beer?

Devil: Absolutely.

I'd like to thank Roger Ebert for saving me, and also the Cohen brothers for making a mediocre film.

Bone Sickness-2004

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Brian Paulin, the director who brought us Mummy Raider starring Misty Mundae, now brings us Bone Sickness. It’s a story about Kristen McNetti (Darya Zabinski), whose husband, Alex, is suddenly struck one year previous with a degenerative bone disease. Due to what I think is the inability to pay for proper treatment, she turns to a friend, Thomas Granger, a Morgue attendant. In all his scientific wisdom, he provides her with a combination corpse marrow and red meat mixture to blend into her husband’s food. This is supposed to make him better. Of course, it doesn’t. It makes him horribly ill, with wormy-squirts coming from most orifices. It’s plain to see that he can’t possibly improve if he’s digesting nasty corpse marrow bits, so what’s the next logical step? Of course, he needs fresher marrow bits! But, by this time he’s acquired a taste for the recently deceased, and now the movie is a circus.

What started out with promise, ended with a kind of disappointment. Not the kind of disappointment one gets when they sit there for 98 minutes and watch something start out all right and then slowly spiral down into a sloppy, stinking mess. It’s the kind when you just know that somewhere in all the chaos, there is a decent, cohesive film that one could enjoy. What’s particularly frustrating about Bone Sickness is that the film that it could have been would have been leaps and bounds better than 98% of the low-budget zombie films being churned out at a head-spinning pace in people’s backyards and garages.

The corpse-including concoction given to Alex to cure him is reminiscent of the Voodoo zombie powder written about in Wade Davis’s The Serpent and the Rainbow. However, the effect is not a zombie, but a “Necro-junky,” as he is referred to in the film (side-effect of this is suddenly growing your hair long and letting it get greasy.) It’s an updated, Americanized twist on the voodoo myth which is a much appreciated shift from the chemical/radioactive/etc reasons we’ve been given as of late for a zombie outbreak. Unfortunately, about halfway through the film, things begin to get convoluted, and never stop. In fact, it actually seems to gain momentum once the ball of confusion gets rolling.

Is Alex a zombie? You don’t know. Why are the zombies rising? You don’t know. Is his best friend sleeping with his wife? You don’t know. Do any of the chicks in this film keep their clothes on? Okay, the answer is: one and a half. Why are there scorpions? You don’t know. Are those goblins?? Yes, but we don’t know where they came from, or why. Yes, I said “goblins,” and your guess is as good as mine. Most of the movie is spent in complete and utter befuddlement, only to have some of it explained in a spurt of dialog, too little, too late. Suspense can be built by tossing a few perplexing moments at the audience, but to throw them hand over fist and offering absolutely nothing to help tie things together until much of the action is done is useless, and a bit frustrating.

What Bone Sickness does have going for it are some great zombies. Very serious attention was paid to the making of, the lighting of and the overall appearance of the real stars of the film. Here we have a gaggle of fiends recalling Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things. Instead of the very popular fast-paced, poorly cut, quick zombie attack, with a speed metal accompaniment, Paulin hands us a classic rise from the grave. And judging by the Behind-the-Scenes footage, it’s a graveyard built in a garage. I’m always impressed by low-budget filmmakers who actually think a scene’s important enough to build a set for. The hard work paid off, and the result is a creepy trip back to the good ol’ days when zombies were slow, and scary…not so much because they were going to eat you, but because they were spooky, decaying corpses that were shuffling around after you. That’s not to say that there’s no flesh eating…

…because there is. Paulin didn’t skimp on the gore and blood, though the latter is a bit watery. The story did seem to suffer for it towards the ending, when meaningful action that helped the audience stay abreast of the situation was lost in a string of interesting and creative effects gags. That’s the disadvantage. The advantage is that you get to watch a string of interesting and creative effects gags.

Bone Sickness also suffers from something I often wonder about in these low-budget jobbies: where is the wardrobe? How many of these do I have to sit through in which I am asked to believe that the girl with the Betty Page haircut and funky-punk shirt is supposed to be the nosey neighbor in some nameless suburbia? How many times must I try to convince myself that although the characters are peppered with tattoos, and sometimes the odd piercing and unnaturally colored hair, and although their homes are decorated in the hippest punk-rocker fashion (how much animal print can one really take?), are your garden-variety people? Yep, just normal everyday people with normal everyday jobs, who water their flowers and call over the fence between yards to each other asking how-have-you-been-lately-Mrs.-so-and-so? Is it really that hard to dress a set? Is a real wardrobe and a wig really too much to request? Or, a properly placed, concealing sleeve, perhaps? (sigh)

Okay, so anyway, I lied when I said the zombies were the stars of this film, though they are a very close second. The real star of Bone Sickness is Rich George, who plays the sick husband, Alex. I can’t really praise his acting skills, I’m sorry to say. But what can you say about a person who puts a good handful of live squirmy-worms in his mouth, sets himself on fire, and a variety of other haphazard stunts…all for a low budget zombie flick? You say: without you, this movie wouldn’t have been nearly as entertaining. Thank you.

Altogether, Bone Sickness is both fun and difficult to sit through; fun for the action and effects, but difficult due to the mix-mangle story and continuity. In the end, you're appreciative, but not neccessarily satisfied.