Sunday, October 31, 2010

Henenlotter Horror Halloween

Here's some photos, all except the last one taken by me with the iPhone. The last one, which is of course the best one, is taken by Jason from the great blog Cinezilla.

It was SubDVD and Njuta Films who arranged this evening, with screenings of Brain Damage and Bad Biology. Both great. Bad Biology shows that Henenlotter hasn't lost any of his touch when it comes to give us weird, tasteless, wonderful, romantic, monster-filled New York-dramas. With a penis-monster.

Nicolas "Njuta Films" Debot, Frank Henenlotter and Nick Deeg (he's the cinematographer and co-producer of Bad Biology).

Rickard "Klubb Super 8" Gramfors

Nicolas Debot, Phille Fury, Ronny Svensson and Jason Meredith

Mr H signing stuff for the fans

SEO "Studio S" Olsson and Joachim "Rubbermonsterfetischim" Andersson

Jason Meredith from Cinezilla!

Joachim from Rubbermonsterfetischism again. Looking happy.

Mr H and yours truly...

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Amazing World of Mr B.I.G - An Autobiographical Journey by Bert I. Gordon

I can honestly say that together with Inoshiro Honda and Roger Corman, Bert I. Gordon is one of my favorite directors ever. My first taste of his work was with Food of the Gods, which I bought on an old x-rental when I was a teenager. The insane monster-mash that was delivered in front of my innocent eyes still affects me. From giant hens and that disgusting worm/larva to mosquitos and the nasty rats – this was one awesome movie.

No no, I just lied! My FIRST taste of Bert I. Gordon’s work was Empire of the Ants. I was 7-8 years old and my english in Sigtuna pal, Neil, showed me some scary movies – and one of them was the ant-movie. THAT one scared the hell out of me and I didn’t watch horror movies for a long time after that. It might no be scary today, but it’s still a great fun monster-movie.

Bert I. Gordon gives us entertainment. I’m not sure theres any deeper messages in his movies, but who needs that when monsters roam and animals attack? At the tender age of 88 he finally gives us his memoairs, which is a film-by-film recollection from his first wild days in Hollywood to his last, for now, movie: Satan’s Princess. What strikes me is how determined he was to be a filmmaker in Hollywood. Friends and collegues laughed at him, but somehow he just ignored them, started to knock on doors and finally got a chance to make his first movie, King Dinosaur.

Gordon is a one-man army of filmmaking and churned out everything, including commercials and sex-comedies for 35 years. He was a pioneer in visual effects (who knew he shot all the ant-scenes in a hotel room in a couple of days?!) with cheap and effectiv – and sometimes corny – effects. And it’s not surprising the book mostly deals with his first year in Hollywood and then the techincal aspects of the rest of the movies. It’s an easy to read book, filled with facts and anecdotes. What I miss is more about the shooting of the movies, working with actors, dealing with scripts and selling the production to distributors. The last part of the book is filled with photos – including the one where the cool Joan Collins is making out with an ant!

I also realize that I haven’t seen any of his occult-themed movies, which is three: Necromancy, Burned at the Stake and Satan’s Princess. I also decided, after reading the story behind The Mad Bomber, to find the uncut version and give that one a new try.

You can easily buy the book from his homepage, and maybe like me, also choose the version with a dedication and autograph.

Full Eclipse (1993)

Anthony Hickox’s Full Eclipse could have been the movie that transformed him from a creator of horror movies to a director of DTV action flicks. But this TV-movie is one of a kinda, a unique and cool spin on the werewolf-myth and look like a fullblown made for cinema production.

Mario Van Peebles is Max Dire, a close to burned out cop that after a violent hostage-drama looses his partner and friend Sheldon – but not for long, because within days Sheldon is back on the force, healthier and stronger than ever. He seems to almost have super powers, but the happiness does not last long before he kills himself. Max is ordered to visit the psychologist Dr Garou (Bruce Payne by the way) and his groupe of other problem-cops. But there’s just one problem everyone is werewolves and is spending the nights with taking care of the criminals that the law can’t take care of…

Full Eclipse is a very solid action-horror hybrid, which knows it has a great concept and never waste it on stuff that we don’t want to see. All the action scenes is excellent, very violent and with tons of squibs and John Woo-esque slow-motion sequences. This is brutal, and for a TV-movie it’s a lot more than some of the cinema movies from the same time. It’s more of an action movie than a horror movie, but that’s okey. I love the shots where Sheldon jumps like a god damn monkey over cars and busses on a sunlit street, shooting bad guys and making cars crash. Poetry!

This movie also reminds that Mario Van Peebles could have been something big. He has weight as an actor and handles action good at the same time. What happen? I have no idea, but it would be nice to see him back on the big screens again. Bruce Payne is Bruce Payne, and I love him. He overacts like no one else and fits the part perfectly. Patsy Kensit is the girlfriend of Payne, and even if she’s a bit pale as an actress, she’s saved by the charismas around her. Jason Beghe is one of the cops in Garou’s group, and he’s absurdly forgotten nowadays. For horror fans he’s mostly known for the star in George A. Romero’s underrated Monkey Shines. Fantastic actor and he give a lot of credibility to the small part he has.

For most of the time, Full Eclipse is a solid movie. There’s a few details here and there that breakes the illusion. The primitive transformation scene for example. To fast, to simple. Another detail that always gives me a laugh is the love scene between Van Peebles and Kensit, which becomes humorous because Van Peebles as a big tear in his pants, exactly on the ass. Like a scene from The Naked Gun.

Full Eclipse is a violent and cool werewolf-movie, probably one of my favorites in the genre. Now I will for more movies of the same kind… Auuuuuuuuuuu!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Mozart Is a Murderer (1999)

Mozart Is a Murderer sig a fairly unknown Giallo from maestro Sergio Martino, but this production is better than expected, even if it never raises above average. Probably made for TV, or direct for video, it has a cheap look, but with the steady hand of Martino it works pretty well and delivers a very typical giallo.

It begins with a classical concerto which goes slightly wrong. The pupils get lost for a moment, and their teacher gets furious and threatens them with suspension because of their laziness. Later the same evening one of them is killed, and soon they are getting killed one by one by a killer wearing black gloves!

As you can see, it’s a very generic storyline. Too generic to be honest. The look of the movie feels TV, and that can be a clue. The violence is not especially graphic, but the bodycount is quite high and it reminds me of one of those cozy British TV-thrillers. But it’s still a good example of a Giallo: black gloves, a childhood trauma, distorted voice on the telephone, lots of red herrings, sinister sexuality and a cop with a dark past.

Enzo De Caro is excellent as the cop, Antonio Maccari, and funny looking Augusto Fornari is good as his sidekick. Sergio Martino is a great director and I’m sure this was a big hit on television. It’s hard to guess the killer and even if the motive is a bit far-fetched, it’s a nice twist which childhood trauma concept could have fitted in one of Dario Argento’s movies.

To much to write actually, it’s an OK movie with a decent plot and good tension. But if you want to see something really good, just turn back twenty years and get one of Martino’s older Giallos. They have more gore, style and originality.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Tales of an Ancient Empire (2010)

In 1982 Albert Pyun released The Sword and the Sorcerer, which could be one of the funniest and most violent fantasy movies of the eighties. Lee Horsley was Talon and was fighting against the evil Cromwell (Richard Lynch). Now, 28 years later the sequel comes, another adventure… and it both teases you and disappoints you at the say time.

A demon sorceress awakens from her deep sleep and creates havoc on a small kingdom. She kills the queen, but the princess escapes and tries to find a couple of warriors that can help her to avenge her mother’s death and take back their country. After some minor adventures she finds her half-brother (Kevin Sorbo), who though he knows they are sibling still has the hots for her. Luckily for him there are more chicks willing to help the princess and together they continue their long and dangerous trip…

In my hand I have the recently released Thai edition of Tales of an Ancient Empire. According to Mr Pyun this is an earlier version of the movie that lacks some footage – and even actors what I’ve heard. This could be the case, because it’s a bit confusing here and there. First, let me be honest. In this version, the first five minutes are terrible. The graphics are awful, I’m not impressed by the processing of the footage, the editing is weird… and it just does not feel completely right.

BUT after those five minutes (it’s almost exactly five minutes), some idiots are entering the tomb of the demon sorceress, treasure-hunting of course, removes the lids and unleashes the demon – and from that scene and forth, the movie looks very good. Now, Pyun has a little bit different approach to this movie. It’s more nude women (some very talented actually) and more focus on dialogue than action. It’s not bad, it’s well made, looks good and has a good rhythm. But of course I would like more action and gore to the sequel. It has blood and some minor gore of course, but not like the first movie.

The budget is low, but it has a comic-style vision that works good in the bigger scenes where they couldn’t afford travelling to exotic places or build big sets. If you accept that, you will find that the movie works very good and gets your attention all the way to the cliffhanger-ending. Even my Gregory, who can be a bit suspicious to movies in this genre, got stuck watching the movie from the beginning to the end. That’s impressive.

It’s not a perfect movie, but has that visual and poetic atmosphere that Pyun can create from nothing. I will buy the finished version too, when it’s released in the US or Europe next year – mostly to compare, but also to see how the movie transformed from the fan-activity that Pyun kept going from the start, to this version until the final version and the sequel Red Moon.

Now Mr Pyun, please make give us that cool director’s cut of Nemesis that you teased us with some years ago…

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Mosquito (1995)

Isn’t strange how Gary Jones little creature feature Mosquito is so forgotten? It’s filled with gore, tits, giant insects and Gunnar Hansen with a chainsaw! I guess some would call it a horror comedy, but I can’t agree. The comedy is more because it’s so broad with it comes to the gore and creatures, which are big, juicy and very colourful.

It starts like all good movies should start, with an alien spaceship crashing in the swamps! A mosquito gets hungry and sucks from blood from one of the dead aliens inside and suddenly the mosquito’s is mutating to huge motherf**kers, ready to suck out all the blood in their victims bodies! A couple of bank robbers, park rangers, a tough meteorologist and other surviving humans sticks together, trying to defend themselves against the hordes of killer-insects!

The budget might be low, but it has an absurd amount of flair and energy! Here’s a monster movie that knows what to deliver, because there’s attack after attack, gore and slime, a lot of footage of big rubber-mosquito’s killing people, explosions, car-crashes and some very uneven acting. Gunnar Hansen plays a part that’s not a cameo for once – thanks for that – and get’s a chance to kill a lot of evil fuckers with his chainsaw!

I love movies that don’t care that the budget is low, they try to do the scenes anyway. Sure, some of the effect scenes are a bit hurried, and the acting is so-so, but at least Gary Jones shows us the goods, the fun and gore. The first part is like Friday the 13th but with mosquitos, and the last half is Night of the Living Dead but with… yes, you know what I mean. The tongue is firmly placed in the cheek without becoming pure silliness. It’s camp, but camp the right way – made serious and with very little nods to the audience.

Gary Jones continued to direct one of Nu Image’s best creature features, Spiders (which is a loving homage to older creature features, but with gore and destruction-mayhem, long before 2009’s excellent Infestation, directed by Kyle Rankin) and a couple of other lesser-known monster- and horror movies for SyFy and DTV. He obviously has a great love for old-time bug movies, and Mosquito is one of the funniest creature features to have been released in the nineties.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)

I’ve seen Halloween 3 so many times over the years that I’m probably the wrong person to write a review about it, because my love for it has since a long time ago went from something innocent to something almost perverted. Directed and written by Tommy Lee Wallace, based on an idea by an uncredited Nigel Kneale (who hated the movie with a frenzy seldom seen) and produced by John Carpenter and Debra Hill, this feels like a Carpenter-movie in every detail. Even Jamie Lee Curtis has a voice-cameo.

What attracts me is the pulpy story about a modern druid and toymaker with a plan to sacrifice millions of children Halloween night with a retro-laser beam placed inside the manufacturers tag on the most popular Halloween-masks. This ancient technology is connected to a piece of Stonehenge that he has stolen and placed inside his toy-factory. He also has an army of mechanical cyborgs doing his evil deeds… and in the middle of this is cool doctor Tom Atkins and the revengeful daughter to one of the toymakers victims.

Blablabla. You know the story. It’s a great story, and it proudly goes too far and gets absurder than many other horror movies from the eighties. The atmosphere is like Halloween 2: long trackning shots, eerie atonal music, sudden violence with eletronic sharp music cues. It’s beautifully shot by Dean Cundey and the music by Carpenter and Alan Howarth is perfect (one of the few soundtracks I listen to outside of a movie too).

The biggest success is the always competent hero and random macho-man Tom Atkins in the lead. Excellent actor and has both the sensitivity and violence to carry a movie. It’s also the first time that I don’t think it’s strange that the younger woman falls for an older guy, because he’s just so sympatethic and likable. Atkins injects something in his character, which his humanity.

But a horror movie from the eighties wouldn’t be anything without the gore, and this movie has discreet and very powerful gore and violence. It’s hard and very graphic, but never too much. Some of the characters, like the family in the end, are over-the-top – but I’m sure that was just the plan, because when they finally bite the dust it feels so much more painful. The ending is also without a real ending, we never know what’s happening and that’s alright with me. It’s a lot more stronger that way.

And I also want to state that the pre-credits is one of the best ever. Simple and moody. It sets the tone perfectly for the rest of the movie.

Halloween 3 is Season of the Witch, and it dosen’t need Michael Myers to scare us. One of the most underrated movies ever and thankfully it’s starting to get the respect it deserves.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Reflections of Evil (2002)

I found this review I wrote in 2002 or 2003. I did some minor editing it to make the worst spelling mistakes disappear. /Fred
I think Reflections of Evil is a pure masterpiece of art. Really. I have the deepest respect for this kind of filmmaking.

It’s not horror. It’s not splatter. It’s satire. The best satire I’ve seen in years.

I wrote this just have seeing it the first time:

"Reflections on reflections - Damon Packard, genius or just insane?

One sunny afternoon a strange spam-mail dropped into my mailbox. I first thought had to do with a project I was working with, but I soon realized that this was something completely different. It was about Damon Packard’s epic movie about a man called Bob and his trip through the streets of LA: Reflections of evil.

Damon wanted to give me a copy for free and I mailed him at once. I needed to see this flick. And after studying the very cryptic official page I was going mad. I MUST SEE THIS MOVIE!

I’ve never been so curious about a movie like I was this time. When I hadn’t received a copy in almost one week and really felt sick. I wasn’t myself. I wanted to hear the mailman drop the package in my mailbox.

My angst disappeared on Friday morning. The mailman had a gift for me. A DVD from Damon Packard!

A friend of mine got a copy the day before and said that this was a very strange flick, so I just manage to keep away from the movie for a couple of hours. This was something special, and I didn’t want to see it at once. But what the f**k.

This is the story of a slightly tragic salesman. Or is he really tragic? Roaming the streets of LA, furious and clearly out of his mind. It’s like a road movie, but inside the heart of tinseltown. The city of happiness and madness. It’s not only about tinseltown, it’s about the American society, the fury of the people. This is the country that never sleeps and never seems to get some rest. People are furious and sad, confused and obsessed. Some reviewer said it made him think about Apocalypse Now - and I agree. This is the ultimate inner travel I’ve seen in many years.

Slowly the city around Bob is turning very weird. The hate comes out and the paranoia is over us. Helicopters is watching everything, cops are everywhere and people are just insane.

During the time Bob is attacked by homeless people and dogs we’re turning back in time, till 1971. Bob, his mother and older sister is visiting Universal Studios and taking the tour. His sister disappears and get involved with weird sect that makes her one of them. She dies of an overdose (I think). No she want to save Bob from the hell he’s in, from beyond the grave.

Let me say one thing, this is a movie that’s helluva hard to describe. The best way to understand it, is to see it. Get a copy!

Packard shot the movie on 16mm, super8 and Digital8 on a very low budget. But this don’t mean it looks like crap. Packard and his cameraman is clearly very talented and the jumping from documentary dogme-style to classic dolly-shots that works very well. The light is most of the time very tight and moody. Some people seem to be disturbed by the strange and noise soundtrack, but not me.

I know, I’m being hypnotized by this flick. I can’t help it. It had something that spoke to me very clearly. Maybe was it the inspiration from J. Kennedy Tools novel Confederacy of Dunce's or the surreal and unconventional storytelling? You’re pulled into Bob's strange mind and all the people he meet. And it’s impossible to stop.

Packard goes from very cheap physical humour to Woody Allen-esque dialogues, from Jess Franco and Jean Rollin to Herzog and Fassbinder. The inspiration clearly comes from the movies from the sixties and seventies and it works well.

Does Packard want to tell us something with this movie? Maybe I’m very wrong, but I think so. This is a story about a country falling apart. About people who don’t trust the system and the constant “big brother” watching over them. The fear of that somewhere there’s a couple of fat men in expensive suites that makes all the decisions of the country's future.

Packard seems to have a love-hate relation to America, Los Angeles and the entertainment industry. Universal Studios becomes the symbol of the cultural decay of the world and when it almost literary turns into living hell at the end, it becomes clearer. There’s only Damon Packard to make E.T. a terrifying experience. E.T. - the symbol for peace and happiness, cute children and the moral majority.

Probably some of you are just calling this movie crap. Some of you will just throw it in the garbage (please don’t do that) and some people, like me, will love it. Adore it.

Give Packard a movie contract and some money, let him do whatever he want. He deserves it.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Knife Edge (2010)

Anthony Hickox, the genius behind Wax Work 1 and 2, Hellraiser 3 (yes, I like that one a lot), Warlock: The Armageddon and the cool werewolf-movie Full Eclipse, is back in the saddle after teaching Dolph Lundgren and Steven Seagal some manners during the last seventeen years! Knife Edge is not the most unique movie in history, but it’s still far above average and is a stylish and fun thriller with a shitload of atmosphere.

Natalie Press plays Emma, a famous and very successful stockbroker that decides to quit her career and live a quite life together with her husband Henri (Matthieu Boujenah) and son from a former marriage, Thomas (Miles Ronayne), on the English countryside. It was Henri who bought house, but something is fucked up with the house… Emma has psychic abilities and starts having visions of murders that happen once in the house. At the same time Henri is loosing all his jobs and bringing his company closer to bankruptcy. He don’t want to ask his wife about money, and gets in deeper shit… Emmas visions is getting stronger, and she realizes that there’s more too what the old newspapers is telling her. More secrets are buried…

Actually, Knife Edge reminds me a lot about Lucio Fulci’s The Psychic, and it even has a scene where Emma finds something hidden behind a wall – but Hickox movie has other twists, which fooled me. I’ve seen it before, but this is such a well made movie, filled wonderful acting and stunning visuals. Natalie Press has the perfect haunted look and the rest of the movie is filled with both veterans like the great Hugh Bonneville and Joan Plowright and Jamie Harris and Lorcan O’Toole.

Knife Edge is very old-fashioned, from the location – a big British mansion with antiques to the direction of Anthony Hickox. You can see that he’s from a different school of scares. There’s a lot of moody shots, really good jump-scares and never to fast or to slow. This is perfection. He also gives us a couple of cool hallucinogenic visions, creepy dolls, some not so graphic bloodshed and fantastic cinematography by Daniel Bronks.

With a feeling of watching a combination between a good old British or Canadian thriller from the seventies and a supernatural Italian Giallo, I can say that this is the most welcome production in a long time, not that it’s original, but the return of Anthony Hickox in the thriller/horror-genre.

Welcome back Tony, give us more please!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Invitation Only (2009)

Oh, what can I write? Invitation Only is a very brutal Taiwanese slasher with some very nasty gore and graphic nudity. It’s basically an excuse for showing beautiful people getting killed in various terrible ways. Bryant Chang is a nobody, he works in the office building of a huge company. One day the big boss himself gives him an invitation to a party for rich people. “Tell them you are my cousin”, so our hero takes his advice and do that.

What he does not expect is that the party is arranged to kill and torture poor people, in front of an audience of very rich, bored people. They’re tired of the lower class complaining and trying to steal their money, so now they’re doing something about it… Trapped in a big warehouse our young victims have to try to stay alive and not get caught and butchered…

Invitation Only is a nice production, well-shot and with OK acting. Bryant Chang gets a graphic nude scene together with Japanese adult star Maria Ozawa, which brings nudity for everyone. The rest of the actors are good, but never steps outside of the safety zone of unique and interesting acting. It’s shot on HD, but still looks a bit cheap here and there, even if the production value is good.

The first half feel more like a normal slasher, a guy with a white mask stabbing people to death in gory fashion, but then it takes a torture-turn and becomes even more sadistic. The gore and blood is very graphic and the effects are well-made and quite shocking.

The political message is quite strong, maybe a bit too much written clearly on the nose of the audience. It’s a revenge movie for what the rich, the capitalists of the world has done to the poor people, but hidden as a Hostel-style gore-movie. It’s interesting, because the message could be from a Chinese movie – but as we all know, Taiwan tries to be as separate as possible from the “dirty old man” in the north (as I heard some Taiwanese describe China). But don’t think so much about that, this is mainly a gory horror movie aimed at teens in Taiwan, much more than a political movie about class-struggle.

Anyway, nothing new, but still kinda entertaining.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

8213: Gacy House (2010)

When Paranormal Activity came The Asylum released Paranormal Entity, which was a very decent rip-off and in some parts even better than the movie it tried to copy (read my review here). Now, closer to the release of Paranormal Activity 2 they are back again, but now with something of their own: 8213: Gacy House!

In 2006 the police found six bodies in the house built where John Wayne Gacy’s old house stood once – or so this movie claims. What they found was hours and hours of recording belonging to the TV-crew being there to shoot some silly Ghost Hunters-style reality show. Actually, I think the show in this movie is called Ghost Hunters… but ya know what I mean. So here we see the footage telling the story of these individuals and their last hours alive…

I’m a sucker for mockumentaries, I’ll admit that with out problems. 8213: Gacy House is, exactly like Paranormal Entity, very uneven with too much time spending on people setting up cameras and a lot of intercuts on blurry infrared-footage. So the first hour or so is kinda slow with just minor paranormal activities like photo frames falling down from falls and some mysterious shadows. But then it change quickly and gets quite intensive and has a couple of very good scares, or at least cool scenes with the ghost of John Wayne Gacy going crazy with his new guests.

It has a couple or outrageous scenes, like when the token medium offers Gacy her young son’s t-shirt or when one of the male characters obviously is getting ready for a real nasty ghost-rape! The actors do good, even if it can be a bit unfocused when everyone is talking at the same time. But the ghost of Gacy is the best. We don’t see much, but it’s a cool idea and the final frames are actually quite eerie.

If you enjoyed Paranormal Entity, like me, I’m sure you will enjoy 8213: Gacy House too.

Meat Grinder (2009)

Thailand continues to be one of the most interesting movie countries in the world. They suffer corrupt politics, strong religion, censorship and hypocrisy – but great pain also creates great art, just look at Spain and Italy, with an ever present catholic church and a lot of political turbulence. Meat Grinder was initially banned because the government thought it would bring bad light on the beloved noodle shops – personally I think it was more the scenes of Thai military brutally beating and killing innocent people. In the UK it is out completely uncut, and wow… what a movie!

Mai Charoenpura plays a noodle vendor who had some rough times in her life. She lives alone together with her daughter and barely survives. Some sleazy gangsters want the money her late husband owns them, so life is shit generally. Until she starts killing people and serve their meat has a delicious ingredient in her soups. One day a clerk at the local drug store, played by sad-looking Rattanaballang Tohssawat, becomes interested in her – and starts helping her with her noodle shop. At the same time he’s also looking for his best friends who disappeared in the Bangkok riots, not knowing that he’s already been eaten by hungry customers…

First of all, it’s important to realize that Meat Grinder isn’t your normal gore-slasher flick. It’s a helluva lot more accomplished than that, with several layers that deals with politics, child abuse, mental problems and just a good old love story. The story is told slow, and sometimes arty. There’s flashbacks, which can be confusing at first – but slowly becoming more understandable the further the movie goes.

I don’t want to tell too much about the story, because it’s a lot more complex than you can believe. The love story is treated so realistic and gentle that if you took away the gore this could have been an excellent drama instead, now it’s a drama for people with a strong stomach. The gore and blood is graphic and very realistic, but sometimes goes over to black comedy with blood spraying everywhere. This woman knows how to handle herself after meeting so much fucked-up men! It’s easily the goriest Thai movie I’ve seen, even surpassing Slice and Art of the Devil 2 when it comes to graphic bloodshed.

Meat Grinder is a masterpiece of drama, black comedy, gore and splatter. It’s hardly a typical popcorn movie, but a very well acted and written drama about cannibalism and noodles.