Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Beyond The Grave (2010)

Beyond The Grave (2010)
Director: Davi de Oliveira Pinheiro
Stars: Rafael Tombini, Alvaro Rosa Costa, Ricardo Seffner

 An unnamed Officer drives through a post apocalyptic (but beautiful) world where the seven gates of hell have opened up and zombies walk the Earth. He's on the hunt for the Dark Rider, a serial killer with strange and evil powers.These two are on a collision course for a final duel, but will good overcome evil?

 I've always been fascinated with horror films from other countries. This Brazillian effort is less a horror film (though there are horror elements) than it is a bloody fantasy arthouse film. Now this isn't a bad thing, because I wasn't sure what to expect. Anyone can throw blood and gore at the screen (and has), but this film does it only when the story calls for it...which is pretty refreshing.

 The cinematography by Melissandro Bittencourt is fantastic. They make the most of their small budget by filming in some downright beautiful locations. This really offsets the violence nicely. The acting is very good and the dialogue scarce at times. 

 The makeup effects were really well done. All practical, and the zombies looked nice and dead. The gore was disgusting, and you can't ask for anything more out of your gore. The music though, is one big highlight. Very prog rock/Goblin like with a touch of Brazillian mixed in. I'd listen to that soundtrack nonstop.

 If there were anything that bothered me about the film is that it drags in places. For a 90 minute film, the slowdown needs to be at a minimum in my opinion. And while I love the references, I think there was a bit too much taken from Stephen King, most notably Randall Flagg. But honestly, these were minor quibbles to me.

 The movie is up on Hulu for free if you'd like to judge for yourself. Overall I think it's extremely well made film, with fun characters, great locations and awesome music.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Top 10 Underrated Horror Films - The Final Six!

 Since it's almost Halloween, I decided to not keep you in suspense and give you the last six underrated films.

6. Sweet Home (1989)

 A television crew go to the creepy old mansion of a dead great artist to find several frescos that he had hidden in his home and film the restoration. But they don't realize until too late that the ghost of his wife is still in the house, and she's pretty pissed.

 A fun, atmospheric ghost story with likable characters, this one ends up on my list because I enjoy when several different types of horror mix together. A sort of "peanut butter in my chocolate" kind of deal, only more like "your severed gory torso in my haunting" way. Several awesome FX effects (by Dick Smith!) and a compelling story makes this a winner. 

 Fun Fact: There was an Nintendo game based on this film that was a heavy inspiration for the Resident Evil series!

5. Masks (2011)

 In the 70's a guy creates this revolutionary acting technique, one that's suppose to make you better than Brando, Streep, and Pauly Shore combined. People die trying to learn it and the guy vanishes.

 Modern day acting student Stella gets invited into a world class acting school. You'll see right off she really isn't very good, but somehow she gets invited to learn this super secret technique and things get dark as fuck quickly.

 It's obvious there's a big nod to Suspiria in this German film, but it creates it's own spooky atmosphere. It eases you (and Stella) into the horror, but once it does, it doesn't let up. The actress playing Stella is really good, and seeing some of these people die is very gratifying. 

 This one seems to be very hard to find in the US, but if you can find a way to see this, by all means do.

4. Midnight (1982)

 John Russo has had some hits and misses (sadly more misses than hits), but when he hits, he fires on all cylinders. While this is a typical "young people drive their van to places they should never go and die" kind of flick, Russo doesn't try to make it classy and instead rolls this movie around in the dirt and grime and make it as sleazy as possible. Let's check out the grindhouse checklist...

 Creepy perverted stepdad played by the boss in Reservior Dogs? Check
 Evil santanic family? Check
 Hapless young folks getting killed in dragged out ways? Check
 Some sweet sweet revenge? Checkmate!

 This is one of those movies you need to watch when you want to take a shower afterwards for getting so damn down and dirty. It's not particularly gory, but the atmosphere sure as hell makes up for it. 

3. Spider Labyrinth (1988)

 Man is sent by his employers (a college) to get some research papers from a professor. After meeting the Professor and his wife, the Professor is murdered. When the man asks about the wife, we learn the Professor wasn't married!

 So we begin a long strange trip for answers, and what the man finds at the end...a spider cult. Of course. It's ALWAYS a spider cult.

 There's some Wicker Man touches in this film, and that's never a bad thing. Combine that with some imaginative and stylish kills (the death with a maze of bedsheets come to mind) and the always beautiful cinematography that our Italians horror overlords are capable of, and you got yourself one heck of a good time. This is one I fully "blame" my wife for getting me into.

2. We're Going To Eat You (1980)

 Agent 999 comes to this run down town on a secluded island in search of a wanted bandit. Little does he know that he's entered a town chock full of them there cannibals and they got their eyes on his thighs as their next meal!

 It's incredibly hard to mix horror and comedy together and not make it look stupid. It can either go  Shaun of the Dead or Saturday the 14th. This one goes for the former far more often. We got a clueless detective, a thief who ends up in trouble far more often than he is stealing, a crazy dictator like Chief, and a giant ugly Syphilis having  drag queen who looks way too much like the love child of Andre the Giant and Giant Baba.

 There's tons of gore in this, with people getting sawed in half, knives landing in all sorts of heads, ripped out hearts, and a loose limbs or twelve.

 Fun Fact: This movie was a not so subtle jab against Communism!

1. The Dead Next Door (1989)

 I'm sure this is a surprising pick, and judging by what I've read online, one that really seems to polarize people. But I feel it's vastly underrated.

 Yeah, let's be honest, director JR Bookwalter has made some not so good films. But this movie feels different. I know people will say because Sam Raimi pumped money into it to get finished (took over 4 years to make) or that Bruce Campbell dubs over TWO of the voices, but I feel it's not that at all.

 There's a real "throw as much of the money onscreen as possible" feel in this super 8 classic. Yeah, it suffers from the low budget acting bug, and I'm not a fan of naming characters after well know horror folk (takes me out of the film) but it makes up for it in other ways. Here's my check list of positives for this movie:

- Excellent pacing. Most low budget films have no concept of this.

- Good running time. There's no reason for your no budget zombie film to be hours long. The 84 minute running time is perfect.

- Unexpected deaths. I hate that in most films, you know who is going to live or die. You don't get that here. Anyone is a throat rip away from death.

- Great gore. You expect gore in a zombie film. Outside of a couple of goofy (but forgivable) shots, the gore effects in this are well done.

- The cult. Adding in a zombie Jonestown kind of cult was very clever, and a good way to introduce adversaries to the Zombie Squad

- It looks like everyone is having a great time...especially the zombies (mostly locals from Ohio)

 Bookwalter just ran an indiegogo campaign and appears to be putting out a new blu-ray of Dead Next Door. Anyway, this is one any lover of low budget films need to check out.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Top 10 Underrated Horror Films: The Evil and Amityville 2

Today's picks turned out to be an inadvertent Andrew Prine double feature. If that's good or bad, I'll leave that up to you.

8 - The Evil (1978)

This is one of those movies that I would see the trailer for on multiple trailer compilations, and it looked gloriously cheesy. When I finally got to see this film, it certainly didn't disappoint in the cheese department, but it was also highly entertaining.
Richard Crenna, his wife Joanna Pettet, his buddy Andrew Prine, and a few others come to this old building to turn it into a new clinic. Unfortunately, the house is a bit of a bastard, and before you know it, it's lighting up humans like cigarettes, giving its own shock therapy, and at one point even attempting ghost rape. 

Crenna does a great job of playing the doubting lead, while his more believing wife Pettet knows some bad shit's going down. The atmosphere is suitably creepy, and the kills, while not imaginative, are certainly startling.

One thing I noticed was that the girl played by Cassie Yates is killed by having her throat ripped out by her own German Shepherd. Now I can't say for sure, but it's very similar to the scene in Suspiria when the blind guy gets his throat ripped out in the middle of an city square. I wonder which film Fulci decided to see to get the same death by guide dog scene in the Beyond.

If you can overlook the ridiculous ending with Victor Buono, you'll enjoy this slice of 70's horror cheese. The full movie is on Youtube under House of Evil, but here's a nice trailer to get you started.

7 - Amityville 2 (1982)

Wow. Whereas the first film was to put bluntly, dull as a documentary about teaspoon collecting, this one just says "fuck it, let's creep the hell out of everyone". How did they do that? One Jack Magner.

Magner, playing Sonny Montelli (a thinly disguised version of Ronald DeFeo Jr), reaches a level of pure creepiness that hadn't been seen since Tom Basham in the Psychopath (1973). The way he leers after his sister (played by the lovely Diane Franklin) even made MY skin crawl. 

The story is a awesome mixture of the DeFeo murders retold, mixed in with some blatant Exorcist touches. This wildly dysfunctional family moves into the perfect house. By perfect I mean the best possible place in Long Island to be possessed by your Walkman. Burt Young is the abusive dickhead father, and there ain't no Rocky to save his ass here.

Father Adamsky (James Olson) senses something terribly wrong with the house, but fuck's time to go hang out with Andrew Prine for the weekend. He comes back from the trip to find the whole family dead, and a distraught Sonny saying he doesn't remember.

You've got demon possession, you got incest, and you have one of the most unsettling and realistic looking scenes when Sonny kills his family. Seriously, I dare any of you to watch that particular scene and not be like "whoa".

This one is also on the Youtubes, but you don't have to take my word for it (Reading Rainbow music plays).

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Top 10 Underrated Horror Films: Dead and Buried and Occult

It's been a few months since I've written anything here. A combination of having a new job, working on a new video project, and generally being burnt out is the reason for that. But it's October, and if you can ignore the fucking Christmas shit already being put up in stores, you know that October is when you wanna be scared the most.

Now here at Wide Weird World, we tend to focus mainly on the bad. It's easy to find and you all seem to like me bursting a blood vessel to some SOV crap. But for my annual horror list, I'm going to take a cue from last year's list and focus on the underrated. Last year it was underrated characters. This year, we focus on those films that may get overlooked when discussing good horror.

Of course these are only my thoughts and opinions, and yours may vary. Some of these will be known to you, some may or may not. Outside of one film, I've stayed away from sequels. Also due to time, it's only going to be a top ten list. You may flog me me.

10 - Dead and Buried (1981)

I've talked about this film a few times over the years. I used to be a big fan of zombie films, but quite frankly I'm burned out by em. If they aren't some shit done for $32 and a six pack of Icehouse, it's the same shit regurgitated and spit into our mouths like birds being fed. This film, while it is a zombie film, really turns the genre on its head.
A photographer passing through gets more than he bargained for when the townspeople tie him up and set him ablaze. But even though this guy dies, a few days later, he's discovered pumping gas at the local gas station! How is that possible? And does it have something to do with the creepy mortician? Spoiler: It does.

The hero in this film is the local sheriff, and he's someone that most of us can identify with. Which makes what happens in the film even more disturbing...and a touch depressing.

9 - Occult (2009)

 Koji Shiraishi is one of my favorite directors in horror. I'll stop total strangers on the street to tell them about Noroi: The Curse. I had to buy a filing cabinet to store all my restraining orders.

Occult I think is his next best work...although not without some minor flaws. This is a mockumentary about a mass murder that happened on a bridge. Two people died, one guy was seriously wounded, and the killer jumped off a cliff never to be found. As the story goes on, the seriously wounded man, Eno starts to experience what he calls "miracles". 

Strange things are recorded on tape, and the documentary crew (with Shiraishi playing himself) are a little concerned about Eno. Once Koji finds out what Eno's plan is, things go really fucking dark.

Some of the effects are a touch goofy, but this is an engaging story, and there's once scene in particular towards the end that is just "holy shit." The whole film (with subtitles) is on YouTube so I fully recommend you check it out.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Candy Colored Nightmares S2E1!

Today has been an exciting day here in Cult Film land. In addition to getting 1000 likes on Facebook, we have a brand spanking new season of Candy Colored Nightmares for you all! In this look into the dreams of Alabaster TNT, we see a somewhat brutal mashup of celebrities singing. It's as bad as it sounds but hey, there's bonus Thor for you all! Enjoy!

Friday, April 3, 2015

Six Movies You Must See of Robert Z'Dar

I had planned to write about my favorite six comedies, but I was extremely saddened to learn that Robert Z'Dar passed away this past Monday. When I say he was one of my favorite actors, I don't mean just for cult films. I mean he was legit one of my all time favorite actors. Many days I would bug my wife about watching one of his films, and because she loves me (and is a fan of his as well) she'd oblige. She's a keeper, that's for sure.

So I decided to take a quick look at six movies with Robert Z'Dar that you should take a look at.

Blood Money/Killer's Edge

I reviewed this one here, but a quick synopsis for you all...Wings Hauser is after bad guy Robert Z'Dar, but he doesn't really want to because Z'Dar saved his life in 'Nam! There's action, a guy who looks like a cartoon Tony Curtis, Z'Dar blowing shit up with a rocket launcher, and so much more. So take your drunken Wings and watch the fun. Oh and Karen Black is locked in a room for the whole film. Bonus.

Samurai Cop

Most of you reading this already know about Samurai Cop. It's a Lethal Weapon ripoff with a sometimes wigged Matt Hanon and his partner Frank taking on a Japanese gang led by a gloriously mulleted leader. His right hand man of course is our beloved Z'Dar. Robert looks good with a beard here. I wish he'd kept it for other roles.

Final Sanction

In this AIP "classic" Z'Dar plays the biggest and baddest Russian taking on America's best Ted Prior to see who has the better country. I guess ticket sales weren't good (or they were all watching Rocky take on Drago) because they fight in an abandoned army building. It's one of the few times that Z'Dar turns out to be a good guy. A good Russian in the 80's? Don't be Reedickulus!

  The Night Stalker

No, not the Kolchak series (or TV movies), but the 1987 film starring Charles Napier in one of the very few leading roles for him. This is also one of Z'Dar's first movies, and I bet the reason why he got the Maniac Cop role. I don't know why filmmakers try to make him Japanese though, it's not like he looks remotely asian.

This movie only had one clip on Youtube (and that one was only of Napier) so I ripped this scene myself to share to with you. You're welcome.

Maniac Cop Series

I'd be dumb not to mention his best loved series of films. Sadly, I'd have to admit to only seeing the first one. But I really liked it. I mean, Z'Dar, Bruce Campbell, Tom Atkins...what's not to love. The other two seem to be a bit goofier (and I'm not much of a Robert Davi fan) but any film that has a dead cop ressurection is worth looking into.

The Galactic Video Review Adventure Magazine

OK,OK, so it's not really a movie per say.  If you want another movie, see Hell Comes to Frogtown 2, where he takes over the Sam Hell role made famous by Roddy Piper. I wanted to talk about this 40 something minute video because it shows exactly why I loved this guy. Here is a lame video talking about video games and accessories, but Robert Z'Dar does everything in his power to have a good time with it. He's mugging, acting goofy, laughing uproariously at absolutely short, he's playing an insane space captain. And I love it.

As a treat, here's the entire video from youtube. RIP Robert Z'Dar...and thank you for all those hours of entertainment. God bless you, man.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

It's Wide Weird World of Cult Film's Third Anniversary!

I have to say, when I started doing these reviews, I thought it would end up like most things I work on...I'd get gung ho for a while before someone threw a foil ball and I'd go chasing it. But here it is, three years later, and I'm still subjecting myself to some of the oddest films ever made. Of course in some sick way I love it, but then again, any man who would willfully watch several Nick Millard films can't be legally declared sane either.

I'm still working on my list of favorite comedy films, I thought it'd be cool to put together a list of my favorite reviews from the over 300 posts I've done.