Monday, June 20, 2016

Grizzly (1976)

Grizzly (1976)
Director: William Girdler
Stars: Christopher George, Andrew Prime, A big ass bear

For this special review for the Nature's Fury Blogathon I decided to call in a few favors and have longtime conservation icon Smokey the Bear join me for this review. His comments will be in italics.

  Smokey, I want to thank you for helping me out today. Been a big fan since I was a wee lad in the late 70's.

  Don't put it that way! It makes me sound old. *laughs*

  *laughs* You're only as old as you feel right? 
  That's true. Dan, I'm glad you asked me here today because I've wanted to talk about this movie for a long time now.

  I was not aware of that.
 Oh yeah. There are some points in this film that I think need to be closely looked at today.

  You mean the movie Grizzly, directed by the late William Girdler in 1976, which stars Christopher George as a park ranger that has to deal with a huge killer bear...
  Let me stop you there. That's exactly what I'm talking about.

  What, Christopher George?
  No, I'm talking about this ridiculous notion that the title character in this film is a savage ruthless killer, when in fact he's the victim in this.

  Did we watch the same movie? Because I seem to remember the bear being the "bad guy" so to speak in this. I mean, this is after all a Jaws ripoff. An entertaining one for sure, but one nonetheless.

  Why is the bear the bad guy, if I may ask?

  Oh I don't know, maybe walking around and eating a bunch of people. 

  There's the key word, "eat". Bears, like all other living beings, need some sort of food to survive, correct?

  Well...yeah. I guess.

  This so called "killer" needed food to live. And in the woods, sometimes food can be scarce to find. I know I had this one weekend where I was so hungry I ate a tree. You ever eaten a tree?

  I...can't say that I have.
  It sucks. So this grizzly is scared and hungry, and here are these humans invading his natural habitat. So of course a bear's going to get desperate. If he hadn't been starving, he probably would have just let those folks know how to put a campfire out when they left.

  With all due respect, I think you're overthinking this a bit.
  You need to check your human privilege, meat bag.

  Check my what?
  You heard me, asshole. You sit there all smug in your clothing and your hairless bodies...

  You obviously haven't seen my back.
  ...Gross. Anyway, you humans have done everything in your power to keep the mighty bear down. Putting us on unicycles, making us wrestle humans, hell even making me wear pants and this dumbass hat. I want my little grizzly to swing free like NATURE intended.

  I'm getting a bit uncomfortable with this, man.
  Do I look like your "man"? So you're uncomfortable? GOOD! You should be!

  I don't know what sort of power you think I wield over the bear universe, but I'm not the one doing those things. I just watched this movie, which we're supposed to talk about.
 Yeah you watched. And you did nothing about it. Which makes you as bad as Christopher George. How's THAT for talking about the movie!?

  Creative, I admit. But why hate on Christopher George? I mean, this is just a movie! And didn't he cater to the bears by posing nude in Playgirl back in the 70's?
  That's an entirely different kind of bear, you moron.

  It is? Huh. So what I was saying is, you're using a movie from 1976 to prove that there is some human agenda to suppress bears?
  You damn right there is.

  But you've spent decades helping humans to protect themselves from fires.
  I'm not trying to protect you filthy meat bags! I'm trying to make sure you fucknuts don't burn down the woods and kill all my relatives!

  OK, so you want to go down this road, I'm willing to do that. I'd like to mention a certain famous bear that's been allowed to commit crime after crime without any sort of jail time. I'm referring to one Yogi the bear.
  Oh here we go...

  Do you or do you not admit that Yogi has been caught, on film no less, multiple times stealing?

   Yes, but it was only picnic baskets. 

  Only picnic baskets? You mean picnic baskets full of food so hungry humans wouldn't starve?
  It's not the same thing. You can just go to the grocery store. You ever see a bear in a grocery store? They constantly eye you while you try to find the ripest melons.

  Alright then. I want to bring up something about this movie that really bothered me. In this film, the grizzly kills several people, correct?
  Self preservation, but yes.

  I found it quite telling that other than the two main supporting characters, played by Andrew Prine and Richard Jaeckel, and one other ranger, that all the other victims were women?
  What do you mean?

  What I mean is, it sure seems like that poor ol' lil grizzly bear sure likes bumping off the ladies. I tend to find that just a wee bit sexist.

 That is preposterous.  

  I don't know. Ripping ladies' arms off, using one as a chew toy in his mouth. Oh, and let's not forget when he mauled that MOTHER who trying to save her CHILD from being an appetizer for this misunderstood bear.
  I see what you're doing there, and you're an asshole.

  A toddler, Smokey. Petting a damn cute little bunny rabbit. Did the bear wipe his ass with the rabbit afterwards?
  I don't have to take this shit. I'm leaving.

  I think that's for the best. Maybe it's best not to meet one's heroes. They always seem to disappoint.
  Fuck you Lashley. Also, don't forget to prevent forest fires. But mainly, fuck you.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Blood Reservoir (2014)

Blood Reservoir (2014)
Director: Mark Anthony Del Negro
Stars: Felissa Rose, Jonathan Tiersten, Hannah Landberg

  I wasted $1.99 on this garbage.

  Not the usual way to start a review, but this particular tidbit bothered me. It's not like $1.99 is going to break me, but it's the principle of the matter. Let me explain. I have Amazon Prime. It's highly recommended just for the free shipping alone, but there's tons of stuff to watch FOR FREE on Amazon Prime video. Lately I've been revisiting those good ol' Jersey boys and girls of the Sopranos. Still as good as I remembered it. The fact is, is this tremendously written and acted show was FREE on Prime video. Blood Reservoir wasn't. You had to pay for the privilege of watching the equivalent of getting kicked in the balls for 54 minutes straight. Yes, that's how long this "movie" is.

  Let's get the dumbass plot out of the way...what sense of it I could make. A group of late 20's jackasses decide to go hiking in an area of woods where people are getting killed by one of several different serial killers or legends. It's never made clear if it's the legend of Pumpkin Jack (who'll make you die tonight, I assume) or the serial killer the Ice Woman (who I guess keeps her victims in those little ice trays for parties). 

  In the midst of this, there's a love triangle of sorts between the biggest...pardon my words...pussy magnet of the tri state area. He's got a girl to pay his bills, but he's got the hots for some eighteen year old who's on the trip as well. The teenager's sister (also on the trip) has daydreams about men in bowler hats strangling women and ordering people around in sepia tone. Oh, and there's the token black guy. I'm not kidding.

  They go to the local general store where they meet the store owner (Rose) and the sheriff, who looks disturbingly like an animatronic Rob Schneider. Let that image sink in. Little did I know robotic Deuce Bigelo is the brother of the Situation. I will rename this guy the Shituation for how badly he acted.

  Look, I'm just going to spoil it for you as best I can. The campers die, even though the flashback having lady set up the whole thing to kill everyone. They are murdered by an overacting Rose and the Shituation. Oh did I mention there's a guy in the woods who's a ghost FBI agent dressed up like the Fonz? That slipped my mind along with around thirty-two brain cells.

  This "movie" is shit. I usually don't call out other sites by name for giving turds like this positive reviews, and I won't here, but that's basically what one unnamed site did. The guy writing the review even admits to doing a promotional article for the director previous to the why have this guy gingerly talk about the problems this movie has? He basically talks about several of the problems I'm about to go into, but then pats Del Negro on the back and go "There there, champ, it's great for a first try!". That's bullshit. Be a shill for the guy if you want, but don't fool people into thinking this movie is good in any way. People don't deserve to waste money like that on misleading shit.

  That takes me to what I did not enjoy about this film (and a few other things).

 Things That Pissed Me Off About Blood Reservoir

- The audio is atrocious. Half the time the music or sound effects are louder than the dialogue, or even better, the actors and the mic are as far away as humanly possible.

- Deeply bothered by the lack of any reference of time. Yeah some movies overdo it on the establishing shots, but this movie is one scene cut to one scene cut to another scene. They're walking, next scene they're all set up camping, and then the next scene everyone is all over the damn place. All in the span of like two minutes.

- The "news segments" are not funny, and did we need four of them within five minutes of each other?

- The acting is bad. Super bad. There's a few actors here I think could do better (Rose for sure) but I blame that on the shitty script. The other actors are just awful. The Shituation is a particularly bad actor.

- Why was the death of the black guy the only one lovingly shown while all the other deaths were offscreen? Hmmm.

- The script. I know Del Negro had a story in mind, and I could even see it at points, but he has no idea how to pace a movie and have it make any kind of fucking sense. I still don't know why flashback girl wanted everyone dead.

- None of the characters are the least bit sympathetic. I'm not talking about the annoying campers trope you see, I mean every character in this film is someone if you saw get on an elevator, you'd take the stairs. You'd rather be in discomfort and tired than to spend thirty seconds with these people.

- When every single executive producer has the last name Del Negro, I know how this was funded. They said the budget was 100 grand? Where did it go?

  Before I mercifully end this, I have to mention something. I know I've been really hard on these people, and no it's not the worst film I've ever seen, but this is why I'm so angry. If you look on Amazon reviews for this film, or even IMDb, you'll see super positive reviews for this film. I get trying to cover a turd in a golden wrapper and calling it a Wonka Bar, but it's dishonest and scummy to go under different names and write fake reviews of your own film. While I don't have "proof" of this, any sort of common sense can tell you these positive reviews come from someone involved with the production.  Don't call your movie shit, but don't try to fool horror fans. 

  If one person reads this and doesn't waste $1.99 on this, then I'll have done my job. I need to review something good next time. This can't be good for my health.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Night of the Demon (1980)

Night of the Demon (1980)
Director: James C. Wasson
Stars: Michael Cutt, Joy Allen, Bigfoot

  I have always wanted to see this film simply for the fact that I personally think that Bigfoot is a gentle creature who merely wants to be left alone. I mean, when that car hit him in Harry and the Hendersons, he didn't get angry, he just hung out with them and taught them the value of family. Sure, he got angry in those beef sticks commercials, but wouldn't you be angry if hipster douchebags kept fucking with you? I know if I had the strength of ten men, I'd be field goal kicking some bespectacled dick right in his freshly shaved asshole. 

  Don't ask me how I know that. 

  So the story here takes place in a hospital, where a badly dressed detective is interviewing a professor whose face has been horribly disfigured (which he covers up with a mask). He tells what happened in the first of many flashbacks. The professor and a group of similarly aged students go out into the remote woods to see if they can get proof of the existence of Bigfoot. I'm not sure what proof they were planning to get or how they were going to get it, because due to flashbacks within flashbacks we find out that Bigfoot has been killin' folks left and right. Wait...killin' folks!? Nah, not Bigfoot. It has to be someone dressed like him.

  The Scooby gang goes into town, where they find out about a crazy girl living alone in the woods who went crazy because she had a deformed baby and it died. See, she's probably the killer. Story over. Time to go...wait, why is the sheriff watching them with disdain in his eyes?

  Turns out the gang runs into a cult of Bigfoot worshipers, who have the crazy lady lying down ready for some hillbilly lovin' before the professor chases them away. OK, THERE'S the real killers. I better cut this off now.

  Only they aren't the killers. In fact, they are never seen again. What the fuck movie!?  The gang finally track down Crazy Mary (not her real name) and they find her special dead baby room. Not creepy at all. The professor hypnotizes her and they find out that her crazy hillbilly cult leadin' dad was the one who killed her baby. Why you may ask? Well...she tries to run away from daddy dearest when she's raped by Bigfoot. 

  Yes, Bigfoot raped this woman right in her own front yard. With her daddy watching no less. As thanks for killing the half human/half furball baby, "Crazy Mary" here burns ol' pappy poopdeck alive.


  The final minutes of this film is Bigfoot wanting to see his girl again, so does he stand outside her home with a boombox in his hand? No, he murders the college students horribly, and slams the professor's face into a hot stove.

  We come back to the professor and the doctor wisely puts him to sleep. Another doctor declares the professor criminally insane although there are no murder victims to be found. We end depressed.

  I really thought Bigfoot was a loving gentle creature of nature, but check out this scorecard:

- Tears a guy's arm off
- Rips some biker's dick off!!
- Drags a naked guy out of a van, and presumably fucks him to death on top of the van (that's alright with him)
- Makes two girl scouts stab each other repeatedly with knives!
- Swings a guy in a sleeping bag over his head and onto a pointy branch (Top THAT Vorhees)
- Pitchfork to the back
- Stove to the face
- Slams a guy's head into a tree causing the guy to shoot himself in the head!
- Rapes a mountain woman!!

  Bigfoot, you ARE a giant hairy asshole!!

  Here's a very NSFW trailer for Night of the Demon. There is biker penis seen, and no, Bigfoot ain't working at no rest stop.


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.