2009
11.14

Review: The Black Room (1984)

JasonReviewsThe Black Room – 1984 – USA – Invasion of Terror Box Set by Brentwood Entertainment

Written and co-directed by the man (Norman Thaddeus Vane) who served up the under-achieving “Frightmare” starring Ferdy Mayne in ’83, I didn’t exactly relish sitting through another 90 minutes of his rather tepid brand of horror, but the OCD completist in me needed confirmation of his inadequacies. “Frightmare” (not to be confused with the Pete Walker masterpiece from ’74) had a grand premise, fading horror star Conrad Radzoff (a fun amalgamation of Vincent Price and Boris Karloff with a haughty and sadistic edge) attends a college lecture as the guest of honor and proceeds to keel over and die. His corpse is stolen from the mortuary by his adoring fans (a la “Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things”) who want to give him one last hurrah as the centerpiece of their morbid shindig in his abandoned gothic mansion. Conrad promptly returns from beyond the pale and begins picking off the kiddies for their gross effrontery.

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2009
11.13

Review: His Name Was Jason

Although the official 30th anniversary of FT13 was in May (because I’m a picky bastard that way), His Name Was Jason: 30 Years of Friday the 13th spans all 12 movies and is largely comprised of interview “talking heads” of cast and crew, discussing their experiences with their respective installments of the series. I’ll be honest with you, it’s often a whole lot of static-shot interviews, a format that might be enough for some fans but others might be wanting more in terms of behind-the-scenes footage and shooting sites revisited. There’s some of that here, but not enough.

Director Daniel Farrands (who has also flirted with the Halloween franchise via writing and producing) dug up an impressive number of FT13 veterans, though sorely missing are at least a few notables: Steve Miner(!), Crispin Glover, and Corey Feldman really come to mind. Watching this doc, you can really feel their absence and can’t help but wonder either who dropped the ball on that or if there were protests from the absentees themselves.

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2009
11.12

Review: Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead

JasonReviewsPoultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead – 2006 – USA – Troma

Troma’s back, baby, with a vengeance most fowl! The entity we mere mortals know as “Troma” has been kicking around for 35 convulsive years since formed in 1974 by Michael Herz and Lloyd Kaufman to release their kitschy sex-comedies. These irreverent independent filmmakers finally hit pay-dirt in ’84 with “The Toxic Avenger,” their second foray into the quasi-horror realm after 1980′s twisted “Mother’s Day.” This was followed by the low-brow punk masterpiece “Class of Nuke ‘Em High” which moved nearly 100,000 VHS copies and solidified Troma’s place on the proverbial map. They entered their short-lived halcyon days but were nearly ruined financially after the problematic production of “Troma’s War” in 1988. The company necessarily downsized and has hence been unable to compete in the mainstream film market, but still able to nurture most of their releases in the not-as-lucrative direct-to-video format.

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2009
11.10

Review: Midnight Meat Train

JasonReviewsMidnight Meat Train – 2008 – USA – Lionsgate

I’m not gonna name names, but how did so many film journalists out there give this piece of shit a glowing review? It leaves me scratching my head in bewildered disdain and I can only chalk it up to filmic inexperience or pandering of the most bargain-basement kind. Those culpable should be strung up, or at the very least have their entire vocabularies surgically removed. Never fear, terror-fiends, you will at last get the authentic skinny here at TT on what is easily the most crumbsucking Clive Barker film ever produced! I am not gonna waste any more time than necessary on this steamer, so on with the show…

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2009
11.09

Review: Zombie Strippers

Certainly, the zombie horror/comedy movie has been done before. From the brilliant Return of the Living Dead to the WTF-inducing Dead Alive all the way to 2004′s Shaun of the Dead, the subgenre has some fairly solid entries. Unlike its inspirations, it hasn’t exactly been done to death… yet. Because, let’s face it: with the overabundance of actual zombie flicks this decade, we may as well laugh at the undead.

Cashing in on that very premise is the very low-budget Zombie Strippers, featuring the plastic surgery disaster that is now Jenna Jameson. It’s possible that some of you haven’t seen this porn-star-turned-celebrity as of late, but the massive face work she got is beyond sacrilege.

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2009
11.08

Review: Messiah of Evil

JasonReviewsMessiah of Evil (Dead People) – 1973 – USA – Code Red

Brought to you by the writing team of Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz who were responsible for 1973′s “American Graffiti” and 1984′s “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” and directed by Huyck, whose direction you may have (ahem!) experienced with “Howard the Duck” (1986), this is perhaps the most criminally under-known zombie flick of all time. Kudos to Code Red for doing such a bang up job with a beautiful 2.35-1 transfer loaded with extras and amending the injustice done to this art-house horror film with the previously washed out pan and scan versions it had been saddled with. Let the Messiah finally take his rightful place in the annals of horror-film history…

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2009
11.06

Review: Botched

Comedy horror seems to be making a wee bit of a comeback these days. From the fun (Slither) to the stupid (Hatchet) to the truly inspired (Otis), it’s certainly a far cry from the sub-genre’s earliest (intentional) attempt, Student Bodies, which could be considered the retarded grandfather of the comedy/horror experiment — the one you hide from the neighbors in total embarassment. But sometimes, the occasional moments of genre adoption result in a nicely unexpected hybrid. Thankfully, Botched is one of those.

Botched starts out as a heist movie — more specifically, we begin with a diamond heist gone horribly wrong. At the head of this failure is Ritchie Donovan (Stephen Dorff), a man trying to free himself from a debt with a rather unscrupulous organized crime figure. To make amends, Donovan is more or less forced to take on another task: to recover an antique cross from a couple of rather demented individuals residing on the otherwise unused 13th floor of a skyscraper in the heart of Moscow. Assigned to be his helpers are, in short, a moron and a loose cannon, which is where the laughs truly begin.

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2009
11.05

Review: Blood Tide

JasonReviewsBlood Tide (Bloodtide, Demon Island, The Red Tide) – 1982 – United Kingdom/Greece – Chilling 20 Movie Pack from Mill Creek Entertainment

I make no apologies about my love affair with these little poverty-row-esque DVD companies like Brentwood, Mill Creek, Alpha and Platinum. For those who aren’t in-the-know, these companies specialize in uber-cheap multi-disc box sets of films on which the rights have lapsed and come with luridly extravagant titles like “Back From the Grave” or “Gore and More.” Most sell for between 7 and 15 bucks and are worth every single solitary penny. They may get a lot of crap from aspect ratio and transfer purists, of which I am one, but how else would you be able to see a flick like “Snowbeast” (1977), “Rogues Tavern” (1936) or this little diamond in the rough called “Blood Tide”?

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2009
11.04

Review: Moon of the Wolf

JasonReviewsMoon of the Wolf – 1972 – USA – Chilling 20 Movie Collectors Set from Mill Creek Entertainment

The 1970s were the halcyon days of the television movie and especially the television horror movie. Grand delights such as “Crowhaven Farm”, “Duel”, “The Night Stalker,” and “Something Evil” all predated this enjoyable little nugget and the decade still had excellent telefilms such as “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark”, “Gargoyles,” and “Salem’s Lot” amongst a plethora of others to come. I will defer to the wonderfully complete chronicle “Television Fright Films of the 1970s” by David Deal for an all-inclusive and indispensable index of these movies.

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2009
11.03

Review: I Am Legend

Since I can only guess that there exists an entire generation of moviegoers who are not in-the-know, let me get this out of the way. I Am Legend is not the first movie adapted from the Richard Matheson novel of the same name. So, a quick pre-history might be needed for the youngins.

The first known film translation of Matheson’s book was The Last Man On Earth (1964) starring Vincent Price — a film from which many accuse George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead, released in 1968, to have been a little more than borrowed. This version of IAL is considered a classic and, to this day, is still claimed to have never been matched, even by the latest attempt.

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