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Demon City Shinjuku
Demon City Shinjuku
DVD ~ Hideyuki Hori
Price: $17.19
19 used & new from $14.83

4.0 out of 5 stars Contemporary dark fantasy mixing Vampire Hunter D (1985) and Wicked City (1987), but not quite as good as either. Enjoyed it!, May 21, 2016
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Demon City Shinjuku (DVD)
Anime can fall flat without meaningful characters that we come to love. When we first met protagonists like Makie (Wicked City) and D (Vampire Hunter D), they had instant appeal and offered backgrounds of intrigue or mystery. Our hero of Shinjuku is Kyoya, a swordsman charged with protecting the president's daughter and preventing Hell on Earth. I generally like him as "a good guy," but I'm not nearly as invested or interested in him as I was the aforementioned heroes. I'm not hating here--just identifying my single negative criticism of this movie. Everything else was great.

Director Yoshiaki Kawajiri (Wicked City, Ninja Scroll, Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust) sure knows how to make an awesome contemporary dark fantasy. First, an evil swordsman opens a gate to Hell after some sort of Highlander (1986) duel with Kyoya's father--who fights down to his last limbs like the Black Knight from Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975). 10 years later, evil demon tentacles thrash from a bouquet of flowers and kidnap the president! That's what the world has come to…evil thrashing tentacles abound.

The demons in this movie are pretty cool. Following in his father's footsteps practicing the way of the sword, Kyoya must defend the president's daughter from their attempts at her life.

Much as Wicked City (1987) had its Black World dimension, many of the monsters of Shinjuku possess gifts of interdimensional travel through shadows, teleportation or dreams.

A bit of a throwback to the lady spider demon from Wicked City (1987), one of them is a sort of spider-centaur with a giant hermit crab claw and a toothed maw on his stomach! As if this fiend wasn't powerful enough, it teleports through the shadows. Kyoya is also pulled into an underwater dimension to battle what I can only describe as a three-eyed demonic sloth hag. And perhaps influenced by Vampire Hunter D (1985), the mysterious Mephisto battles a constricting succubus composed of tentacles.

Throw in all manner of lashing tentacles (at one point randomly and most amusingly dismembering a stray cat) and a villain reminiscent of Vampire Hunter D's (1985) Count Dracula complete with white hair and telekinesis, and we have a damn good time. It may not be terribly original, but it's highly entertaining.


Leprechaun 3
Leprechaun 3
DVD ~ Warwick Davis
Price: $9.99
35 used & new from $0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars We're a just few Leprechaunthropic bites away from a Leprechaunado of Zombichauns...pure lunacy!, May 19, 2016
This review is from: Leprechaun 3 (DVD)
Warwick Davis, Las Vegas, and infectious Leprechaunthropy.
MY CALL: This sequel is just plain silly…like, even sillier than part 2…which was even more ludicrous than part 1. It's stupid and funny and it knows exactly what it is. As long as you understand what you're about to watch, you'll probably enjoy this.

The writing quality is bottom shelf as always, as we find a double amputee in a Las Vegas pawn shop selling a life size Leprechaun statue so he can "buy gas and get out of town." Such refined exposition, isn't it? Our desperate statue pawner warns to leave the ostentatious medallion on the statue, which of course the shop owner removes almost immediately. The punishment for which is apparently that the Leprechaun (Warwick Davis) animates, rambles in rhyming limerick, and bites off his ear and toe before scrambling off with his gold. And naturally, a single coin is left behind.
As laughable as this sounds, take note that in three years the world has witnessed as many Leprechaun movies! So if the we the people disapprove, we're not exactly voting that opinion with our theater-going dollar. But I, and much of the horror community, continue to delight in this movie series.

With sequels, the stakes tend to get bigger with each subsequent story. Whereas part one had nothing of the sort, Leprechaun 2 (1994) boasted three wishes granted to a Leprechaun's captor. But now in part 3, one wish per gold shilling is granted--which could mean 100 wishes!!! We now have every reason to hope the Leprechaun wins because I'm simply not comfortable with someone wielding that kind of world-dominating power. Moreover, these wishes are truly granted and not distorted as in Leprechaun 2 (1994), Wishmaster 1-4 (1997-2002) or The Monkey's Paw (2013).

Director Brian Trenchard-Smith (Night of the Demons 2, Leprechaun 4: In Space) has taken all of the already-shaky-at-best rules of evil Leprechauns and wishes and thrown them out the window. Not only will a gold shilling grant you a wish, but when the coin changes hands each subsequent owner also gets a wish. The only constant seems to be that Leprechauns are nearly immortal.

As our protagonists, Scott (John Gatins; Witchboard 2, Pumpkinhead II) and Tammy are pretty worthless characters. But they offer up some campy comic relief.

After being bitten and exposed to the Leprechaun's magically toxic blood, Scott seems to be afflicted with Leprechaunthropy--which consists of an insatiable appetite for potatoes and impersonating Tom Cruise from Far and Away (1992) doing his impression of the Leprechaun. Scott's transformation into a were-Leprechaun is slow and silly, he has a magical duel, and all the while Tammy is dressed in a slutty magician's assistant costume.

The real highlight for campy horror fans comes when Caroline Williams (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, Halloween II) wishes for beauty, then gets monkey pawed with grossly inflated boobs and butt by the Leprechaun--but it's nothing compared to what happened in Faust (2000). There's that, and of course the scene that somehow combined Frankenhooker (1990) and Deadly Friend (1986).

The director of one of these fine films once suggested that each Leprechaun movie was about a different Leprechaun, which is the only sensible notion in the entire series considering that we have seen three Leprechauns meet horrible deaths in three states (South Dakota, California and Nevada) in as many years. But now with the inception of the communicable zombiechaun infection spread through bite, I'm shocked we have not yet seen a Leprechaunado or a Leprechaun Apocalypse.

All in all, this was extremely stupid but (with the right expectations) quite entertaining. Warwick Davis has been unchained and permitted to go as over-the-top as he wishes, and it's pretty loony.


Ava's Possessions
Ava's Possessions
DVD
Price: $4.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Humorously addressing what happens "after" an exorcism…like support groups and warrants and nods to Beetlejuice, May 18, 2016
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Ava's Possessions (Amazon Video)
MY CALL: A fine possession-themed horror comedy with enough good qualities to interest me in what the director does next. Featuring a great premise but shaky writing, it's a nice little indie that explores legal consequences and support groups aimed at possession victims.

REVIEW...

Meet Ava (Louisa Krause; The Abandoned, The Babysitters). Ava has just been exorcised and awakens to the harsh reality that often goes completely unaddressed in horror movies on the topic: so what happens now? You were possessed, the spirit has been banished, but you did some things and the real world packs consequences for our actions.

There's a most welcome dark dryness to the humor in this exorcism/possession satire and these scenes are truly precious when you think about it. Her mother (Deborah Rush; Orange is the New Black, The Box) and father (William Sadler; Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight, Bordello of Blood, episode The Man Who was Death) come visit, make sure she's eating enough…blame her possession on her use of marijuana. Ava asks if anyone called in sick for her during her weeks long possession. No? Probably out of a job. Want support from your friends? They're probably afraid of you. And did you try to sleep with your besty's boyfriend while that demon was inside you?

And then we meet her wonderfully deadpan attorney JJ (Dan Fogler; Hannibal, Hellbenders), who illustrates that yes, she faces a lot of vandalism and assault charges from when she was rampaging the streets with the devil in her. It's basically jail, or join a group a lot like AA but for possession victims: Spirit Possession Anonymous. Ava must now make amends with those she affected during her possession and take action to see that the spirit does not re-enter her. That's the purpose of Spirit Possession Anonymous. Besides, even The Last Exorcism (2010) had a sequel--aptly named The Last Exorcism 2 (2013). SMH

Written and directed by relative newcomer Jordan Galland (Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Undead), this very low budget horror comedy comes with a healthy share of style. The staging and heavy-contrast colored lighting of some scenes smacks of a hybrid between a Broadway horror play and an episode of Tales from the Crypt. And like both, this film was clearly produced on a low budget…but it works just fine. At least for the first 30 minutes…

Yes, that's right. The first act of this film is good. I liked the opening style, meeting the characters and being introduced to the consequences of possession and the notion of a support group designed for it. The problem was that the story quickly spun into a mystery of sorts that found no sense of synthesis. Sure, I liked seeing John Ventimiglia (The Sopranos, The Iceman), Carol Kane (Scrooged, The Princess Bride) and Alysia Reiner (Orange is the New Black), but their parts were over-filled with over-exposition delivered with uninspired dialogue. This mystery of murder and informant prostitutes started feeling like a bad episode of Silk Stalkings.

This is where I have to say it. Jordan Galland, I like you as a director but I think you need someone else penning your scripts after you dream up your story. You have cool edgy ideas, but after the premise is painted your brush was stricken with acuity-warped palsy. I loved the first 30 minutes and then got lost in the stale convolution of the next 30 minutes. I found some redemption in the end where in a whirlwind of 15 minutes all the convoluted mess was explained in fine detail--but a little late to save the film. Galland's story is a deep one--too bad it takes 75 minutes before you realize it. Leave some breadcrumbs along the way of the plot next time.

There were enough good qualities here to leave me very interested in seeing what Galland does next. I just hope he's not writing it alone and that someone gives him more of a budget. He made the budget work for him, but we would have benefited from better (and more frequent) gore or makeup. Overall, it's a nice little indie!


Blue Monkey [VHS]
Blue Monkey [VHS]
VHS
8 used & new from $18.00

4.0 out of 5 stars A feisty Aliens (1986) rip-off with a giant slimy mutant praying mantis wreaking havoc in a hospital. Awesomely bad 80s delight., May 15, 2016
This review is from: Blue Monkey [VHS] (VHS Tape)
[[You're probably wondering where they got this title? A kid makes a random comment in the movie about a big blue monkey--that's it. Presto! Movie title!]]

Many thanks to my online horror buddy, Zane, for sharing this bad 80s masterpiece with me. Zane is a true 80s horror aficionado and even took part in making an 80s style horror film: The Barn. So that's my "thank you" plug for Zane and his movie. On with the review!

Also released as Invasion of the Body Suckers [no clue where that title came from] and Insect [vague, but appropriate], I love that this movie gets straight to business. After being pricked by a strange exotic plant and passing out, an old man is rushed to the hospital only to have a large white worm emerge from his mouth resulting in his death! The worm parasite quickly gets the entire hospital quarantined when numerous patients begin to show strange symptoms after the arrival of this "insect."

Some playful young patients come across the specimen and unknowingly feed it a "nucleic acid promoter" that augments growth and hormonal activity…so presumably we'll have a giant mutant bug in no time. Yaaaay!!!!

Director William Fruet (Goosebumps, War of the Worlds) has made his filmmaking intentions obvious as Ranger Rick meets slimy science fiction in this feisty Aliens (1986) rip-off in which we emulate the infection scene (in the greenhouse with the plant), chestburster scene, the queen alien egg-laying scene complete with flashing blue background lighting, kids and monsters in ventilation shafts like Newt, and slimy secretions galore from a giant insectoid creature that grows at an alarming pace. They even reproduce the scene in which the queen xenomorph is infuriated by lighting her egg chamber and offspring on fire.

Our biological updates about the praying mantis monster are delivered by the local entomologist (Don Lake; Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Short Circuit 2) and non-scientific exposition comes courtesy of the hospital administrator (John Vernon; Killer Klowns from Outer Space, The Uncanny)--both roles being much appreciated by this 80s horror fan.

There's plenty of goofy rubber monster suit action in this fun 80s creature feature. We see a lot of our monster and like Peter Pan across the Broadway stage it swings from the ceiling. It's laughably awesome and there are a few scenes of festive gore.

The film ended with a typically campy twist that left a smile on my face. There was even an implication that two intoxicated patients were spared because of their inebriation--much like Grabbers (2012).


Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse
Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse
DVD

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gory, raunchy, hilarious coming-of-age zombedy about friendship, merit badges and killing zombies!, May 11, 2016
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This movie is rambunctiously scored from start to finish. All horror comedies should be so bold as to have Blake Anderson (Workaholics) twerking down the halls to Iggy Azalea's Black Widow while mopping the floors. Too bad he dies right away, but the scene is long, hilarious and REALLY gory. What more could you want? Follow that up with stock footage of David Koechner (Final Destination 5, Krampus) as an awkward scout leader in a recruiting video and I think director Christopher Landon (writer for Paranormal Activity 2-5) is off to a great start!

We don't get very far in this movie before the gore properly reveals itself. It's a sloppy mess of awesome and this infectious bloody zombiism permeates the animal kingdom to deliver a zombie deer with its guts hanging out.

This flick really delivers and doesn't stop with the gore. The hormonally raging Ben (Tye Sheridan), straight-laced Carter (Logan Miller) and boy scout fanatic Auggie (Joey Morgan; Compadres) are three readily likable high school sophomores with a newfound American Pie-like discovery of women. Their love interests: stripper Denise (Sarah Dumont; Don Jon) and classmate Kendall (Halston Sage; Goosebumps). As if copying from Superbad's (2007) class notes, Ben has charged Carter with scoring some beer and getting them to the party that will "change their lives."

After such an amazing opening act, the movie had to lose a little steam ever so briefly in the middle before returning full steam ahead into lunacy. Even at its slowest point it's a nice experience. As it comes back full-tilt some people might be a bit bothered by the level of physicality of these zombies (i.e., WWE wrestling moves, jumping on trampolines). But it's a solidly fun and adventurous horror comedy.

These boys' misadventures lead them to zombie strippers, challenges of their friendship, zombie boobs, a Britney Spears sing-along, a crazy old cat lady zombie, the crazy old cat lady zombie's crazy cat zombies, elderly zombie penis stretching and dismemberment, and zombie oral sex. As dirty and perverted as this all sounds it could have been much raunchier and grosser. Trust me, it's probably nothing that will make you uncomfortable if you enjoyed Piranha 3DD (2012).

In this gory coming-of-age zombedy, these three boys rediscover their friendship and renew the awesome resourcefulness that is being a scout...and using those skills for killing zombies! It's a great ride!


He Never Died
He Never Died
DVD
Price: $4.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Henry Rollins owns this role as a socially awkward immortal who tries to keep to himself., May 10, 2016
This review is from: He Never Died (Amazon Video)
I struggle to truly call this horror, rather this feels more like a violent drama featuring a supernatural character. It lacks any substantial plot or character development…yet I really enjoyed it!

Written and directed by Jason Krawczyk, this snarky little film delivers Henry Rollins (Feast, Bad Boys 2) exactly as he should be--immortal, gruff and unable to feel pain or emotions. Rollins plays Jack, a no nonsense man of few words, simple means, and a solid respect for privacy. He keeps to himself and leaves his simplistically unfestive apartment for little more than church bingo, his favorite diner or to meet a hospital intern (Booboo Stewart; X-Men: Days of Future Past) for an illegal exchange of sorts.

Somehow Jack crosses paths with some screw-up criminals who find out the hard way that Jack is not the man to cross. And when you cross him, his temper is short and consequences are grave.

A nice slow throat rip, a dash of cannibalism and a few well-handled punches to the face add a unique flavor to this very dark comedy which presents itself surprisingly like an off-Broadway play in terms of atmosphere and delivery.

Jack is like an occasionally kind sociopath trying to (quite successfully) fend off any vestige of human emotion that may well up inside him while likewise staving back a strange macabre compulsion from a deep and distant, perhaps Biblical past. At one point Jack rather audibly removes a bullet from his head--it was a pleasure!

Nothing Oscar-worthy, but I really enjoyed Rollins' depiction of Jack--rendered stolid from centuries of monotonous life. He has strong aversions to conversation, he answers questions literally and concisely, and does a good job revealing as little as possible about himself. But I suppose if I had what appear angel wing excision scars, I'd be keeping more than a few secrets myself. That said, his interactions--few as they may be and always forced upon him--are amusingly awkward.

Despite the deliberate lack of a plot that matters or any form of proper character development, this remains a pretty cool movie. Highly recommended to indie horror fans, indie movie fans in general or anyone who likes Henry Rollins for any reason.


Honeymoon
Honeymoon
DVD ~ Rose Leslie
Offered by Sparks DVD Sales
Price: $8.25
43 used & new from $2.23

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rose Leslie's romantic, paranoid getaway to a cabin in the woods to test the boudaries of marital trust.., May 8, 2016
This review is from: Honeymoon (DVD)
Excellent acting, writing and scenery breathe life into this intensely paranoid indie horror in which matrimonial trust is tested. First time writer/director Leigh Janiak does an excellent job introducing us to our recently married main characters Bea (Rose Leslie; Game of Thrones, The Last Witch Hunter) and Paul (Harry Treadaway; Penny Dreadful, Cockneys vs Zombies). They are the normal, sweet, likable and nuanced characters horror fans deserve.

This film is in no rush. We take our time getting to know the newlyweds and, although they do honeymoon in a cabin in the woods, it's not as secluded and troped up as it sounds. The role of the "harbinger" is understated and there is nothing campy to be found. Janiak is staging a proper horror film for us

One night Paul finds Bea wandering naked in the woods and afterwards she just isn't the same. She forgets how to make coffee and French toast, and becomes generally more distant whereas prior to her nude midnight stroll they couldn't keep their hands off each other. Something is clearly wrong and right away Paul knows it. He just doesn't know what exactly is wrong…or why.

As someone who has been in a few very serious relationships in my time, Bea's odd behavior was palpably uncomfortable and it really hit home for me. I could only imagine the emotional terror Paul must have felt when Bea suddenly took such a change, and on their honeymoon no less! Their on-screen chemistry is strong, so it's all the worse when the paranoia sets in.

The effects are not abundant but they accomplish exactly what they need to, being weird and gross and slimy. Just the way I like them! Normally I'm more descriptive about effects, but they're too integral to the story revelations and I don't want to spoil it.

The acting is excellent, the atmosphere breeds unease, and this is among few movies that have made me nervous for the main characters. What a cool film. You should definitely catch it while it's on Netflix.

If I had one complaint it would be that the ending is completely unresolved. But it's cool anyway. I want more films like this!


Night Vision
Night Vision
DVD

2.0 out of 5 stars Cynthia Rothrock kicks no butt at all in this terrible police movie. Weren't there supposed to be martial arts in this?, May 7, 2016
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Night Vision (Amazon Video)
I recently decided I wanted to watch a bunch of Cynthia Rothrock (China O'Brien, Undefeatable) movies. Well guess what? That's surprisingly not easy to do. As it turns out just about none of her movies are affordable on Amazon to buy except for her late 90s direct-to-video stuff and similarly her older stuff is nowhere to be found on Amazon Video or Netflix.

Now before we get started I'm sure you're asking yourself "but is this a classy movie, like for a date night, right?" You bet, bro! We have ample nudity in just the first three minutes (quite a bit in the first 20 minutes and peppered throughout, in fact), we have the biggest female action star of the era (and she loves wearing tights to show off her karate-kickin' butt), and one of the biggest names in blaxploitation (Fred Williamson; From Dusk 'til Dawn). So yeah, you bet it's classy!

Officer Dakota Smith (Fred Williamson) is an aging alcoholic recently demoted beat cop who has problems with authority and a tendency to draw his gun on fellow officers. Kristin O'Connor (Rothrock) is a cute rookie (although she was about 40 when the movie was made) on probation with a tendency to kick sassy cops in the face. It's as if they were meant to be partners.

They team up to stop a murderer in a black van from kidnapping and killing his young victims, and videotaping the whole thing to leave a calling card taunting the police. As interesting as that already isn't, I was saddened to realize that this movie really stars Fred Williamson a lot more than it does Cynthia Rothrock. We have the queen of martial arts and I only see her throw one kick in the first hour. Whereas the aging Williamson has his laughable alley fight in which he strains to awkwardly kick so high I was almost certain he pulled a hamstring and tackles a guy into a pile of empty cardboard boxes. By the way, has anyone actually ever seen a pile of empty cardboard boxes in an alley. My guess is, if you have, they were only there because someone was about to shoot an 80s-90s action scene there.

But hey, there's some good to this flick. For instance, it's scored like an action-themed porn movie (sometimes written and filmed like one, too) and it features a kooky dwarf. Perhaps the only aspect of the movie that isn't awful is Robert Forster's (Olympus Has Fallen, Jackie Brown) performance and the awkward fat guy having naughty relations. Speaking of which, there's an awful lot of nude naughtiness going on. All told, we're looking at about ten boobs in this movie. So, I have to wonder, what is Cynthia Rothrock even doing here? She kicks one guy…ONE in the first hour! This is like casting Dolph Lundgren (Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning, The Expendables 2) and then not letting him break people. I think the low point of the movie is when Rothrock uses about five different woodwind instrument playing innuendos for a man's penis. Trombone, flute, sliding trombone…ouch. She must have needed the money. But alas, it gets worse. Towards the end of the movie she has a terrible fight scene (no doubt limited by the complete choreographical inability of the cast of bad guys), probably the worst of career. It made my heart sink.

At this point you might be thinking "hey, come on, it was the 90s--of course it sucks." Well, you hold your horses, Youngblood. Jackie Brown, Con Air, Face/Off, Air Force One, Starship Troopers, The Edge, The Jackal, The Fifth Element, G. I. Jane, Tomorrow Never Dies and The Postman all came out the same year. Wow. Could you imagine being the person who picked Night Vision over any of these? LOL.

Watch out for the 46 minute mark for some of the worst police work EVER. Oof! These two look like they had one completely unrehearsed, site-unseen take to get it right. They look confused and they definitely don't know how to cover one another. Later we see that no one on set knew what a gunfight should look like or how to handle a gun.

Probably influenced by Sliver (1993) and Die Hard with a Vengeance (1995), our voyeuristic villain always seems to know exactly what our heroes are up to, going so far as to call them just to let them know that he knows where they are. Our killer likes targeting promiscuous Catholic women who can't keep their clothes on. Evidently the videos are then sold through "crime syndicate porn channels." I guess we're supposed to believe that's a thing just because they said it.

I'm especially fond of the HUGE and luxurious apartment interiors we find within drab apartment complexes and how the little notes our criminal mastermind videographer leaves hint that this movie thinks it's playing off Seven (1995). The film seemed to think it had a lot to say about alcoholism and adultery, but none of it was very convincing. This was wholesale stupidity presented before us with a straight face.

The director (Gil Bettman) had really only ever done some TV work and a handful of unrecognizable movies. He doesn't seem to have a clue how to direct an action movie, or a dramatic seen… or anything. And speaking of everything he did wrong, weren't there supposed to be martial arts in this? He cast "the queen of martial arts" didn't give her anyone with fighting experience to face? So she just hits people, and they just get hit and don't really do anything back. Stupid….just stupid.

Watch this for a good laugh with a buzz but do not, I repeat DO NOT watch this expecting to see a Cynthia Rothrock martial arts movie. For of all the horrible things this movie is, "that" it is not.


The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (Collector's Edition) [Blu-ray]
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (Collector's Edition) [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Dennis Hopper
Price: $22.19
24 used & new from $21.98

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Taking the Sawyer family from dire and serious, to stark raving macabre delirium and delivering a stronger kind of final girl., May 7, 2016
After a narrated introduction linking our story to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) and explaining the aftermath of Sally's escape, we meet a pair of yuppie sociopaths shooting road signs and playing chicken with locals on rural roads while donning preppie attire like pastel sweaters and frat house blazers. They obnoxiously cackle and, unlike our gang of victims in part 1, we are all probably looking forward to their well-deserved gruesome deaths.

Not only do they get what they deserve, but it happens in a manner far more gory and campy than anything in part 1. Leatherface (now played by Bill Johnson; The Caretakers) has a slapstick vibe about him as he chainsaws a moving vehicle while wearing an entire dead shambling corpse as a disguise. Taking a hard turn from the hopelessly desperate and dire original, this new campy tone emanates throughout this sequel and takes more after Tobe Hooper's own The Funhouse (1981).

Compounding this silliness is that we find Drayton Sawyer (Jim Siedow; The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) taking very much after the campy Motel Hell's (1980) Farmer Vincent, winning a chili cook-off and being praised for his tasty meat stew. Like The Funhouse (1981), Motel Hell borrowed heavily from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), embracing cannibalism, a macabre pig head mask, and a chainsaw attack. Now it seems that TCM 2 is borrowing back.

Radio DJ Stretch (Caroline Williams; Leprechaun 3, Halloween II, Hatchet 3, Contracted) is the best part of this movie. She and her producer (Lou Perryman; The Cellar, Poltergeist) heard the aforementioned yuppie victims (one with the top of his head awesomely sawed off) being killed when they obnoxiously called in to her radio show. So Stretch rushes to help Lefty (Dennis Hopper; Waterworld, Land of the Dead) in his investigation of his nephews' death, which he believes to have been at the hands of the purported chainsaw-wielding maniacs 12 years prior.

Of course, the Sawyer family is back and Chop-Top (Bill Moseley; House of 1000 Corpses, Texas Chainsaw 3D, House) is totally nutso crazy and disturbingly awkward. He is so sick and twisted that I felt scared for Stretch when she faced him--and I, a well-seasoned and desensitized horror buff, never feel scared for anyone except for the Poltergeist (1982; also Tobe Hooper, by the way) family! The violence goes off the deep end when he hammers the crap out of her friend over and over again…with an actual hammer…cackling all the while. Whereas Leatherface is as sexually repressed and perverse as can be, essentially chainsaw dry-humping while licking his malformed lips. It's pretty sick and it really paved the way for subsequent sicko releases like House of 1000 Corpses (2003). All the while, these encounters show us how strong Caroline Williams plays our final girl Stretch. She's terrified and manic, but she fights back and defends herself however she can, even by psychologically manipulating the man-child Leatherface.

As we approach the third act Stretch falls into the deep underground lair of the Sawyers, Leatherface skins sopping corpses and plays with peeled bloody faces, and Lefty goes mad with vengeance intent on caving in the Sawyers' abandoned mines. The festival macabre continues with puppeteered corpses and insane rants. Offal pits and halls of rotting corpses abound in this craziness that you will subsequently find duplicated in House of 1000 Corpses (2003; in honorarium) and Stretch runs for her life through the maze of dead bodies in her short shorts screaming.

Writer/director Tobe Hooper (Lifeforce, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Poltergeist, The Funhouse) returns and shifts gears from brutal and dire to slapstick gory delirium. In an effort to one-up his own work, the Sawyer home and dinner scene are elevated to an "11" in terms of lunacy, the chase scenes are longer and the gruesome actions find far more blood, severed limbs, rended flesh and rubber guts than its predecessor. Grandpa is evil senescence at its best as he hammers Stretch, Leatherface is now borderline invincible and able to fight Lefty with a chainsaw through his stomach with his guts hanging out, scrappy Stretch gets into a fight with Chop-Top that endures so long that it set the standard for Keith David and Roddy Piper in They Live (1988)…it seems EVERYTHING has been turned up to an "11" in this crazy sequel.

Just when you thought it couldn't get more over the top Stretch ends up at Grandma Sawyer's shrine and does the same crazy chainsaw kata as Leatherface in the end of part 1. That's what I love about this movie. You keep thinking it can't get any crazier, but it somehow does. It's like Jurassic Park (1993), "crazy" finds a way.

Part 1 stunned us with brutality and desperation. But part 2 was made to push the gory and psychological aspects into disturbing territory. I loved this film and clearly so did Rob Zombie, who claimed that House of 1000 Corpses (2003) was in honor of the horror era of the past--but really, and not to his discredit, it seemed that he was re-imagining this.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 12, 2016 11:06 AM PDT


Holidays
Holidays
DVD
Price: $6.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent horror anthology with some shockingly good horror shorts. I just don't get the bad reviews, May 3, 2016
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This review is from: Holidays (Amazon Video)
This horror anthology features monstrous pregnancy, creepy kids, zombie Jesus, genital mutilation, pagan cults, teen bullying gone wrong, the evil Easter bunny and deadly Dating site meet-ups among other maladies. Definitely one of the better horror anthologies of the last several years.

If you've followed my reviews for a while now then you ought to know that I love horror anthologies. In some anthologies all of the short stories are directed by one man and written by another (e.g., Creepshow), but in this case each short story has a different writer and director (like V/H/S).
Unlike many anthologies which feature a story teller or wraparound story (e.g., Creepshow, Tales from the Darkside: The Movie) or taking the approach of linked stories in which one component of the previous story links us to the next (e.g., Southbound, Trick ‘r Treat), this anthology simply delivers a series of horror shorts related only in that they are all holiday-themed. The shorts are presented in their calendar order and all have delightfully twisted endings. This anthology really was a pleasant surprise.

Valentine's Day introduces us to a quiet high school girl (Madeleine Coghlan) bullied by her diving team and teased about her crush on their coach. The tone is uneasingly awkward and when the young girls bully it makes us uncomfortable (in a good, effective way). Written and directed by Dennis Widmyer and Kevin Kolsch (they did Starry Eyes), this breezy short takes a hard turn when the victim gets her brutal revenge. You'll smile.

St. Patrick's Day is tremendously effective in its awkwardness as well, and follows suit in the creepy kids department. An Irish primary school teacher (Ruth Bradley; Grabbers) is haunted by a strange student and a stranger subsequent pregnancy. Only, pregnant with what…and how…and why? It's funny in the darkest way. The birth scene is interesting followed by a most dream-like celebration. Written and directed by Gary Shore (Dracula Untold).

Easter is just plain wrong in ways that made my darkest side squeal with glee. A young girl encounters a most sacrilegious zombie Jesus Easter Bunny that births baby chicks from its stigmata. Wow. Written and directed by Nicholas McCarthy (The Pact), this is something different.

Mother's Day. All sorts of weirdness ensues after a young woman who can't stop getting pregnant joins a fertility ritual for women who can't. I can't say I understand the ending and this was just plain odd. Written and directed by Sarah Adina Smith, this short was among my least favorites.

Father's Day was easily the most compelling and tense of the shorts in this anthology. A young woman (Jocelin Donahue; The House of the Devil, Insidious Chapter 2) receives a tape recorder with a message from her father--who she thought had died 20+ years ago--with instructions on how to find him. Written and directed by Anthony Scott Burns, I desperately want this guy to do more horror!!! Maybe even stretch this into an entire movie.

Halloween disappointingly had nothing to do with Halloween at all. It's the only short in this anthology that fails to follow the theme of its holiday and, on top of that, it's a crass shock film that fails at being shocking. It wasn't well acted or well written and I must say I was surprised to see this garbage was written and directed by Kevin Smith (Tusk).

Christmas stars Seth Green (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) as a man tasked with getting the latest hot tech gift for his son. But how far will he go to get it, and what will he learn about himself when he does? Written and directed by Scott Stewart (Dark Skies, Priest, Legion), this one is cheeky.

New Year's Eve was definitely the most fun. A murderous man meets a quirky woman on a Dating site for a NYE date that does not go as he planned. Directed by Adam Egypt Mortimer (Some Kind of Hate), this short gives me hope that he will make more such movies.

In general I was very pleased with this horror anthology. I liked it even more than Southbound (2015)! Probably the only disappointing shorts for me were Mother's Day and Kevin Smith's Halloween, which was the only short that didn't connect well with its assigned holiday and it had probably the worst acting, writing and--sorry Kevin--directing. It just felt like amateur hour despite some mildly campy humor…and it didn't match its surroundings well. For me the best short was Father's Day--just harrowing. But basically all of these shorts (except, Mother's Day and Halloween) were very satisfying. Few anthologies are of such quality.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 9, 2016 2:54 PM PDT


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