Thursday, October 30, 2008

Horror Movie Review Preview: Grindhouse Double Feature - Black Candles and Evil Eye

Coming Soon...A Grindhouse Double Feature: Black Candles and Evil Eye.

Black Candles - This Spanish film originally titled Los Ritos Sexuales del Diablo follows a young woman who travels with her partner to England on the unexpected death of her brother. Staying with her sister-in-law, she finds her companion soon drawn into a satanic cult based in the house whose rites seem to centre somewhat on large-scale sexual congress.

Evil Eye - This Italian film debuting as Malocchio focus on a man named Peter Crane. People around Peter Crane begin dying in mysterious fashion. How is Playboy Peter involved in this? He begins having nightmares dealing with murder...His psychiatrist has no idea of what Peter is suffering from. Even the police are in danger as they start investigating the case. What is the secret of the "Magic Circle"?

Join us next week as we look at these two foreign grindhouse features. We encourage you to watch the films and join us for the discussion. Be warned, however. Black Candles sounds like a soft-core horror porn, so the sensitive may want to avoid it.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Horror Comedy Movie Review: The Invisible Woman

The Invisible Woman

Starring: Virginia Bruce, John Barrymore, John Howard, Charles Ruggles, Oskar Homolka, Margaret Hamilton, and Shemp Howard

Directed by: A. Edward Sutherland

Written by: Curt Siodmak, Joe May, Robert Lees, Frederick I. Rinaldo, and Gertrude Purcell

Production Company: Universal Pictures

Release Date: December 27, 1940

Charlie Ruggles can't see the Invisible Woman, but he smells something amiss.Released 11 months after its predecessor, The Invisible Man Returns, The Invisible Woman takes a camp look at the idea of turning invisible by making the subject a woman.

Professor Gibbs is a loony scientist working to perfect an invisibility machine, but having been working on this one invention for years, Gibbs's patron Richard is about to make his financial support disappear. In desperation, Professor Gibbs runs an add looking for someone willing to under go his experimental process for free. His respondant is model Kitty Carroll.

What follows is a series of misses as Gibbs tries to prove to Richard that he can turn people invisible and then the verbal sparring of a strong-willed invisible woman with the playboy Richard known for his womanizing. To add to their problems, gangster Blackie Cole wants the professor's machine to turn him invisible so that he can return home without fear of being arrested. When his goons steal the machine but don't know how to work it, Professor Gibbs gets kidnapped along with Kitty, with whom Richard has begun to fall in love.

John Barrymore tells us that he caught an Invisible Woman THIS big!The comedy is slapstick mixed with witty sarcasm and while not laugh out loud funny, it is amusing and entertaining. Pratfalls are common through out and the presence of the fourth of the Three Stooges, Shemp Howard, confirms the film's focus on comedy. The plot is nonsensical and fits the B-Movie mold, albeit at the time United Pictures put a fair amount of money into the film. Kitty getting stuck invisible from consuming alcohol and an invisible machine that when not used correctly leads to high pitched voices are some examples of the random, silly antics you'll find here.
Margaret Hamilton laments the loss of her flying monkeys.
But what about the horror? Well, like many horror comedies, you can recognize the horrific elements that are deadened by the comedy. Keeping in mind that horror films of the 30s and 40s were all about atmosphere and mood, not gore or jumps, you can see some of the same elements here. Richard's butler George reminds us that an invisible person would be frightening all be it with comedic excess. A scene where invisible Kitty confronts her boss is reminiscent of similar confrontations in the previous two films, but where the end result was death for the subject, Kitty's boss just gets a stern lecture on being a good boss and getting a kick in the pants.

The very visible Virginia Bruce.Kitty is played by Virginia Bruce. Despite being invisible through most of the film, Bruce is able to portray her sexiness without her body. I'm not sure on the technical aspects of the movie, but either she or the special effects men did a great job on the scene where invisible Kitty slides on some hoes. When you consider that Virginia Bruce, as Kitty, spends the majority of the film naked, it turns the film into quite a dirty little film, especially when some of the male characters are groping to find the young lady.

John Barrymore plays the absent minded Professor Gibbs to comedic glory. Though near to the end of his career, Barrymore shows why he was a film legend in his day.
John Howard as Richard wonders why you would want to make a beautiful woman invisible.
John Howard brings us flippant playboy Richard Russell. He plays the dashing and somewhat dispicable ladies man well and is able to balence his comedic scenes with the sillier roles of Professor Gibbs and George well.

George is played with sarcastic glee by Charlie Ruggles. Despite his sarcasm, or perhaps because of it, Ruggles's character George is easily the second most likeable character next to John Barrymore as Professor Gibbs.

Gangster Blackie Cole was portrayed by Oskar Homolka. Unfortunately, Cole wasn't very well written and Homolka's sobbing gangster is more annoying than funny.

Oskar Homolka wonders why he's the leader of these hoods and he's the only one without a hat.As for cameos, not only will you find Shemp Howard as one of Blackie Cole's stooges, you'll also see Margaret Hamilton, better know for her role as the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz.

This movie is really better suited for fans of old black and white slapstick comedies and can be a light-hearted break from the gore and scares from our typical movies.

Where Else Can They Be Seen?

Virginia Bruce says I can drink all I want without anyone knowing cause I am invishible. What?Virginia Bruce - In 1932, Bruce appeared in Kongo, a remake of West of Zanzibar that tries to outdo the Lon Chaney original in morbidity. From a wheelchair a handicapped white man rules an area of Africa as a living god. He rules the local natives through superstition and stage magic and he rules the few white people through sadism, keeping them virtual prisoners. He lives for the day he can avenge himself horribly on the man who stole his wife and crushed his spine. Strong and macabre stuff in a nearly forgotten horror film.

John Barrymore - In 1920 Barrymore played the title characters in the silent Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Dr. Henry Jekyll experiments with scientific means of revealing the hidden, dark side of man and releases a murderer from within himself.

Shemp Howard having flashbacks to trying to fill in Curly's spot in the Three Stooges.John Howard - Howard dealt with crazed doctors again in the 1941 thriller The Mad Doctor starring Basil Rathbone. A crazed physician marries a wealthy women and, with the help of his demented assistant, murders them for their money.

Charlie Ruggles - Charlie takes a little more serious spin in horror in the 1933 Murders in the Zoo. Eric Gorman returns with his wife Evelyn from a trip to the Orient collecting zoo animals, having killed a member of his expedition who happened one day to kiss Mrs. Gorman. On board ship Evelyn meets Roger Hewitt, who falls in love with her. After delivering his animals to the zoo, Gorman plots a way to dispose of Hewitt using one of his latest specimens, then continues using the zoo's non-human residents to do his beastly work.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Horror Movie Review Preview: The Invisible Woman

Coming Soon...The Invisible Woman. Eccentric Professor Gibbs, brilliant but impractical, invents an invisibility machine and advertises for a guinea pig. What he gets is Kitty Carroll, an attractive, adventurous model, who thinks being invisible would help her settle a few scores. Complications arise when three comic gangsters steal the machine to use on their boss. But they fail to reckon with the Revenge of the Invisible Woman!

The Invisible Woman


IT'S A Ghost-to-Ghost HOOK-UP!

Starring the attractive Virginia Bruce and the talented John Barrymore, The Invisible Woman also stars John Howard, Charles Ruggles, and Oskar Homolka. This 1940 horror comedy was nominated for an Oscar for Best Special Effects in the 1941 Academy Awards but lost to I Wanted Wings. The Invisible Woman has a rating of 6.1 stars out of 10 on IMDB and on Netflix is combined on a disc with The Invisible Man Returns so it's hard to tell what rating it would have alone.

Join us early next week to discuss this early horror comedy and see if the Invisible Woman can scare our pants off...or at least make us laugh our pants off.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Horror Movie Review: Rest Stop: Don't Look Back

Rest Stop: Don't Look Back

Starring: Richard Tillman, Jessie Ward, Joey Mendicino, Julie Mond, Graham Norris, Diane Salinger, Brionne Davis, and Michael Childers

Directed by: Shawn Papazian

Written by: John Shiban

Production Companies: Flame Ventures and Raw Feed

Release Date: September 30, 2008

When I saw that the 2006 film Rest Stop was getting a sequel and it was going to be called Rest Stop: Don't Look Back, I had to wonder, "Was it called "Don't Look Back" because they realized that they shouldn't have looked back to Rest Stop to make a sequel?"

Not that there was anything wrong with the original. Sure, the acting wasn't grest, and there were a couple of things that didn't make sense. But there was plenty of goodness at work there, and plenty of mystery and "huh?" left to clarify...but that doesn't mean a sequel will hold up, so I went into watching this movie with trepidation.

And the opening seemed to confirm my fears. Actors hired more for their appearance than ability playing annoying looked to be a long night.

But things shaped up...

It's been a year since Nicole and Jess left for Hollywood and disappeared. Jess's brother Tom is determined to go find him while on a 10 day leave from the military. He talks his girlfriend Marilyn and buddy Jared to go along. They find their way to the Rest Stop. Soon Tom is abducting by the maniac driving the yellow truck who terrorized Jesse and Nicole. The peculiar Winnebago family returns, as well as Nicole and Jesse.

The original was predominantly just a slasher, all be it a slasher who slashes with his truck, but with a slight element of the supernatural which was never explained. In Rest Stop: Don't Look Back we get that explanation.

I'm not going to ruin the mystery here, but let's just say that the sequel is more of a ghostly, supernatural horror which, looking back at the original, turns Rest Stop into more of a ghost story.

Richard Tillman plays Tom, the soldier hellbent to find his brother. Tillman turns in an unconvincing performance possibly hampered by a script with implausible actions such as Tom pulling nails out of his knee and then walking away with only a slight limp.
Playing bitchy Marilyn is Jessie Ward. Ward was limited in her role and was not given an opportunity to be endearing in any way. When it was her turn to get tortured, you'll be feeling that she probably deserves it. Ward's performance, however, was decent. It's just a shame that she played a wholly unlikeable character.

Graham Norris plays Jared, Tom's geeky bud. Jared's a pretty lame character but easily the most likeable one for his passion and innocent affection for the missing Nicole. They wisely keep Jared from being stalker obsessed with her, but more content to his lot as a secret admirer. Graham plays the awkward Jared well. There were a couple of scenes in which Jared was presented contrary to the character he was developed into being before the scary stuff started. The one near the end when he and Marilyn are faced with the Driver I guess could be explained as actions taken during duress, but faced with Nicole, I find it hard to believe that someone like Jared would take adavatage of the situation and have sex with someone in need of medical attention, even if she was making the advances.

The Driver was scarier in the original being shrouded and unseen except for silhouette. In Don't Look Back we see too much of the driver, played by Brionne Davis. He does a good job, but the silent role, save for the flashback scene where we learn his history, took a lot of the fear from him by showing him in the light of day.

Probably the best part of both Rest Stop's is the Winnebago family led by the Father, played by Michael Childers. Childers plays the zealously religious father to a tee. Partnered with Diane Salinger as the provocative Mother, Childers and the twins are the most interesting characters in the movie.

Joey Mendicino returns as Jess and Julie Mond steps in for Jaimie Alexander as Nicole. Mendicino's character isn't really given the chance to spook up the film, but Mond's brief appearance really throws some creep onto the scene.

The ending tries to throw in a twist and while a noble effort, it gave itself away a bit too quickly.

There's hit and miss here. In the end, though, I felt Rest Stop: Don't Look Back was an interesting film. I definately want to see more of the Winnebago family, and while I want the Driver to return, I want to see less of him when he's on screen. It's a ghost film, so less torture, more atmosphere if there's a sequel.

Where Else Can They Be Seen?

Michael Childers, Brionne Davis, Joey Medicino, Shawn Papazian, and John Shiban have no projects in the works or horror movie credits save for Rest Stop.

Julie Mond will next appear in Hangman. Two Iraq war vets Nick and Lenny return to the hometown of their ex girlfriends to see if they can rekindle the flames. What should be a little R&R in the woods slowly turns into Murder & Mayhem, when they take off with the girls to an abandoned cabin on their closed Alma Mater campus. There they fall prey to a deadly game of Hangman. This one comes complete with a real noose for the losers. Lust soon gives way to suspicion and fear as they turn on each other to survive. Only the Hangman knows who will win this game.

Graham Norris doesn't have any other horror roles to his name. His next film will be the action flick Fast Glass.

Diane Salinger has a couple of horror films in the works. The Telling. In this horror anthology film, three girls pledge the most popular - and cruelest - sorority on campus. For their final task, they must tell the scariest story they know. Containing three distinct stories - one featuring a murderous doll, one a has-been actress and her run in with a film crew of the undead and, finally, a hunt-and-kill fright-fest. The tales inspire someone at the sorority to commit their own murders. and Dark house. Traumatized by an terrifying event in her youth, Claire Thompson tries to exorcise her demons by revisiting the old house where a terrible children's massacre took place. Now a haunted house attraction set up by impressario Walston Rey (Jeffrey Combs), the former foster home run by the evil Miss Darrode (Salinger) is set to open for the press and Walston recruits Claire and several of her fellow acting class students to perform as part of the show. Unfortunately, a series of horrible murders happen at the haunted house, generating from the malevolent spirit of the departed Miss Darrode. Until then, check out Salinger's first film, Creature. A expedition to Titan uncovers an alien being, that goes on a rampage. Creature was called Titan Find.

Richard Tillman will next appear in the December 12th release of the remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still.

Rest Stop: Don't Look Back is Julie Ward's only horror credit. She will next appear in Gidspeed, a dramatic thriller set in the lingering light of the Alaskan midnight sun. Charlie Shepard is a modern day faith healer, a man who claims that if you let go and believe, then his power to heal is very real indeed. Living a hand-to-mouth, blue collar existence with his wife Rebecca and young son, Charlie ekes out a meager living from his "healing" sessions. With his marriage failing, and an old drinking habit coming back to haunt him, his family is brutally murdered by unknown assailants for seemingly no reason whatsoever. Six months later, Charlie has abandoned his former life and the house his family lived in, moving through the days' slow existence more like a ghost than a man. But then a young, mysterious girl named Sarah appears in town, and seeks out Charlie. She will become the link to his family's killings and to the murderers themselves, ultimately leading to tragic, violent consequences for all. "Godspeed" is a film that explores faith, grief, and the dark, violent nature that may very well exist in all of us -- where man is still truly lost and at the mercy of the Last Frontier of the great Alaskan landscape.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Girls and Corpses Turn Dismal

Fearmakers Studios is showing a lot of confidence in their upcoming release Dismal directed by Gary King and starring Bill Oberst, Jr. and Capel Kane. I don't know when it will be released yet, and I'll let you know when I know, but Fearmakers is pushing it's title hard because they just know we're going to love it.

In the October issue of Girls and Corpses Magazine, you'll get to see the Dismal girls with some dismal corpses...Here's what Fearmaker Studios has to say...

Lydia Chandler, Capel Kane, and Meagan Reedy can be seen in the October 2008 issue of Girls and Corpses Magazine. Yes, it's a real magazine!

The Deaditor-in-Chief Robert Steven Rhine, aka "Corpsy," posted a full page spotlight on DISMAL on page 74 of the magazine. Distributed by Ingram, Girls and Corpses can be found in many bookstores and newsstands across North America.

DISMAL continues to garner worldwide attention. Distributor inquiries and media interest have come in from across the United States, Greece, Germany, and even Russia. Promotional copies of the film haven't even been sent out yet! Look for more media on DISMAL as film screeners are delivered in the coming weeks.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Movie Review Preview: Rest Stop: Don't Look Back

Coming Soon...Rest Stop: Don't Look Back. A year ago, young lovers Nicole and Jess (Julie Mond and Joey Mendicino) ran away from home and have yet to return, prompting Jess's brother and his friends to set out on a sweeping search for the couple. What the friends don't bargain for is a run-in with a murderous madman. The crazed psycho, it seems, might well be responsible for the disappearances of Nicole and Jess -- and could potentially become the catalyst for their own undoing.

Rest Stop: Don't Look Back

Rest Stop: Don't Look Back stars Jessie Ward, Joey Mendicino, Julie Mond, Graham Norris, Diane Salinger, and Michael Childers, and received a 3.1 star rating on Netflix.

Join us next week to discuss the sequel to the 2006 Rest Stop.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Horror Movie Review: The Cook

The Cook

Starring: Mark Hengst, Kit Paquin, Makinna Ridgway, Penny Drake as Anastasia.Penny Drake, Nina Fehren, Noelle Kinney, Brooke Lenzi, Justine Marino, Stefanie Solano, and Allen Yates

Directed by: Gregg Simon

Written by: Nicholas Bonomo, Francisco Rodriguez, and Dirk Van Fleet

Produced by: The Cook Movie and Red Gourmet Productions

Release Date: April 1, 2008

Awards: The STIFFY at the Seattle True Independent Film Festival for being the Most Kickass Film

You won't mind eating this four...and I mean as supper.

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar...but not always...The Cook is kind of like a hot dog. If you separated all the meat by-products that went into a hot dog, you'd have a table full of stuff you wouldn't want to eat, but brought all together and with some condiments on top, you have yourself a tasty treat.

The Cook is about a sorority house who hires a new cook who can't speak English. See, he's from Hungary...That's right, he's a Hungarian Cook...pun clearly intended, and that joke should set the tone for you and this film. Plenty of nonsense... Because women can't help but disrobe around each other...

Like the sorority sisters display a wide range of personality types and interests and don't hardly get along. There's the studious Amy, the athletic Bunny, the lesbian Anastasia, the religious Kristen, and Brooke, Autumn, Pam, and Michelle, four drug taking sluts of questionable sexuality who make fun of everyone else. Throw in Bunny's geeky math tutor Lance and it's surprising they aren't killing each other before the cook can get around to it.
A toast to the Cook, whose toast is more toe-st
Makinna Ridgway plays Amy. Her performance is a little stale, but pulls off some natural looking scenes with The Cook as the lonely girl finding the foreigner who can't speak English charming. Kit Paquin plays Bunny who mixes her signals with tudor Lance. She gives us a reasonable performance and we grow to like her more as she loosens up on Lance, played comedically by Allen Yates. The attractive Penny Drake plays tough lesbian Anastasia. She seemed to have forced her lines, but given her role as leather-clad dominatrix, that might be understandable. Nina Fehren leads the pot smoking foursome and her role as bitchy lesbian makes An honest man is crucial to a lasting mean...I mean, relationship...her someone we just can't wait to see get killed. Simpleminded Autumn is played by Noelle Kinney, with Justine Marino as Pam and Stephanie Solano as slutty Michelle rounding out the bitch squad. None of the actresses gave us memorable performances, but they didn't give us painfully bad acting either. Finally Brooke Lenzi plays the sexually confused, religious Kristen torn between her faith and Anastasia's advances.

Can you tell what is going on in this scene?By now you should have noticed that this film appeals to almost every male fantasy about a sorority house because that's the market the writers were going for. You can't watch this and expect a serious slasher flick. Sex, drugs, and lesbians are on menu in The Cook. It's a modern day exploitation flick and it's not exploiting good acting or writing.

Other than ample shots of not so ample naked young women, The Cook showcases Mark Hengst who steals the show...well, ok, not away from the breasts, I mean...but in terms of performance. Hengst clearly had a lot of fun in his role as the Hungarian cook. While many of his looks seemed silly, he was still able to pull off a feeling of menace in this silly, paper thin plot. Especially his final scene.

Where Else Can I See Them?

The majority of the actors, the writers, and director Gregg Simon haven't appeared in or worked on any other horror movies.

Mark Hengst - Hengst continues to feast on human flesh in Live Evil. Human blood is no longer fit for consumption as the vampire race slowly becomes extinct.

Makinna Ridgway - Before her role in The Cook, Ridgway appeared in 666: The Beast. Donald Lawson, the devil child from "666: The Child", is now an adult and is determined to fulfill his destiny as the Antichrist.

Penny Drake- Before The Cook, Penny dealt with other flesh eaters in Zombie Strippers. In the not too distant future a secret government re-animation chemo-virus gets released into conservative Sartre, Nebraska and lands in an underground strip club. As the virus begins to spread, turning the strippers into "Super Zombie Strippers" the girls struggle with whether or not to conform to the new "fad" even if it means there's no turning back. Penny can't seem to get away from people eaters as her next film will be Necrosis. In 2008, as six friends arrive at an isolated cabin to enjoy a long weekend in the snow. An epic snowstorm interrupts their vacation, trapping them on the mountain and resurrecting the haunting ghosts of the Donner Party. But, are they true 'entities' or is it simply 'cabin fever' that brings out their fears and darkness, causing friends to turn against each other as reality deteriorates around them.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Horror Movie Review Preview: The Cook

Coming soon...The Cook. Over a long holiday weekend, unable to escape the confines of their sorority house, a handful of unsuspecting girls are left behind to enjoy the quiet sanctuary. The normal house staff has taken off for the weekend, leaving the girls to fend for themselves. Thankfully someone was kind enough to send them a temporary replacement chef to cook their meals. However, when the girls start disappearing one-by-one, they begin to suspect something may not be quite right with... THE COOK!

The Cook

They're the Dinner. He's the Cook!

Sorority Babes: The Other White Meat.

Starring Mark Hengst, Kit Paquin, Makinna Ridgway, Penny Drake, Nina Fehren, Noelle Kinney, Brooke Lenzi, Justine Marino, Stefanie Solano, and Allen Yates, The Cook won the STIFFY at the Seattle True Independent Film Festival for being the Most Kickass Film. The Cook received a 3.8 rating (out of 10) at IMDB and a 2.3 rating (out of 5) at Netflix.

Join us early next week to dicuss whether or not this horror comedy cooks up something tasty...