Unless otherwise noted in the post title, these are not
reviews, per se. They are articles for people who have already seen the film or read the book in question--meaning that there will be spoilers. If you're already familiar with the material being covered, or don't mind the plot being spoiled, please read on and leave a comment.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

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Friday, October 2, 2015

Review: The American Dreamer (1971)

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These days, Dennis Hopper is remembered primarily as a great actor. This is true, even if there are a number of questionable films on his résumé. In the 1970s, though, he was considered more than just an actor. He was an artist, and beyond that, he was a countercultural icon.

Hopper had started acting in the 1950s, and appeared in two of James Dean’s three films—REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE (1955) and GIANT (1956). His 1961 foray into the genre film, NIGHT TIDE, has a small audience, as does 1966’s QUEEN OF BLOOD, but it wasn't until 1967 that he started to appear in the types of films that would make him famous. That year saw him in a supporting role in the hit film COOL HAND LUKE, but more importantly for our purposes, larger roles in the biker flick THE GLORY STOMPERS and the drugsploitation film THE TRIP. It was the latter that teamed Hopper up with costar Peter Fonda and screenwriter Jack Nicholson, setting the scene for their immortal collaboration EASY RIDER in 1969.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

[Genophobia] Case of the Smiling Stiffs (1973)

Stunning red head Emma, in her barely-there shorts and tight tee shirts, should have no problem
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keeping a man, but apparently she does. According to her roommate Carolyn, it's because she only goes down on them once a month. What Carolyn doesn't know is that Emma's acts of fellatio always line up with the full moon, and the reason she can't keep a boyfriend is because they tend to die afterwards.

Emma is some vampire variation, whose choice of ingestible body fluid isn't blood. She doesn't wear a black cape or sprout fangs or any of that, but she does occasionally transform into a ridiculous rubber bat, just so that we'll know what's really going on here.

Two bumbling cops, Joe and Frank, do their best DRAGNET impressions while investigating the deaths plaguing the city—seemingly healthy men with giant erections and ecstatic rictus grins who have succumbed to severe dehydration. It's a tough case to crack, but luckily these coppers aren't afraid to get their hands—among other things—dirty in the pursuit of justice.

Friday, July 31, 2015

[Genophobia] Nymphomaniac (2013)

With NYMPHOMANIAC, writer-director Lars Van Trier draws to a close his so-called Depression
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Trilogy—an unofficial trilogy, as they share common themes, traits and leading ladies, but do not share characters or a storyline. Unlike the first two entries, ANTICHRIST (2009) and MELANCHOLIA (2011), this film was such an epic endeavor that for distribution, it had to be broken into two volumes. However, I viewed them back to back as a single film, and will be covering them as such. And I will warn you now, there will be spoilers.

One winter night, aging bachelor Seligman finds a woman, Joe, beaten and semi-conscious in an alleyway.  She refuses medical assistance and doesn't want the police involved.  When asked what she does want, she admits that a cup of tea would be nice.  Seligman helps her to his house, tucks her into bed, tends to her wounds, and then offers her the tea.  Finally, he asks Joe what had happened to her to leave her in such a state.  She warns him that it is a long story, and that in order for him to fully understand, she will have to start at the beginning.

"I discovered my c*nt as a two year old..." 

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Review: Scenic Route (2013)

Two friends, Mitchell (Josh DuHamel) and Carter (Dan Fogler), are on a roadtrip through the desert
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when the truck breaks down. Carter has taken them so far off the beaten path that Mitchell can't even get a signal on his cellphone, and the road is so rarely traveled that they haven't seen another vehicle in hours. With nothing to do but wait, and tensions between them already running high, their friendly conversation quickly turns to a heated argument, and eventually a brutal physical confrontation.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

[Genophobia] Love Object (2003)

Kenneth is young and awkward, but he is also meticulously organized. His morning routine consists
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of waking up before the alarm, working out, showering and shaving, and dressing from his carefully categorized closet. The opening scenes that depict this routine not only go a long way in explaining why he is so good at his job as a technical writer, but they also immediately call to mind images of Patrick Bateman from AMERICAN PSYCHO, and while Kenneth may not reach those same heights of pathology, he still wobbles quite a bit off his rocker.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Comic Review: Freddy Krueger's Nightmare on Elm Street (Marvel Comics)

Dreamstalker was a two-part storyline that filled up the entirety of both issues of this title, revolving around two heroines who are forced to face off against Freddy Krueger—the first is Allison Hayes, a teenage girl with innate dream powers that make her the perfect foil for Krueger; and the second is Juliann Quinn, a young psychologist who has trained to develop her dream powers, making her the perfect mentor for Allison. With Allison in custody at Springwood Medical, and later the Westin Hills Psychiatric Institute, Juliann has to navigate hospital politics in order to get her patient the best care, and buy the time needed to prepare her for a final showdown against the man who has been haunting both of their dreams.

There are the expected surrealistic nightmare sequences, some of which are a gruesome delight. As far as the actual plot goes, though, there’s nothing too far out of the ordinary here. Much of it is a rehash of themes that were introduced in A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 3: DREAM WARRIORS (1987) and A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 4: THE DREAM MASTER (1988)—Westin Hills, the dream-suppressant drug Hypnocil, and learning to use your dreams against Freddy had all been dealt with before. However, there are few minor diversions here that actually expand on the Elm Street mythos significantly.

Nearly one-third of the first issue was dedicated to an overview of Krueger’s backstory, beginning with a more detailed depiction of his unholy conception than previously seen and ending with his career as the Springwood Slasher (pre-death). Some of the particulars might not line up exactly with everything that has come before and everything that has come since, but it wouldn't take a lot of imagination to deftly insert this into official canon.

The second issue has a sequence in which Allison recounts her first encounter with Freddy after accidentally stumbling into his dream world by taking a wrong turn at a crossroads in her dream. There are hints of Lewis Carroll here, with Allison playing Alice, though the Wonderland she falls into is a much darker place than the Cheshire Cat would tend to frequent. Here, Krueger fraternizes with all manner of other freaks and monsters during his downtime. What this place is, and who these other creatures are, is never explained but is wide open for further exploration. It may come off as something of a silly peek behind the curtain, but if the creators were going to part them, they may as well have thrown them wide open.

Perhaps they would have if the series had lasted more than two issues.

Interestingly enough, the series wasn't cancelled because of poor sales--it was actually the top seller in Marvel’s magazine line. At the time these issues were published, the horror genre was under heavy fire from concerned parents and panicked public interest groups, and although Marvel was not the recipient of any undue pressure, they still shut down the title out of fear of bad publicity as something of a preemptive strike.

Both issues were written by the legendary Steve Gerber and remains consistent throughout, even if it isn't his most imaginative plotting. The artwork was done by Rich Buckler, Tony DeZuniga, and Alfredo Alcala and is typically pretty solid, though Buckler’s work in the first half of the first issue surpasses DeZuniga’s work, which is great when at its best, but simply isn't as consistent.

Overall, an entertaining read that likely would have been better as a piece of a larger whole than it is as a whole all by itself. 

Monday, April 20, 2015

B-Movie Mystery Solved: Confessions of a Psycho Cat (1968)

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Virginia Marcus is rich and beautiful. Unfortunately, she’s also terribly deranged and looking for something more exciting out of life than the safari that her brother Anderson has invited her on. Instead, she opts to stay home and cook up a little hunt of her own.

She lures three men to her home—professional wrestler Rocco, washed-up stage actor Charles Freeman, and street hustling drug addict Buddy—and offers them each a deal of a lifetime: $100,000 in cold hard cash, no strings attached. All they have to do is stay alive in Manhattan for 24 hours while she hunts them down like the filthy animals they are.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Heart Attack! The Early Pulse Pounding Cinema of Kelly Hughes (2012)

In 1991, aspiring filmmaker Kelly Hughes began production on his very own horror-suspense anthology series entitled HEART ATTACK THEATRE, which aired on Seattle’s public access television. The schedule was a rushed one, from script-to-broadcast in one week’s time, and the budgets were decidedly limited. What was not limited, however, was the passion and dedication needed to crank out a new mini-movie week after week. Shot on VHS and utilizing a rotating roster of local performers, the themes ranged from drugged-up freak-outs to psychotic breaks, but each one was down and dirty exploitation. If John Waters was Rod Serling, then this would be THE TWILIGHT ZONE.

Hughes also went on to direct a couple of feature films—TWIN CHEEKS: WHO KILLED THE HOMECOMING KING (1994) and LA CAGE AUX ZOMBIES (1995), the latter of which featured Russ Meyer starlet Kitten Natividad as an obscenely large-busted victim that unwillingly supplied a pair of cross-dressing zombies with breast milk. That’s a sentence that pretty much sums up the nuttiness that runs rampant in Hughes’s work.

HEART ATTACK! THE EARLY PULSE POUNDING CINEMA OF KELLY HUGHES functions as both a documentary and a retrospective of the man’s filmography. Composed almost equally of talking-head interviews with those in the know and clips from his films, this was an utterly fascinating look into a side of moviemaking that rarely gets attention: not the Major Studios like Universal or Sony; not the Major Minors like Full Moon or Troma; but the real minors, the true independent that exists solely because the creative force behind it is simply too determined to quit.

Full disclosure: I had never heard of Kelly Hughes before watching this doc, and I had certainly never seen any of his movies. But now? Now I want to see every single one of them, so I would have to say that this was a success. HEART ATTACK! was fascinating, entertaining, and more than a little inspirational. This was truly one of the most special films I have seen in a long time.

If you’re a fan of cult, horror, exploitation, or micro-budget cinema—and especially if you hope to someday create your own—this is the best piece  of advice that I can offer you:

Watch. This. Movie.

Visit Kelly Hughes's webpage by clicking HERE, and rent/purchase a digital copy of the documentary HERE.

(Special thanks to Kelly Hughes for the screener) 


Friday, April 3, 2015

[Genophobia] Lila (1968)

Lila (sexploitation starlet Susan Stewart), a stripper at one of the many burlesque houses in town, has a tendency to pick one member of the male viewing audience and take them out for a night that they won't ever forget. She takes them to an abandoned warehouse (assuring them that "This is where it's at!"), puts on a private show, and then get down to business.

The first man that we see her do this with is a vintage sleazeball-hipster hybrid with an absurd
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dangling ear ring. Unfortunately for him, he introduces some LSD into Lila's time-tested tradition, and she starts to freak out. The business at hand may begin with a little casual sex, but it ultimately ends with his murder.