We are in Brooklyn’s decaying slums, and the year is 1987. The state of the streets is described in a nutshell by the title itself. Not a place that you’d go barefoot. An old dusty box containing the mysterious drink “Tenafly Viper” is found in the basement of Ed’s little liquor store. A green liquid from way back in the 1920s, that Fred sells to the local hobos for a buck. The one who gets the first bottle, is Fred: a runaway who lives with his brother in a small homeless community by a car wrecking yard, run by former Nam Vet Bronson. He’s a raging nutcase who’s lost his mind completely due to PTSD and severe paranoia, and have constructed the place as his own kingdom and safe space. Here he lives in his own grandiose, delusional bubble where he is the king and everyone fears him. He also shares the throne with his “Queen” Winette, a schizophrenic vegetable who constantly screams and begs him to have sex with her. Sound like a cheery place, doesn’t it. So maybe this mysterious drink will make the hellish daily life a bit easier for the poor hobos? Well, they could only wish, as the drink turns out to be a corrosive, toxic acid that melts the one who drinks the first drops, in seconds. As homeless people start dropping dead in every corner due to the liquid, a brute cop named Bill is trying to get the bottom of the source. And good luck with that.
On the surface, Street Trash may look like a more polished Troma film that could easily share the same universe with The Toxic Avenger. But instead of a guy running around and serving justice in a mutant costume, we get a bunch of mentally unstable hobos doing stupid, random shit. Things like necrophilia, penis severance, shoplifting and gang raping… those are some of the daily doings we get to witness. There isn’t much of a plot to be found here. It’s basically just a series of skits, more or less, that are randomly stitched together. Street Trash is based on the short film of the same name, a fun concept that worked better in a short dosage than a very stretched-out feature film where it is far between the major highlights. The film’s biggest, or fattest highlight if you will, is the guy who explodes like a big balloon. A pretty juicy and messy scene you’ve probably already seen on YouTube. The effects here are pretty inventive and deliciously gooey, to say the least, and arguably the film’s main strengths. Even though most of the effects give some exaggerated, over-the-top cartoony vibes, I have to give Street Trash an extra credit for having of the most memorable decapitations scenes I’ve probably ever seen.
Director: James M. Muro Country & year: USA, 1987 Actors: Mike Lackey, Bill Chepil, Vic Noto, Mark Sferrazza, Jane Arakawa, Nicole Potter, Pat Ryan, Clarenze Jarmon, Bernard Perlman, Miriam Zucker, M. D’Jango Krunch, James Lorinz, Morty Storm, Sam Blasco, Bruce Torbet IMDb:https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0094057/
The artist James Whistler spent years trying to capture the essence of his mother for his most famous work of art. Not to create a masterpiece, but to save his mother from possession by the Baba Yaga, an evil Russian witch.
In “Whistler’s Mother”, Russian folklore is mixed with one of history’s most iconic paintings (the painting is called Whistler’s Mother, painted by James McNeill Whistler in 1871).
Director: Robbie Robertson Country & year: USA, 2018 Actors: Jennifer Christa Palmer, Barbara Hawkins-Scott, Bryce Harper, Samuel R Moody, Stephanie Dunnam, Gabriel Manak, Jared Carter IMDb:https://www.imdb.com/title/tt8075310/
We’re in a hotel room in Louisiana, and the year is 1927. A thunderous evening is setting in as the artist Schweick (Antoine Saint-John) is brushing his last strokes on his latest grotesque painting, which is also to be his final. The painting is apparently representing Hell, and the locals believe that Schweick is an evil, ungodly warlock that uses the painting to open one of the Seven Gates of Hell. The hotel is said to be built upon one of the gates, and a group of men in full mob-mode storms the hotel and into Schweick’s room to stop him. They drag him down to the basement to cut him up with a chain before bolting him to the wall and torturing him to death. But what they didn’t know is that the sacrifice of the artist just opened the gate, and the dead from beyond are now free to enter the world of the living.
Then we jump forward to the year 1981, where Liza Merill (Catriona MacColl) has inherited the hotel and is in the process of a renovation, after the building has been empty and collecting dust and cobwebs for the last six decades . Shit already starts to happen when one of the workers see a female figure with big, scary, glossy eyes through one of the windows. In shock, he stumbles off the scaffold and almost crushes his skull. The alarm from room 36 suddenly starts to ring, even though the hotel has no costumers. This happens to be the same room where the artist we saw in the beginning was working on his painting. It goes from bad to worse when plumber Joe is brutally killed by demonic forces in the water damaged basement as he finds a secret room behind some worn stone walls. Liza bumps into a mysterious blind lady, Emily (Cinzia Monreale), who advises her to give up the hotel and go back where she came from, without being able to explain exactly why. And more questions than answers arise when Liza learns from Dr. John McCabe (David Warbeck) that he has never heard of this blind woman Emily, and that her house has been empty for decades.
The Beyond is the second film in Lucio Fulci’s Gates of Hell trilogy. And although the plot may be somewhat diffuse, The Beyond works on more levels than the previous and rather clunky City of the Living Dead. More steadier and focused direction and not least, the acting is significantly better. And The Beyond works perfectly for what it is: an atmospheric, nightmarish fever dream with some really intense and morbidly gory moments. Faces are being melted with acid and eaten by spiders. A girl with pigtails gets her head blown away, eyes being plucked out and so on. Juicy stuff by the great makeup artist Giannetto De Rossi, who’s also worked on Zombie Flesh-Eaters, and a mountain of other films. Also, great and fitting soundtrack by Fabio Frizzi, I must add.
The Beyond is also known for its highly visual ending sequence, which was actually planned to be filmed somewhere in an amusement park. But due to logistical restrictions, Fulci had to find an other way to end it and had to quickly improvise. And with reduced budget and resources comes more creative thinking. And I must say that the plan B-ending was a pretty simple, but genius move that sets a unique and satisfying climax.
For a completely uncut version, look for a DVD/Blu-ray from Grindhouse Releasing.
Director: Lucio Fulci Original title: …E tu vivrai nel terrore! L’aldilà Country & year: Italy, 1981 Actors: Catriona MacColl, David Warbeck, Cinzia Monreale, Antoine Saint-John, Veronica Lazar, Larry Ray, Giovanni De Nava, Al Cliver, Michele Mirabella, Giampaolo Saccarola, Maria Pia Marsala, Laura De Marchi IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0082307/
Young boys go missing in a small community, and Greg Harper is made lead detective on the case. Meanwhile, we meet the Harper family, who seem to be going through all kinds of trouble on their own. Soon, mysterious incidents start happening around the house, like silverware going missing, a repairman that was let inside the house when no one was at home, and other strange events. What exactly is happening inside the Harper house…and does it have any connection to the missing boys?
“I See You” is one of those movies we found out about purely by accident, but we’re really glad we did. Personally, I’m very fond of slow-burn mysteries that manages to pack in a nice slice of atmospheric dread, without becoming too slow or confusing (the latter sometimes being a problem when movies focus more on a “twist” than the actual story it’s trying to tell). “I See You” delivers everything in a satisfying form, with twists and turns that ties things nicely together rather than confuse you even further. A pleasant surprise!
The story is pretty much divided into two parts, where the first one is charged with mystery and a feeling of unease. During this part of the movie it may actually trick you into making certain assumptions regarding the goings-on at the Harper house, only to surprise you later on as the movie reveals piece by piece in a way you most certainly didn’t expect. Just take the opening sequence for example: a boy is riding his bike through the woods, and suddenly gets snatched off his bike and lifted into the air by an unseen force. How can one interpret a scene like that, before you know anything else? “I See You” is obviously trying to confuse you, while also maintaining to keep the mystery at a suspenseful level, and without making the development too hard to follow.
For a movie that relies heavily on having the story shrouded in mystery, I think it’s best not to reveal much of what is happening in the film. All in all, “I See You” is a pretty solid crime thriller with some slight horror elements. In that regard, you may be disappointed if you expect a straight-forward horror movie from this, but as a pure thriller it truly delivers. It’s a movie that deserves your patience, and requires that you view everything in hindsight. Some of the scenes you view early during the film is actually pretty cleverly executed when it’s being revealed exactly what they meant. A good and entertaining thriller with a capital T.
Directors: Adam Randall Country & year: USA, 2019 Actors: Helen Hunt, Jon Tenney, Judah Lewis, Owen Teague, Libe Barer, Gregory Alan Williams, Allison Gabriel, Erika Alexander, Jennifer Grace, Adam Kern, Riley Caya, Sam Trammell,John Newberg, Nicole Forester, Teri Clark IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt6079516/
Marcy and her husband live together in a constant state of disarray. Her husband continually demands Marcy make him sandwiches, ad nauseam – but how long can she withstand his abuse before she finally cracks?
“Make Me a Sandwich” is a funny and slightly bizarre horror short, ending with a nice little twist!
Glenn Danzig is a creative guy, to say the least. Founder and frontman of the horror-themed punk band The Misfits, Samhain, and his life long band Danzig with eleven studio albums, 18 singles, and two solo albums. He’s also a huge fan of underground horror comics and started his own label in 1994, called “Verotik” (yes, without the A) with adult themed comics filled with blood, gore, nudity, Satan, porn and other insanities. Anything but mainstream, it seems. I’m not familiar with the comics, so I have no idea. And after pushing 60, Glenn Danzig finally managed to pursue his new career as a film director and screenwriter, and as we speak he’s already made not one, but two films. How ’bout that. The second film is in post-production with the colorful title “Death Rider in the House of Vampires“. A horror/western with Danny Trejo, Julian Sands and Eli Roth among the cast list. Sounds fun. His first directorial debut is called “Verotika” (this time with the A), an anthology of three segments based on the comics with inspiration from Mario Bava’s “Black Sabbath“, among others.
And it’s just pure amateur trash from start to finish.
We start off in an underground dungeon where a chained woman gets her eyes plucked out, Lucio Fulci-style, by the nails of the sexy horror hostess Mirella before she welcomes us darklings to … Verotika. A somewhat reduced Elvira with low energy is the best way to describe Mirella, played by the porn actress Kayden Kross, with acting skills like a nipple with zero motivation. Just like all the rest of the actors we get to meet during the film’s three segments of this anthology.
The first story is titled “The Albino Spider of Dajaette“, but let’s just call it “The Tits Have Eyes“. It’s already awkwardly difficult to convey what’s going on, but here we go: A young lady with pink hair gives a guy a blowjob. The guy wants to take off her top and get to proceed right to the climax. But she won’t. At the same time we see a CGI spider crawling on a rose. And it turns out that her boobs have eyes for nipples. “Your chest! They are looking it mi,” he says startled with a bad and exaggerated French accent, before leaving in shock and disgust. This is obviously not the first time a date / customer has been intimidated by her staring boobies. Because, who wouldn’t. Then a tear falls from one of the crying tits, that hits the spider we saw earlier. The scene with the spider looks like something from the archive of an unused cut scene from a PS 1 game. The spider then becomes a humanoid creature, played by a guy in a ridiculous spider costume that supposedly required 8 hours to get him inside. “Only I truly love you” he says to Dajette, with lots of other crap we forgot right afterwards. The creature then kills people in the apartment complex. The highlight is when we see the crotch area on the spider costume ripped off as if the actor really had to take a piss, and no one bothered to fix it. Because it’s just like Ed Wood once said: “Filmmaking is not about the tiny details. It’s about the big picture“. This segment is also the “best” in the anthology, and the only one with a glimpse of a story with a real start, middle and an end. And to be honest, the only one that’s merely watchable.
The second story is called “Change of Face“, but could just as well be called Change of Flares. And this one just … sucks. And it’s just downhill from here on. We’re in a strip club. And flares are everywhere. Four in a whole shot at one point. I seriously thought that this was just a part of the technical incompetence, but no. This is an effect Glen Danzig chose to add for some reason. It doesn’t add anything but distraction. As for this entire segment, nothing much happens here. It’s like a random scene from a porn film just without the porn, with badly filmed stripping scenes that seems to go nowhere. At some point, when we have already lost interest, we are introduced to “The Mystery Girl”. Another stripper who swings around the pole with a black silk robe and skeleton stickers on the chest, while Glen Danzig’s singing voice are heard from the clubs speakers. The Mystery Girl also likes to rip people’s faces off while the police have no clue and are dumber than a bucket full of sardines.
Next and last is “Draukija: Contessa of Blood“. Or just simply “Bathory“. Or “Nothing Happens In This Segment Either So Just Skip To The End Credits“. We are in the Middle Ages, filmed in the woods with a cheap green screen which should make us believe that it is a castle in the background, when most of the film was filmed in the Skid Row area of Los Angeles. However, this woman, Drauijha, sacrifices some young virgins to bathe in their blood to gain eternal youth. There isn’t much to say, other than the countess rips out someone’s heart, a scene that should be at least memorable. But as ultra cheap, lazy and just lackluster the gore aspects are in this film, as with the rest of the production value, there isn’t much to be impressed by.
And that was Verotika, Glenn Danzig’s first glorious piece of cinema magic (sarcasm). I’ve also noticed that many compares Verotika to Tommy Wiseau’s The Room. And yeah, the trailer sure gives some Tommy Wisau-vibes. But when his name gets thrown all over the place to describe this movie, the hype gets blown to the heavens, which can give some really false expectations. And I think that’s where the feeling of underwhelming and disappointment lies for the highly anticipated viewers. Because as whole I would say with great confidence that Verotika isn’t even near the same level of entertainment value as The Room, a film worth rewatching countless times. Verotika, on the other hand, just leaves an aftertaste that feels more like a bad hangover.
Director: Glenn Danzig Country & year: USA, 2019 Actors: Ashley Wisdom, Rachel Alig, Alice Tate, Kayden Kross, Scotch Hopkins, Sean Kanan, Nika Balina, Jody Barton, Brennah Black, Kris Black, Kansas Bowling, James Cullen Bressack, Katarina Bucevac, Cody Renee Cameron IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt9425078/
Horror movies turning objects into murderous creatures is nothing new. We’ve gotten killer tomatoes, deadly beds, murderous cars, cursed costumes, a possessed laundry machine (here’s our review of “The Mangler“) and the list goes on. But a killer “sofa” (which is actually a recliner chair) now that’s something new to check off the list.
This movie is director Bernie Rao’s feature debut, but prior to this he’s made quite an impressive amount of shorts in various genres. In “Killer Sofa” (killer chair, really, but I digress) we follow the story of Francesca, an attractive young woman who seems to unwillingly make certain men fall head over heels for her, and they become obsessive and stalking. One of her admirers is found murdered (or, they find body parts of him which should make it obvious he’s been murdered), and soon thereafter, Francesca receives a new chair as a gift. She puts it in her living room, but soon her new furniture appears to be living a life of its own…
Now, the actual appearance of the “Killer Sofa” strays pretty far away from what the cover might lead you to believe. The recliner is given two round black buttons for eyes, giving it an appearance which is actually kind of cute…and it could have fitted well within some kind of TV show for kids. However, as this is a horror movie, the “cute” recliner is killing people, especially if they get too close to its new owner. One of Francesca’s friends, Maxi, has a grandfather who is a disgraced Jewish rabbi, and he becomes convinced that the recliner is possessed by a “Dybbuk” (a malicious possession spirit from Jewish mythology).
Now, I’m sure you think everything described so far makes this movie sound hilarious and quite ludicrous. While that is somewhat true, I think it’s fair to point out that the movie doesn’t spend its time trying to chunk out one gag after the other, and the humor is sometimes quite subtle as the movie appears to be taking itself a bit too seriously considered its overall wacky premise. There are some rather amusing scenes, but it isn’t really an over-the-top crazy movie, so if you expect something of that kind you might be disappointed. It’s not really one of those traditional “so bad it’s good” movies where you can expect to laugh your ass off, although there are some pretty funny scenes here and there – including a scene where the chair keeps blowing out Francesca’s matches, which is actually quite hilarious! So, to sum it up, “Killer Sofa” is a weird low-budget indie horror, and must be seen under the correct expectations. It’s a good bunch of stupid fun, if you know what to expect from movies like this.
As a final note, here’s a little bit of trivia: the original title for “Killer Sofa” was actually “My Love, My Lazy Boy”. Which probably doesn’t make much sense to you unless you know that there’s a furniture manufacturer called “La-Z-Boy” (and if you type the term into Google Image Search, you’ll get a lot of pictures displaying recliner chairs of the similar looks as the one displayed in this movie). This makes the original title somewhat more “correct”, I guess…but it’s probably much more catchy with a title like “Killer Sofa”.
Directors: Bernie Rao Country & year: New Zealand, 2019 Actors: Piimio Mei, Nathalie Morris, Jim Baltaxe, Jed Brophy, Stacey King, Angelica Thomas, James Cain, Jordan Rivers, Harley Neville, Sarah Munn, Sean Fleming, Trae Te Wiki, Hamish Boyle, Grant Kereama, Adrienne Kohler IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt10927122/