The Boogeyman (2023)

The BoogeymanThe Harper family suffers from the recent death of the mother, who died in a car accident. Will, the husband, is struggling coming to terms with it and despite working as a therapist he doesn’t communicate well with his daughters, Sadie and Sawyer, who are suffering on their own. Sawyer, the youngest, is having nightmares and finds herself in need of keeping night lights on in order to sleep, while Sadie is having a hard time adjusting back into school as her friend has joined a group of girls who keeps treating Sadie like shit. While the whole family is suffering enough already, Will one day gets a man into his office who seems desperate to speak to him. The man’s name is Lester Billings, who explains that all of his three children are dead and that he is suspected of having killed them. He claims that some kind of entity is behind his children’s murders, and Will is getting the heebie-jeebies from the guy’s attitude and decides to secretly call the police while leaving the man alone in the therapy room. From bad to worse, this man slips away into the house and hangs himself in a closet, which Sadie is unfortunate enough to see and becomes even more traumatized than she already was. After Lester’s suicide, things are starting to become strange around the house of the Harper family. Sawyer starts noticing small glimpses of a creature hiding under her bed, and Sadie also starts noticing weird things. Soon, the girls realize that Lester Billings brought his children’s murderer to their own house.


The Boogeyman is a 2023 supernatural horror film directed by Rob Savage (Host). The movie was actually originally announced in 2018 with Beck and Woods writing the screenplay, but due to Disney’s acquisition of Fox it was cancelled in 2019, only to be revived in 2021 with Savage in the directing chair. It was also originally planned to just be released on the streaming service Hulu, but Disney instead opted for a theatrical release after positive response during the test screenings, and even Stephen King sent feedback about enjoying it, in which he wrote in an e-mail to Savage “They’d be fucking stupid to release this on streaming and not in cinemas“.


The Boogeyman is based on a short story by Stephen King from 1973, which is included in Night Shift (for more movies based on stories from Night Shift, check out The Mangler and Graveyard Shift). There are significant changes from the short story to the movie version, however, as the original is pretty much a one-room story about a man coming into a therapist’s office to talk about his dead children, which he believes have been killed by “the boogeyman”. The story is actually quite suspenseful, keeping the reader guessing as to what actually happened with the man’s children as he doesn’t exactly come off as the most sympathetic of people. And there’s the twist ending too, of course. So, how does the movie compare?


First off: while parts of the short story has been kept in the movie, it is of course very different as the man in the story (Lester Billings) is not the main character here. We also get more than a few of the modern horror tropes: dead family member, grief, single parent, etc. and as most supernatural horror movies these days fare, it’s not exactly scary. That doesn’t mean it’s bad, because overall it’s quite decent as a typical streamlined horror flick with supernatural elements (and of course, it’s considerably better than the Boogeyman movie from 2005, which doesn’t have anything to do with the Stephen King short by the way). Not unexpectedly, there’s no originality here, but the main issue with the movie is the pacing where there’s some parts that takes a little too long to come off.


The strength in this movie lies in it being relatively well-crafted which lifts it some cuts above average, and there’s a dark oppressive atmosphere throughout. It’s using grief as some kind of metaphor for the monster, and the boogeyman looks fairly okay (although, of course, he looks creepier when you only see him in the shadows during small glimpses). It’s not a movie that will make you turn your night lights on, but at least it’s a decent watch.


The Boogeyman


Director: Rob Savage
Writers: Scott Beck, Bryan Woods, Mark Heyman
Country & year:
USA, Canada, 2023
Sophie Thatcher, Chris Messina, Vivien Lyra Blair, David Dastmalchian, Marin Ireland, Madison Hu, Maddie Nichols, Leeann Ross, Rio Sarah Machado



Vanja Ghoul













THE BEANING – Mockumentary Horror Short

An experimental documentary exploring a sinister theory surrounding the death of Cleveland baseball player Ray Chapman in 1920 and the subsequent rise of the Yankee dynasty.


The Beaning is an experimental and fever-dreamish mockumentary horror short, giving an occult view on baseball!

THE BEANING - Mockumentary Horror Short


Director: Sean McCoy
Writer: Sean McCoy
Country & year: USA, 2017
Actors: Mark C. Fullhardt, Pete Mullin, James Sawaya








Unicorn Wars (2022)

Unicorn WarsOnce upon a time, the unicorns lived together with the bears in a magical forest. But one day, the bears found a sacred book in the ruins of a church, which gave them knowledge to form their own civilization. The bears, evolving into “teddy bears”, wanted to cultivate the forest but this caused the unicorns to retaliate. In the end, the bears lost and were exiled from the forest. This all lead to an ongoing war between the unicorns and the bears, where the bears have started to believe that drinking the blood of the last unicorn will make God return to the forest.


In present time, we follow a troop of recruits including the twin brothers Gordi and Azulin (“Tubby” and “Bluey”). While Gordi is a chubby and gentle person, Azulin is narcissistic and filled with jealousy and rage, often picking fights with the other troop members. One day, the camp’s leaders send the troop into the forest to look for a missing squad, which leads them all into a beautiful but deathly place. Here, they do not only meet with the threat of the unicorns, but also the nature which they no longer feel accustomed to, and threats are everywhere, including amongst themselves.


Unicorn Wars is a 2022 Spanish-French animated splatter war film (yes, you read that right) and the second animated feature film by Alberto Vazquez. It is also based on a short, called Unicorn Blood (Sangre de Unicornio). While his first feature film, Birdboy (co-directed by Pedro Rivero) is more gloomy and downbeat, this one takes everything to the max with full-on splatter scenes and deaths by the dozens, all combined with absolutely beautiful visuals. The opening scene, where a lost unicorn is searching for its mother and comes upon the ruins of the old church which contains a shape-shifting monster, is brilliantly animated and gave me a little bit of Princess Mononoke-vibes. At this point I’ll assume that parents who put this movie on by mistake already got a clear warning that this ain’t no kids movie. And like in Birdboy, the characters who might appear to be simple in style are very full of life with detailed expressions. The colours are vibrant and makes everything quite captivating for the eyes, and even the gory scenes are very pretty in their own way. Yes, you also read that right.


While some might read the description of this movie at places where the gore is in main focus, they might end up thinking this is some kind of full-length Happy Tree Friends or something, but it’s not just all about gore and it’s oftentimes both dark and gritty. Not unlike Birdboy, the movie does have a lot of dark themes which includes not only the dark sides of war and propaganda, but also family issues, narcissism, and sibling jealousy. While Unicorn Wars is having more dark comedy elements and at times feels a little more lighthearted through some of its scenes, it becomes quickly obvious through all the graphic violence and the excessive extent to which the film actually takes it, that this is a dark and twisted anti-war tale where barely anyone is truly innocent, and the little innocence that exists is quickly corrupted or swiped away. Both Catholicism and war is loudly criticised here, and while Vazquez’s inspirations likely came from many things, he does seem to have an apparent affection for “war is hell” movies.


Unicorn Wars, with its enchanting visuals, gore and philosophical themes, is both gruesome in its violence but at the same time quite mesmerizing to watch. And it certainly does not hold back on the gore. There’s something rather fascinating about watching adorable anthropomorphized characters in such dark and edgy situations…like watching the Care Bears go into a bloody war with My Little Pony…


Unicorn Wars Unicorn Wars Unicorn Wars



Writer and director: Alberto Vázquez
Country & year:
Spain, France, 2022
Voice actors:
Jon Goiri, Jaione Insausti, Ramón Barea, Txema Regalado, Manu Heras, Gaizka Soria, Iker Diaz, Estívaliz Lizárraga, Pedro Arrieta, Alberto Vázquez, Rosa María Romay



Vanja Ghoul













Birdboy: The Forgotten Children (2015)

Birdboy: The Forgotten ChildrenOn an island inhabited by different talking animals, the building of a factory and its explosion caused the once thriving fishing community to become a devastated and barren place. Birdman, who once used to tend the island’s lighthouse and now appears to be struggling providing for himself and his son Birdboy, becomes suspected of trafficking drugs, and is eventually shot dead. Instead of drugs, however, they find a satchel on him which contains golden acorns.


Birdboy, growing up without his father and living alone, desperately tries to fight his inner demons by taking drugs which he buys from a piglet who owns a fishing boat. Meanwhile, Dinky, a young mouse who is having some kind of romantic relationship with Birdboy finds herself struggling after her father’s death, where her stepfather, a Christian fundamentalist, keeps controlling their family and constantly excoriate her for her so-called “misbehaviour”. Together with Sandra the rabbit and Little Fox, they plan to get away from the island, but need money for their escape. They’ve heard stories about the older brother of someone who is said to have left the island and now lives a happy life, and they are determined to get away themselves. Dinky also wants to persuade Birdboy to come with them.


Birdboy: The Forgotten Children (Psiconautas, los niños olvidados) aka Psychonauts, The Forgotten Children is an adult animated horror-drama film from 2015, written and directed by Alberto Vázquez and Pedro Rivero. In 2016 it won the Best Animated Feature price at the Goya Awards. It is based on a comic called Psiconautas by Vázquez, and works as a follow-up to their short film called Birdboy. And despite this movie starring talking animals, don’t expect for a second to find any kind of Looney Tunes vibes here, it’s a nihilistic coming-of-age story which is gloomy as hell but at the same time gorgeous to watch. The characters, despite appearing a bit simple, are brought to life with detailed expressions. The dark and macabre elements including drugs, addiction, violence, depression, the darkness within us and a rotten corrupted society in complete denial are all embraced in a way that turns it into something dark and decayed yet not bereft of beauty. While we follow Birdboy’s and Dinky’s adventures somewhat separately, we soon realize that despite all of Birdboy’s struggles, he’s actually maintaining a little isolated spot in a grotto, where he plants golden acorns which makes the little place grow and thrive like in the old days.


There are also some partly surrealistic scenes with a weird (and annoying) talking robot-clock, a bleeding Jesus doll and the demons constantly attacking Birdboy which are obvious metaphors for his anxiety/depression/troubles, aka “inner demons” which he tries to suppress with drugs (and we all know that such a strategy never works in the long run). Birdboy and Dinky, while both struggling with their own problems, each come off different in their ways of handling things. Dinky sees escape as the only option, while Birdboy, despite all his troubles, manages to create a small place in his life for growth and solace. While the world the film represents appears to be without hope, there is a message both within (and at the end) which clearly states that running away from problems isn’t the answer, and in order to attain happiness you can create and seek beauty from your current state. But, of course, Birdboy is pretty much the only character who manages this to some extent, as pretty much all the other characters are struggling with their own inner demons, fears and ailments (like the piglet, who has a bedridden mother struggling from addiction, which manifests itself as a talking spider, and Sandra the rabbit who keeps hearing voices inside her head, trying to force her to do terrible things). Vãzquez himself stated in an interview that the story itself is very much a metaphor about life, portraying the end of childhood as these kids have to face a new world. “The characters have to face a new world and they don’t like the world. They have to rebuild it again — that’s why the characters think about running away,” Vázquez explains. “In life you can’t run away that easily. And we have to come back to our island and fix it up a little bit.” Rivero also commented on the film’s dark themes, stating “I see life as just a mix — sometimes we have dark; sometimes we have light. Just because you work with darkness doesn’t mean your life is dark. It’s because these are themes that are interesting. It touches everybody. But it is not good to take it into your personal life.


Birdboy: The Forgotten Children is a passionately made and intellectually challenging “animation for grown-ups”, with its beautifully animated nihilism giving an impactful visual and emotional experience.


Birdboy: The Forgotten Children Birdboy: The Forgotten Children Birdboy: The Forgotten Children


Writers and directors: Pedro Rivero, Alberto Vázquez
Original title:
Psiconautas, los niños olvidados
Country & year:
Spain, Japan, 2015
Voice actors:
Andrea Alzuri, Eba Ojanguren, Josu Cubero, Félix Arcarazo, Jorge Carrero, Nuria Marín, Josu Varela, Jon Goiri, Maribel Legarreta, Iker Diez, Juan Carlos Loriz, Kepa Cueto



Vanja Ghoul














As a woman packs up her childhood home following the passing of her father, she comes to learn that there may have been a more sinister threat behind his death, long buried on the grounds of the family home.


In the Shadow of God is a creepy horror short with a lot of dread-inducing atmosphere.



Director: Brian Sepanzyk
Writer: Brian Sepanzyk
Country & year: USA, 2022
Actors: Sara Canning, Andrew Roy Drury, Mark Kandborg, Adam Lolacher, Brittany Willacy








Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, Part 2 (1996)

Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, Part 2 There’s a lot of people who hate Henry and he can’t let them win.


Part 2 of Henry’s Portrait of a Serial Killer, or just simply Henry the 2nd starts off not so long after the first one ended (I assume). Ottis is dead as his headless corpse is floating in a river somewhere while Becky is chopped to pieces and stuffed in a bag suit, discarded at the side of a rural road. Nothing but happy memories all around. Now Henry is a homeless drifter wandering aimlessly through the streets of a nameless, midwestern town and sleeps at various homeless shelters. One day he’s applying for a job on a port-o-john company where he gets the lovely task to clean and empty the porta potties (or the shitters as cousin Eddie would simply say).


Here he meets Kai and his wife Crickets, a lower-middle class couple who allows Henry to stay at their house after they feel sorry for him for being homeless. They are a shady couple that fits perfectly within Henry’s beacon of bad vibes. They also have a mentally unhinged teenage niece in the house, Louisa, who suffers from some severe BPD and that starts to creep on Henry (not the other way around). We learn that Kai and Crickets has a pretty dysfunctional relationship as Kai is a moody alcoholic, who also practice some really shady side job as an arsonist to set up some insurance scam to make money for their slobby boss, Rooter. After Henry finds out and becomes a liability, he joins Kai to fire up one building after another as the nights goes on. Things seems to go smooth until they stumble upon a couple of squatters in one of the buildings. Henry finally does what he does best by pulling out his gun and killing one of them while he forces Kai to kill the other one. I’ve never killed anyone before, Kai nervously says. Sounds familiar? Can’t have any of that if you wanna be buddy with Henry, you know.


This relatively obscure sequel was a mild surprise, given that Michael Rooker declined to reprise his debut role and John Mc Naughton is not in the directing chair. Writer and director Chuck Parello (who also made Ed Gein and Hillside Strangler) was clearly a big fan of the original and manages to duplicate much of the same cold and downbeat tone, although the visuals are more flat and melancholic. Like its predecessor the film follows most of  the same narrative with slices of life and death and the psychological aspects with the tense buildup around the chaotic relationship between Henry and Kai, which is getting dragged more and more into the hopeless pit of empty and meaningless life of serial killing. Nothing more, nothing less. All actors were unknown faces for my part and the task to fill the shoes of Michael Rooker went to Neil Giuntoli, who does a good performance, far better than I expected. He has the same lost boyish look with empty death stares and the raw intensity when he kills random victims for the kicks. Here we also briefly see some new sides from him to learn some of his motivations.


Overall Henry the 2nd is nothing too special but an OK sequel at best with a sharp knife and dedicated actors.


Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, Part 2 Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, Part 2


Writer and director: Chuck Parello
Also known as: Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer 2 – Mask of Sanity
Country & year: USA, 1996
Actors: Neil Giuntoli, Rich Komenich, Kate Walsh, Carri Levinson, Daniel Allar, Marco Santucci, Rich Wilkie, Kevin Hurley, Richard Henzel, Fran Smith


Related post: Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986)



Tom Ghoul













Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986)

Henry: Portrait of a Serial KillerHenry Lee Lucas and Ottis Toole were two middle-aged fugly-looking serial killers, which I would never guess after glancing at a picture of them. Huh… looks can be deceiving. Henry had the distinct dead rigor mortis eye and his epic Bugs Bunny grin, while Ottis looked like a white trash side character from a Rob Zombie film that I would guess had liked to dip his mosquito-nibbled penis into a chicken’s butthole. And among most of the classic and glorified serial killers like Ed Gein, Ted Bundy, Richard Ramirez, John Wayne Gacy, Jeffrey Dahmer and let’s also throw Fritz Honka in the club while we’re at it, they eventually got their hook in the mainstream pop-culture with a dedicated fanbase. Because serial killers fascinates us and we can’t get enough of them, it’s as simple as that.


Henry was especially a popular figure in Japan. A four-hour long documentary split into four episodes was released in 2019, titled The Confession Killer, where we see a film crew from Japan that were totally starstruck by finally meeting the legend. They even gave him a present after shaking hands and the ecstatic fanboys were all smiling ear to ear until Henry said I’ve been in your country, too. Har har. Henry was eventually proven to be a compulsive liar (wow, what a shocker) who hadn’t been in an airplane once in his life and didn’t even know that Japan is an island nation. The documentary is available on Netflix.


Henry Lee Lucas Henry has already been in and out of prison like a ping-pong ball, once for killing his mother at age 24, before he met his boyfriend and partner-in crime Ottis Toole in the mid 1970s. Their victims were mostly women as Henry hated them with a passion. If we put on the Dr. Phil glasses for a second we can assume that his hatred for women may stem from him allegedly being abused as a kid by his mother. Together the couple killed over hundreds of people, which Toole claimed after being arrested in ’83. When Henry got arrested some months after, he took the confession a bit further, to put it mildly, by claiming he’d killed well over 600 (!) people and went on a quiet bizarre confession-circus tour around the country with the law enforcement dangling clueless by his tail, all of which left more questions than answers. Only three (yes 3) of his victims were found and the whole thing happened to be a big, monumental prank/scam by Henry just to get more juicy media attention by falsely confessing a bunch of killings while the police wasted god know how much time, money and resources. A complete shitshow. Ottis died in 1996, age 49 while Henry got his last laugh in 2001, age 63.


Fun fact: Henry was one of the very first who got the serial killer description after the FBI Special Agent Robert Ressler coined the term in the 1970s.


Henry: Portrait of a Serial killer starts direct and brutal with some graphic images of Henry’s recent victims who’s suffered painful deaths, as we dive straight into his grim world filled with depravity, rage and nihilism. We spend the first ten minutes with Henry (played by the young aspiring actor Michael Rooker in his first movie role) as he’s roaming the suburban streets of Chicago with his rusty car, scouting for his next victim like an emotionless Terminator. He finally catch a victim when he picks up a hitchhiker, a young lady with a guitar. And that’s good for the day. The next thing we see is Henry entering his apartment – a crampy, stinky shithole he shares with his friend Ottis (Tom Towles). He’a an older dude with a comb-over and bad teeth. They’re not a gay couple here though as they were in the real life, just some buddies who met in prison. When they’re not out to fuck some hookers in their car, who normally ends up getting killed by Henry’s lack of impulse control, they have at least a TV to watch, only until Ottis, that clumsy buffoon, smashes it.


Anyway, Ottis’ sister Becky (Tracy Arnold) comes to stay for a while after being on the run from a violent relationship. As Henry and Becky both shares trauma, they connect and she gets aroused by hearing how Henry killed his mother. This monologue alone, which starts with she was a whore shows what a top tier and intense actor Michael Rooker is by displaying his inner, explosive rage just with facial expressions while showing vulnerability like a lost child.


Ottis has never killed anyone but that’s about to change when he one day gets punched in the face by a teenage kid. I wanna kill somebody he says to Henry who then takes him out for a killing spree to teach him how to be a serial killer. It builds up to a home invasion scene where Henry has gotten the absolute worst out of Ottis as he snaps some woman’s neck like a deranged caveman in a pure gleeful psychosis and starts to show some tendencies of necrophilia, which even gets too much for Henry. A nasty scene that truly rips, much because of how we see the whole act through the grainy lens of Ottis’ camcorder like a snuff film.


The film is not heavy on plot, like most of the films in this subgenre, as it works more like a slice of life and death, and a psychological study of serial killers’ empty and nihilistic existence from their own perspective. We see the daily (and nightly activity) with Henry and Ottis as the time goes by, all filmed handheld on 16mm like a pseudo-documentary with a layer of unfiltered grittyness, surrounded with urban decay and dark, piss-smelling alleys – where also two serial killers happen to be lurking around, killing people just for the thrills. Nothing but bad vibes all over the place and not so far from William Lustig’s Maniac (1980) when it comes to the vacant tone and the overall grim atmosphere. Both Michael Rooker and Tom Towles are just fabulous in their role as a deadly and self-destructive duo, the one more sick in the head than the other, with a fucked-up dynamic which makes them amusing and entertaining to watch, just like two train-wrecks coming together with Ottis’ poor sister Becky being a clueless passenger.


And like Henry would say to sum up it all up in only three words: Fuck the Bears.


Henry - Portrait of a Serial Killer Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer


Director: John McNaughton
Writers: Richard Fire, John McNaughton
Country & year: USA, 1986
Actors: Michael Rooker, Tom Towles, Tracy Arnold, Mary Demas, Anne Bartoletti, Elizabeth Kaden, Ted Kaden, Denise Sullivan


Related post: Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, Part 2 (1996)



Tom Ghoul













DEATHLY – Horror Short

After the tragic death of his wife in a house fire, Richard returns home on the night of her funeral to find he may not be as alone as he thought.


Deathly is a creepy horror short where you could say that in this case, revenge is best served hot!

DEATHLY - Horror Short


Director: Mike Williamson
Writer: Mike Williamson
Country & year: USA, 2015
Actors: Alan Ruck, Kathleen Wilhoite, Christina Elizabeth Smith, Mickey Keating








Blackenstein (1973)

BlackensteinAh hell Nah, It’s BLACKENSTEIN ya’ll, starring … Lori Lightfoot? Bruh..!


The most intriguing aspect about this hopeless misfire of a motion picture is that the writer and producer, Frank R. Saletri, was a Criminal defense lawyer who woke up one day and decided he wanted to work in the movie business and become a monster movie mogul. Yeah, we all have to start somewhere – but: he had big hopes that Blackenstein would latch on the success of Blacula (1972) and already had the scripts for two sequels ready to shoot: The Fall of the House of Blackenstein and Blackenstein III. One of the sequels would have the alternative title The Black Frankenstein Meets the White Werewolf. Sounds fun, but that never happened as Blackenstein ended up like something Ed Wood would make during his drunken feverdreams after binge drinking all cocktail bars in Hollywood. And no, that’s not the former mayor of Chicago we see on the cover, it’s none other than the legendary Joe De Sue. Joe De who? He was a client of Saletri and a perfect definition of a non-actor. But both Frank R. Saletri and first-time director William A. Levey seemed optimistic.


Eddie Turner is a war vet who got his feet blown off after stepping on a mine in Vietnam. The more optimistic wife, Winifred, knocks on the door to Dr. Stein’s villa and private hospital in Hollywood Hills to ask for him to fix Eddie. And just for clearance, Dr. Stein is a white dude, so don’t get further confused by the full title Blackenstein The Black Frankenstein. After Eddie get transported to Dr. Stein’s lab, the shady assistant Malcomb falls in love with Winifred, and in jealousy tries to make sure that Eddie dies by messing with Dr. Stein’s lab equipment. Well, that doesn’t go as planned as Eddie wakes up, looking like a cheap cosplay version of a familiar monster.


Blackenstein wakes up in some random dungeon we’ve never seen before and shuffles his way through the lab as he makes some weird snoring sound where the term sleepwalk through gets its fullest meaning. We see him walking through some empty hospital corridor in the slowest pace possible to drag out some extra screentime, until he approaches a patient we see gets killed by the monster behind the bed curtain in silhouette. And the effects are probably more lousy than you’d expect.


There’s absolutely nothing that works in this turkey, other than Blackenstein being a perfect study in inept filmmaking while having some cheap laughs. Sunny days suddenly transform to thunderclapping nights and actors who perform the stiffest and driest dialogues in the style of a Hanna-Barbera cartoon. No colorful and offensive ghetto talk here, unfortunately. The editing is a trip in itself which makes Blackenstein teleport himself back and forth to his dungeon cell between his murder sprees, completely unnoticed. And why would he go back to his cell? I guess the script just said so.


We also have a brief shot of some bare breasts and a complete random scene in a bar with some comedian.


Blackenstein didn’t hit the pulse on the blaxploitation market and writer Saletri wouldn’t work on a film again, nor his client Joe De Sue got any phonecalls from Tinseltown. Saletri still wrote several scripts which included two Sherlock Holmes films titled Sherlock Holmes in the Adventures of the Werewolf of the Baskervilles and Sherlock Holmes in the Adventures of the Golden Vampire where he had Alice Cooper in mind to star as Dracula. Sounds completely batshit and epic. And speaking of Sherlock, Saletri was later a victim of an unsolved murder mystery when he was found dead in his mansion (formerly owned by Bela Lugosi) in 1982. The police described it as gangland style. So maybe it’s fair to ask what some of his former clients have been up to lately. Let’s start with the guy he failed to make a movie star of, Joe Dee… what’s his name again?




Director: William A. Levey
Writer: Frank R. Saletri
Original title: Blackenstein The Black Frankenstein
Country & year: USA, 1973
Actors: John Hart, Ivory Stone, Joe De Sue, Roosevelt Jackson, Andrea King, Nick Bolin


Tom Ghoul













Monster Dog (1984)

Monster DogAlice Cooper was already at the peak of his musical career in the late 1970s with fifteen studio albums in his discography, having sold several Platinums, lived a wild rock’n roll life and outlived his first drinking buddy Jim Morrison. Alice Cooper has been quite transparent about his alcoholism and the bumpy journey on the yellow brick road to sobriety throughout the last four decades, and how he was just few drops away to join his former drinking-buddies six feet under. After he got caught up in the cocaine blizzard, which has wiped all his memories of the recording of his three final albums (also called the blackout albums), he got into rehab for one last time before he’d risk ending up as a corpse looking like a combination of an emaciated Auschwitz victim and a horrifying drag-show version of Bette Davis. While it all just sounds like a cliché synopsis for a biopic, he was far from ready to tour again and just the thought of performing on stage in full sobriety seemed to be the most frightening thing ever. He was now in his mid 30’s without any record label, and thus back to square one. So, now what …


Well, why not kill some time by starring in an Italian low-budget horror film? Seems fun enough, right? Alice wanted the film to be cheap and sleazy, and that’s what he got. He also got to play a musician, not so different from himself and even record a music video for the film. However the film ended up, if it was released to cinemas or straight to VHS, wasn’t important to him. The one and only thing that mattered was if he was able to work while being sober which he hadn’t been for fifteen years. And with that being said, he couldn’t have picked a better director than Claudio Troll 2 Fragasso. Monster Dog became his rehab movie, so to speak, and the segway to his next life-chapter with his comeback tour The Nightmare Returns. And as I’m writing this, the guy is 75 years old, still active and let’s hope he’s kicking it for five more years so he can celebrate with the song I’m Eighty.


Monster Dog starts off with a music video of a rather catchy song Identity Crisis by the new age rocker Vince Raven (Cooper) who is heading for his childhood home with his wife and crew to shoot a new music video. And to be honest, I don’t see much point in trying to explain the plot here, because there isn’t much. People get attacked by dogs, people having nightmares, we have several foggy night scenes, more dogs appear before the film slides into more obscurity as a gunslinging western. Claudio Fragasso also co-wrote this with his wife Rossella Drudi, just to mention it.


Given that we’re talking about a Claudio Fragasso film it has to at least be entertaining, right? Yeah, most of the known trademarks are here with bad acting, cheesy effects that goes from half-decent to absolute pure dung that has no business being on screen, and overall filled with 80s schlock all across the board. And except for Alice Cooper, who walks through the film with a stone cold face, the rest of the cast  acts like silly cartoon characters, all of which are Spanish with laughable English dubbing. The dubbing of Alice Cooper done by Ted Rusoff is the only convincing thing here. Yeah, he actually fooled me big time. Applause.


All us ghouls love Alice Cooper and I really wish I could say that he is worth the film alone. But that isn’t much of the case here. Although he appears in most of the scenes, the guy seems bored, withdrawn and apathetic. And yeah, fifteen years of daily alcohol abuse does that to you. He says his lines and couldn’t be bothered with the rest. It’s quite the opposite of what we’re used to see when he’s on a stage feeding his Frankenstein, to put it that way. It isn’t before the final act when Alice seems to loosen up and having fun when he gets to shoot some badguys straight in the skull with a shotgun. Even though this is his only major role in a feature, he later appeared in other films with minor appearances and cameos, such as a creepy mute hobo in John Carpenter’s The Prince of Darkness (1987), Freddy Krueger’s dad in Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991), and as himself in Wayne’s World (1992) and Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows (2012).


And with all this said, I’m not so sure that the director is fully to blame for the incoherent final cut here though, as the film was completely cut to pieces in post-production by the producer Eduard Sarlui. He cut out as much as 20 minutes, reconstructed the scenes, assumingly with blindfolds or in pure resentful spite towards the director, and the whole thing was a mess that got Fragasso heartbroken when he saw it. It was at least a big triumph for Alice who got through the whole filming process clean and sober with Coca-Cola.


Monster Dog did never get an official DVD release expect a couple of cheap bootlegs with shitty VHS quality which explains the muddy screenshots below. For a far more watchable viewing, look for the 2016 Blu-ray release from Diabolik DVD.


Monster Dog


Director: Claudio Fragasso
Writers: Claudio Fragasso, Rossella Drudi
Original title: Leviatán
Country & year: Spain, USA, Puerto Rico, 1984
Actors: Alice Cooper, Victoria Vera, Carlos Santurio, Pepa Sarsa, Carole James, Emilio Linder, Ricardo Palacios, Luis Maluenda, Barta Barri, Charly Bravo, Fernando Conde, Fernando Baeza, Nino Bastida


Tom Ghoul