Two Evil Eyes (1990)

Sometime in the late 80s, George A. Romero was invited to Italy to eat pasta and sip red wine with Dario Argento. The result of that meeting became Two Evil Eyes, an anthology of two films, one hour each, based on stories by Edgar Allan Poe. The original idea was an anthology of four segments in which also John Carpenter and Stephen King was considered to make the other two. However, Carpenter was busy with other stuff while Stephen King, still and forever traumatized by the experience with Maximum Overdrive, had no desire to call himself a “moron” a second time, and thus Four Evil Eyes got reduced to Two Evil Eyes.

 

THE FACTS IN THE CASE OF M. VALDEMAR – George A. Romero

The millionaire Ernest Valdemar is on his deathbed in his big mansion suffering from terminal illness, and his younger and gold-digging wife Jessica and Dr. Robert Hoffman have a plan: to hypnotize Valdemar into signing the will papers so they can get away with all his money. During the last hypnosis session, things go horribly wrong and the old man dies … well, sort of. They hide him in the freezer in the basement while Valdemar seems to be trapped in hypnosis and moans with a ghoulish voice that a bunch of demons will take over his body.

 

George A. Romero were on hiatus during most of the 90s where he made only two films; The Dark Half and this one. Instead of tons of gore, we get a slow build-up and an eerie atmosphere where Creepshow meets Tales From the Crypt. Even though the story itself is intriguing, Romero’s direction feels as stale as if it was meant to be made for TV, and the runtime could have been cut down to thirty minutes. The scenes with Jessica and Dr. Robert is as dry and boring as a soap opera, and with even stiffer acting than Valdemar in the freezer. As already mentioned though the atmosphere is great, and Tom Savini, who worked on both segments, provides with some top-notch prosthetic makeup and a memorable death-scene.

 

THE BLACK CAT – Dario Argento

We follow the crime-photographer Rod Usher (Harvey Keitel) who documents the most brutal crime-scenes in Pittsburgh, George Romeo’s hometown of all places. Rod is a cold psychopath with a distant relationship with his empathic girlfriend Annabelle. As she feels ignored, she gets some comfort in a stray black cat. The cat hates Rod and he hates the cat back and as the classic story goes, he kills the cat who then starts to haunt him until he descends into complete madness.

 

The Black Cat is one of Poe’s most famous works, and this film adaptation is made in modern times where a crime-scene photographer has been replaced with the author himself, Poe. Harvey Keitel is the money shot here, alongside with FX maker Tom Savini, and the only reason alone to give Two Evil Eyes a watch, to be honest. Argento’s segment is also far more stylish, better paced, better acted and of course more graphic.

 

So, there you have it. Two short horror tales from two directors with their own style of filmmaking and approach to storytelling. And some with more meat on the bone than the other.  For HD buffs, the film is available on 4K Ultra HD from Vingar Syndrome.

 

Two Evil Eyes

 

Directors: George A. Romero, Dario Argento
Writers: George A. Romero, Dario Argento, Franco Ferrini, Peter Koper
Original title: Due occhi diabolici
Country & year: Italy, USA, 1990
Actors: Adrienne Barbeau, Ramy Zada, Bingo O’Malley, Jeff Howell, E.G. Marshall, Harvey Keitel, Madeleine Potter, John Amos, Sally Kirkland, Kim Hunter, Holter Graham, Martin Balsam, Chuck Aber
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt0100827/

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leprechaun 4: In Space (1996)

In known Trimark fashion, they had no clue what to do with Lep or which setting to put him next in the fourth installment of the franchise. And after the success Leprechaun 3 did on the home video market, there was no time to waste. It wasn’t until an executive at Trimark saw the promo art for Apollo 13 (1995) and replaced Tom Hank’s face with Lep’s when the genius idea came to fruition. That pitch-meeting must’ve been amusing to witness, to say the least.

 

The year is 2096 and a group of space marines are on their way to Planet Leprechaun where their mission is to search for Lep (Warwick Davis) after he, during the past six months, has disrupted the galactic mining operations. And the order is clear as a gamma-ray: Kill The Bastard! The timing couldn’t be worse as Lep is about to propose to the alien princess Zarina (Rebecca Carlton) so he can become king for some planet that never gets mentioned. The marines storm his low-budget-looking cave where Lep gets blown to pieces by a grenade after a quick gun-fight. The princess survives and gets taken back to the shuttle before they take Lep’s precious gold. Movie over, then? Ha-ha.

 

The marine who threw the grenade takes a piss one Lep’s remains just to boast his victory like a high school bully. The plot seems pretty normal so far, but just hear this: As he urinates on him, Lep’s spirit travels through his stream of piss and into his dick like a bolt of lightning. We later get the most unmemorable and lazy kill count where Lep gets resurrected by jumping out of his dick and pants, implied more than shown, since there was no one in the effect-department who had a clue how to pull it off. No gore – nothing. Boooo!

 

We also get introduced to film’s second villain, Dr. Mittenhand (Guy Siner). He’s the commander of the marines and is a bald-headed cyborg with only his upper torso remaining after a failed experiment. He’s a bizarroman version of Dr. Evil the James Bond villain Ernst Stavro Blofeld, who tries to look evil with the effect of a mouse trying to be as big as an elephant, and speaks like a deranged Hanna-Barbera cartoon character on amphetamine. His plan is to use Zarina’s regenerative DNA to recreate his own body and … good luck with that.

 

Leprechaun 4: In Space

 

The effects are worse and more primitive than ever, and I think that director Brian Trenchard-Smith sums it up best by saying that he was disappointed by the final quality of the special effects, calling them “below Playstation”. Lep in Space falls off the tracks really fast where the plot, script, talent and all braincells just seemed to get sucked away in a black hole. And what we have left is a demented, bizarre, ultracheap-looking, completely out of control schlockfest with zero direction, and one-note cartoon characters only trying to over-act each other. It’s basically Looney Tunes in a mental asylum in space with a riot. And Lep? Don’t worry, he’s here, still portrayed by Warwick Davis who seems to have fun as usual and goes with the flow the best as he can. But the award for best-worst actress of the decade goes to Rebecca Carlton as princess Zarina who has acting abilities like a broken Hello Kitty toaster. 

 

The one and only legitimate positive thing to mention, is a certain spider-monster creature which (dare I even say it) gave me some Dead Space vibes. And talking about video games, here’s a fun, little trivia: The sound of the doors opening and closing are taken from the original Doom, where it was the sound of the elevators.

 

And I can’t allow myself to not mention a trailer that popped up on my YouTube recommendations recently for an obscure family film, called A Very Unlucky Leprechaun, which came two years after Lep in Space. And guess who plays the unlucky one. There’s little to no info to find, but the only post on its trivia section on IMDb can at least inform us that “Warwick Davis also plays another Leprechaun which is a serial killer.” Huh…

 

Leprechaun 4: In Space Leprechaun 4: In Space Leprechaun 4: In Space

 

Director: Brian Trenchard-Smith
Writer: Dennis Pratt
Country & year: USA, 1996
Actors: Warwick Davis, Brent Jasmer, Jessica Collins, Guy Siner, Gary Grossman, Rebecca Carlton, Tim Colceri, Miguel A. Núñez Jr., Debbe Dunning, Mike Cannizzo, Rick Peters, Geoff Meed
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt0116861/

 

Related posts: Leprechaun (1993) | Leprechaun 2 (1994) | Leprechaun 3 (1995) | Leprechaun in the Hood (2000) | Leprechaun returns (2018)

 

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leprechaun 3 (1995)

Lep 2 didn’t hit the box office gold as Trimark Pictures had hoped for, and because of that it was the second and final film in the franchise to be given a theatrical release. Despite this, Trimark had no plans to call it quits when they still had Warwick Davis on board and saw further potential to dig for more gold in the home video market. And the best way they could ever go from here was to no other place than the city of sins, casinos, strippers and pawn shops: Las Vegas.

 

Leprechaun 3 starts with a guy, with one leg and a hook for a hand, enters a pawn shop. He’s stressed out and frightened, carrying a Leprechaun statue with an amulet around its neck, and a pot of gold in a bag. He wants to sell it so he can buy gas and get the fuck away. And before he leaves, he warns the shop owner that he must never take the amulet off its neck, which … he of course does shortly afterwards. Lep comes back to life, bites the man’s ear and one of his big toes off, before he eventually kills him with his magic powers. One of the gold coins goes missing and falls in the hands of the naive young man Scott, the film’s unlucky protagonist, (played by the future Oscar nominee John Gatins) who has already fallen in love with the blonde girl Tammy (Lee Armstrong). She works as an assistant to a douchebag of a magician, and spends most of the screentime giving the viewer some eyecandy in her kinky, black corset. After Scott has lost all his money on gambling, he uses the coin to grant his wish to win it all back, plus some extra, on the casino roulettes.

 

The luck seems to strike for Scotty until the boss gets his eyes on him and makes sure that he won’t leave the building with his fresh new fortune. Things goes from bad to worse when the coin is rolling from hand to hand, granting one wish after another which escalates into full chaos. And the night has just begun when Lep is roaming the streets of Las Vegas in search of his precious coin. He seems pretty stimulated by the dazzling surroundings and even gets the pleasure to be a part of the greatest moment in the history of cinema by meeting the king himself, Elvis. The luck also seems to completely run out for poor Scotty when he himself slowly gets transformed into a Leprechaun, after having gotten bitten by Lep and infected with his green blood. He’s not aware of the transformation until he can’t say a sentence without adding a rhyme to it. Two Leps in one film? How much worse can it possibly get from here?

 

The gory aspects in the Leprechaun films is pretty minimal and as cheap as a moldy piece of bread, but there’s at least not one, but two memorable death scenes to mention here. The first one involves Lep using his magic to make a blond stripper crawl out of a TV screen to give a sleazy guy some pleasure. Well, think again. As she lays upon him and getting ready to suck his dick, Lep transforms her into a cyborg that electrocutes him. And a wet, special thanks goes to the nude Penthouse model Heidi Lynne Staley for making this scene happen. Then we have the scene where Caroline Williams makes her wish: to be young and beautiful again. The result is the whole film in a nutshell, where her lips, boobs and ass blows up like a balloon and explodes in pure Looney Tunes fashion, then followed by on of the best punchlines from our favorite comedian Lep: Now that was quite a LOAD to have to EXPLODE. What a lovely LASS, I had to blow up your ASS, but now I must hit the road!”

 

Lep 3 is regarded as the best in the franchise, or best-worst, if you will. The film is delightfully bad on every level and surely deserves its place on the Hall of Shame of so-bad-its-good-movies, and no one seems to take the franchise seriously for a second at this point. The acting, the dialogues, the shoddy effects filled with outlandish cartoon logic, a flavor of naughty nudity only to piss off the parents, makes this a great time and perfect film to watch on little junior’s birthday party! Warwick Davis is at his peak here with his best lines and embraces the insanity to its fullest with his performance. The tone and the humor, whether is intentional or not, suits Lep’s wit and personality perfectly and the Las Vegas setting adds even more to the fun. This is also Davis’ personal favorite in the series, and it’s hard to not be on the same page with him on that one. Leprechaun 3 was shot in 14 quick days, and  became the highest selling direct-to-video film of 1995 which kept the spaceship ready to send Lep to his next adventure.

 

Lerprechaun 3 Lerprechaun 3 Lerprechaun 3

 

Director: Brian Trenchard-Smith
Writer: David DuBos
Country & year: USA, 1995
Actors: Warwick Davis, John Gatins, Lee Armstrong, John DeMita, Michael Callan, Caroline Williams, Marcelo Tubert, Tom Dugan, Leigh-Allyn Baker, Richard Reicheg, Linda Diane Shayne, Heidi Lynne
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt0113636/

 

Related posts: Leprechaun (1993) | Leprechaun 2 (1994) | Leprechaun 4: In Space (1996) | Leprechaun in the Hood (2000) | Leprechaun returns (2018)

 

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leprechaun 2 (1994)

Leprechaun 2 starts way, waaay back in ancient Ireland where William is being hunted down by Lep through the forest, while he utters his first line that sets the tone immediately: “scream as you MAY, scream as you MIGHT, if you try to escape, you’ll be dead on this NIGHT, haha.” William has been his slave since he stole his pot of gold, but that’s no longer important. Now that he has finally reached his 1,000th birthday on St. Patrick’s Day, he can now claim something more precious: a bride. And the lucky one has already been chosen, the only thing holding back is that she has to sneeze three times. And if no one saves her soul by speaking  the magic phrase “God bless ya”, the poor girl is his forever, and then William is a free man. The only problem is that the girl is William’s daughter, and he cant have any of that. After he ruins the whole set-up by saving her from the worst marriage ever, Lep says he will wait for another 1000 years, and hunt down William’s whole bloodline, before he snaps the guy’s neck.

 

Then we jump to present day, to Los Angeles, exactly one thousand years later on the St. Patty’s Day, where we meet the teen couple Bridget and Cody. Cody works for his uncle Morty, who runs a shady Dark Tourism Ride which scams people by showing them false resting spots of celebs and murder houses. Morty is also a greasy alchoholic who’s always too drunk to drive as he just sits in the local Irish pub and drowns himself in brown liquor. And now having seen the three protagonists, our favorite host, Lep, emerges from a tree near Harry Houdini’s house to finally get the show started. His first victim is a bum whom Lep rips out his golden tooth before he starts the huntdown for his chosen bride. And who can that possibly be? Bridget, of course, who’s a descendant of William’s bloodline. Lep was a man of his words. It’s now up to Cody to save her.

 

Lep 2 hasn’t got much more to offer than bad acting, retarded silliness and the production value of a porn film. Warwick Davis reprised his role as Lep in the first sequels of five (!), and like in the first one, he’s once again the only reason to give this a watch. He has far more screentime compared to the first film, and more quote-worthy poetry-driven one-liners to entertain us with, as he goofs and giggles his way to one scenario after another. He’s even getting hammered in one scene where he has to prove himself, as the proud Irish he is, that no one can drink him under the table. The ice cream man Clint Howard and the Twin Peaks receptionist Kimmy Robertson has a short cameo as a tourist couple. And the rest of the characters are just bad actors who do their best by remembering their lines and look scared when the script says so.

 

The effects are trash. There’s one scene where we’re supposed to believe that Lep rips one guys finger off. You can see a mile away that he gently pulls the finger off a fake hand. He then licks on it and says with his manic voice: Finger licking GOOD! AAAAH…!!” Then we have the pot of gold that gets ripped out of someone’s stomach. I won’t explain how it got there other than it’s so laughable and poorly executed that I only wonder where the budget of 2 million dollars went.  There’s also a desperate attempt to appeal to the teenage audience by showing a second or two of Bridget’s naked boobs, allegedly performed by a topless double. This scenes also involves two spinning lawnmower blades, which Lep tricks some guy to believe are two big breast that’s waiting for him. A cheap, but memorable kill count.

 

The Leprechaun franchise is infamous for its total absence of continuity which leads to the big question: Is Lep 2 related to the first film in any form? No. Trimark Pictures actually had big plans for making a direct sequel where Lep would seek revenge on Tori (the protagonist from the first film), and they felt confident enough to get Jennifer Aniston back when they offered her a paycheck of 25,000 dollars. She refused, of course, which led any continuation to go completely off the rails, and every sequel was treated like a reboot or stand-alone film with different writers and directors who had no clue what to do with the franchise, other than trying to top the previous one with as much B-movie insanity as possible. Some other theory is that there’s a different Leprechaun in each sequel, just played by the same actor. But sequels or not, the films get crazier and crazier where we follows Lep’s quests for gold in places such as Las Vegas, in space, in tha hood, and it’s overall an amusingly bizarre franchise to dive into, especially if you have a soft spot for schlocks.

 

Lerprechaun 2 Lerprechaun 2

 

Director: Rodman Flender
Writers: Turi Meyer, Alfredo Septién
Country & year: USA, 1994
Actors: Warwick Davis, Charlie Heath, Shevonne Durkin, Sandy Baron, Adam Biesk, James Lancaster, Linda Hopkins, Arturo Gil, Kimmy Robertson, Clint Howard
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt0110329/

 

Related posts: Leprechaun (1993) | Leprechaun 3 (1995) | Leprechaun 4: In Space (1996) | Leprechaun in the Hood (2000) | Leprechaun returns (2018)

 

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leprechaun (1993)

Screenwriter Mark Jones had already worked in the TV industry since the 70s, and wrote for Saturday-morning cartoons like Scooby-Doo, Yogi, Dinky Dog, Mr. Magoo, Heathcliff, James Bond Jr, ALF and the list goes on. At the age of forty he decided to take his career to the next level by writing and directing his first little, low-budget horror film. And one night he sat in a bar and saw the Lucky Charms commercials on TV,  the brilliant idea for a horror spin to the Irish mythical folklore creature, Leprechaun, popped up in his head. And since Halloween and Friday the 13th was already taken, a horror film about an evil Leprechaun would be perfect to air on TV every St. Patrick’s Day and give him an annual paycheck. He pitched a script to Trimark Pictures and got the green light (pun intended) after being rejected twice. On board he had the British actor Warwick Davis in the title role, who was then only known for his role in Willow, and was pretty excited to play an antagonist.  An young and unknown Jennifer Aniston plays the main protagonist in her first movie role.

 

Leprechaun starts off in 1983 where Dan returns to his farmhouse in North Dakota from a trip to Ireland. He arrives in a black limousine, drunk on Jameson Whisky, and shows his wife a pot of gold that he’d stolen from a Leprechaun. But little did he know that the Leppy has followed him, and kills his wife by pushing her down the basement stairs as he screams his trademark line I want me gold NOW!”. Dan suppresses his powers with a four-leaf-clover, which is like cryptonite  for Leprechauns, before he traps him in a crate. After sealing it he puts the clover on the crate to hold him trapped forever. He then gets a stroke.

 

Ten years later, the young lady Tori (Jennifer Aniston) and her dad is moving into the farmhouse we saw earlier. Tori is not impressed and wants to go back to Beverly Hills. After freaking out by some cobwebs and the sight of a spider in the basement, she runs out and bumps into Mr. Prince Charming (a love-relationship that never got developed in the script, I guess). But it gave her enough reason to stay so we can see her with a shotgun at the end. But where’s the man of the party, Leppy himself? He’s still in the basement, trapped in the crate, waiting for someone to finally remove the four-leaf-clover so he can finally pop out, look for his gold, and give us some entertainment. Of course, it had to be some fat, clumsy redneck to remove the clover by an accident. He’s supposed to be the comic relief, but no one had any idea how Warwick Davis would completely outshine the whole cast.

 

Lerprechaun

 

If Beetlejuice and The Joker had a baby, it would be something like Leppy, and the one and only reason to watch the film is because of Warwick Davis. Without him and his witty and unique, cartoonish, wild persona and line-deliveries, this film would be unwatchable and forgotten, and we wouldn’t have the awesome sequels. He’s  dedicated to the fullest, clearly having a blast, and the imaginative prosthetic make-up by FX artist Gabe Bastalos matches his personality perfectly. The rest of the characters have nothing much to offer and are as bland as bed sheets, and the film’s main problem is that it doesn’t know what it wants to be. In some scenes it looks like a cheap kids movie made for TV, and the next we have some dark moments where Leppy bounces some dude to death with a pogo stick. He breaks some police officer’s neck and rips someone’s eye out. Too childish for the older viewer, yet too brutal for the minors. So … I don’t know.

 

The highlight is where Leppy chases Jennifer Aniston with a wheelchair, a scene where she actually had to run in slow-motion so that Davis could keep up with her, as he had trouble steering the wheels. I would love to see a raw footage of that, haha.

 

The film is most known for Jennifer Aniston’s first film role, and this is probably her best performance as far as I know. She runs, screams, and when she’s not looking confused and asks herself what the hell she’s signed on to, she tries her hardest to look scared when confronted with Leppy. At some point she looks completely dead inside where she might be realizing that this actually was a feature film and not a deliberate prank. Luckily for her she found success in the sitcom Friends shortly after, and did what she could to pretend that this film never happened. Even though the film was a perfect target to get panned and mocked by critics, it struck gold at the box office, gained a cult-following and the executives at Trimark now saw the opportunity for more gold with a franchise with Warwick Davis who reprised his role in five sequels. And what a bizarre franchise we got. Dear Lord …

 

Lerprechaun Lerprechaun Lerprechaun

 

Writer and director: Mark Jones
Country & year: USA, 1993
Actors: Warwick Davis, Jennifer Aniston, Ken Olandt, Mark Holton, Robert Hy Gorman, Shay Duffin, John Sanderford, John Voldstad, Pamela Mant, William Newman, David Permenter, Raymond C. Turner
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt0107387/

 

Related posts: Leprechaun 2 (1994) | Leprechaun 3 (1995) | Leprechaun 4: In Space (1996) | Leprechaun in the Hood (2000) | Leprechaun returns (2018)

 

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Cat in the Brain (1990)

Cat in the BrainThe film opens with Dr. Lucio Fulci sitting in his deep, almost trance-like concentration as he writes down a series of murder scenes for his new, gory horror film. As he groans like Freddy Krueger while he writes, we hear his inner voice describing what to expect for the next 90 minutes:

 

A woman hacked to death with an axe … her face cleaved in half…another strangled… yet another hanged… someone chopped to bits by a chainsaaaw … or drowned in boiling water, or throat torn out by a maddened cat! Buried alive! Tortured! Scarred! Stabbed! Sawed in two! Crucified! Decapitated…

 

There’s no room for any imagination here, so we dive right into a bizarre, messy scene where we see some cats chewing on a big, mushy brain. The cats are clearly prop effects since they obviously didn’t find one, single cat who would eat that nasty-looking shit. But if you’re still hungry, we’re only one minute into the film, and this is just an appetizer.

 

Then we see some guy in a basement, cutting a fresh corpse to pieces with a chainsaw while we hear classic music playing. He makes some of the flesh into a nice steak that he eats together with some red wine, while he watches some weird fetish porn on TV. The rest of the corpse gets thrown to the pigs. And what we just witnessed was Lucio Fulci transferring his latest draft of the screenplay into his new cinematic masterpiece. A regular day in Fulci land, in other words, and business as usual. Now it’s time for lunch.

 

And as you have probably figured out by now, Lucio Fulci plays himself as the aging, legendary “Godfather of Gore” who shows no sign of slowing down, physically, at least. But his mind, however, seems to loosing its grips as he begins to see morbid visions from his films, left and right. He can’t suddenly enjoy meat anymore, as he gets flashbacks from his own films. Then his neighbour turns into a madman soaked in blood who threatens him with his chainsaw, and he also soon starts witnessing women getting brutally killed.

 

A Cat in the Brain

 

We soon learn that all of this is just hallucinations and mind-games, carefully orchestrated by his shady psychiatrist, Egon Schwarz, who hypnotizes Fulci to make him believe that he’s gotten influenced by his own films to kill people.  Why, you ask? It’s too easy to guess, and what could be a decent plot-twist, is already wasted thirty minutes in.

 

But we’re not first and foremost watching a Fulci flick for the plot, are we…  we’re here for the gore, the juicy stuff, and that’s what you get. Limbs and heads gets sawed off, a head gets melted in a microwave, tongues get ripped off, there’s Hitchcock-style stabbing, and of course one of Lucio Fulcis’s trademark with slimy corpses with maggots, and much more. We also have several scenes with some sleazy nudity, and a Nazi orgy scene if the shock values already wasn’t enough. It’s complete and utter madness. But if you’re looking for some scares, just forget about it. The tone here is completely off with some eye-rolling killing scenes with “In the Hall of the Mountain King” playing on block-flute. It’s a comedy, I know. But still…

 

This is far from the same level as his earlier films, for sure, and considering that this was one of his final films and way past the golden era of Italian horror films, and produced by a TV company, it should be no surprise. There’s no atmosphere here, no time for any stylish visuals, and hardly no time to write a script. Fulci’s script for the film was on 49 pages with no dialogues, and consisted of descriptions of bodily mutilations/imagery and sound effects. So there you have it. It’s fast and cheap and out of control, with a more and more confused Lucio Fulci wandering from the next gory scenario to the other to show as much blood and guts as possible. And we are as puzzled as he is, for the most part. And as sloppy the film is on the technical aspects, and not to mention the schlocky acting, it’s still one of Fulci’s truly entertaining films with a lot of awesome and fun moments.  Fulci also seemed to have a blast playing himself in his own world of insanity, and makes himself an amusing character to watch.

 

A Cat in the Brain is available both on DVD and Blu-ray from Grindhouse Releasing and 88 Films.

 

A Cat in the Brain A Cat in the Brain A Cat in the Brain

 

Director: Lucio Fulci
Original title: Un gatto nel cervello
Country & year: Italy, 1990
Actors: Lucio Fulci, Brett Halsey, Ria De Simone, David L. Thompson, Sacha Darwin, Jeoffrey Kennedy, Robert Egon, Malisa Longo, Shilett Angel, Paola Cozzo, Adriana Russo, Luciana Ottaviani, Paul Muller
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt0099637/

 

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the Mouth of Madness (1994)

In the Mouth of MadnessJohn Trent used to be a freelance insurance investigator, who is now a patient in a psychiatric hospital. One day, Dr. Wrenn visits him, where Trent recounts his story: after the disappearance of the popular horror novelist Sutter Cane, Trent is having lunch with a colleague. Suddenly, Trent is attacked by an axe-wielding man who is shot dead by the police, and is later revealed to be Cane’s agent. This man went insane after reading one of Cane’s books, and killed his family as a result. And he is not the only one…apparently, some people seem to go crazy after reading Cane’s novels. Shortly afterwards, Trent is hired by the director of Arcane Publishing who wants him to investigate Cane’s disappearance, and also to recover the manuscript for his final novel. Linda Styles, who is Cane’s editor, is assigned to accompany him. While she explains to Trent that Cane’s novels are known to cause paranoia, disorientation and memory loss in some readers, Trent believes it’s all hogwash and considers his disappearance to be a bluff, something done entirely as a publicity stunt. But bizarre phenomena starts happening, and during their investigation, Trent and Linda enters a small town which looks like and includes people that are exactly as described in one of Cane’s fictional novels. Is it all staged, or is something else at play?

 

In the Mouth of Madness is the third film in John Carpenter’s (unofficial) Apocalypse Trilogy, with the first being The Thing (1982) and the second being The Prince of Darkness (1987). The movie is focusing majorly on atmospheric and creepy imagery, and John Carpenter really is good at creating an amazing atmosphere in many of his films. This one comes off as a surreal and bizarre detective story, with some interesting visual effects. Sam Neill does a convincing portrayal of the detective who is gradually falling into the abyss of pure madness as he’s investigating the alleged disappearance of the famous writer.

 

In the Mouth of Madness is a ride that takes you through a bizarre world of madness, although it might appear a little disorientating at times and there’s not offered too many explanations when wrapping things up. Regarding the movie’s concluding and final act…there are some parts that doesn’t make all that much sense. There are also some bits during the movie that appears to be a little involuntarily funny at times, but nothing too distracting. It’s still an interesting and enjoyable experience if you don’t take it all to seriously, where there’s a mix of elements from H.P. Lovecraft and Stephen King (whom Carpenter based the Sutter Cane character on). While there’s a lot of Lovecraftian stuff all over the place, the Stephen King vibe cannot be missed.

 

So, overall, it’s well worth a watch if you want something strange with a little bit of Lovecraft mixed with a Stephen King flavour and maybe a little pinch of Twilight Zone.

 

Fun fact: the film that Trent is watching at the end of the movie is called Robot Monster, which Carpenter has stated was his favorite monster movie when he was a kid.

 

In the Mouth of Madness In the Mouth of Madness In the Mouth of Madness

 

Director: John Carpenter
Country & year: USA, 1995
Actors: Sam Neill, Julie Carmen, Jürgen Prochnow, David Warner, John Glover, Bernie Casey, Peter Jason, Charlton Heston, Frances Bay, Wilhelm von Homburg, Kevin Rushton, Gene Mack, Conrad Bergschneider
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt0113409/

 

 

Vanja Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Violent Shit III: Infantry of Doom (1999)

violent shit 3

More Violence – more Shit!

 

In the third chapter of the Violent Shit franchise we follow a group of random dudes who gets shipwrecked on an island. It’s not the island of Lost, nor is it of Dr. Moreau, but the island of Karl The Butcher and his zombiefied dad, Karl Sr. Here they’ve created their own community, protected by a horde of metal-masked butchers, who execute everyone who dares to trespass their land as they worship Karl as Der Meister.

 

The three men gets taken to the butcher’s camp where Karl gives the longest villain-speech ever, while giving us some brutal executions to show us how much of an intimidating badass he is. He looks more like someone cosplaying a villain from Mad Max who wouldn’t survive one day beyond Thunderdome. Anyway, when one of the guys spits in his face, he gets brutally tortured and killed off by a stake through his ribcage. The other two trespassers gets thrown into a cat-and-mouse  game in the woods where they get hunted by Karls’ army of butchers, followed by a series of gag-reels with violent kills in the same old Andreas Schnaas fashion we’re used to. Meanwhile, the mad-like scientist Dr. Senius, with his funny Hitler mustache, is under Karl’s command to experiment on some fresh cadavers to make a new breed of super soldiers to replace the butchers who would get killed during battle.

 

We also get introduced to some Asian guys who are former members of Karl’s troops, which teams up with the other guys. Luckily they have some high levels of Kung-Fu skills, which comes good in hand when the strange zombie creations of Dr. Senius starts to pop up in the woods. Also watch out for some random Ninjas (!)

 

So… what’s new here? Schnaas has actually hired a composer for this one, instead of getting sued for adding copyrighted 80’s heavy metal songs. Gregor Adolf Hartz gives us some repetitive stock music and some really out-of-place and cheap RPG tunes that would fit better in a Nintendo game. The gore effects are better, at least. Faces gets ripped apart by hooks, torsos split in half, someone’s spine ripped through the asshole, and gory cadavers with open ribcages and shit like that. The technical aspects, however, remains on the same level as the last one with its muddy image quality and the whole amateurish nature with the shot-in-the-backyard-look, and not much sense of filmmaking in general. It’s basically the same old, same old. Considering that this was made right after Violent Shit II (released six years after it was finished) and Andreas Schnaas had no time to waste, other than improve some of the effects, it shouldn’t be no surprise. It’s still a highly entertaining shitfest, though, with a lot of crazy, amateur action and overall a lot of vile and outlandish over-the-top splatter porn to keep your attention. If you’ve already seen the first two, you know exactly what you’re in for.

 

And, yeah, I almost forgot there’s a drinking game: Take a shot for each time someone says scheisse …!

 

I also have to mention that there’s two versions of the film: the original with German dubbed dialogue, and an older US DVD version with the title Zombie Doom, which is most known for its far more hilariously bad and out-of-sync English dubbing. The original German version with subtitles is available from Synapse Films.

 

Violent Shit 3: Infantry of Doom Violent Shit 3: Infantry of Doom Violent Shit 3: Infantry of Doom

 

Director: Andreas Schnaas
Country & year: Germany, 1999
Actors: Andreas Schnaas, Marc Trinkhaus, Steve Aquilina, Beate Brüggmann, Uwe Grüntjes, Winni Holl, Mirco Hölling, Matthias Kerl, Giang Le, Son Le, Heiko Leesch, Xiu-Yong Lin, Joe Neumann, Andreas Sroka, Hagen van de Viven
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt0203185/

 

Related posts: Violent Shit (1989) | Violent Shit II (1992) | Violent Shit III: Infantry of Doom (1999) | Violent Shit 4: Karl the Butcher vs Axe (2010)

 

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Violent Shit II (1992)

violent shit 2

We are in an open field somewhere at the countryside, where a drug deal between two gangs is about to take place, which quickly goes terribly wrong and ends up in some ridiculous martial-art fight scenes. Suddenly another threatening figure with an iron mask appears on the horizon, and finishes the whole match by cutting the throat of the last man standing with a machete, before he breaks the fourth wall by introducing himself with a guttural voice in the most beautiful German: Du Warst Gut! Aber Ich Bin Besser! ICH BIN KARL THE BUTCHER JUNIOR!!!

 

Then the  opening credit sequence rolls with some heavy metal tunes with vocals performed by the director himself, Andreas Schnaas, as we see clips from the first film which gives a clear prediction that you should expect much of the same (violent) shit.

 

After the opening scene, the movie switches to some unexpected, and out-of-place documentary-ish mode in Hamburg, where journalist Paul Glas investigates a variety of brutal murders that is out “of the ordinary”. He gives a quick history lesson of the city and of  course mentions the greatest, infamous, tourist attraction star, Fritz Honka. He interviews some random people on the street, who obviously think they are in a legit documentary about serial killers and not in some amateurish, zero-budget, shits-for-giggles, underground splatter titled Violent Shit 2, (a.k.a Violent Shit II: Mother Hold My Hand) made just to piss off the conservative bureaucrats at the censor boards in Germany. Hardy-har-har.

 

Anyway, a new killer is on the loose and Paul Glas is seeing similarities between Karl (I forgot his last name, but he was the killer in the first film), and ask an anonymous informant who supposedly has some secret information about the killings, and blah, blah, blah… To just cut it short and get to the point; Karl The Butcher is Son of Karl Senior and he’s out on a mission to avenge his father by wandering on a murderous rampage and kill everyone in his way with his machete. That’s everything we need to know, and enough of a plot that a film like this is able to comprehend, especially if you’re half-drunk while watching this shit already.

 

Violent Shit 2

 

After the halting docu-sequence, we’re back at the countryside where Karl Junior lives with his deranged mother. She has a murder fetish, and looks like Hillary Clinton with Freddy Krueger make-up. And of course, she has taught her boy to become an equally retarded, redneck sadist just like his father, so he can entertain her with torturing and killing random victims to feed her fetish and get her pussy wet. Afterwards she drinks the blood of the victims from a bowel that Karl serves her. Karl also forces one of the victims to eat his own shit, just to make us pretty ensured once and for all that it’s still Violent and it’s still Shit, and still one of the most self-aware titles ever.

 

And from here it’s basically the first film all over again, just with a longer runtime. So if you liked the first one, you’ll love this one, for sure. It’s gag-reel after gal-reel with close-ups showing limbs getting sawed off, heads shoveled off and blown to pieces by a handgun. Entrails getting ripped out of the victims stomach, and we get a pretty nasty scene where someones ballsack gets ripped apart by a hook. Andreas Schnaas is also very careful to shoot the scenes in broad daylight so we can enjoy some of  of the nasty details among the muddy image quality. We get a little time to catch our breath with a training montage, Rocky-style, where he levels himself up to hunt victims at a more rapid pace. The film also slips into pornographic territory with some fugly vagina-close-ups just to give the final middle-finger to Germany’s censor board.

 

Violent Shit II is available from Synapse Fims and has been remastered with some silly, cartoonish sound effects, and replaced the copyrighted music from the original VHS version with its new, own soundtrack. The added subtitles are as hilarious as the first one. It’s also stretched to widescreen to reduce the raw, unfiltered and amateurish home video quality. It still makes Bad Taste look like a glossy Hollywood production by comparison, though.

 

Violent Shit 2 Violent Shit 2 Violent Shit 2

 

Director: Andreas Schnaas
Country & year: Germany, 1992
Actors: Andreas Schnaas, Anke Prothmann, Claudia von Bihl, and a bunch of friends of Andreas Schnaas
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt0105759/

 

Related posts: Violent Shit (1989) | Violent Shit III: Infantry of Doom (1999) | Violent Shit 4: Karl the Butcher vs Axe (2010)

 

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Netherworld (1992)

Netherworld reviewCorey Thornton has just inherited a mansion from his recently deceased father, and travels to Louisiana to check it out. Upon his arrival at the grand estate, he meets with a beautiful young girl which is described as “jailbait” (but who is clearly in her mid-20s…) and his father’s live-in housekeeper, who is the mother of said girl. And of course, a black-gloved and somewhat fishy-looking lawyer. Corey discovers that his father has written a will which includes a description of how the old man has, supposedly, found a way to return back from the dead, and in doing so he needs the help of his son. Corey soon ends up at the local pub/brothel called Tonk’s, where he meets a witchy prostitute who harbors the secrets of black magic. And she turns people into birds if she feels like it. Corey is now obsessed with the task of fulfilling his dead father’s wish of bringing him back to life, and seeks help from the strange people in the weird voodoo-brothel in the bayou.

 

Netherworld is a Full Moon Entertainment movie directed by David Schmoeller and produced by Charles Band. Right off the bat the movie sets a certain tone with the illusory opening scene in Tonk’s bar, which features both chicks and chickens in surroundings that resemble a sexy yet uncomfortable fever dream. Downstairs is what you could probably call a funhouse-like brothel with weird hallways and just as weird characters. To top it all we also get to see a flying disembodied hand and a guy that is turned into a bird (although the latter isn’t displayed to the full extent, but more implied). In other words, it gives a certain promise of being a really cheesy popcorn entertainment flick.

 

Then the movie takes a u-turn when we meet Corey and he enters his newly inherited mansion, and a more serious tone is set. While we get to gradually know more about Corey’s dead father and what he tries to accomplish, the pacing becomes a bit of a problem where it’s all moving a tad bit too slow. The scenes at Tonk’s are definitely the movie’s highlights, with creative usage of color and lighting and some pretty cool old-school effects and jazzy sex scenes. The brothel appears to have lots of girls with names of deceased celebrities, including a woman calling herself Marilyn Monroe, who looks…well..exactly like Marilyn Monroe. This is a pretty cool idea, actually…a brothel where deceased celebrities have been brought back to life.

 

While it does move a little slowly and never really gets very exciting, it makes up for it with the visuals and a fun premise. Netherworld is entertaining enough with its slightly goofy concept, perfect for a relaxed saturday evening with some popcorn.

 

Netherworld can be seen on Full Moon Features.

 

Netherworld Netherworld Netherworld

 

Director: David Schmoeller
Country & year: USA, 1992
Actors: Michael Bendetti, Denise Gentile, Anjanette Comer, Holly Floria, Robert Sampson, Holly Butler, Alex Datcher, Robert Burr, George Kelly, Mark Kemble, Barret O’Brien, Michael Lowry, David Schmoeller
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt0104987/

 

 

Vanja Ghoul