Nikos the Impaler (2003)

Nikos the ImpalerWe’re supposed to be somewhere in Romania during the middle-ages, where some evil iron-masked barbarian named Nikos (embodied by Andreas Schnaas) is ready to be executed in a cave by an angry mob. The tone is set in stone already during the first seconds with its horrendous bad lighting, grainy muddy images, bonkers acting with cartoonish dialogue deliveries, and the sheer atmosphere of zero-budget reeking all over the place. It’s what to expect from Andreas Schnaas, if you’re already familiar with his home-made and chaotic splatter films. And just forget about any thick Romanian accents, here they speak fluently American. God bless. Anyway … before they cuts out his entrails and sets him on fire, we get dialogues such as:

 

– Nikos, today you die!

– I. shall. not. DIE!
– I. never. DIE!
– I will return…to seek my revenge!

 

And of course,  Nikos was a man of his word. We jump to present day, all the way to New York City, where Nikos’ iron mask has been stored in a museum as an ancient artifact. Things go straight to a violent shitshow when a robbery goes wrong and some blood gets spilled on Nikos’ mask. He is then resurrected and wastes no time to find new victims to kill in the most brutal ways possible. And lucky for Nikos, the museum is already filled with visitors, ready to be body counted.

 

This is the eighth film of Andreas Schnaas, and it’s pretty established by now that he isn’t a technical, competent director, to put it mildly. There’s isn’t much of an improvement to point out, and Nikos could easily fit right into the Violent Shit series. Nikos has the same level of amateurish look and the the same paper-thin plot as the Shit series, filled with gallons of fake blood, hilariously bad acting, lots of messy low-budget gore, insanity and a lot of shit. Most of the film happens indoors and at night time, and thus suffers from inept lighting and a camera with a lens that looks like it was rubbed by a thin layer of butter. Its blurry, ugly and looks like more shit than ever, and I don’t know if that’s an insult or a compliment, to be honest.

 

Nikos the Impaler

 

But even though Mr. Schnaas never seemed to have the desire to make it to mainstream Hollywood, he rarely fails to entertain. There’s always some raw energy behind his films, and Schnaas  just seems to have one big, wild party while making them, as the madman he is. How much we actually laughs with or at the movie is not easy to tell, but that just makes it even more funnier.  We also see Nikos goes on a murder-spree in the streets of New York and causing mayhem by using his sword to shoot laser against cars. And the explosions looks like something from a Nintendo 64 game. It gets to the point where it’s just so-bad-it’s-good, really.

 

The acting isn’t much to talk about, it’s only stick figures just set up to be killed, played by a bunch of amateur actors. Some of them have some funny dialogues between the kills to keep us entertained, at least. The cult-actress Felissa Rose (that girl from Sleepaway Camp) is maybe the most familiar face among the bunch. Nikos also walks into a VideoTape store (back in a time when they still existed) so we can have some funny cameos from Tromaville, like Lloyd Kaufman and Debbie Rochon – and last but not least the porn actress Darian Caine, who was comfortable enough to be slaughtered in a messy shower scene with a lot of fake blood pouring down her tits.

 

Nikos the Impaler is available on eBay after the limited editions flew out of stock years ago. It’s also on YouTube, but with crappier image quality.

 

Nikos the Impaler Nikos the Impaler Nikos the Impaler

 

Director: Andreas Schnaas
Country & year: USA, 2003
Actors: Joe Zaso, Felissa Rose, Andreas Schnaas, Antonio Tomahawk, Frank Franconeri, Daniel Alvaro, Mike Marino, Hugh C. Daly, Erotida Cruz, Fred Cerniglia, Abbandandolo Brenda, Joseph Michael Lagana
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt0309916/

 

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Censor (2021)

censorEnid works as a film censor, and her daily life includes watching some truly brutal and gory movies, choosing what is acceptable for the audience to handle and what should be banned completely. One day she views a movie that makes her believe she can finally solve the mystery of her sister’s disappearance, and she embarks on a quest that blurs the line between what is real and what is not.

 

Censor is a slightly weird little horror movie set in the era of the Video Nasties. If you’re not aware, a “Video Nasty” is a term for movies that were deemed too brutal and inappropriate for people to watch, by the National Viewers’ and Listeners’ Association (NVALA) in the United Kingdom. These movies were typically low-budget horror and exploitation films, often heavily criticized for being too violent and for “influencing” people to commit crimes. These days, most of us have (hopefully) realized that media, whether it be movies, games, music, books or comics, cannot be blamed for people’s crimes…but back in those days, in what could probably be best described as some kind of moral panic, they literally thought that movies like this could cause an increase in crime.

 

The idea of a censor, watching tons of material that includes brutal and gruesome things, going bonkers him/herself in the end, is an idea that has already been wonderfully exploited in Sweden’s Evil Ed. Censor isn’t some kind of Evil Edna or anything like that, however…instead, it presents a surreal and creepy downwards spiraling experience of a woman whose trauma manifests and ultimately consumes her.

 

Visually, there’s a lot of nice things to rest your eyes on during the film. Many scenes blends the surrealism with a great use of lighting and colors, making it vibrant and eerie at the same time. Enid’s character is also well put together, coming off as a strong woman who doesn’t even flinch at the grotesque scenes she is witnessing at her job, but instead makes calculated notes about what can be kept and what needs to go, might even be considered a little bit prudish. But the trauma of her sister’s disappearance is always lurking underneath the surface, just waiting to break out into the open. And there is one film she watches that actually opens the crack, which is called Don’t Go in the Church. Enid becomes convinced that one of the actresses is her missing sister, and she becomes hell-bent on finding her. What she really finds is true madness instead.

 

Censor is not a film for everyone, and if you expect another Evil Ed you will probably be disappointed. It is, however, a strangely bizarre and enthralling experience.

 

Censor

 

Director: Prano Bailey-Bond
Country & year: UK, 2021
Actors: Niamh Algar, Michael Smiley, Nicholas Burns, Vincent Franklin, Sophia La Porta, Sophia La Porta, Clare Holman, Andrew Havill, Felicity Montagu, Danny Lee Wynter, Clare Perkins, Guillaume Delaunay, Richard Glover, Erin Shanagher, Beau Gadsdon
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt10329614/

 

 

Vanja Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dracula’s Widow (1988)

Dracula's Widow We are in one of the darker corners of Hollywood, Los Angeles, where the young man Raymond Everett (Lenny Von Dohlen) owns a horror-themed wax museum. One day he gets some new deliveries, all the way from Romania, one of which is a casket that contains something you’ll never guess what – Vanessa, Dracula’s widow (Sylvia Kristel). Yes, a living, bloodsucking vampire. So why has she gotten herself all the way over to Los Angeles, you may wonder? No one knows. She doesn’t know, the script doesn’t know, even the Man Who Knows poster we see on the wall on Raymond’s apartment, doesn’t know. So where do we go from here? Who knows.

 

Anyway, as soon she rises from the casket, she goes straight to a bar where she hooks up a random, sleazy guy who will become her first victim to feed her need for human blood. At the same time, two men breaks into the wax museum while Raymond is upstairs sipping red wine and watching Nosferatu. After Vanessa kills one of the men, she goes up to Raymond and claims him as her slave before she puts her teeth in his neck, and wants him to take her back to her husband in Romania.

 

Instead of just giving her a one-way ticket and wish her the best, he tells her the shocking fact that Dracula is dead, and she’s a widow. Now she wants to know who killed him, so she can have her revenge. And guess what – Van Helsing’s grandson, simply named Dr. Helsing, coincidentally lives in Hollywood. Of course. And even though he’s old and fragile, and should rather be at a nursing home, he’s still determined and pretty eager to continue the legacy of his grandfather to hunt down vampires.

 

Dracula's Widow

 

And no joking here, this is the plot so far. We also get a crime investigation side-plot with Lt. Lannon (Josef Sommer) when Vanessa starts to leave more dead bodies around after her ongoing killing spree in Hollywood. When she’s not transforming herself into a bat, she uses her long fingers as daggers to kill her prey. There’s a pretty pointless, yet funny massacre scene with a group of devil-worshippers who are  about to sacrifice a naked blond chick to Satan, where the B-movie glory skyrockets all up to eleven. We see Vanessa turn into a monstrous creature with some really cool prosthetic makeup, as she kills off the whole group which leaves another gory crime scene to Lt. Lannon. He, of course, eventually gets in touch with Dr. Helsing, who easily convinces Hannon that all the killing is done by a vampire.

 

It’s noteworthy to mention that Dracula’s Widow is written and directed by Christopher Coppola, nephew of Francis Ford Coppola, who also made a certain Dracula film some years later. It’s easy to crap all over the film by comparing Christopher to his superior uncle, but Dracula’s Widow isn’t completely hopeless when it comes to cheap entertaining value, with some good old ’80s cheese. It’s a sleazy, gory and just a plain silly popcorn flick to kill off a Wednesday night. Nothing more, nothing less. The funniest moments here is of course the comical over-acting by Silvia Kristel, with her goofy facial expressions that she displays when she tries to look intimidating when she’s not wearing the monster make-up. Lenny Won Dohlen, known from Twin Peaks, has the same angsty look he always portrays. I also like the scenes with Dr. Helsing, that old geezer cracks me up. The guy who plays Lt. Lennon is the only one who takes his role dead serious, even though there’s absolutely nothing to take seriously here.

 

Dracula’s Widow is available on DVD after a quick search.

 

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Director: Christopher Coppola
Country & year: USA, 1988
Actors: Sylvia Kristel, Josef Sommer, Lenny von Dohlen, Marc Coppola, Stefan Schnabel, Rachel Jones, Duke Ernsberger, G.F. Rowe, Richard K. Olsen, Lucius Houghton, J. Michael Hunter, Traber Burns
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt0097230/

 

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alone (2020)

alone movieJessica is a recently widowed woman, who has decided to move on with her life and start afresh. While traveling, she encounters a suspicious-looking guy multiple times. Hoping that it’s all a coincidence, things become pretty evident when she crashes her car due to a slashed tire. The creep who has been stalking her manages to drug and kidnap her, and the cat ‘n mouse game has started.

 

Alone is a thriller movie released in 2020, directed by John Hyams. It is a remake of a Swedish thriller called Gone (aka Försvunnen) from 2011, by Mattias Olsson and Henrik JP Åkesson. Mattias was also credited as writer for Alone, and Henrik as producer. I haven’t seen the original, so I can make no comparisons in that regard, and the movie seems to be quite rare and hard to get a hold of. Still, the storyline seems to be pretty much the same.

 

At first, the movie builds up to be some kind of Duel-like movie, until it turns into a classic serial-killer hunting game. While there isn’t anything truly shocking or groundbreaking to witness here, and it’s obvious from the start who is hunted and who is the hunter, it’s still keeping your attention from the get-go. It’s somewhat predictable, but still suspenseful enough to keep you on the edge of the seat. The heroine, Jessica, is also not a character who is easily fooled, and she’s smelling something fishy very early on. Despite this, the serial killer still gets her. Sometimes, it doesn’t help if the mouse is aware that the cat is dangerous.

 

There’s a lot of running through the forest and a good amount of action, and the actress, Jules Willcox, actually broke her foot while shooting one of the first action scenes. She finished the shoot while wearing a boot and with the help of a stunt, but naturally this delayed things with a few months as some scenes couldn’t be finished until she was fully healed.

 

Like already mentioned, Alone doesn’t bring anything new to the table, it is a straight-forward cat ‘n mouse thriller where a woman tries to escape a serial killer. Yes, it’s formulaic and doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but it’s still a thrilling ride. So overall, Alone is a simple thriller without any big twists and turns, but the suspense makes up for it and turns it into an enjoyable viewing experience.

 

WARNING: The trailer includes major spoilers. Watch at your own risk (if you haven’t seen the movie and plan to do so, I recommend to avoid the trailer completely).

 

Alone

 

Director: John Hyamns
Country & year: USA, 2020
Actors: Jules Willcox, Marc Menchaca, Anthony Heald, Jonathan Rosenthal, Katie O’Grady, Betty Moyer, Shelly Lipkin, Emily Sahler, Laura Duyn, Brenton Montgomery, Nico Floresca
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt7711170/

 

 

Vanja 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.

 

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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Malignant (2021)

malignant After going through a traumatizing event, Madison starts having visions of grisly murders which are carried out by her childhood imaginary friend, Gabriel. Having believed that Gabriel was just a figment of her own imagination, she must try to figure out who he really is and why he has come back to torment her and those around her.

 

James Wan, after an absence from the horror genre since Conjuring 2 (as a director, at least) he is now finally back with a brand new movie: Malignant. And while most people connect James Wan with haunted houses, ghosts and demons (because of the Conjuring and Insidious movies), he stated early on that Malignant would be something completely different. And that, indeed, it is.

 

At the movie’s opening, we go back to 1993 and witness a large, gothic building which is some kind of medical research facility, where the researchers are struggling with a patient called Gabriel, who kills and maims the nurses. We get a slight glimpse of this “Gabriel” fellow, and then we fast forward to present day and meet Madison, who lives in a beautiful victorian house with just the right exterior and interior for a proper creepy atmosphere. And of course, we step right into James Wan-ish territory with creepy hallways and things moving in the dark. While building up at first to be somewhat Conjuring-esque, it shifts and mixes in what is an obvious homage to giallo films (for those who don’t know, “Giallo” is a term for murder mystery thrillers with lots of blood and gruesome murders, mixed with detective/suspense elements).

 

While it definitely felt good to be able to see another horror movie directed by James Wan, I can easily see how people might be a bit divided regarding their experience with this movie. Those who expect James Wan to have done another movie in the same vein as his haunted house flicks, might be put off due to this being something completely different. In fact, while we were watching it at the big screen, there were some people who left the theater when the first bloody murder scene was shown. Clearly, some people didn’t expect the movie to take that route, despite it having been given a strict R rating…but perhaps they thought that this rating was given because of titty scenes or something (which there are none by the way). Who the fuck knows.

 

James Wan did indeed do something very different with Malignant, and to be honest it was quite a pleasant surprise. Therefore, my advice would be to see this movie and not expect some kind of “Conjuring 4” or whatever. This isn’t a new haunted house flick, it ain’t another jump-scare carousel. It’s a throwback to the late 80’s/90’s slasher/thriller/giallo films, and if you’re familiar with these kinds of movies you’re most likely going to take a lot of the references (like the color usage, the killer wearing black gloves, etc.). Malignant is a decent slasher with atmosphere and creepy scenes, and a good amount of effective blood ‘n gore.

 

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Director: James Wan
Country & year: USA, 2021
Actors: Annabelle Wallis, Maddie Hasson, George Young, Michole Briana White, Jean Louisa Kelly, Susanna Thompson, Jake Abel, Jacqueline McKenzie, Christian Clemenson, Amir AboulEla, Mercedes Colon, Ingrid Bisu, Ruben Pla, Jon Lee Brody, Ray Chase, Mckenna Grace
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt3811906/

 

 

Vanja Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cat Sick Blues (2015)

cat sick blues

It’s a quiet evening and two young ladies are chilling, smoking bong and watching cat videos on YouTube, like most of us do. Then they hear some noises on the roof that sounds like their cat. When one of them goes up to check, she gets surprised by a tall, skinny person wearing a cat mask. She’s too high to get scared, of course, and laughs it off as if it was a prank. He chops her head of with a shovel and throws it down the stairs, and strangles the other one.

 

We then learn that the person behind the mask is a young man named Ted, who’s turned into a homicidal maniac after losing his beloved cat.  When he’s not out killing, he spends his nights jacking off to a cam girl, who’s dressed as a cat. Of course. And he really worships his cat more than anything and wants it back. And to do so, he got the genius idea to kill nine people, collect their blood, to resurrect his cat. He later extends his cat persona by adding a big strap-on dick with spikes (supposed to be penile spines, I guess) because … well, why not.

 

We then get introduced to Claire, who owns one of the many viral cats on YouTube. She gets an unexpected visit from an obsessed “fan” that you wouldn’t want to get near to. Stupidly enough she invites him in, and he (take a wild guess) rapes her, after he accidentally breaks her cat’s neck and tosses it out the window. She attends to a pet grieving group where she meets Ted. They start dating, fucking, and they have a chemistry like two lobotomized potatoes with a relationship that goes in a bizarre direction which you’ll never see coming. And when Ted is not dating Claire, he’s out body counting.

 

As a cat-person myself, I was hoping to get an antagonist to feel or at least root for. But no, Ted proves to be just a deranged and complete soulless, cold-blooded serial killer from the very start, who clearly enjoys raping and killing innocent young ladies for the hell of it while feeding his morbid, obsessive fetish fantasies. And when even fellow cat persons gets body counted by him, that’s a big  no-no, from me at least. He also kills the cam cat lady we saw earlier for no reason. There’s a lot of sadistic cat killers out there, by the way. Why not hunt some of them, in Dexter-style, which no one would miss anyway? Before I take this shit too seriously I’ll just point out that the idea itself for Cat Sick Blues is pretty genius and unique, just too bad we don’t get any depth or backstory of the killer.

 

On the more positive note, the film is overall  pretty entertaining for what it is, a pure demented serial killer slasher. If you’re in for the gore and kills, you will not be disappointed. As a low-budget film, and the debut feature of Dave Jackson who made it by crowdfunding from Kickstarter, it looks pretty impressive. While there’s some clearly experimental stuff going on with slow motion and scenes that slip into some out-of-place artsy moments, the killing scenes are straight to the point, with some nasty visuals that will probably get your dick as hard as Ted’s strap-on. Also a great use of practical effects with heads smashed to pieces, and chopped off, and of course some throat slashing with some sharp cat claw gloves. Even Selena Kyle would be intimidated by this maniac. And as little as there is to wrap one’s mind around Ted’s deranged head, I have to give actor Matthew C. Vaughan some credit for his acting-style and use of energetic cat body language while he goes hunting for victims.

 

Cat Sick Blues is available on DVD from Wild Eye Releasing.

 

Cat Sick Blues Cat Sick Blues Cat Sick Blues

 

Director: Dave Jackson
Country & year: Australia, 2015
Actors: Matthew C. Vaughan, Meg Spencer, Jeni Bezuidenhout, Danae Swinburne, Rob Alec, Mahalia Brown, Shian Denovan, Smokey, Rachel Rai, Noah Moon, Matthew Revert, Andrew Gallacher, James Arnold-Garvey
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt4185862/

 

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Redneck Zombies (1989)

redneck zombies

Redneck Zombies is probably most known for being one of the first films that was shot entirely on videotape (VHS) and released direct-to-video. Combined with that the film was shot on video and the result being what it is: a complete trashy home-made schlockfest with amateur actors and a script that seems to have been scribbled on toilet paper as they went along, didn’t impress the distributors very much. They basically told director Pericles Lewnes to fuck off, and after having enough rounds of rejections, he finally decided to try his luck with Troma – which is pretty odd he didn’t do in the first place since Redneck Zombies feels like pure Troma from start to finish, and just the title itself could probably give Lloyd Kaufman an instant hard-on. Most of Troma’s trademarks are all over the place: the outlandish over-the-top looney tunes acting with dialogues that are so stupid you’ll lose some braincells while watching, a demented plot which makes no sense, blood, greasy gore, puke, and I wish I could say tits. Whatever.

 

The plot goes something like this: It’s a regular day in the middle of redneck-nowhere in ‘Merica where the soldier Tyrone is transporting a barrel full of toxic waste. As he drives along the bumpy hillroad, smokes a joint and talks shit to his passenger dog, the barrel suddenly rolls off the jeep and further down a valley. The valley of redneck Hell no-go zone that is. When he tries to retrieve it, he immediately gets gunpointed by Ferd, a redneck slob who wants the barrel, since it already trespassed on his “land”. After Ferd scares him away with a warning shot, in true second amendment-style, he trades the barrel with a clan of imbecile inbreds who mixes the waste with moonshine and starts to drink the damn thing like there’s no tomorrow. And you can’t in a million years guess what happens next … the liquid turns them into zombies. Who could possibly know. But they are not some  regular zombies, no-no, they’re REDNECK zombies! Good lord.

 

At the same time, a group of city slickers are camping nearby, which seem to have the same level of IQ as the rednecks, or they are just as bad actors. The only thing that differentiates the rednecks from the “civilized people”, to use that word loosely, is really the dress code. And to no surprise they eventually stumbles upon the redneck zombies and a lot of weird, retarded, crazy shit happens. I can mention the scene where the rednecks start to drink the waste and the TV screen goes into a full psychedelic acid-trip, and the effects are just horrendous.

 

While the plot seems seemingly straightforward, the film throws in a lot of random filler scenes that gives us some nuggets of what the heartland has to offer, and to give a more authentic impression of the redneck community. Here we learn that The Elephant Man himself is still alive and well, but still covering his head with a burlap sack with one hole in it to peek through. The rednecks calls him Tobacco Man, since he sells tobaccos from his vendor van. He’s also some kind of a prophet which the rednecks worships, and rambles some weird, crazy nonsense with a dark baritone voice.

 

There’s also a complete random parody of the hitchhiker scene from Texas Chain Saw Massacre. Well, why not. And we get some scenes of a redneck lady with her beloved Perky the Pig, where she promises him that he won’t end up as bacon. When we thought we’ve seen it all in redneck hell, we jump right into a scene where two dudes are watching chickens getting slaughtered on TV, and who have a girl in the living-room, wrapped in duct tape. Of course. There’s some scenes that are shot like it was a sitcom where the only thing missing is fake laugh tracks. This film has some serious symptoms of schizophrenia, and I believe even Dr. Phil would agree on that.

 

The gore delivers, for the most part, at least. Heads are being scalped, beheaded with a shovel and crushed with bare hands, eyes gouged out, limbs ripped apart and so on. It’s juicy, greasy and at times, a little gruesome. Some looks cheap, others looks almost too competent for a film like this. It’s also hilarious that the zombie make-up was made by cornflakes. Yes, really.  My final verdict? Get drunk, pretend to be a young teenager and you’ll probably have a blast with this one.

 

Redneck Zombies

 

Director: Pericles Lewnes
Country & year: USA, 1989
Actors: Steve Sooy, Anthony M. Carr, Ken Davis, Stan Morrow, Brent Thurston-Rogers, Lisa M. DeHaven, Tyrone Taylor, Anthony Burlington-Smith, James H. Housely, Martin J. Wolfman, Boo Teasedale, Darla Deans
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt0093833/

 

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Perfect Blue (1997)

perfect blueMimarin Kirigoe is a J-Pop star who decides to leave her group (“Cham”) in order to pursue a life as an actress. But her life takes on a quick turn for the worse after this decision, and Mimarin starts losing her grip on reality. An online fansite of her appears, describing things from her life in such detail, and in such a personal way, that the only person who could know about these things is herself…and she is constantly confronted with sightings of her alter-ego: the Mimarin who wanted to remain a pop-star. While struggling with differentiating between fantasy and reality in her now paranoid existence, people around her gets murdered.

 

Perfect Blue is more or less what you would get if you decided to mix anime, David Lynch, Hitchcock, and a dose Dario Argento. The result is an animated psychological thriller that works incredibly well. You get your eyes as well as your brain cells stimulated, and you never know exactly which of Mimarin’s experiences are rooted in reality, and what happens only inside of her fragmented head.

 

Satoshi Kon (R.I.P.) knows how to build a story of this type, something he’s proven time and time again (like in Paprika, Paranoia Agent, Millennium Actress, etc.) Building a story where you’ll witness a character’s gradually broken psyche can easily be a difficult task, where you’re supposed to make it a bit confusing and mystical, while also making sure the viewer doesn’t get thrown off completely. The reason Satoshi Kon for the most part does this very well, is probably because he doesn’t seem to give a damn whether the viewer pays attention to everything or not. He’s got a story to tell, and he tells it the way he thinks best. If the viewer loses track, it’s due to not paying proper attention. When the director gives himself a free reign like that, he also avoids any tedious “spoon-feeding”. The result is a movie that is rare in many ways, and can be perceived as both exciting and surprising along the ride.

 

The violence is executed in a very effective way, and the animation (although it could be perceived by some as a little bit outdated today) is holding up to a good standard. Facial expressions, body language and movements look natural, and fits the situations the characters find themselves in. The music also fits very well, where you make transitions from the cheesy and lively J-Pop music from Cham, to the more action-filled and sometimes ominous music score in the other scenes. This makes the atmosphere successfully creepy.

 

When it comes to the movie’s conclusion, you may sit back with a feeling of thinking that this choice was a tad bit too easy. Not that the ending is predictable – far from it – but there’s something about the otherwise complexity of the rest of the movie that kind of warranted a bit more complex ending as well. Still, it’s at least good that the movie decided to let the viewer have a proper explanation without a lot of loose threads.

 

Simply put, Perfect Blue is a well done anime psycho-thriller that is likely to hold on to being a classic for a good time to come.

 

Perfect Blue Perfect Blue

 

Director: Satoshi Kon
Original title: Pâfekuto burû
Country & year: Japan, 1994
Voice actors: Junko Iwao, Rica Matsumoto, Shinpachi Tsuji, Masaaki Ôkura, Yôsuke Akimoto, Yoku Shioya, Hideyuki Hori, Emi Shinohara, Masashi Ebara, Kiyoyuki Yanada, Tôru Furusawa, Shiho Niiyama, Emiko Furukawa, Aya Hara, Shin’ichirô Miki
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt0156887/

 

Vanja Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Empty Man (2020)

the empty manWe start in Bhutan, and the year is 1995. Four friends (Greg, Fiona, Ruthie and Paul) go hiking, and Paul starts hearing a strange whistling sound that no one else seem to notice. Trying to investigate where the mysterious sound is coming from, he suddenly falls into a crevice and Greg must try to get him back up again. After climbing down, Greg finds a catatonic Paul, and when trying to touch him he whispers “touch me and you’ll die“. Paul and Greg are not entirely alone down there, though…there is also a huge deformed skeleton embedded into the cave wall. No matter how mysterious this all looks, Greg’s priority is to get Paul out of there, and the group takes him to an empty house right before a snowstorm hits the place. Paul is still in a catatonic state, and the group soon find out that he’s being slowly possessed by an evil spirit.

 

In Missouri, 2018, James is a former detective who is struggling after the death of his wife and son in a car accident a year ago. When the daughter of one of his friends runs away from home, where the only clue she’s left is a bloody message saying “The Empty Man made me do it” written in the bathroom, he tracks down this girl’s friends and he eventually finds out that they tried a ritual a few nights ago: summoning the Empty Man. As the legend goes, on the first day you would hear the Empty Man, on the second you would see him, and on the third he would find you. When the teens start turning up dead, James delves further into the legend of the so-called Empty Man, and gets thrown down into a dark and crooked rabbit-hole.

 

The Empty Man is a horror mystery thriller directed by David Prior, and based on a comic book series created by writer Cullen Bunn and artist Vanesa R. Del Rey in 2014, published by Boom! Studios. While initially thinking it might be yet another supernatural teen slasher, it was obvious right from the start that this was something entirely different. The opening with the cave and the deformed ancient skeleton set a few expectations for something a bit more eerie and weird than a run-of-the-mill homicidal entity, and yup – those expectations were certainly met. With a lot of truly creepy scenes and a steadily building atmosphere of dread, The Empty Man manages to entwine you into a nightmarish story with cults and cosmic horror.

 

While the movie is overall very exciting and suspenseful, I have to admit that I’m not sure exactly what I think of the ending. At one point during the last part of the movie we kept joking that it’s been so entertaining and suspenseful so far, that it didn’t really matter even if it had some bullshit twist-ending where he got captured by aliens or eaten by Bigfoot or something…and while, of course, neither of those happened, the ending still felt a bit more of a “whuh..?” rather than an “a-ha!” experience, and I think that some parts needed a bit more explanation for the ending to feel more satisfying (note that I haven’t read the comic book series, and didn’t even know it existed until after watching this film). It still doesn’t detract from it being a pretty good movie, though, with creepy atmosphere and a lot of suspense. It’s sad to say that some people might steer clear from it due to its “supernatural entity killing off teens” premise, which might give some Bye Bye Man or Slenderman vibes…but as a whole that is not what the movie is about at all. This means that those who might watch it under the premise of seeing an easy supernatural teen-slasher, would also get something entirely different than they bargained for…

 

The Empty Man is a solid mystery thriller, and well worth a watch.

 

The Empty Man

 

Director: David Prior
Country & year: USA, 2021
Actors: James Badge Dale, Marin Ireland, Sasha Frolova, Samantha Logan, Evan Jonigkeit, Virginia Kull, Robert Aramayo, Ron Canada, Jessica Matten, Aaron Poole, Stephen Root, Jamie-Lee Money, Owen Teague, Joel Courtney, Phoebe Nicholls
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt5867314/

 

Vanja Ghoul