Troll 2 (1990)

TrollTroll 2 is a film that examines many serious and important issues. Like eating, living and dying. – Director Claudio Fragasso

 

And speaking of dying, dear grandpa Seth is dead. RIP. Even though it’s been six months after his funeral, the ten-year-old kid Joshua has regular meetings with his ghost in his room before bedtime. Grandpa Seth sits in a rocking chair as he tells goodnight stories about goblins and witches who turn people into trees, bushes and everything green.

 

Because you see, once upon a time there were goblins who were vegetarians, and the only way for them to eat was to turn people into everything green. But this is actually not any fairytale. Oh no, these goblins actually exist. So beware. Now, sleep tight and have a good night.

 

The brilliant idea of vegetarian goblins came from Rossella Drudi, the wife of Claudio Fragasso, who co-wrote the script. Here’s a quote from Best Worst Movie, a documentary from 2009 about the making of Troll 2:

I didn’t want to write your typical horror movie. So, I came up with a story about troll (goblins) who were vegetarians. Because at that point in my life, I had many friends who’d all become vegetarians, and it pissed me off. So I had the idea of replacing the vampires in the vampire story with vegetarians (like Duckula).

 

Only Joshua can see grandpa Seth (of course) and no one believes him. His mother has grown tired of him talking to his ghost and has a quick, serious conversation with him:

 

Troll 2

 

Banish him, you hear, boy? And yes, this is the actual piece of dialogue that was written which Josh’s mom says to him with the most dead and soulless eyes ever, as if she was straight from The Westboro Baptist Church. Good night and sweet dreams. Brrr! I prefer the ghost of grandpa Seth, thank you very much. With a script written like this, also by two Italians with very little to no knowledge of the English language, one would assume that the whole script was written in Italian and roughly Google-translated with no corrections. In reality, the script was written in such broken English that even the actors suggested to director Claudio Fragasso that they should at least ad-lib the lines to prevent the dialogues from sounding as retarded as it did on paper. Fragasso, the maestro that he is with an ego bigger than Jupiter, flat-out refused as his script was set in stone and perfect as it was.

 

But this little flavor of absurdity we just saw here is only the very top of the iceberg of this incompetent circus of a horror movie. It gets really batshit, to say the least, and it’s the reason why Troll 2 is praised by the same audiences who almost died from laughing at modern so-bad-it’s-good-classics like The Room, Birdemic: Shock and Terror and all the films of Neil Breen.

 

Back to the film: Josh’ parents are taking him and their teen daughter Holly on a summer vacation trip to a small country, hillbilly town in the state of Utah, called … Nilbog. And the place looks like a complete ghost town which has seen better days. Grandpa Seth is still here, though, watching over Josh’s shoulders. They swap houses with a family that welcomes them with a ready dinner table. Talk about hospitality. But that’s not real food, Grandpa Seth tells Josh. It’s Goblin food which will turn anyone who eats it into vegetables – the favorite food of the goblins! Grandpa Seth displays some of his magic ghost force to stop the time for a brief moment, so Josh can prevent them eating the food. He has only ten seconds. The tension and suspense is unbearable. Josh stands on the table while the rest of the family is frozen-out, opens his zipper and – you guessed it – pisses on the food.

 

Or in Claudio Fragasso’s own frustrating words while trying to explain to a confused ten-year-old who didn’t understand the context of the scene, and who the hell could blame him:  – You don’t worry, you jump on table, you unzip zipper, we cut, piss on table!

 

Aha, okey then…

 

His dad, Michael (played by Aaron Eckhart’s doppelganger, George Hardy), gets furious and carries Josh up to his room where he delivers his famous line:

 

Troll 2

 

And yes, this is the actual dialogue. This is also the line that George Hardy used in his audition for the film. In full seriousness, he shouted You can’t piss on hospitality in front of nine cigar-smoking Italian casting agents. And they didn’t understand a word he was saying. The only reason he got the part was because they liked his energy.

 

Like in the original film, we get introduced to a witch by the name Creedence Leonore Gielgud. And this one is from the west and as evil as a Saturday Morning Cartoon character. She lives in a small church where she brews a green, magic, toxic potion that turns people into vegetables, so she can feed her goblins.

 

Alice Cooper was apparently busy feeding his Frankenstein, so the role of the witch went to Deborah Reed. And ‘boy, her performance is a trip. I have not before or after Troll 2 seen overacting on such an absurd animated level, as we see here. It’s all up to eleven and beyond, and I bet she must have burned some calories after reading her goofy lines the way she did. I’d love to se her audition reel and the reactions of the nine cigar-smoking Italians. Reed died last year due to cancer at age 73, but she will always be remembered in her iconic role. RIP.

 

Troll 2

 

The Oh My God clip is the most flawless piece of cinema put together. The way that the music is synchronized with his delayed scream is just perfection, not to mention the fly on the guy’s forehead. That’s Stanley Kubrick-level of perfectionism right there when it comes to subtle details with hidden meanings.

 

Then we have the creature designs, or the goblin costumes, the pure definition of schlock that even makes the creatures from the original film look like something from Stan Winston.

 

Troll 2

 

Troll 2 was filmed during thirty chaotic hot summer days in Utah where all the cast and crew were Italians who, of course, didn’t speak English. The actors were local amateurs, the one worse than the other, and all of whom auditioned to star as extras, but somehow instead ended up in the main roles. That also explains one thing or two. Michael Paul Stephenson, who plays the annoying kid Josh, already had the (un)pleasure of starring in another film by Claudio Fragasso, with Beyond the Darknes (a.k.a La Casa 5), released the same year as Troll 2. He also made the documentary Best Worst Movie.

 

The original title was Goblin, but was released as Troll 2, because that’s what Italian distributors always do to shamelessly cash in on the success of other films.

 

Troll 2 was one of the lost gems, also called The Holy Grail of bad movies, that were rediscovered many years after its release. It wasn’t until the comedy theatre group Upright Citizens Brigade started to screen the film at their base in Los Angeles that the phenomena that was Troll 2 spread throughout the United States like a turkey on fire, and soon after globally. Then the now legendary Oh My God clip was shared on YouTube and the rest is movie history.

 

Director Claudio Fragasso was also curious about the buzz and how the Americans had finally rediscovered his masterpiece, and flew to the states with his wife to get a sense of the phenomenon. Too bad he seems to have zero sense of irony. I’d earlier had an assumption that the guy was a first-class troll (no pun intended), like Birdemic director James Nguyen, but after re-watching some clips from the documentary Best Worst Movie, I’m not so sure. The clown really believes deep down that he made a genuine solid piece of cinema with Troll 2, and during an awkward Q&A after a screening of the film he looks completely lost, confused and irritated, and is about to implode. People were laughing too much at his film, even at parts that weren’t meant to be funny. Uh-oh! And he didn’t like that. His spicy narcissism and true colors really shine at the end of the documentary where he gets jealous of the actors’ popularity, giving them the death stare and even calling them dogs and liars. Classy.

 

Troll 2

 

There are many factors why Troll 2 ended up like it did for all the wrong hilarious reasons, but the main one is on none other than Claudio Fragasso, or the pseudonym of Drake Floyd he was credited as here. It’s the typical Ed Wood syndrome, just with an even more bloated ego, pompous arrogance, insanity and a head stuffed so far in one’s own delusional fantasy-butthole while refusing to hear a single input than your own bubbling farts. And to be fair, Fragasso hardly directed the film, costume designer Laura Gemser did, the one and only on the crew that spoke English fluently and translated the director’s directions to the actors. He also looked down on having any assistance from any English-speaking crew or cast because he was too lazy to learn some of the language himself. Mamma mia. Working on the set of Troll 2 must have been such a pleasant experience. I would like to see a biopic about the making of this turkey, like The Disaster Artist. Leonardo DiCaprio would be a great fit to play Fragasso.

 

There’s far worse movies than Troll 2, surprisingly enough, and at the end of the day, Claudio Fragasso has unintentionally managed to put together one of the best unhinged horror comedies of all time (if not the best) with not a single boring moment followed by a whole notebook of quote worthy lines. That’s a great skill and an achievement in itself. And that the guy to this day seems to be ultra-bitter about the films’ cult status and never seems to come to peace with it, is a bit sad. But that’s what happens when your ego becomes your own worst enemy.

 

There wasn’t made a Troll 3… or maybe it kinda was if we use our imagination a bit. We actually have two titles that were released with a.k.a Troll 3. The first one is Quest for the Mighty Sword (1990), an Italian fantasy film by Joe D’Amato. If the alternative titles wasn’t head-scratching already, this one is also known as The Hobgoblin and Ator III: The Hobgoblin. The other one is The Crawlers (1993), also a Joe D’Amato production about killing plants and was also filmed in the same area in Utah where Troll 2 was filmed.

 

Troll 2 Troll 2 Troll 2

 

 

Director: Claudio Fragasso
Writers: Rossella Drudi, Claudio Fragasso
Country & year: US, Nilbog, 1990
Actors: Michael Paul Stephenson, George Hardy, Margo Prey, Connie Young, Robert Ormsby, Deborah Reed, Jason Wright, Darren Ewing, Jason Steadman, David McConnell, Gary Carlston, Mike Hamil
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt0105643/

 

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Night of the Demon (1980)

Night of the DemonNight of the Demon Bigfoot is an amateur monster schlock from 1980, which starts off with a wounded dude, Bill Nugent, lying in a hospital bed surrounded by doctors and a police inspector. He’s an anthropology professor, you see, and here’s his fascinating story you wouldn’t believe, which is about his adventure with a group of his students to track down Bigfoot in the woods of Northern California. And he has to convince the doctors that he’s not insane and that he was the only one who survived Bigfoot after the monster killed all of the students.

 

And good-fucking luck with that, my dude. Mr. Kallen from Slapped Ham would have loved to have you on his first podcast.

 

Bill starts with the first story, the first series of flashback scenes where we see Bigfoot killing random people. The first victim is some guy in the forest who’s getting ready to fish by a river. In order to have some suspense here, the monster is shown through POV and off-screen and, just like in the great classic Blackenstein, we have a moment where we see the monster rip his arm off with zero force in silhouette. Someone has clearly taken notes from the very best. While he bleeds to death with the use of the thinnest cranberry juice streaming from his ripped arm, the blood streams down to fill one of Bigfoot’s footprints, following the opening credits.

 

As Bill and his group of students head into the forest to find our mythic creature, they hear about this lady Wanda. She’s a mysterious outcast who lives as a hermit in a cabin deep in the woods, and the legend says that she knows where Bigfoot is. Okay, then. In the meanwhile, as they’re heading for Wanda’s cabin, we get some more flashback scenes told by Bill as they sit around the campfire to remind us how dangerous this Bigfoot is. All these campfire scenes were shot and added during the post production because the producer wanted to amp up the gore. We see Bigfoot killing people in different ways, but don’t get too excited. In one scene, he even uses an axe and the effect is the cheapest-looking rubber wound sticker they could afford.

 

The most memorable scene is the biker dude who gets his dick ripped off when he’s about to take a piss. Because this is no laughing matter. This is serious. Dead serious. Just look at the deadpan seriousness on Bill’s face when he tells the story. Don’t you dare to even chuckle or roll your eyes in disbelief. Show some respect for the poor guy.

 

We also have a campfire story about this random couple who’s about to have sex in a van. This is also the only body count flashback scene (as far as I remember) that was not shot in broad daylight. This is one of the more what-the-fuck-moments where the guy gets dragged by Bigfoot up to the top of the car while the lady can’t decide how to react as she makes orgasms sounds and looks confused rather than terrified. It’s noteworthy to mention that director James C. Wasson mainly produced porn films, so maybe there are some connections there.

 

Then there’s the star of the film, the man, myth and the legend himself: Bigfoot… and I have to be honest and say that the face-makeup is not the worst I’ve seen. Some effort went in here for sure, and I would assume the make-up artists took some inspiration from the creation of Michael Myer’s mask in Halloween, only here based on the face of Mick Jagger. And I don’t think anything can really top that.

 

Night of the Demon is available on DVD and Blu-ray from Severin Films, restored and uncut. A fun time for all lovers of schlock and funny-bad movies.

 

Night of the Demon Night of the Demon Night of the Demon

 

Director: James C. Wasson
Writers: Mike Williams, Jim L. Ball
Country & year: US, 1980
Actors: Michael Cutt, Joy Allen, Bob Collins, Jody Lazarus, Rick Fields, Michael Lang, Melanie Graham, Shannon Cooper, Paul Kelleher, Ray Jarris
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt0081229/

 

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seytan (1974)

Seytan The Turkish ExorcistThere was actually a time when films like this were called plagiarism. Today we call them remakes. And call this specimen of celluloid what you will, Pazuzu, however, has already left the building and dived straight back to hell to suck Saddam Hussein’s big hairy toes rather than being near this eyesoaring madhouse.

 

There’s little to zero trivia info to find about this Turkish obscurity other than it’s more or less a shot-for-shot remake of The Exorcist – a movie from 1973 you may have heard of. The film was apparently shot on a low budget, resulting in a grainy and poor image quality. You don’t say. To call the image quality grainy and poor is the biggest understatement since the beginning of human existence. I would first assume the film was shot on used toilet paper with a dirty lens covered in fresh urine and projected straight out of Belphegor’s asshole.

 

And you couldn’t ask for a more honest plot summary to add on the backside of the DVD cover:

 

After the worldwide success of William Friedkin’s 1973 classic film The Exorcist, those wacky Turks decided that maybe they should steal the script and make their own homegrown version of the film. The result is Seytan, a one of a kind viewing experience. If you’ve seen the 1973 original you’ll feel you’re experiencing déjà Vu as this version is almost an identical scene by scene remake of The Exorcist, albeit with a Turkish soundtrack, music recorded directly off a record player, editing most likely done by a blind monkey and special effects more fitting for an elementary school play. Combine this with really grainy film stock, some out of work (possibly homeless) unknown Turkish actors, horrible direction and a budget of about $1.95 and you’ve got yourself an instant classic.

 

There are some story changes here though. Instead of Father Damien Karras, we have the young author Tugrul Bilge, who’s just written a book about black magic titled Seytan. And one of the readers of that book is the twelve-year-old girl Gül, while she also plays with a spirit board. And instead of Captain Howdy we have Captain… Lersen. Gül gets possessed by Lersen and her mother contacts Bilge after she discovers his book. Although Bilge is a non-believer (u-oh), he gets invited to have a look at Gül as she’s bedridden and wearing some cheap make-up, a big Tina Turner wig and mumbles with a comical demon voice that sounds more like a drunk, old Japanese samurai. And yes, of course, The Exorcist himself, an old gentleman with a white-trimmed santa beard, eventually pops up to conjure holy forces in the big climax.

 

The funny thing is that both Gül and Tugrul sound like some sinister stage names from a black metal band, while Lersen sounds more like a regular Joe.

 

And forget about any obscene cussing like “your mother sucks cocks in hell” and  “let Jesus fuck you!” The most edgy written piece of dialogue we get is “I will kill you”. In other words: I highly doubt that anyone who saw this back in 1974 in the Turkish cinemas went out of the movie shaking with trauma, and had problems sleeping the following night. The masturbation scene is still here though, in its own unique way, along with the head spinning sequences, the possessed furniture, the medical examinationsKarra’s Bilge’s sideplot with his mommy issues – but with the momentum like a quick fart in the wind, and the emotional depth as deep as a puddle on the sidewalk. It’s amateur-hour all the way and like a piss-drunk karaoke version of something very familiar performed by Eilert Pilarm with the tunes from Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells constantly on repeat throughout the first half of the movie, ripped from a tired cassette tape, to remind us that this is… The Turkish Exorcist. Burp.

 

The acting is as laughable as you’d expect, but I have to give the girl who plays the Turkish Regan some cred as she tries her best and seemed to have a jolly fun time during the making of this looney tune. She also got the pleasure of spitting some green-something in the old man’s face.

 

Seytan never got any official physical release, or not that I know of, other than a DVD bootleg in 2007 by Substance, ripped from a VHS added with subtitles which even Google seemed to struggle to translate. Fun shit. It’s of course also on YouTube with a more cleaned up image quality but without the subtitles.

 

Seytan The Turkish Exorcist

 

 

 

 

Director: Metin Erksan
Writer: Yilmaz Tümtürk
Also known as: Seytan – The Turkish Exorcist
Country & year: Turkey, 1974
Actors: Canan Perver, Cihan Ünal, Meral Taygun, Agah Hün, Erol Amaç, Ismail Hakki Sen, Ekrem Gökkaya
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt0072148/

 

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hobgoblins (1988)

HobgoblinsWriter, producer, editor and director Rick Sloane is a true independent auteur, no one can at least take that away from him. He’s made 16 movies over the course of the decades since the early 80’s, and we all should know about his Vice Academy films, a spoof of Police Academy which spawned five whole sequels. Yet he’s known for one movie and one movie only: Hobgoblins – one of the most, if not the most, sour fart-smelling and cringe-inducing cheese fests from the 1980s that got its place on the Worst Films Ever Made list and became a cult-classic of so-bad-it’s-good-movies.

 

The film starts in some old movie studio where the young nightguard, Dennis, have been strictly told by his older co-worker McCreedy to stay far away from the vault. Of course he won’t. And when he enters it, he’s suddenly on a stage in his own fantasy land where he’s a rock star. Shortly after he grabs the mike and does some silly movements, and ends up getting killed, off screen. A new young guy gets hired with the same warnings to stay away from the vault. Pffft, yeah right. One night when he opens it, a group of fluffy Mogwai/Critter hybrid creatures escape from the vault and drive away in a golf cart.

 

To quote the back of the Blu-ray; as bodycounts starts to rise, Kevin, with help of his friends, decide to track down the deadly creatures before they wreak havok on the city.

 

There’s only one (yes 1) bodycount in the entire film though, and that’s the guy we saw in the beginning, and the film is as tame as a newborn kitten. We learn that the creatures came from space in the 1950s in a small shuttle that crashlanded near the movie studio where McCreedy was a nightguard. He has since then kept them trapped in the vault, since anyone who encounters them will have their fantasy wishes come true, only until they get killed by the creatures. And guess what: they also get attracted to very bright lights. Rick Sloane claims that he wrote the script for Hobgoblins several years before Gremlins, by the way, so don’t you even dare to think otherwise.

 

There’s no more plot to break down from here ’cause there isn’t any. We have a string of nonsensical scenes where our group of protagonists keeps bullshitting around Kevin’s house. We have some rivalry between Mike and some Rambo wannabe who fights with rakes, because…just because. Later that night, they have a party where the creatures finally stop by to get the plot going forward. We eventually end up in some sleazy nightclub where it just gets more crazy and weird.

 

Hobgoblins

 

Hobgoblins is a real stink bomb in every aspect with the production value of an episode of ALF. The direction, the acting, the story (if there is any), the characters, the pacing, the effects, everything falls completely on its face. The attempt to be a comedy is like … I can’t even put a word on it. It’s something else. Holy moly macaroni. Even though the actors are a group of young and fresh graduates from the prestigious Troll 2 School of Acting, Troll 2 is Citizen Kane compared to this one, and you have to lower your bar to the lowest to sit through Hobgoblins.

 

There are no effects here. No blood, nothing. The only kill we get happens offscreen because its budget of $15,000 obviously couldn’t afford a single effect artist. What we have left is actors who do an impossible job to make us believe they are in danger while they wiggle around with lifeless puppets in the purest Ed Wood style. Picture Bela Lugosi with the octopus and there you have it. When we see the puppets moving around, they’re being operated by a woman who has just been released from a mental hospital. No shame in that. Sometimes crazy people need a job too.

 

The film is also sprinkled with goofs, but the one who caught my eye was the sequence with the car during where a hand visibly rocks the stationary car, and you can see it as clear as day. Then we have the grenades of the Rambo-wannabe-dude which he throws around the nightclub that does zero damage. A grenade gets thrown in one direction but explodes in a completely different direction. Like Ed Wood famously said: Filmmaking is not about the tiny details. It’s about the big picture.

 

Some trivia: The film was shot without permits and in a single week. The film studio was in a parking lot that was deserted at night, next to a crackhouse. McCreedy’s gun was actually a cap pistol, purchased from a toy store for five dollars. Only the eyes for the hobgoblins were going to be seen in an earlier draft of the script. A pit bull’s growl was used for the voice of the hobgoblins. Rick Sloane initially planned on making a sequel in 1990 and had even written a screenplay for it, but it wasn’t made until 2009 as Hobgoblins 2.

 

Hobgoblins was also mocked by Mystery Science Theater 3000, an episode which Rick Sloane got shocked by when he himself was mercilessly mocked over the film’s end credits. In an interview with Dead Central in 2009, he was asked about the movie’s position on the IMDb Bottom 100. He said he was “surprised it slipped down to #25 as it at sometime was the 2nd spot, right behind Gigli. As for now, it’s on #35. It’s also on a Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack from Vinegar Syndrome.

 

Hobgoblins Hobgoblins Hobgoblins

 

Writer and director: Rick Sloane
Country & year: US, 1988
Actors: Tom Bartlett, Paige Sullivan, Steven Boggs, Kelley Palmer, Billy Frank, Tamara Clatterbuck, Duane Whitaker, James R. Sweeney, Kevin Kildow, Daran Norris, James Mayberry
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt0089280/

 

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ed Gein: The Musical (2010)

Ed Gein: The Musical  Somebody Framed Meeeeeee ♪ …

– Shut up and quit singing!

 

Welcome to amateur hour. Today we take a look at Ed Gein: The Musical, a homemade micro-budget horror comedy made for shits n’giggles that was probably a fun time for all those involved. The rest of the world had to wait for ten whole years to finally witness a singing Ed Gein to be released on DVD.

 

The film starts straight to the point where Ed Gein enters Mary Hagan’s store and then shoots her with a shotgun. After the sinful act, we hear the first notes of Eddie as he sings (with the voice-over of Will Keizer, who wrote most of the songs).

Oooooooooh no, I Did A Bad Thing … And Now They Are Coming For Meeee … There’s Nowhere To Hide … Ooooh Mama, I Did A Bad Thing  …

 

Eddie takes the corpse to his shed with the second musical number while he chops up some limbs,  titled Lonely Feeling, Lonely Reeling, and the energy is as electric as a Sunday evening at the local Bingo hall.

 

Ed gets arrested by the sheriff, suspected of the murder of Miss Hagan, and brought into the interrogation room. From here on, Ed tells his life story, filled with nothing but delusional fantasies as we dive into more zero-budget, amateur movie madness and two-notes of honky-tonk song numbers mixed with mainly acoustic guitar and not much of the basic understanding of how a musical works. The songs are completely forgettable and performed in the most bland, lifeless karaoke style with a static camera.

 

We see a quick flashback scene where a young Ed gets abused by his dad for having a picture of a half-naked lady. After getting whipped with the belt, Ed says: When I’m grown I won’t take this crap. When I’m grown I will be a handsome chap. Yeah, you heard that right. We then cut to the current Ed, dressed like a sleazy car-salesman as he sings… a rap-song. The cringe meter is already at its maximum, but it still manages to get worse. Because we haven’t seen the scene with Ed and his mom yet.

 

We see Ed in various scenarios. In one scene he’s in some hall with elderly people, he’s in the fakest-looking cemetery ever put on film, he sits in a bar, sings some duets with random chicks and more nonsensical buffoonery follows. We also see him in a sitcom setting where they forgot to add the laugh track. All filmed in blurry and out-of-focus images with the sense of filming in general as a blind, drunk sailor man who’s way past his bedtime. As for the comedy goes we laugh more at the film than with it, which is completely fine by me.

 

The only legit quality to point out is the eye-catching artwork on the DVD cover. And if you dig far enough you can find it at CD Universe. For more Ed Gein, check out Deranged (1974), Ed Gein (2000) and the graphic novel Did You Hear What Ed Gein Done? (2021).

 

Ed Gein: The Musical Ed Gein: The Musical Ed Gein: The Musical

 

Director: Steve Russell
Writer: Dan Davies
Country & year: USA, 2010
Actors: Dan Davies, Clifford Henry, Laurie Friedman-Fannin, Lucia Stevenson, M.J. Marsh, Cindy Yungwirth, James Fairchild, Barbra Alloy, Edie Amundsen, Charlie Bitter, Jason Buss
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt1562295/

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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?

 

Blackenstein

 

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
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt0069795/

 

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
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt0087616/

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yeti: Giant of the 20th Century (1977)

Yeti: Giant of the 20th CenturyIs it a bird? Is it a plane? No, its Yeti: Giant of the 20th Century! And he’s ready to funk your shoes off!

 

Yeti the Funky Giant of the 20th Century is a mentally retarded Italian/Canadian produced ripoff of King Kong (1976) which starts off with  some quick stock-footage of ice melting in some very cold place. A big block of ice is found in the Newfoundland’s coast of Canada with two big feet popping out. Professor Waterman is being sent by a sleazy industry tycoon for an oil company to study the giant, and he brings with him his orphan grandchildren Jane, her younger mute brother Herbie, and of course their Collie. A big happy family who will sit together on the front row and witness the first glimpse of the creature, after they melt the block with several flamethrowers. The big furry creature is then transported by a helicopter to the Canadian mainlands, with Yeti dangling unconscious in something that looks like a big phone booth. Things seem to go pretty smooth and dandy so far, but just wait. Oh, just wait…

 

As soon they descend him to the ground, surrounded by an excited audience waiving their Canadian flags who cant wait to be the first to witness this freakshow, Yeti wakes up and it’s all an epic and spectacular cinematic madhouse from here on that you have to see with your own sober eyes to believe. Yeti looks like a hairy and funky incarnation of a giant pot smoking Jesus Christ with a fluffy Tina Turner wig and enough fur to hide his giant pipeline. He’s so funky you’d expect him to show us some dance moves any time, but instead he screams like an elephant and poses to the camera with various insane goofy facial expressions. It’s truly something else. The guy in the Yeti costume, Mimmo Crau, appeared in the TV mini series Jesus of Nazareth the same year, by the way. But not as Jesus, unfortunately, that coincidence would have been too funny.

 

After Yeti releases himself, he grabs the two grandchildren of professor Waterman and wanders away to the wilderness. The stockholm syndrome hits in turbo speed and a spiritual romantic bond in some bizarre Beauty and the Beast style evolves between Yeti and Jane, as she looks and gaze at him with the most manic borderline-seducing eyeballs. But nah, don’t even think about it: The actress was only sixteen years old at the time, so there’s no kinky furry sex for your fetish fantasies here. And not that I wanted to see that either. The closest we get to a tiny hint of a love scene that never happened is when Jane touches around Yeti’s breast which erects his nipple. Groovy.

 

The best parts is when Yeti is placed on the top of a high building in Toronto, because why not, and causes absolute mayhem like Stay Puft Marshmellow Man in full psychotic saturday night fever dream where the only thing missing is some funk music to put the cherry on top. And for that we have a music video where Yeti cheerfully smashes miniature walls, having fun with an elevator stuffed with panicked people like an overstimulated five-year old playing with lego and action figures, and uses the windows to smash his feet in to climb safely down.

 

He also kills one of the bad guys by strangling him with his toes. But that’s far from all, there’s so much more, and if you’re piss-tired of monster films (especially some of the modern ones) which mainly focuses on boring human characters and treat the monster(s) like an afterthought, well, this one is made for you.

 

Most scenes with Yeti consists of close-ups of his head, feet and hands. Two separte shots are used in the purest and primitive stone age of movie magic technology, when we see him in full form to give us the illusion that’s he’s bigger than he really is. And unless you’ve been too drunk while watching this you’ve clearly seen that he shrinks and grows throughout the film. In a scene he seems as big as The Statue of Liberty and in the next not so much. The Ed wood school of filmmaking, more or less, where minor details like this doesn’t matter.

 

Yeti: Giant of the 20th Century is released on a pretty juicy Blu-ray by the German based Wicked Vision. It’s filled with bonus features which includes a poster, cards, booklet and more. It also have the original Italian theatrical version of 104 minutes and the German dubbed version, both with English subtitles.

 

Yeti: Giant of the 20th Century Yeti: Giant of the 20th Century Yeti: Giant of the 20th Century

 

 

Director: Gianfranco Parolini
Writers: Mario di Nardo, Gianfranco Parolini, Marcello Coscia
Original title: Yeti – Il gigante del 20° secolo
Also known as: Yeti – der schneemensch kommt (Germany)
Country & year: Italy, Canada, 1977
Actors: Antonella Interlenghi, Mimmo Crao, Jim Sullivan, Tony Kendall, Edoardo Faieta, John Stacy, Stelio Candelli, Loris Bazzocchi, Indio, Donald O’Brien, Aldo Canti
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt0076937/

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nightbeast (1982)

Welcome to Z movie hour. Today we take a look at a micro-budget and campy sci-fi schlockfest with an evil alien and his lazer gun, made by amateur filmmaker Don Dohler, starring his neighbours, brother-in-laws, himself, and his two sons.

 

Nightbeast opens with a small spaceship that gets hit my a meteor and crashlands spectacularly in the woodsland of Maryland. And there went the whole budget, I would guess. Out of the burning spaceship comes a hideous-looking alien (Nightbeast). He looks like a skinned gorilla and always has a sadistic, evil grin on his face, which clearly tells us that he’s not here in peace.

 

Some of the locals get sheriff Cinder to show the crashlanding area, and he then says with a deadpanned face:j e s u s ! Must have been lightning.”  Nightbeast has no time to waste, and starts killing off some local hunters with his tiny lazergun that makes them disappear into thin air. He then kills uncle Dave and chases his two nephews (played by the two sons of director Dohler) through the woods where they hide in a car. Hah, as if that helped! Nightbeast zaps the car and it vanishes with the kids inside. There’s no mercy with this alien. And besides of his beloved gun, he uses his hands to rip out the entrails of his victims, which gives us some decent gory moments.

 

After thirty minutes of almost non-stop cheesy guns-and-lazer-action scenes with some really hilariously bad effects, the movie gets to a halt with a pointless sideplot with some biker called Drago. He’s just a scumbag who likes to hit women, and you can’t wait for him to be killed off.

 

And we have a pool party, shot in the back of Don Dohler’s house with his friends, family and a bunch of extras, neighbours I guess, who’s probably not aware they’re a part of a film. All seems to be invited, except for Nightbeast. What happened to him, you ask? He’s still around and lurking, even in the daylight. And just before you know it, he pops up and encounters his next victim with a jump scare and… how can I describe this…well, he taps on the victim’s arm which then falls off. I believe we’re supposed to believe that he rips his arm off, but no, he just taps on it and Don Dohler tries his best to hide the poorly made effect in some quick, inept editing. It’s Z movie schlock at its finest!

 

The two sheriffs Cinder and Lisa is determined to chase the alien, and the film of course shoe-horns a love interest between these two. And then we eventually get to the love scene in some motel room, and God almighty, this is the most cringey and awkward thing ever. As if they weren’t amateur actors already who have zero ability to convey any emotions in front of camera, it starts the scene with Lisa half-naked after having taken a shower and says to Cinder: “I better get dressed now, huh?” Cinder then says with his deadpanned face: No ….. You are a very attractive girl, Lisa …….. I guess I never really noticed it before.”  Some romantic piano music plays and … next! The film at least ends with a fun and action-packed bang with some more spectacular cheesyness. And yes, don’t you worry about our woman-hitting biker Drago, which you probably have forgotten about already, he will get his karma.

 

And of course, I have to mention that the synth soundtrack is composed by a 16 year old kid, named Jeffrey Abrams, later known as JJ Abrams. And this is his first screen credit. Nightbeast was originally released by Troma in 2004, which seems to be out of print. It’s now available on a Blu-ray/DVD Combo from Vinegar Syndrome.

 

Nightbeast Nightbeast Nightbeast

 

Director: Don Dohler
Country & year: USA, 1982
Actors: Tom Griffith, Jamie Zemarel, Karin Kardian, George Stover, Don Leifert, Anne Frith, Eleanor Herman, Richard Dyszel, Greg Dohler, Kim Pfeiffer
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt0086013/

 

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dracula 3000 (2004)

Dracula 3000 What does Jason, Pinhead, Leprechaun and Dracula have in common? They’ve been into space. And this has to be the worst of them all. Good grief.

 

We’re in the year 3000 and get introduced to Captain Abraham Van Helsing (Casper Van Dien) and his small crew on a salvage space ship, looking for a large cargo ship named Dieter that has been missing for fifty years in the Carpathian Galaxy. And yes, we’re talking about the outer space. They find the ship while it’s heading towards Earth,  completely empty for crew, and they decide to take possession of all the valuable stuff. They soon learn that some spooky shit has been going on when they find the only dried-up corpse left on the ship’s bridge, tied up with a crucifix in its hands. And oh man, this is unbelievably bad: it looks like they just bought the cheapest Halloween skeleton they could find and dressed it up, and God knows what went through the actors’ heads when they had to act serious when they saw it. They find a video log from fifty years ago, of a frightened Captain Varna (Udo Kier) who says that he locked himself in his cabin after some pandemic infected the crew after they cargoed a bunch of coffins in the Transilvanian station. And you can never guess who’s lurking among them on the ship: It’s the new variant Nekronomicron! Just kidding. It’s Dracula. Of course.

 

The first crewmember to get bit is 187. That’s not his IQ, it’s his name. He’s a goofy, stereotypical manic crack smoker and is played by none other than the 90s rapper star Coolio. And as ridiculous as he is with his hysterical overacting, at least he seems to have some fun playing a vampire from Da Hood while flashing his fangs as much as possible. The B-movie actor Casper Van Dien, known from Starship Troopers and  a laundry list of straight-to-videos, seems to really have a hard time keeping himself awake as he yawns out most of his dialogues like he couldn’t give a single fuck about anything other than his paycheck. And who can blame him when you have to read lines like this while doing your best to keep a straight face:

 

– Transilvania? What the fuck is Transilvania?
– Transilvania is a planet in the remote Carpathian System. It’s a.. uhm.. it’s a planet of vampires!
– Vampire?? So what the hell is a vampire?
– It’s sorta like a man … only far more evil, if you could imagine that.
– All that bloodsuckin’, that’s some white people shit!
– I want to watch my anaconda spit all over your snow white ass.

 

And we have classic lines such as:

 

– I put up for your shit cuz you’re black and… ugly.
– I have to go to the bathroom! I really do!
– I… AM A VAMPAIAHH!!!
– Dude!
– Bro!

 

Captain Van Helsing also learns that he is related to a certain another Van Helsing from the late 1800s, and that Dracula is on his way to Earth to seek revenge. And prepare yourself for the most pathetic Dracula ever put on screen. He’s just some teenager dressed as Dracula, and is as charismatic as an average high school douchebag and as intimidating as Hello Kitty. There’s a scene where he attacks the blond chick among the crewmembers, and she really struggles to look scared and not to chuckle.

 

And other than that, Dracula 3000 looks like something you would find at the bottom at the barrel of the SyFy or Asylum Films catalogue, but even they would be too embarrassed to release this half-assed turkey. It also had a spot on the IMDb Bottom 100 list at one time, and that pretty much says it all. But, yeah, there’s a good amount of laughs to get from this if you’re weak for shitty and unintentionally funny films, in this case most thanks to Coolio and the string of quoteworthy dialogues.

 

Dracula 3000

 

Directors: Darrell Roodt
Country & year: Germany, South Africa 2004
Actors: Casper Van Dien, Erika Eleniak, Coolio, Alexandra Kamp, Grant Swanby, Langley Kirkwood, Tom Lister Jr., Udo Kier
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt0367677/

 

 

Tom Ghoul