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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Unholy (2021)

Mary Elnor is a young woman being accused of Witchcraft in Banfield, Massachusetts, in 1845. She is being hanged from a tree, and then lit on fire by an angry mob, who also bounds her spirit to the body of a doll before she takes her final breath.

 

Years later, we meet Gerry Fenn (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), who is a journalist who has gotten his reputation thrown into the gutter after being caught faking cases just to get publicity. He’s on an assignment which leads him to Boston, where he is going to look into a case of a cow with so-called satanic markings on it (which proves to be a teenage prank). Before deciding to leave the place and look for other means of stories that can give him some much-needed income, he finds the tree where Mary was hanged, and also the doll which was once “hidden” (in the very visible and big hole of the tree trunk…). He crushes the doll, and of course, then freeing the evil spirit of Mary Elnor.

 

After it gets dark and Gerry has decided to leave the place and return home, he sees a young girl run across the road to the tree where he found the doll earlier, and hears her speaking before fainting right in front of the tree. He takes the girl to a church nearby, and learns that her name is Alice and that she is actually deaf and can’t speak. This peaks his interest as he knows he heard her speak just moments before, and decides to stay around town to follow this strange case a bit further. Soon, Alice brings publicity from both close and far as not only does she now speak, but she claims that she was cured by the Virgin Mary, and she also starts healing people. When Gerry finds out that the so-called Virgin Mary is not what Alice believes her to be, but is instead a sinister entity, he tries to reveal what is actually the truth for once.

 

The Unholy is directed by Evan Spiliotopoulos, and is also his directional debut. It is based on a novel from 1983 by James Herbert, called Shrine. In the leading role we find Jeffrey Dean Morgan, whom most people probably know best as the villain “Negan” from The Walking Dead, but he also played the father of Supernatural-duo Sam & Dean. And oh boy, does this movie have a few cheesy Supernatural-vibes indeed!

 

The movie’s opening sequence leaves no mystery to be revealed, we already know that “Mary” isn’t the Virgin Mary, but the witch that was executed in 1845, Mary Elnor. Since we already know what’s going on, it’s hard to build any real suspense or sense of mystery, so the progress forward relies heavily on actor performances and character interactions. Fortunately, Jeffrey Dean Morgan does a solid job as the journalist who has fallen from grace and needs to turn his career around, only to find himself facing a dilemma: knowing that he’s now got a real, true case in his hands (not just another hoax), but also finding out that there’s something sinister going on, and that profiting from this case might not be the best moral decision. Thus, the lead character carries much of the movie. As for the villain, Mary Elnor herself, she does unfortunately not come off as the least bit scary. Often when she appears on screen, with her jerky movements and overly villainous treats, you almost feel like you should get your controller in hand and prepare yourself for a video-game boss battle. Like you’re watching some kind of cutscene before a fight. It does add another layer of cheese, however, and makes her appearances particularly entertaining.

 

And with all of that being said: The Unholy is not a scary movie, not even creepy. But if you can enjoy it as an easy-going popcorn flick with a little bit of B-grade cheese here and there (or like some kind of long Supernatural episode with Sam & Dean’s dad going on a solo-adventure), you’ll probably get some entertainment out of it.

 

The Unholy

 

Director: Evan Spiliotopoulos
Country & year: USA, 2021
Actors: Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Cricket Brown, William Sadler, Katie Aselton, Cary Elwes, Diogo Morgado, Bates Wilder, Marina Mazepa, Christine Adams, Dustin Tucker, Gisela Chipe, Danny Corbo, Sonny Corbo
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt9419056/

 

 

Vanja Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Die Hard Dracula (1998)

Die Hard DraculaDie Hard Dracula. How can it go wrong with a title like this?

 

The film opens with quick a prologue we’ve heard thousand times about Vlad The Impaler and his battle against the Turks, as we see images of people literally sitting on poles in their underwear with no blood, no gore, nothing. Not a single attempt to make us believe that we’re looking at tortured and impaled people in a dark middle ages scenario. You’re just a few seconds in, and you already ask why the hell this movie was made and why it even exists. The visuals are just flat out dreadful, and calling it amateurish doesn’t do it justice, it’s even far beyond that.  It’s almost a cliché thing to say, but it’s really hard to put words on how ridiculously bad this is. And this is just the first ten seconds or so.

 

And after 300 years, Dracula has finally had it with Romania and its God-fearing whining people. As he lies in his coffin, we hear his first lines in the distinct Romanian accent: “No more pray! Three hundred years I listened to this awful praying and boOolshit. I can’t stand it no more.” We then get a scene where his casket flies over the European landscape (yes, with Dracula in it) with the tune of Ride Of The Valkyries playing. What really is there to say … It’s pure movie magic. He lands in his new castle in Moravia, Czech Republic.

 

After the opening we jump over to sunny California, where we meet the young couple Julia and Steven, who have fun with water skiing. But tragedy suddenly strikes when Julia loses the grip and disappears into the sea and assumingly drowns. One night Steven and his father see a shooting star, and Steven says “I wish Julia was alive.” His dad then follows up with this line: “You know the old saying … see a falling star, a wish may come true.” Steven responds with a blank stare like if he was a lobotomized mental patient : “Yeah … I wish … I really wish ….” No tears, no emotions. He’s probably the worst actor in this film. Anyway, the shooting star hits a random coffin some place in Moravia that resurrects a young, recently deceased woman back to life, who Steven ends up imagining is Julia. Yes, seriously. After the shooting star incident, he then jumps on a plane to Prague and goes from pub to pub, only to get more and more drunk and disappointed. A lot of nonsensical bullshits happens, but he eventually ends up in a tavern where he meets this girl, who then gets kidnapped by Dracula. Van Helsing finally pops up from nowhere, just in time, who teams up with Steven to kill Dracula and save the girl.

 

Die Hard Dracula

 

Van Helsing is played by Bruce Glover (father of Crispin Glover), and he acts more like a confused half-drunk uncle you just want to put to bed with wishes of a better tomorrow. Most of the actors seem to be either drunk, or just on something. I would be too, if I was acting in a film like this. We see Dracula in several shapes, played by several actors, one worse that the other.  We see him as a big, fat slob that looks  like Jabba The Hut and a rotten potato with a wig, and his regular shape where he looks more like Meat Loaf in a porn spoof (just without the porn), to mention some examples.

 

Dracula also shows off some display of magic powers by throwing fireballs, and shooting lightning from his fingers as he acts like a mental lunatic who tries his best not to impersonate Emperor Palpatine. Several of Dracula’s dialogues were dubbed with the most stiff and lifeless voiceacting that you could’ve heard from a discarded PS1 game. Dracula is the funniest part in this demented madhouse of a movie, for sure, and has a lot of laughable dialogues. And we get the most retarded sex scene with the tune of the the Nutcracker playing. Merry Christmas.

 

Die Hard Dracula

 

The effects and set-design is a whole another level of absurdness, if not lazyness. While a castle somewhere in Czech Republic was used as the exterior for Dracula’s Castle, the interior set-design is just a room, covered with white cow wallpaper, or whatever it is. It’s something straight out of an elementary school play. The Dracula costume was probably bought at Walmart. The ending puts the level of stupidity all up to eleven which gives a clear indication that we would never see the sequel Die Hard Dracula With a Vengeance, directed by Tommy Wiseau, as much I would have loved to see that one.

 

And that was Die Hard Dracula. Pure mentally retarded trash from start to finish where someone just picked up a camcorder, a mic and goofed around with friends during a long weekend. And God knows what went through their heads. They probably had the time of their lives making this, like they where some teens making their first movie in someone’s backyard, but the result is something even their mothers would struggle to give legit compliments to. Especially considering that the writer, producer and director Peter Horak was at whopping 55 years old when he made this, after working as a stuntman in Hollywood for two decades. At least he got to see his masterpiece become full circle when it finally got released on DVD from Alpha Home Entertainment before he died in 2017.

 

Die Hard Dracula

 

Director: Peter Horak
Country & year: USA, Czech Republic, 1998
Actors: Bruce Glover, Denny Sachen, Kerry Dustin, Ernest M. Garcia, Chaba Hrotko, Thomas McGowan, Talia Botone, Nathalie Huot, Peter Horak, John Slavik, Robert Coppola, Eddie Eisele, Paul Lackey, Joseph Miksovsky, Margie Windish
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt0162930/

 

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Robot Monster (1953)

Robot MonsterWe are in a distant future where the world’s population has been completely annihilated by Ro-man’s Death-Ray. Ro-man who? He’s an evil alien in a gorilla suit, face covered with a diving helmet with to antennas attached to it. But there are eight survivors left, a family which Ro-man is able to communicate with through a … bubble machine. And he wants their location so Ro-man can finish his mission. Or else …

 

And no, this is not an Ed Wood movie, by the way, which it easily could have been. Phil Tucker was a young, fresh independent film-maker in his mid-twenties who was about to make his second film, with a script from Wyott Ordung and distributed by Astor Pictures. Robot Monster was shot in only four (yes, 4), quick days outside of Hollywood, with the entrance of the famous Bronson Canyon as the main location and a shameless use of stock footage from several other sci-fi movies as effects. Tucker hired a friend to play Ro-Man who also made his own gorilla suit, while he was dubbed with a deep, baritone voice (not by James Earl Jones). And The result , of its short runtime of 62 minutes, is an ultra-cheap, lazy and utterly ridiculous turkey of a campy schlock-fest, in which none other than Phil Tucker took seriously.

 

Despite the film getting panned and mocked, just as it deserved, it actually managed to make money and gross a million at the box-office, more than 62 times its original budget of $16,000. I bet Ed Wood must have been jealous. But this wasn’t any win for Phil Tucker, however, as Astor Pictures refused to pay him. The combination of being totally fucked over by the distributor and Tucker being mocked by critics due to Robot Monster, and not being able to make his breakthrough into Hollywood, he tried to end his life by blowing his brains out. But in pure Phil Tucker fashion, he missed, and continued to work in the movie industry with low-budget films until his death in 1985.

 

The star of this film is Ro-Man himself with his cheesy gorilla-suit, diving-helmet and his absurd bubble-machine. He also has some really great quote-worthy lines such as: “What are you doing alone, girl-child?”, “You sound like a hu-man, not a Ro-Man“, “The hu-man-woman is the bringer of hu-man life, there must be an end to your race“, “Now I will kill you“… And that deep and serious, misplaced tone of Ro-Man just amplifies the goofyness up to eleven. It’s something straight out from Spaceballs, really. And you’re able to see the actor’s face behind that helmet. The only redeeming quality here, is the pompous soundtrack by Elmer Bernestein, who later scored films such as The Ten Commandments, Airplane!, Ghostbusters, Heavy Metal and numerous others. Robot Monster was originally planned to be filmed in 3-D, which is pretty hard to believe. But now you can at least enjoy it in its full glory and intriguing 2-D.

 

Robot Monster

 

Director: Phil Tucker
Country & year: USA, 1953
Actors: George Nader, Claudia Barrett, Selena Royle, John Mylong, Gregory Moffett, Pamela Paulson, George Barrows
IMDb: //www.imdb.com/title/tt0046248/

 

 

Tom Ghoul