A triple feature of nothing new or original, but it was still fun while it lasted

With some of the crap marathons I get myself into, it’s pretty satisfying to have a weekend of watching horror movies that might consist of films I may never need to see again, but which entertained me in the moment. For instance, this trio.

IT’S IN THE BLOOD (2012)

it's in the blood cover

Having just recently watched the film Seventh Moon, when this film opened with a guy in the woods at night being chased by pasty white humanoid-demon type creatures, I felt like I was in familiar territory. However, It’s in the Blood turned out to be a character driven film, not a straightforward horror movie.

The general storyline has a man coming home to reunite with has father a year after something bad went down between them. When an accident occurs in the woods, the two are hunted by some sort of hellish creature and must work together to survive. It’s good to see Lance Henriksen—who plays the father—in a well-polished film again after the agonizing amount of crap he appears in these days.

its in the blood woods

Now comes the tricky part. It’s in the Blood goes the “smart” route, unraveling the truth of what happened between father and son through frequent—is that a dream? A hallucination? Reality? A flashback? Yep, it’s one of those. If you love smart horror, then prepare for a kick ass horror headache. Some heavy shit went down between the pair, and while their current situation of fighting a creepy creature in the darkness makes for some good old-fashioned horror thrills, if you’re looking to make quick sense (or any sense) of what’s really transpiring, forget it.

its in the blood monster

But damn, those monster sequences are definitely cool enough to satisfy us simple folk.

CHEMICAL PEEL (2014)

chemical peel cover

There’s really not much to say about Chemical Peel. Well, actually, I could say that instead of remaking Cabin Fever, they could have just slapped a “Cabin Fever 4” subtitle on this one to continue the franchise.

A bunch of chicks comes to a house for a party. Some guys show up to remind us that all heterosexual dudes can’t stop themselves from demonstrating what loud-mouthed, obnoxious pricks they are when they get around girls.

chemical peel shower

Next morning, everyone wakes up to discover it’s foggy and stinks outside. They soon learn that it is no ordinary fog. This fog kind of likes to take all your skin along with it as it floats by. So…they spend the film trapped in the house, trying to keep the fog out, fighting with each other, not trusting each other, turning on each other, and leaving one another outside to die in order to save themselves.

chemical peel face

I haven’t seen the Cabin Fever remake yet, but I’ll bet when I do, I’ll prefer this derivative film over that pointless recast reshoot.

YAKUZA APOCALYPSE (2015)

Yakuza Apocalypse cover

This Japanese film seemed familiar to me in part because it essentially felt like a film adaptation of the video game Yakuza: Dead Souls. Plus, it’s pretty much just another addition to the martial arts/horror hybrid genre—with a good dose of the kind of what-the-fuckery you expect from Japanese films.

When a powerful a mob boss is beheaded during a nasty fight with some enemies, he…well…he’s kind of still alive. See, the mob boss is a vampire. So he bites one of his hot young men before the beheading can take full effect, passing on his vampirism and responsibility as a mob boss.

yakuza apocalypse lead

The main guy, while trying to find his place as both a vampire and a leader, is also determined to get revenge on the men who killed his boss. His biggest challenge as a vamp is not to just feed on everyone in sight, because it could lead to an infestation of vampires. I’m so glad this guy doesn’t have any willpower.

Vampirism starts spreading, and I wish I could say this becomes a thrilling horror movie, but instead, it gets really weird. Loaded with slapstick humor and martial arts fights, Yakuza Apocalypse has only a few fun vampire scenes. Instead, we get weird shit like a guy with a duck mouth, a psychotic axe-wielding kid, and the biggest enemy of all…a guy in a frog costume.

yakuza apocalypse frog

Okay, I’ll admit the numerous fights with the frog man had me laughing, but the movie gets ridiculously fantastical to the point of having the frog man appearing in a Godzilla spoof. I appreciate the horror-action-comedy mashup, but there’s way too much going on here, and yet despite all the nonsense, not much actually happens! The movie begins to drag badly and lose its charm, particularly because it’s nearly two hours long. What it needed was more of our sexy leading man doing things like this….

Yakuza Apocalypsebat

Posted in Movie Times & Television Schedules - Staying Entertained, Scared Silly - Horror Comedy, The Evil of the Thriller - Everything Horror | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

When a fairy tale becomes a horror….

It’s Alice in Murderland vs. Little Dead Rotting Hood! Be scared. Be very scared.

ALICE IN MURDERLAND (2010)

 alice in murderland cover

As I worked my way through Alice in Murderland, I had a very strong feeling I’d done this all before. Turns out, I kind of did. I’ve blogged about director Dennis Devine’s low budget indies before: Night of the Dead and Don’t Look in the Cellar. Just like those two films, this one follows pretty much the same exact formula. Get a bunch of babes onto what looks like a set created in a small warehouse, and fill most of the time with their ditzy banter before each of them wanders off to another part of the set to be killed off.

alice in murderland girls

In Alice in Murderland, sorority girls throw an all-girl, Alice in Wonderland themed party for their friend Alice…in the house where Alice’s mom was murdered. There are a couple of early kills, but pretty soon, we spend about an hour watching the girls sit around talking, bickering, and even having campy catfights. It kind of looks and feels like we’re watching a high school play…especially considering no one gets naked! WTF? Why make a horror movie about dumb bimbos getting slaughtered if none of them get naked?

alice in murderland jabberwocky

Eventually, the girls start going off on their own, and someone shows up dressed as the Jabberwock from Alice in Wonderland. More bloodshed (real, not CGI) accompanies each girl getting murdered. The killer even uses a machete to spank a girl stuck in a window, then takes a selfie with the girl’s ass.

alice in murderland kill

Look, when the one piece of trivia about a movie on imdb is “Seven of the girls in this movie were illiterate” and there are only about seven girls in the movie, it’s a clear sign that this sentence should have been my entire blog about the movie, because it tells you everything you need to know.

LITTLE DEAD ROTTING HOOD (2016)

LittleDeadRottingHood cover

Horror hottie Eric Balfour of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre plays a sheriff in a small town that has a wolf problem. The problem is, there was an old lady who lived in the woods and apparently kept them at bay. But now she’s dead, her granddaughter is missing, and the wolves are beginning to rip apart pretty young people having sex.

little dead rotting hood eric
“I used to be the pretty young person having sex in horror movies.”

However, things aren’t as simple as they seem. The missing granddaughter (Bianca A. Santos of Ouija) was actually put through a sacrificial/burial ritual by her grandmother, and crawls from the grave with beastly abilities.

little dead rotting hood red

In a way, the movie is a fantasy-horror that plays off Little Red Riding Hood, sort of like the 1984 film The Company of Wolves did. However, while Little Dead Rotting Hood starts off with what seems like a pretty sleek and polished look and feel, it goes downhill fast when the sheriff and his army of local rednecks with guns are attacked by CGI werewolves that the SyFy channel would laugh at.

little dead rotting hood wolf

Toss in the undead granddaughter as a sort of Red Riding Hood hero that must fight the CGI werewolves and, well, SyFy should be airing this movie any day.

Posted in Movie Times & Television Schedules - Staying Entertained, Scared Silly - Horror Comedy, The Evil of the Thriller - Everything Horror | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Zombie apocalypse survivalists double feature

If you’re looking for some lighthearted zombie apocalypse fun and perhaps some laughs, well, you won’t exactly get the kick-ass Scout’s Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse (blog here) from April Apocalypse and Apocalypse Nerd, but here’s what you do get.

APRIL APOCALYPSE (2013)

AprilApocalypsecover

April Apocalypse is sort of a zom-rom-com, but it’s pretty sparing in both the romance and comedy. It starts out as a bit of a generic teen angst flick, with the usual “boy-likes-best female friend-who-likes-asshole-jock” plot. This comes complete with some glaringly unnecessary tossing around of gay slurs—the main boy repeatedly tells the main girl the jock she likes is a fag, then at a party, the jock and his buddies call the main boy a queer. You think that shit would just cancel itself out, but no. Writers and directors need to go there because apparently it’s still the ultimate insult to hetero teens, and therefore, it’s important for filmmakers to reinforce it—I mean, make a relevant movie that speaks to its audience.

april apocalypse leads

When the main boy runs away from home to escape his unsupportive parents and dick brother, he gets into a car accident. He regains consciousness to discover there’s been a zombie apocalypse. He’d actually crashed because he was swerving to avoid hitting zombies that were feasting in the road, which begs the question: considering he had his car window open and he was supposedly knocked out for a week, why didn’t zombies eat him? Anyway, he heads out on a road trip to get back the main girl (and rescue her from zombies).

april apocalypse zombie

Director Jarret Tarnol, who also brought us the horror anthology Barrio Tales (my blog here), gives us a film that may seem to be modeled after Zombieland (complete with our main boy narrating), but it’s more a heartfelt journey with our main boy as he teams with old and new friends to battle zombies on his way back to his girl. While everything, from the humor to the horror, is fairly standard and familiar, there is something charming about the film and its characters that keeps you watching.

april apocaylpse main and friend

I particularly think this is a film that would have stuck with me if I were seeing it as a teen (there’s even a reference to the Brat Pack), because the main boy (as well as all the other characters) are quite likable, and the basic teen crush story combined with some undead thrills is the perfect pairing. Plus, the cast is made up of a load of familiar faces. The main boy is played by Reece Thompson of Final Girl. Scream Rebekah Brandes (Nothing Left to Fear, Midnight Movie) is the main girl. There’s a brief appearance by Sarah Hyland (Haley on Modern Family, plus she appeared in Scary Movie 5 and Vampire Academy), and Matt Shively of The Real O’Neals is the main boy’s best buddy. The bully jock is pretty boy scream king Randy Wayne (Scar, Terror Toons 2, Grizzly Park, The 13th Alley, The Haunting of Molly Hartley, Ghost Town, Hold Your Breath, Paranormal Island). Even George Lopez has a small role as a psychiatrist.

However, one of my favorite characters in the movie is “The Priest,” played by quirky cute Todd Stashwick—who plays a priest on The Originals and a deacon on 12 Monkeys (holy trinity!)—and I wish his role had been larger.

april apocalypse priest

His exchanges with the main boy are some of the most humorous moments of the film including jokes about Jesus freaks and a clever, neutral joke about gun control. Finally, the zombies are cool looking and make heinous noises, and the zombie sequences hit the mark perfectly.

APOCALYPSE NERD (2016)

apocalypse nerd cover

Although The Big Bang Theory has faced backlash for the way it portrays nerds, after watching Apocalypse Nerd, I have to say nerds and geeks everywhere should celebrate the fact that the sitcom makes nerd and geek culture so palatable for mainstream culture and portrays its wacky characters as so likable.

Apocalypse Nerd is wonderfully crafted with a charismatic and competent cast, but damn was it hard for me to sit through. This seriously feels like genuine nerds got together and filmed their nerdy antics for an hour and a half. There are moments of humor I could appreciate, but overall, it was tedious for me to watch an hour of general survivalist role-playing shenanigans—with the two main characters talking to the camera as if shooting a video for YouTube—before getting to the final act, when zombies come into the picture.

apocalypse nerd screentalk

The general plot has our two main nerds, their female friend, and a “hot nerd” going on a series of missions to save the world.

apocalypse nerd bromance
The two main nerds have a bromance that naturally has some homoerotic overtones, they’re both jealous of the hot nerd, and one of them has a crush on the female friend.

apocalypse nerd hotnerd

After numerous sequences of the nerds going out on missions, they finally get attacked by zombies for the remaining 25 minutes. The action is fast and furious, often to the point of being too chaotic to appreciate as they try to stay alive and come up with a cure.

apocalypse nerd zombies

I’d have to say, if this final sequence had been toned down, I wouldn’t have minded Apocalypse Nerd being a 30-minute short that just got to the point. As it is in full-length feature form, I imagine this one might just be meant for the hardcore nerd crowd that longs to be reflected on screen as the heroes.

Posted in Johnny You ARE Queer - Gay Thoughts, Movie Times & Television Schedules - Staying Entertained, Scared Silly - Horror Comedy | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

STREAM QUEEN: A psycho slasher babe double feature

Two things are always a treat: 1) when the cover art for a streaming movie looks cheesy and all the reviews are awful, yet you still give it a chance and it’s actually kind of awesome, and 2) when you watch a slasher and the killer is some crazy chick instead of a crazy dude. So it’s safe to say I got a streaming double TREATure with these two films.

BLOOD WIDOW (2014)

blood widow cover

It boggles my mind how negative people are about this movie online. Despite its main flaw – the lack of explanation as to the killer’s origins and motivation, Blood Widow delivers a tight slasher experience that rivals most of the direct-to-DVD crap that is pumped out these days, and to me personally, it absolutely avoids a low budget or amateurish look or feel.

Things start off great. A dude sneaks into an old house with a camera…and makes the mistake of going into the basement. He learns the hard way that finding a worktable covered in sharp weapons means losing a life to the steely sound of blades swiping through the dark.

blood widow worktable

We never learn that trespassing photographer’s story, which is a first sign of the underdeveloped script. Instead, we meet a young couple that has just bought the house next door. A group of friends visits and wanders over to Blood Widow’s house. Although they don’t encounter her, they cause just enough trouble while there to piss her off.

Once the big housewarming party starts, so do the kills, and they are a blast. Sleek, fresh, gory, brutal, and CGI-free, they are exactly what I want from a slasher. Blood Widow, wearing a tight leather dominatrix outfit and a blank white porcelain doll mask, uses plenty of weapons, but her most vicious is a cat o’ nine tails that appears to have either razor or hook tips. Eek.

blood widow main guy

Free of filler dialogue or unnecessary situations and clocking in at a smart hour and 20 minutes, the film keeps a steady pace, delivering some suspenseful moments and jump scares leading up to the friends locking themselves in the house to avoid a good whipping. But Blood Widow is quite resourceful, not to mention relentless in her attacks. There’s even a bit of torture thrown in, giving the main girl the chance to demonstrate her talent of letting out agonized screams.

blood widow main girl

A nice touch here is the fact that once the group sees Blood Widow outside the house, despite the nature of her outfit and her physical shape, they keep referring to her as a he, a reminder that it’s almost impossible for anyone to fathom a woman committing such heinous acts.

Also of note is the gay Asian guy whose sexuality is never directly addressed. His immediate snarky attitude is an obvious note to the audience that he’s gay, but he doesn’t have a partner and never expresses any desire for anyone at the party. However, there is a playful moment hinting at the unstated truth about his sexual orientation when a female seems to be trying to entice him into sex.

blood widow cast

The most telling signs of his gayness come once Blood Widow shows up. For starters, he lets out genuine girlish screams every time he sees her (they’re not over-the-top or played for laughs). He’s also chicken shit smart—he knows to just get the fuck out of there and not be a hero. When it’s suggested that they should go back to save the main guy’s woman, his attitude is, “Fuck that, dude. She’s a goner and we need to get out of here and stop worrying about girls.” Fair warning–I’d do the same.

Throughout the film, director Jeremiah Buckhalt demonstrates a clear knowledge of what makes slashers tick and how to deliver the goods, hitting upon all the most crucial elements perfectly. So considering slashers really only need a simple background story letting us know why the killer is hacking people up and what led to the choice of mask, it is hard to believe Blood Widow fails to give any insight into either. There are some brief scenes of the main girl gathering clues (a diary, a conversation with the realtor, a doll she finds), but they end up being more apparent to her than us.

blood widow whip

I have my own theory about Blood Widow’s backstory based on what little information we’re given, but plot holes poke through, way too many inexplicable situations occur in the final act, and Blood Widow is never unmasked so we don’t know what she’s hiding under there. The harsh, downer ending provides opportunity for a sequel, which is really the only solution to fix what’s wrong with the plot of Blood Widow. Based on how the film delivers as a slasher on all other counts, I’d definitely welcome it.

STALKER (2011)

stalker cover

The poster art for Stalker on Amazon in the US is the worst, making it look like a no budget piece of shot-on-video crap slasher (the reason I watched it). The UK cover art is more keeping with what it really is – a taut film that is reminiscent of some of the best thrillers of the late 80s and early 90s (Fatal Attraction, Dead of Winter, Black Widow, Cape Fear remake, The Hand That Rocks The Cradle, etc.). And, it’s directed by actor Martin Kemp, who will always be a member of 80s new romantic band Spandau Ballet to me.

Stalker happens to be a remake of the 1976 film The House on Straw Hill, which some may know as either Trauma or Exposé. That film starred Udo Kier as a writer who comes to a secluded house to finish a novel and hires a woman to be his secretary/assistant. Hammer Films scream queen Linda Hayden, who played the part in that film, has a small role as the housekeeper in Stalker.

stalker maid

In Stalker, the writer is now a woman, which definitely changes the dynamics, as well as removing the sexual elements of the original—and giving a good reason to add a hot gardener.

stalker gardener

Plus, the movie downplays the horror and gore, focusing instead on suspense. The general plot is also altered quite a bit so there’s something new to be found here even if you’ve seen the original.

Struggling with writer’s block, the author soon gets more help than she bargained for. The sweet, caring assistant turns psycho bitch, keeping the author captive and ghostwriting for her. You know where this is going.

stalker hand

Anyone who comes calling for the author doesn’t stand a chance. While, the body count is low, the kills are quite satisfying. Actress Jane March, who pretty much got her start in 90s thrillers starring opposite Bruce Willis in Color of Night, is fantastic here as the assistant with personalities on extreme opposites of the spectrum.

stalker lead

Her dark side is freaky good and makes the final scenes between she and the author intense. On top of that, there’s a twist that could be considered pretty unoriginal but still manages to come as a surprise and will totally be appreciated by fans of those 90s thrillers.

stalker ladies

Posted in Johnny You ARE Queer - Gay Thoughts, Movie Times & Television Schedules - Staying Entertained, The Evil of the Thriller - Everything Horror | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

I fell victim to The Valdemar Legacy…and I liked it

valdemar legacy cover

2010 Spanish horror film The Valdemar Legacy tricked the fuck out of me on so many levels it’s not even funny. The fact that it manipulated me into watching what started out as my kind of movie – property inventory assessors falling victim to a horrific monster in an old mansion – then turned into a gothic supernatural period piece and I still not only stuck with it but found it compelling means one of two things. Considering I detest period pieces, it is either most definitely a fantastic film, or it is actually a piece of crap that only I would like.

The opening setup rules. This woman goes to a creepy old mansion to take stock of its contents and is then chased by a terrifying presence that lurks in the shadows. Next, a private investigator is hired to find out what happened to her. When he sits down to get the details of the case, we are launched into the actual plot of the movie…the history of the mansion back in the early 1900s!

valdemar legacy detective

Honestly, I thought at first this was going to be a brief flashback scene. But then it kept going and going. By the time I realized I had been bamboozled, it was too late. I was now watching a tale of a couple that begins a bogus séance business to raise money for their orphanage. Why did I stick with it? Because this film injects real-life “horror” figures into the plot, bringing to mind the 1986 film Gothic.

valdemar legacy crowley

Aleister Crowley, who is pretty much the daddy of the devil here on earth (Daddy Warbucks of the devil, more like it), comes knocking. He believes the mansion truly is a place of paranormal power, and wants to perform a ritual there. The husband finally agrees, so Crowley brings along some of his friends, including Dracula author Bram Stoker, female serial killer Belle Gunness, and mommy and daddy killer Lizzie Borden! When their ritual goes horribly wrong, they unleash a hellish monster from the grave….

valdemar legacy monster

Engrossing, stylish, polished, and heavily Lovecraftian, with some major classic horror payoff in the end, The Valdemar Legacy wasn’t yet done having me over a barrel. It finished me off with a jarringly confusing, open ending. The reason why would soon be clear. During the closing credits, there are scenes from The Valdemar Legacy II: The Forbidden Shadow, which appears to take place in modern times with the cast from the beginning of the film, along with…Cthulhu!

valdemar legacy cthulhu

DAMMIT! This is a 2-part series, both films made in 2010, but only the first one has found its way over to the U.S. I need to see this fricking sequel NOW.

Finally, there’s one more thing that elevates this film, even though it’s a period piece. Even though he was hidden under ridiculous period costumes, I could tell leading man Daniele Liotti is a stud muffin slathered in melted butter.

valdemar legacy daniele liotti

Posted in The Evil of the Thriller - Everything Horror | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

So many horror movies in one weekend—so few worth watching

Jumping between my DVR and streaming, I chipped away at the backlog of shit waiting to be watched, and much of what I got through was shit. So here are five I indulged in, desperately clinging to hope that I’d finally strike horror gold before the weekend was over and it was back to five days at the work desk.

CURANDERO (2005)

 Curandero cover

Curandero is loaded with potential, seeming like it’s going to be a demon-hunting buddy movie. A female federal agent teams up with a spiritual healer/witch doctor guy after the leader of a cannibal cult makes a meal out of everyone in a police station and escapes. As the duo visits various locations trying to track the cannibal down, the spiritual healer has some seriously gruesome and disgusting visions and there are plenty of shootouts, but before long it becomes extremely repetitive. The plot isn’t really propelled forward at all. Eventually there’s a battle with an awesomely grotesque demon in the town square, after which the movie is abruptly over. Overall, it just feels like a more horror focused Constantine.

curandero demon

BENEATH (2007)

Beneath cover

This sloppy supernatural mystery attempts to pad an hour and 20-minute running time with the repetitive “scary” visions of the main character as she unearths convoluted details of the death of her sister.

When the main girl was younger, she and her sister got into a car accident, and the sister eventually died as a result. Ever since, the main girl has had visions that her sister was buried alive and scratching to get out of the coffin. She returns to her hometown for another funeral, stays in the home of her brother-in-law, and becomes convinced someone is in the house with them—especially since her young niece says a dark monster is living in the walls. Character names of dead people are thrown at us left and right as the main girl pokes around trying to learn the truth of her sister’s death and put an end to the visions we are endlessly subjected to.

beneath sister

There’s one positive to this mess—when the main girl finally faces off against the thing living in the walls, it at least sort of feels like a horror movie for a few moments.

THE TOMB (2009)

the tomb cover

Frankenstein meets Elizabeth Báthory in this disastrous gothic romance soap opera plagued by melodramatic music. While based on the short story “Ligeia” by horror master Edgar Allan Poe, it feels like it was made for the Lifetime Channel.

the tomb wes bentley

Wes Bentley is a college professor married to the white chick from Empire. Some other chick on campus has been doing research, trying to contain souls to use as a means of keeping herself young and healthy. She seduces Wes, his wife dumps him, he moves into an old manor with the soul-stealing chick, and some other people show up, including Eric Roberts (I seriously think he’s just kept locked up in an old manor these days and taken out every few weeks to make a cameo in a shit horror movie). The soul stealer pretty much becomes a traveling soul, jumping into the bodies of the random characters to manipulate everyone and get what she wants. Avoid this film at all costs (I saw it on the Chiller Network for free and I want my free back).

BLOOD RIDERS: THE DEVIL RIDES WITH US (2013)

blood riders

You can tell immediately this is a low budget indie. Even so, the premise at first seems like it’s going to be fun. Some friends steal a car then find a dead body inside the trunk. As they argue over what to do, the lone girl in the group pushes one of the guys and he accidentally dies. So they cover it up…but then his disappearance gets investigated. So the chick takes out the detective!

It seems like this is going to be a funny movie about a bunch of guys trying to cover up a series of murders by their female friend, but everything shifts, and it ends up being about them taking on a Satanic cult doing some sort of ritual involving Hitler’s mustache.

blood riders still

This isn’t a horror themed movie after all, and it’s not particularly funny—it loses steam and feels more and more amateur the deeper into it we get. Of note is the reveal of a couple of the male characters being gay toward the end.

THE GALLOWS (2015)

gallows cover

What begins as just another irritating as fuck found footage film—especially since the guy manning the camera is an obnoxious douche bag—turns into a fun found footage slasher by the end.

gallows cast still

Back in the 1990s, kids were doing a play involving a scene of a hanging, when a horrible accident left one of the kids actually hung. Twenty years later, the school has made the brilliant decision to resurrect the play on the anniversary of the tragedy. Even better, some students have decided to sabotage the set. As a result, they get locked in the school overnight with…the hangman!

gallows hangman

If you can make it through the irritating banter and chaos of the characters and the usual screaming, fighting, and spastic running around that comes with found footage, eventually the hangman shows up and you get loads of hanging kills and chase scenes, plus a devious little twist. The only downside is that there are only 4 kids trapped in the school. There should have been more so the hangman could have shown up sooner, cutting down on the annoying filler dialogue and upping the body count.

Posted in Movie Times & Television Schedules - Staying Entertained, Scared Silly - Horror Comedy, The Evil of the Thriller - Everything Horror | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Vampires, cannibals, a flying creature, and zombie animals

I guess you could call this a blog about four movies that were satisfactory—nothing blew me away, but if they’re on cable or streaming, they’re worth a watch.

SOUTHERN GOTHIC (2007)

southern gothic cover smaller

Southern Gothic is one of those oddities you can’t really pin down, which does it no favors. It tries to be a somber portrait of a man struggling with the guilt of losing his daughter, which leads to him becoming the self-anointed guardian of a stripper’s daughter when a crazed vampire preacher comes to town. However, considering it’s a movie about a guy trying to save a stripper’s daughter from a vampire preacher, all seriousness just flies out the window and it ends up having more of a grindhouse tone. Which is fine, because it’s really all about the awesome, gruesome, violent vampire scenes.

southern gothic vamp

Personally, I feel the plot just gets in the way of all the coolness, confuses the senses, and leaves you wanting more—the too cool horror moments are not satiating enough, and for a dark, gritty film that revolves around a strip club, there’s pretty much no sleaze or nudity. WTF?

HUNGER (2009)

hunger cover smaller

A bunch of strangers waking up to find they’re trapped together in a strange place and don’t know why has become a pretty routine plot for horror movies these days. So is pretty much everything else here. Someone pulls the puppet strings to get people trapped down in a well to reveal their dark secrets, relishing the moments when they start turning against each other, and savoring the ravenous insanity that sets in, causing them to start killing and eating each other.

Hunger eat

Even the conclusion is cliché. The buildup to the cannibalism is really the only thing that keeps this one alive. While not overly graphic when it finally happens, what’s implied is pretty disturbing. The captor’s motivation is pretty good as well. Plus the leads are familiar horror faces: Linden Ashby plays the sheriff on Teen Wolf and has been in films like Resident Evil: Extinction, Prom Night remake, and Anacondas: Trail of Blood; Lori Huering has appeared in Prom Night remake and Wicked Little Things.

One thing really nagged at me. As days and days pass and the captives begin eating each other in this small space, where do they poop? That shit’s gotta start smelling pretty bad.

DARK HAUL (2014)

dark haul cover smaller

This one is another mind-boggler. It’s a serious movie with some quality acting—but is plagued by the cheesiest SyFy CGI monster and gore money can save. Not to mention, the backstory, which has the movie opening in the 1700s (cringe), is way too complex for what amounts to just another action-packed creature feature.

dark haul monster cgi

There’s some chick and her gargoyle-like, flying brother. Since they were born, they’ve been watched over for centuries by a bunch of men known as “The Keepers.” I guess I wasn’t paying enough attention, because what I got was that all of a sudden, the sister decides she wants to bust her brother out of his cage at the same time as The Keepers decide they want to transport him to another location in an 18-wheeler.

dark haul monster costume

And so commences loads of car chases, gunfights, CGI monster attacks, and members of The Keepers having monster attack hallucinations, plus way too much exposition about the history of this monster. Despite the attention put into every other aspect of the film, what I enjoyed most about it was the laughable CGI gore and monster. Not to mention, it appears they actually bothered to apply makeup effects to a real person to make the monster look cooler in the final battle.

ZOOMBIES (2016)

zoombies cover

Well, this is confusing. A cheesy CGI creature feature that’s not a SyFy original. What are the chances that a movie about zoo animals turning zombies wouldn’t be? Weird.

zoombie monkey

Anyway, the setup is quick in Zoombies. There’s a lab, an airborne virus, monkeys—put it all together. Then we meet our cast of interns at a sort of zoo safari, and as they’re given a tour of the place, we keep thinking, “What is this? Jurassic Park?” Clearly, the writers knew we’d think that, because someone makes a crack about it!

zoombies scream

Once the outbreak takes over, there are some deliciously awesome bad CGI zoombies and plenty of intentionally laughable moments, but somehow, the movie is too restrained instead of hitting us over the head with how stupid it is. It’s not quite as fun or campy as the types of films after which it is modeled, but there are highlights. The zoombie monkeys look funny when they launch at people. The zoombie giraffe scene gave me a giggle. The stars riding CGI elephants cracked me up. The big giant zoombie gorilla makes a great main boss.

zoombie gorilla

Plus, star Marcus Anderson is scorching hot.

zombies hottie

However, what makes Zoombies totally worth it is the big zoombird scene at the end. The zoombirds fricking rule, particularly the parrot, which keeps repeating the last thing its dinner said as it was eating her….

Posted in Movie Times & Television Schedules - Staying Entertained, Scared Silly - Horror Comedy, Sound Check - The Songs Stuck in My Head | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Another campy gay horror double dose from author Rob Rosen

A while back, I blogged about author Rob Rosen’s sexy-funny gay werewolf and gay vampire novels, Queerwolf and Vamp (read that blog here). Those two novels go together as companion stories, and Rosen has done it again with his novels Queens of the Apocalypse and Creature Comfort. While not related to the first two novels, this pair works as another mini-series. This time, it’s drag queens vs. zombies!

rob rosen queens of apocalypse

In Queens of the Apocalypse, three drag queens must take on hordes of zombies and members of the U.S. army as they go on a road trip in hopes of discovering a safe haven. Along the way they find love, figure out a way to bring a drag friend back from the undead zone, and even have a run-in with the one and only Cher!

rob rosen creature comfort

Creature Comfort picks up the story…about 300 years later! The undead drag queen from Queens of the Apocalypse is still dead and kicking. And she has to save her man from an evil zombie drag villain. Luckily, she’s learned how to control mindless zombies, so she’s bringing along an undead army!

Rob was kind enough to chat with me about his books and horror in general.

Boys, Bears & Scares: Hi, Rob. Thanks for taking time to discuss your work. Currently, you’ve published four horror comedy novels. What first turned you on to horror?

rob with books

Rob Rosen: I find it much easier to be campy and outrageous in the horror genre than the standard contemporary fiction one. There are, after all, less restrictions.

BB&S: You have written plenty of other fiction genres as well. Which is your favorite to write and why?

Rob Rosen: All ten of my novels and most of my three hundred published short stories all fall under the heading of romantic comedy. I switch up the sub-genres as the mood takes me. Still, campy horror holds a special place in my heart.

BB&S: When you wrote Queens of the Apocalypse, did you already have a sequel in mind—and did you ever consider trying to tie these novels back to Queerwolf and Vamp?

Rob Rosen: It takes a good year for a book to go from my addled brain to your sticky fingers. By then, I’m fully invested in my characters and hate to see them killed off, so to speak. That said, sequels don’t sell as well as the original, so all of my sequels are also stand-alone novels. In other words, you don’t need to read the first to enjoy the second. Though, by all means, buy both! Still, I never write a book and think about writing a sequel beforehand. Ironically, that’s just how it worked out a couple of times.

BB&S: What made you decide to have drag queens as the heroes of your zombie novels?

Rob Rosen: I’m from the Deep South. Drag queens are staples of the gay scene in the South. Most of my novels feature drag queens, but these two books were the first time for me where the drag queens were the main characters. FYI, drag queens can do and say anything. That makes for fun writing!

BB&S: Creature Comfort takes a serious leap into a future long after Queens of the Apocalypse, so you couldn’t bring along any of your living characters. How did you come up with the idea to flash ahead, and will you ever go back to fill in the gaps? Did you miss your living characters when it came time to write Creature Comfort?

Rob Rosen: Putting Creature Comfort 300 years into the future made it easier to make the novel a stand alone one. Plus, Queens of the Apocalypse is told from the side of the human survivors. Creature Comfort is seen through the eyes of the undead. It’s two sides of the same coin. As for filling in the gaps, nope, I think I ended Creature Comfort in a good place. And as for missing the living characters in the sequel, well, you still see flashes of them.

BB&S: Considering it’s implied at the end of Creature Comfort, do you really intend to write a sequel? And if so, do you already have a plot? Will there be any flashback novels picking up the story of the original gang from Queens of the Apocalypse?

Rob Rosen: Nope. I’ve already moved on from those characters, much as I love them all.

BB&S: Any plans to write a scary gay horror novel or do you prefer sticking to campy horror comedy?

Rob Rosen: I don’t do scary and horror without the kitsch. Comedy is my thing.

BB&S: With vampires, werewolves, and zombies under your belt, what if any horror subgenres have you not tackled yet that you’d like to?

Rob Rosen: Not horror, but the novel I’m working on now, my 11th, called Fierce, is about a gay superhero who was raised by wolves and who has super powers. So, while not horror, Fierce still falls within the speculative fiction realm.

BB&S: Okay, now for a horror quickie session. What are your favorite horror subgenres?

Rob Rosen: Love me my werewolves and vampires!

BB&S: What scares you most in horror movies or books?

Rob Rosen: The suspense.

BB&S: Answer is probably obvious based on your books, but horror mixed with comedy. Yes or no?

Rob Rosen: Please, Mary. YES!

BB&S: Sex and nudity in horror. Yes or no?

Rob Rosen: Sex and nudity 24/7. That would also be a resounding YES! Duh.

BB&S: Who are some of your favorite scream queens?

Rob Rosen: Jamie Lee Curtis and Linda Blair. Kicking it old school.

BB&S: Favorite iconic horror baddie?

Rob Rosen: Ruth Gordon in Rosemary’s Baby. They broke the mold with Ruth.

BB&S: What are some of your favorite horror TV shows?

Rob Rosen: Well, I did always wonder what Herman Munster was hiding in his pants. Those are some awfully big shoes he wears, after all.

BB&S: What songs or artists might be on your Halloween party playlist?

Rob Rosen: “He did The Mash… The Monster Mash!”

BB&S: Finally, what are you currently working on?

Rob Rosen: My 10th novel, Midlife Crisis, is due out in August 2016. Number 11, Fierce, will be out sometime next year. I’m also the editor of the famous Best Gay Erotica series. Look for a new title in December.

BB&S: Thanks for taking the time to chat, Rob!

Rob Rosen: No, thank you! My pleasure!

Check out all Rob’s books on his website.

Posted in Everyday I Read the Book: Literary Thoughts, Johnny You ARE Queer - Gay Thoughts, Scared Silly - Horror Comedy | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

When demonic possession movies don’t go as expected

Well, this was a surprise double feature. Neither of these two films delivered what I was anticipating. Sure, I got my demonic possession fix when all was said and done, just not in the way I’d imagined. If I had known then what I know now, I would have watched the films in the reverse order to save the best for last…and then skipped the first one completely to save the best one for first and last.

THE WICKED WITHIN (2015)

wicked within cover

Here we go. Another possession movie. I went into The Wicked Within with that attitude, and for a while, it totally lived up to my derision. A completely unlikable family gathers the year after the death of a child.

wicked within family

Weird shit starts happening, then suddenly one chick—Sienna Guillory, who portrays video game character Jill Valentine perfectly in the Resident Evil movies—is snarling at everyone in a demonic voice. So the family first calls in a psychic for some spiritual communication, then a priest for an exorcism. Yawn.

wicked within eric roberts

To make matters worse, the movie is structured with those involved recounting the exorcism to a detective—Eric Roberts. Hey, I’ve always liked Eric, but it’s gotten to the point that putting him in your horror movie for 5 minutes is a painfully overused gimmick that does nothing to save it. Tell me you didn’t role your eyes when you saw the pic of him.

wicked wth girl possessed

The fact that the possessed chick doesn’t go all demon face makes it look like The Wicked Within is really just another cheap cash-in during this resurgence of lame possession films. But then something happens. She starts to say nasty shit to everyone and revealing their dark and dirty secrets. As soon as she got all “Suck my dick!” in her demonic voice and another chick responded with “Whip it out!”, I started paying attention. This possessed diva bitch from hell fucking rules. She spouts meta shit about being a demon—like what she’s supposed to do with a crucifix (if you know what I mean), crows like a rooster when she mentions the priest’s cock, eats a guy’s tongue out, and gets everyone to fight amongst each other and eventually slash the fuck out of each other. And just for kicks, she even tosses them around and roughs them up herself.

wicked within priest

My biggest disappointment with The Wicked Within is that it pretended to be a serious modern horror movie complete with overused jump scares before turning into a craptastic, foul-mouthed bloodfest.

AVA’S POSSESSIONS (2015)

avas possessions drink cover

I was so sure Ava’s Possessions was going to be my kind of quirky movie. I wanted so badly to love it. The premise was fresh and fun. The poster art looks like Sex & Demons in the City. A young woman recovering from possession joins a support group. It’s like Mom...but with demons instead of Allison Janney and Anna Faris. I wish. Not to be dramatic, but I was bored to tears, twitching with impatience, and on the verge of banging my head against the wall as I pondered what energizing movie I could have been watching instead. This movie wasn’t funny enough to be a comedy, not intense enough to be a drama, not intriguing enough to be a mystery, not tongue-in-cheek enough to be a charming novelty, and not clever enough to be smart. It just felt so bland and lifeless to me.

avas possessions carol kane

So this chick goes to a support group. She hits up a magic shop run by Carol Kane (in a completely straight role). She hunts down the people she hurt when she was possessed to apologize and is greeted with abrupt, resentful reminders of exactly what she did to them. She has chronic “demon” episodes. She watches horror classic Alice, Sweet Alice on TV. She has run-ins with shady people as she tries to solve the mystery of who was responsible for her possession. 50 minutes into the movie, she uses witchcraft to help one of her friends from group therapy reconnect with her demon.

avas possessions magic

The friend becomes possessed, and I thought, now we’re getting somewhere. False alarm. We got nowhere for another 40 minutes.

avas possessions demon friend

Eventually, she gets repossessed for a final fight, and I guess she solved the mystery, as there’s a bunch of dialogue that was just background noise to me by then but kind of sounded like exposition. Not even several instances of demon face thrown in for good measure could save this one for me.

avas possessions main girl

Posted in Movie Times & Television Schedules - Staying Entertained, Scared Silly - Horror Comedy, The Evil of the Thriller - Everything Horror | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

A slasher that heads into tickle torture porn territory!

lunaticler cover

Exploitation, horror humor, and homoeroticism are all trademarks of director Pete Jacelone’s horror films (see my blog covering many of them here), and he brings a taste of each to his psychosexual slasher THE LUNATIC’ler…as you can see from this pic.

lunaticler dribble

Following his film The Pogo Project, which is a disturbingly graphic look at the killing techniques of real-life serial killer John Wayne Gacy, THE LUNATIC’ler is the perfect segue back to more mainstream horror. Sure, the killer clown here is equally pervy, but he tickle tortures young men to death, bringing a campy tone that makes it much easier to have fun with. It’s feels like a gayer, white Killjoy at times.

In an opening scene that has a very uncomfortable pedo edge to it, we see a failed clown (played by b-movie king Edward X. Young) fighting with his girlfriend. When she leaves the room, he strips off her young son’s shirt and tickle tortures him in a way that walks a very blurred line between affectionate and creepy.

Years later, the boy has grown up to be an artist…portrayed by director Pete Jacelone! While painting in the woods, the artist has a nasty encounter with a handful of young men. Suddenly, the artist seems to be controlled by an alter ego—an evil clown. This evil clown persona leads him to hunt down each of the young men…and tickle them with a feather until they literally die from laughter!

 

While there’s an underlying dark element to the artist character’s story, the kills are campy and played for laughs—obviously—and are definitely the highlight of the film. Even though a feather is the weapon of choice, other more damaging tools are used as well, so there is some gore.

lunaticler scary clown

The clown is perfectly eerie, especially because he doesn’t talk. And while his teasing and taunting of the boys is reminiscent of iconic slasher tormentors like Freddy, Leprechaun, and Chucky, his more humorous evil actions are negated by signs of repressed homosexuality that take the kills into the sexual assault zone as well. He strips the boys to their underwear. He ties them up. He feels their bodies, touches their nipples, and grabs their crotches. And if you have a foot fetish, things get virtually X-rated.

lunaticler nipple

lunaticler guy boy

Oh yeah. This clown has issues. If you want to go deeper than the simple slasher premise, there’s a bit of an Elm Street 2 closeted killer scenario playing out here. The clown is the artist’s id, acting upon the desires of the artist with the erotic foreplay, but then self-loathing takes over, so the clown destroys the objects of those feelings. All the victims are boys…except one. The main girl (yes, there’s a female in the film) is a friend of all the boys, but she wants a man, so she’s trying to score with the artist.

lunaticler pete

However, when she finally gets him alone and makes a move on him, he pushes her away…and out comes the clown to kill her. She becomes the clown’s ultimate must-kill target, perhaps because she’s both a reminder of his disinterest in women and she’s the love interest of the main boy. On top of that, a momma’s boy subplot plays out and is used by the clown to further fuck with the artist’s head.

lunaticler main girl

All “psycho” analysis aside, the final scene has the clown and the main boy battle it out in a slapstick sendup of Mortal Kombat style fighting games, complete with interspersed clips of the video game the boy plays throughout the movie—a clear reminder that THE LUNATIC’ler is, at heart, a fun, darkly comic b-movie film perfectly suited for party viewing…especially if it’s a big gay party. Speaking of, here’s a big gay at a party…

lunaticler boys cropped

It’s me in a Boys, Bear & Scares sandwich, at the New York City premiere of THE LUNATIC’ler with two of the stars. These guys get all the best funny lines in the film. Not to mention, I found actor Ben Akaezuwa—on the right with the glasses—to be such a cutie that I was too nervous to even look at him, let alone put an arm around him.

 

Posted in Johnny You ARE Queer - Gay Thoughts, Movie Times & Television Schedules - Staying Entertained, Scared Silly - Horror Comedy | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment