Shitty Movie Sundays: Wrecker (2022)

Outsider filmmakers with a dream are the best kinds of filmmakers. These are the folks who get it into their heads to make a movie regardless of massive obstacles. All the things that make filmmaking difficult are mere challenges to overcome, annoyances to bypass. What requires a small army to get done in Hollywood, they do themselves. Of course, the final product betrays the humble nature of these movies, even when they are 127 minutes of bombastic insanity.

Bryan Brooks had a very limited career in film before 2022’s Wrecker, appearing in a handful of shorts and doing some work as a grip. If the internet is to be believed, Brooks had an epiphany while he was pinned beneath an 800-pound crab pot on a boat in the Bering Sea. After his shipmates lifted the cage and his lungs took in precious lifegiving air, Brooks took stock of his life and decided that filmmaking was his life’s calling. What followed was a decade of painstaking study of the craft of film before he unleashed his talents on the moviegoing public. It’s almost a superhero origin story. I don’t care if any of it is true. A little mythmaking in the b-movie movie industry never hurt anyone. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Wrecker (2022)”

Lo spettacolo dell'orrore italiano: Paganini Horror

Happy Halloween, folks. We come to the end of another glorious month of blood, gore, supernatural threats, silly plots, and fun. Early on in preparation for The Italian Horrorshow, I was focused on the big names and the big titles from Europe’s boot. But, it didn’t take long to regress to the mean. This site’s bread and butter is bad cinema, and the final film of the Horrorshow reflects that. Oh, boy, does it.

From writer/director Luigi Cozzi comes Paganini Horror, a story about a pop band that gets more than they bargained for when they use a previously unknown composition by famed violinist and composer Niccolò Paganini as the basis for their new song. Continue readingLo spettacolo dell'orrore italiano: Paganini Horror”

Lo spettacolo dell'orrore italiano: Metamorphosis (1990), aka Regenerator, aka DNA formula letale

George Eastman, aka Luigi Montefiori, is one of the legends of Shitty Movie Sundays. His long career as an actor and writer spanned six decades before he hung them up in 2010. He’s worked with some of the giants of Italian cinema, including Mario Bava and Lina Wertmüller. He had a long professional collaboration with schlock director Joe D’Amato. He’s acted in, and written, spaghetti westerns, crime flicks, giallo, horror, post-apocalyptic sci-fi, and smut (although I don’t think he’s ever taken his pants off in one — I could be wrong). His face has been a constant presence in the types of movies featured in Shitty Movie Sundays, but he only has one solo directing credit in his oeuvre — Metamorphosis, from 1990. Continue readingLo spettacolo dell'orrore italiano: Metamorphosis (1990), aka Regenerator, aka DNA formula letale”

Lo spettacolo dell'orrore italiano: Witchery, aka La Casa 4 – Witchcraft, aka Witchcraft (Evil Encounters)

More Italian title trickery! Upon release in Italy, this morning’s film was titled La Casa 4 – Witchcraft, a sequel in name only to La Casa 3 – Ghosthouse. It’s an unfortunately common thing overseas, not just in Italy, for movies to be marketed as a sequel to an unrelated film. Most of the time, we don’t have to deal with that shit here in the States, so we were given the simple title Witchery, although the print I saw used the title for the film’s release in Australia, Witchcraft (Evil Encounters). How silly the business of movies can be.

The good news is, Witchery stars Linda Blair and David Hasselhoff. I’ll repeat that. Linda Blair, adorable teen star of The Exorcist turned prolific b-movie actress, and The Hoff. Continue readingLo spettacolo dell'orrore italiano: Witchery, aka La Casa 4 – Witchcraft, aka Witchcraft (Evil Encounters)”

Lo spettacolo dell'orrore italiano: Body Count (1986), aka Camping del terrore

This is the third film from director Ruggero Deodato to be featured in the Italian Horrorshow, after the unforgettable pair of Cannibal Holocaust and Jungle Holocaust. Both of those films were impressive in their storytelling and shocking visuals. Deodato must have had enough of cannibals after that, and instead turned his talents to an American-style slasher/cabin in the woods flick.

Written by many people, including Italian cinema stalwarts Sheila Goldberg and Dardano Sacchetti, Body Count tells the story of two groups of youths that are brought together by chance, to be chased around a derelict campground by a masked killer. Anyone with even a passing familiarity with horror flicks will have seen this plot, or something damned close, once or twice. This being the fifteenth year of the Horrorshow, on top of a lifetime of watching horror flicks, I figured there would be nothing all that special about this flick. Continue readingLo spettacolo dell'orrore italiano: Body Count (1986), aka Camping del terrore”

October Horrorshow: Severance (2006)

A horror comedy would seem to be a contradiction in terms. However, horror fans aren’t watching horror because they like death. Well, most of us, anyway. Horror fans look for the same things from film as everyone else. Escapism. Specifically, the ability to experience places, people, and stories that we otherwise would not. Films evoke emotion, but do so in a way that exists outside of everyday life. Combining genres, especially in contradictory fashion, creates a delicacy of mixed emotions that we could never experience otherwise. In what other place than film could one experience the wonderful flavor profile of a humorous decapitation? Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Severance (2006)”

Lo spettacolo dell'orrore italiano: StageFright (1987), aka Deliria

Ferrari (Piero Vida) is producing, and Peter (David Brandon) is directing the most low-rent and desperate dance theater production ever to hit off-off-off-off-off-Broadway. It’s the story of an owl-headed serial killer who preys in the slums, raping hookers and Cinderalla alike, while Marilyn Monroe serenades the scene with a saxophone from above.

Such is the setting for George Eastman and Sheila Goldberg’s (writers) and Michele Soavi’s (directing his first feature) film StageFright. The film is a classic slasher, featuring a limited cast in an isolated environment, who are chopped to bits at regular intervals, before the whole thing is wrapped up in a bow at the end. There’s not much to set this film apart from the many, many slashers that populate the horror genre. The good news for viewers is that StageFright is a good film, with a swift pace, plentiful gore, believable characters, and a setting that works. Little foibles of Italian cinema show up here and there, mostly involving the motivations of the bad guy and the unlikely coincidence that introduces said bad guy to the plot, but, whatever. This is a fun flick. Continue readingLo spettacolo dell'orrore italiano: StageFright (1987), aka Deliria”

October Horrorshow: I Saw the Devil, aka Ang-ma-reul bo-at-da

Receiving much praise from both professional and amateur critics, and moviegoers alike, I Saw the Devil, the 2010 movie from Jee-woon Kim, performs very well on aggregator sites like Rotten Tomatoes and IMDb. The general consensus is that Kim is a very talented filmmaker, skilled in storytelling and photography. With I Saw the Devil, he crafted a disturbing look into a nightmare world of revenge and horror, powerfully emotional, and unrelenting in its depiction of violence. In general, when both critics and audiences are in alignment like this, there’s nothing more to say. I’m going to zag a bit, though.

It’s going to be hard for regular readers of the Horrorshow to believe this, but I think the violence in I Saw the Devil overwhelms the movie. I’ve written often that a certain horror movie could use more gore. That’s because I enjoy the fiction of fun house violence. Truly agonizing depictions of violence work well in something like Hereditary or Irréversible, where the suddenness of it complements the themes of the film, and it’s used in limited capacity, increasing its effect. But if a movie is going to be wall to wall blood and grievous bodily injury, I prefer it to be tempered by being outrageous and/or silly. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: I Saw the Devil, aka Ang-ma-reul bo-at-da”

Lo spettacolo dell'orrore italiano: The Wax Mask, aka M.D.C. – Maschera di cera

According to the internet, so it must be true, after Dario Argento saw that Italian film auteur Lucio Fulci was in ill-health in the mid 1990s, he decided to throw him a project. Argento and Fulci didn’t get along that well, however, so pre-production stretched on longer than it should have. Then Fulci died, and the project was passed to first-time director Sergio Stivaletti, who had been an established special effects tech for over a decade. The result was The Wax Mask, which was different enough from 1953’s House of Wax to keep Argento and the other producers from being sued.

The film opens on a grisly murder scene in Paris in the year 1900. A man and his wife have been cut to ribbons, with their young daughter a survivor and witness to the brutal crime. Fast forward to Rome a dozen years later and the girl has grown into a woman. Sonia Lafont (Romina Mondello) has arrived in Rome to seek a career as a costume designer. She gets a job at a soon to be opened wax museum run by the mysterious Boris Volkoff (Robert Hossein), who becomes enamored with Sonia at first sight. Continue readingLo spettacolo dell'orrore italiano: The Wax Mask, aka M.D.C. – Maschera di cera”

October Horrorshow: Mindkiller

Before Michael Krueger horrified viewers by writing the execrable Amityville Curse, he wrote (with Dave Sipos and Curtis Hannum) and directed a shitty shot-on-video horror flick called Mindkiller. In the vein of a David Cronenberg film, Mindkiller follows a protagonist whose forays into psychoscience lead to a strange lovelife, followed by horrific consequences.

Warren (Joe McDonald) has a problem. He can’t get laid. He’s a thirty something with a dead end job in the basement of a library, doomed to spending his days filing meaningless reports, and his nights watching in envy as his roommate, Brad (Kevin Hart, not that one), hooks up with every hottie in sight. It’s all a personality problem. Warren is deathly shy and when he does work up the courage to talk to a woman, nothing but gibberish comes out. It’s a tale as old as flirting. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Mindkiller”