October Horrorshow: Terror-Creatures from the Grave

Pacemaker Pictures, the English-language distributors of Terror-Creatures from the Grave, the 1965 Italian gothic horror flick, sure went all in on the title. Perhaps they had a shortlist and couldn’t decide between Terror from the Grave and Creatures from the Grave so, like some parents, decided to burden their charge with a hyphenated name. It’s a mouthful, but has loads of kitsch to it.

Directed by Massimo Pupillo, from a screenplay by Romano Migliorini and Roberto Natale, Terror-Creatures is plays like a pageant in honor of horror cinema. Shot in stark black and white by Carlo Di Palma, the film relies heavily on early horror film styles and storytelling, while combining it with contemporary trends in Italian cinema. There’s the dark and stormy night, overlayered with endless theremin music, combined with dramatic closeups and the multinational cast mouthing their lines in different languages. It’s like watching an old Universal horror film, and everyone is poorly dubbed. Unfortunately, that dubbing can be somewhat distracting, but Pupillo and company nevertheless made a decent horror film. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Terror-Creatures from the Grave”

October Horrorshow: Guru, the Mad Monk

There are giants in the history of shitty cinema. Roger Corman, Bert I. Gordon, Herschell Gordon Lewis, Lloyd Kaufman, Ray Dennis Steckler, amongst many others. Then there are filmmakers like Andy Milligan. Milligan was a worker, with dozens of films in his oeuvre. But he sure did make some trash. Most shitty filmmakers would make something like Guru, the Mad Monk, and then have to call it quits. Having a film this bad in one’s CV is kryptonite to investors, but Milligan managed to make shitty films for another two decades after Guru’s release. That’s dedication. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Guru, the Mad Monk”

October Horrorshow: The Devil’s Hand

Rick Turner (Robert Alda), is, by all appearances, in a happy relationship with Donna Trent (Ariadne Welter). The two of them are clean-cut, 1950s wholesome, and engaged to be married. But, a mysterious, beautiful woman has been appearing to Rick in his dreams. One day, as he and Donna are walking about, Rick sees a doll in the display window of a dollmaker’s shop that has an uncanny resemblance to the woman in his dreams. He goes inside, and sets in motion a tale of evil and death.

Such is the setup to The Devil’s Hand, a kitschy 1961 horror flick from writer Jo Heims and director William J. Hole, Jr. By kitschy, I mean that this film has the look and feel of Ed Wood. I don’t mean a film directed by Ed Wood. I mean the Tim Burton biopic. I have no idea what exact sources Burton found for inspiration. Perhaps this flick was on the list. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: The Devil’s Hand”

October Horrorshow: Blood Sabbath, or, My Soul for Some Strange

Blood Sabbath movie posterWhat a bucket of sleaze. Blood Sabbath, the 1972 exploitation horror flick from screenwriter William A. Bairn and director Brianne Murphy, is exactly the kind of movie that gets the pious all worked up. Gratuitous nudity only begins to describe the amount of flesh in this movie. This is one of those drive-in classics packed full, from start to finish, with butts, boobs, and bush. Add in witchcraft, and one would be hard-pressed to find an R-rated film more capable of moral corruption. It’s spectacular.

The film follows Vietnam War vet David (Anthony Geary). He’s having a rough time with what he experienced in the war, and has gone on a walkabout that takes him, I think, into Mexico. The film isn’t clear on that. While there, he is accosted in the night by three naked partiers and chased through the woods. He trips and falls, hitting his head on a rock and falling unconscious. When he awakens, he finds himself being cared for by a buxom young lady named Yyala (Susan Damante). She’s a water spirit, or something similar, and the two fall in love with each other. But, David can’t get past first base because, according to Yyala, she has no soul, and it’s forbidden for her to be with someone who still has theirs. So, David makes it his mission to rid himself of his soul so he can get laid. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Blood Sabbath, or, My Soul for Some Strange”

October Horrorshow: Horror Rises from the Tomb

Writer/actor/director Paul Naschy was cinematic royalty in his native Spain. But, despite having seen piles and piles of horror flicks and shitty movies combined, this reviewer had never heard of him until doing the research for this post. My favorite factoid about Naschy is that he starred in twelve low-budget werewolf flicks, all as a character named Waldemar Daninsky, and yet each is a standalone film, featuring a new origin for Waldemar’s werewolf curse. That’s fantastic. Who retcons the same character eleven times? Naschy and his cohort over in Franco’s Spain, that’s who. I cannot wait to see them all and share my thoughts on them with you, loyal reader. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Horror Rises from the Tomb”

October Horrorshow: Mandy

Mandy, the 2018 magnum opus from director Panos Cosmatos, written with Aaron Stewart-Ahn, is a film that will be polarizing to an audience. Its execution is very stylized, and that, combined with its oppressive mood, will be a huge turnoff for many, while many others will find themselves carried away by it all. It’s not completely a love it or hate it kind of film, but the world is rarely so black and white. What most viewers should be able to agree on is that Cosmatos’s film is ambitious, especially in the way it is photographed. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Mandy”

Shitty Movie Sundays: The Thirsty Dead

The Thirsty Dead movie posterWhat The Thirsty Dead is not: a film about zombies, or vampires, or other undead creatures preying on the innocent and spilling buckets of fake blood. There is no gore, and no more than a few dollops of blood. Despite this being from 1974, the wheelhouse for drive-in movie exploitation, there is no nudity, gratuitous or otherwise, despite four main cast members being young(-ish), buxom(-ish) ladies.

What The Thirsty Dead is: a film with a misleading title. That happens often with shitty movies. It’s a crime compounded by the fact that not only is this movie not about thirsty dead things, it’s not even a horror flick. There are horror elements to the plot, but there just isn’t enough for this film to cross over into that hallowed genre. This is just exploitation schlock, done poorly. Exploitation films are supposed to be downright sleazy — a guilty pleasure that will get one strange looks from the ideological purity police. This film flirts with sleaze, but never commits. Seriously, what kind of exploitation film needs zero edits to be suitable for commercial television? Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: The Thirsty Dead”

October Horrorshow: The Pyramid

Sometimes I curse The Blair Witch Project for loosing found footage horror flicks upon the movie-watching public. And I curse Rec, as well, for its creepy night-vision climax that has been used over and over again in just about every one of these ripoffs. There is now a whole pile of these films, and it’s hard to find one that doesn’t default to the techniques and gimmicks of these two films.

The Pyramid, from 2014, saves all of its originality for setting and place, while delivering a film identical in tone to any number of horror flicks where a group of people find themselves lost underground and are being stalked by…something. In fact, this is the fourth such film to be featured in this year’s Horrorshow, after Gonjiam, Derelict, and Creep. It’s a cheap way for filmmakers to use the same darkened hallway or tunnel set in many different shots and scenes, creating the illusion of a vast maze. The only problem with this is, these films very clearly use a small set, so it’s left up to the viewer to pretend that the filmmakers aren’t trying to fool us. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: The Pyramid”

October Horrorshow: Belzebuth

Belzebuth, the 2017 horror flick from Mexico, stakes its claims early on. In the first scene, we see police officer Emmanuel Ritter (Joaquín Cosio) and his wife, Marina (Aurora Gil), at the hospital following the birth of their child. The two are consumed by happiness, as are all the other new parents in the maternity ward. But, not long after, a neonatal nurse starts her shift by stabbing all of the babies in the newborn nursery with a scalpel. Viewers are treated to the nurse’s increasingly bloody arm going up and down, clutching the scalpel like, well, a knife. Ritter’s baby is one of the victims. It’s a hard bit of film to watch, even though the death is one-hundred percent implied. Director Emilio Portes decided to open his film with a shock, but he was still wise enough not to show we viewers any actual dead babies. Thank goodness, really. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Belzebuth”

October Horrorshow: Eli

Back in 2012, Ciarán Foy made a disturbing indie horror flick called Citadel. With that film, he showed that he could make horror with a polished sense of dread and an uneasy aesthetic. It wasn’t a great horror film, but it’s getting him some regular work in the genre.

His latest is Eli, which was released this month on Netflix. From a screenplay by David Chirchirillo, Ian Goldberg, and Richard Naing, Eli tells the story of the unfortunate title character, played by Charlie Shotwell. Eli is unfortunate because he’s basically allergic to everything. He lives in a sterile environment, but should he leave his bubble in anything less than a hermetically sealed hazmat suit, he goes into anaphylactic shock. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Eli”