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.
I couldn’t let October go by and let Zombie Island Massacre be the final film from the Troma stable featured in this year’s Horrorshow. Their catalogue, both the films they produce and the ones they distribute, are hit or miss for fans of b-movies. Zombie Island Massacre is well-liked enough that Joe Bob Briggs hosted it on his show way back in the 1990s, but I didn’t see the appeal. Consider this a makeup post.
Slime City Massacre, from 2010, is a project from low-budget auteur Gregory Lamberson, and is a sequel to his debut feature from 1988, Slime City.
An introduction, and a couple of flashbacks here and there, take place in 1959. There, a cult leader named Zachary (Craig Sabin) has gathered a flock. In anticipation of the end of the world or something, Zachary uses black magic to transfer the souls of he and his believers into jars of fluorescent goo. He also whips up a batch of cursed hooch that, when combined with eating the slime, will transfer the stored souls into the poor victim who imbibed. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Slime City Massacre”
The Devil’s Rain, the mafia-financed(!) horror flick from 1975, is blessed with a dubious honor — it made Roger Ebert’s list of most hated films. Roger Ebert was a brilliant film critic, but something of a stick in the mud. Sure, this film is silly, the plot meanders and is sometimes contradictory, and the ending is far too drawn out, but I can think of many, many more films to hate before even considering The Devil’s Rain. In fact, I don’t have to think about it at all, since I have a list handy, and The Devil’s Rain is better than any movie in the bottom fifty in said list. So there, Roger. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: The Devil’s Rain”
After the success of Demons 2, director Lamberto Bava and producer Dario Argento had begun to collaborate on another project. But, while Bava wanted to do another entry in the Demons series, Argento did not, leading to Bava saying his farewells and Argento bringing in Michele Soavi, who had directed the second unit on a number of Argento’s films. A screenplay for the film passed through no less than eight hands, including Soavi’s. The location changed from a plane to a volcanic island and, finally, to a Gothic cathedral in the heart of a modern European city. Thus, we have The Church, from 1989. Continue reading “Lo spettacolo dell'orrore italiano: The Church, aka La Chiesa”
Baron Blood, Mario Bava’s 1972 film, a joint Italian-German production, was a success, making money in both the domestic and international markets. It seemed to tick off all the audiences’ boxes for what gothic horror should be. A castle, a baron, a mysterious legend, some bodies, and a bombshell female lead. Nothing about it feels original, though. Mario Bava is one of the giants hovering over horror films, but the internet seems to agree with my reaction to Baron Blood, ranking it as one of Bava’s more pedestrian efforts. That doesn’t mean it’s a bad film. It isn’t. It just fails to leave a lasting impression.
Night of the Beast, titled Lukas’ Child in some releases, has no business being as watchable as it is. Conceived by producer and star Robert Alden May, Night of the Beast has little in the way of production value, no gore, and only a few drops of blood. But, what it does have is a monster, and lots of breasts.
Written and directed by Troma stable member Eric Louzil, Beast follows May as Lukas Armand, an aging former freakshow owner from Florida who has moved to Hollywood and founded a devil-worshiping cult.
The cult, under Lukas’s direction, has lured every would-be buxom actress in Hollywood through its doors under the promise of a role in a horror movie. But, it’s a trick. Lukas really needs these young ladies to feed his insatiable son — a demonic, leather-winged monstrosity (played by John Theilade in a rubber suit). Is the son really deformed, or is he an actual demon? The script is never clear on that, but Lukas is capable of some supernatural shenanigans, so the cult is legit. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Night of the Beast, aka Lukas’ Child”
Cheap, irreverent, gory, and gloriously stupid. If there are four descriptors essential to a successful SOV horror flick, those are it. Prolific shitty movie writer/director/producer Jeff Leroy’s 2000 flick, The Screaming, has all of those, in decent proportion. Although, I don’t think it would have hurt matters any to have a bit more gratuitous nudity. But, that’s a personal preference.
The Screaming stars Vinnie Bilancio (who also has a producer and production design credit) as Bob Martin, a Marlboro enthusiast and graduate student in anthropology at an unnamed southern California university (the university was played by CSU, Long Beach). Like many graduate students, Bob is flat broke, and thus has to take the cheapest off-campus housing he can find. In this case, it’s a single room in the back of a house owned by blonde bombshell Crystal (Wendi Winburn). Continue reading “It Came from the Camcorder: The Screaming”
This one’s for the gore hounds. This flick is for those who like melting faces, popped eyeballs, severed tongues, crucifixion, putrefaction, red blood, yellow ooze, brown goo, and don’t mind one bit that the plot has all the narrative consistency of getting blackout drunk. But, that’s okay. If an Italian horror flick had a plot one could follow, would it still be an Italian horror flick?
There’s nothing quite like a creepy old house for atmosphere. Even better when it’s a stately pile — a relic of the gilded age whose halls were once filled with scurrying servants and aloof aristocracy. They were the engines of their own destruction, but what pleasant ruins they have left behind.
The scene of The Cellar, from writer/director Brendan Muldowney, isn’t on the scale of a Victorian-era English country home from Henry James, or the mansion from The Changeling, but it is a house with ceilings high enough for a game of pickup basketball, and wood molding everywhere. At some time in the last century, a house like this — one built with care and craftsmanship — became a place that has a sense of unease about it. Perhaps we’ve gotten too used to the plain boxes that accompanied the post-WW2 population explosion. Or, perhaps, we see a once-grand residence on its downward slope and the weight of years and events that happened there is too much to consider. So much life passed through there, and so long ago, that an old house is a reminder of death. No matter. I’d live in a place like this film’s Fetherston House in a heartbeat (interiors and exteriors were shot at a house in Roscommon, Ireland). Continue reading “October Horrorshow: The Cellar (2022)”
It’s tough watching a movie lose it in the final act. Whereas a film that shows little promise at the start, but then builds and builds to something special at the end, is always a pleasant surprise, a film that stumbles to the finish after a strong start can’t help but be a disappointment. Much hard work, good acting, and fine storytelling is, if not wasted by a poor ending, at least squandered somewhat. I can’t say that Jennifer Reeder and company should have just packed it all in if this was the best ending they could come up with, but I would like to see what they could have done given another chance, and maybe a couple extra bucks in the effects budget. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Night’s End”