Monthly Archives: August 2020

Recent Additions: August 2020

Psychotronic Review

I added a lot of films this month — some that I didn’t watch. I have a backlog of these things. But I’ve also been watching more films.

Normally, I go on vacation in June. I didn’t this year. And it’s been weighing on me. I just don’t feel like working on high-paying projects most of the time.

So I use the permission to watch films instead. Although really: watching films is work. And the better I get, the most work it is. I can’t just watch films anymore. I have to analyze them and compare them to other films and put them in context.

But I do it for you!

July 2020 Films

  1. Attack of the Moon Zombies (2011)
  2. The Black Cat (1981)
  3. The Blood on Satan’s Claw (1971)
  4. Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 (2000)
  5. Brannigan (1975)
  6. Cannibal Holocaust (1980)
  7. Cave Women on Mars (2008)
  8. The Crazies (1973)
  9. Danny Johnson Saves the World (2015)
  10. Death Bed: The Bed That Eats (1977)
  11. Elvira’s Haunted Hills (2001)
  12. Elvira, Mistress of the Dark (1988)
  13. Equinox (1970)
  14. Frogs (1972)
  15. The Giant Spider (2013)
  16. House Hunting (2012)
  17. House of Ghosts (2012)
  18. Kolchak: The Night Stalker (1974-1975)
  19. Lady Frankenstein (1971)
  20. The Late Night Double Feature (2014)
  21. The Milpitas Monster (1976)
  22. The Monster of Phantom Lake (2006)
  23. The Mountain of the Cannibal God (1978)
  24. The New York Ripper (1982)
  25. Night Gallery (1970-1973)
  26. The Night Stalker (1972)
  27. Omega Doom (1996)
  28. Paranormal Investigation Agency (2017)
  29. Quest for the Egg Salad (2002)
  30. Space: 1999 (1975-1977)
  31. Terror From Beneath the Earth (2009)
  32. They Saved Hitler’s Brain (1968)
  33. Trucks (1997)
  34. Valley of the Zombies (1946)
  35. Weresquito: Nazi Hunter (2016)
  36. When a Stranger Calls (1979)
  37. When a Stranger Calls Back (1993)
  38. White Slave (1985)
  39. The Woman in Black (1989)

The Blood on Satan’s Claw (1971)

This Tigon production offers us witches terrorizing a village in 1700s England. It’s really nice to see a very straightforward story told so well. On the other hand, it’s hardly the kind of film I want to watch over and over. Much of the violence is highly effective. And there is a scene where a young witch tries to seduce a priest that is very sexy.

Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 (2000)

I had to watch this just because everyone hates it so much. And: surprise! It’s actually really good. I don’t see how a sequel to The Blair Witch Project could have been better. I’m glad to own it. It is worth rewatching.

Brannigan (1975)

The truth is that I will never understand the appeal of John Wayne. From his earliest films to this, one of his last, he’s awkward and annoying. You can’t be a great actor if you spend all your time trying to prove to the world that you are a “real” man.

But the picture itself is good. And it makes up having John Wayne in it. But it would have been better with literally any other actor.

Cannibal Holocaust (1980)

I put off seeing Cannibal Holocaust for a long time because of the animal cruelty. What’s aggravating is that none of it adds to the film. I could easily edit it all out without hurting the film at all.

And this is a great film. And one that has something to say. I don’t really see why the animal cruelty isn’t edited out. Of course, it would still be stained by that. But I do think that we just have to understand that this is how films were once made and they generally aren’t today. Let’s more on.

Let’s not forget that people continue to commit great acts of animal cruelty. People roast crabs and boil lobsters alive. Just because something is done on screen doesn’t make it worse.

Chris Seaver Films

I have tried really hard to like Chris Seaver’s films. Pretty much all of them have moments that are interesting. But they are filled with far too much puerile sexual humor that only immature 13-year-old virgin boys would find funny.

Here we have two films separated by 15 years. The first is Quest for the Egg Salad, which is distinctly better than his earlier films. And then Paranormal Investigation Agency, which is distinctly better still. But the annoyance factor is still so high that I think Seaver is a couple of decades from making a film that comes out in the black.

Christopher R Mihm Films

Christopher R Mihm is a guy who makes parodies of the 1950s science fiction and horror films. He’s put one out per year since 2006. I first saw House of Ghosts, and I didn’t think that much of it. But his films grow on you. And over time, I’ve become a big fan of his work.

The other films watched this month: Attack of the Moon Zombies, Cave Women on Mars, Danny Johnson Saves the World, The Giant Spider, The Late Night Double Feature, The Monster of Phantom Lake, Terror From Beneath the Earth, and Weresquito: Nazi Hunter.

I have an article about his films coming out soon.

The Crazies (1973)

The Crazies is generally said to be a lesser George Romero film. And I’d love to disagree, but I think that’s accurate. There’s nothing particularly wrong with the film. But the story is too scattered and just doesn’t have the impact of one of the Dead films or Martin.

Death Bed: The Bed That Eats (1977)

I’ve been talking about this one for years. If you want more information, read my discussion.

Elvira Movies

There are two Elvira movies: Elvira, Mistress of the Dark (1988) and Elvira’s Haunted Hills (2001). The first is fun and the second is a masterpiece. Read my discussion.

Equinox (1970)

This is one of the mythic films — something people dreamed of seeing in decades past and is now just a Google search away. The film is hardly great, but it features amazing special effects by three masters of the art form.

Frogs (1972)

This is an odd one starring Ray Milland and a very young Sam Elliott. Basically: the swamp turns on a rich family. It’s very well-made but just odd. Better to watch Tobe Hooper’s Eaten Alive.

House Hunting (2012)

House Hunting is one of those made-for-TV delights I run into all the time. It’s a very effective haunted house film. It’s amazing what great work people do on a small budget. And what dreck they manage with huge budgets!

Lady Frankenstein (1971)

This is very Gothic but at the same time extremely disturbing with a lot of weird sexual quirks. Read my analysis.

Lucio Fulci Films

We featured two Fulci films this month: The Black Cat (1981) and The New York Ripper (1982). The Black Cat is an excellent film but much more subdued than what most of us Fulci fans have come to expect. But with Patrick Magee, it’s hard not to love. I think any Fulci fan should own it.

I was surprised to learn that even today, The New York Ripper is not well-liked by critics. I figured this was a film that critics had come to recognize as a classic, but no. And it is really great. Admittedly, it’s a bit misogynistic. But it also portrays men as horrible. And it’s really effective. I think it’s one of Fulci’s best.

The Milpitas Monster (1976)

The horror film made by a high school photography class! Read my discussion.

The Mountain of the Cannibal God (1978)

Although not as known for it as Cannibal Holocaust, this film features animal cruelty. And it isn’t nearly as good. Still: it is worth watching. But if you didn’t have a problem with this film, I don’t see why you should have one for the other.

Night Gallery (1970-1973)

This was another of my favorites when I was a kid but I think I only saw it in syndication. This series does not get enough credit. I enjoy it more than The Twilight Zone. Read more of my thoughts.

The Night Stalker Films and TV Series

I loved the original The Night Stalker and the follow-up The Night Strangler. And then Kolchak: The Night Stalker was my favorite show. I was destroyed when it was cancelled. Watching them now, the show wasn’t as good as the movies but they are all a lot of fun.

Omega Doom (1996)

Yet another remake of Yojimbo in another environment. It’s a pretty good film overall.

Space: 1999 (1975-1977)

I’ve long loved this silly science fiction TV series. Just read my discussion.

Strangers Call

These are both good slasher films: When a Stranger Calls (1979) and When a Stranger Calls Back (1993). The opening half-hour of the second is outstanding.

They Saved Hitler’s Brain (1968)

This is quite a strange movie. You should read my article, They Saved Hitler’s Brain vs The Madmen of Mandoras.

Trucks (1997)

I quite like this film. It’s a lot like Jaws but with trucks. None of it is especially surprising but the acting is good and it holds your interest throughout.

Valley of the Zombies (1946)

This is a fun little romp. Just grab a copy from Archive. It’s short.

White Slave (1985)

This film has its moments but is kind of slow. It was released under a lot of different titles. I watched it under the title Cannibal Holocaust 2. And I can see why they did that. But it really isn’t that kind of film. It takes place in the jungle but it’s mostly a romance — although a weird one.

The Woman in Black (1989)

This is a great ghost story. Skip the more recent one and see this if you can. I just got it on Blu-ray direct from the UK, but it’s Region B/2. It hasn’t been released in the US. Time has been kind to this film and I think it will be more so in the coming decade.

See you next month!

Recent Additions: July 2020

Psychotronic Review

Each month I seem to focus on a certain kind of film or a particular filmmaker. This month I watched way too many films by one particular director. Even though I like him, I got to hate his work by the end. Or at least it felt like that.

There are a few films here that I think are classics of the genre. I’ll mention them when I come to them.

July 2020 Films

  1. Amityville Island (2020)
  2. The Beastmaster (1982)
  3. Bigfoot vs Zombies (2016)
  4. Black Sabbath (1963)
  5. Bride of the Werewolf (2019)
  6. Dawn of the Dead (1978)
  7. Deadly Playthings (2019)
  8. Les Diaboliques (1955)
  9. Don’t Torture a Duckling (1972)
  10. Frozen Sasquatch (2018)
  11. Ghost of Camp Blood (2018)
  12. Hallucinations (1986)
  13. Killer Nerd (1991)
  14. Land Shark (2017)
  15. Little Evil (2017)
  16. Mega Scorpions (2003)
  17. Messiah of Evil (1973)
  18. Monster Movie (2008)
  19. Night Thirst (2002)
  20. Parts: The Clonus Horror (1979)
  21. Peter Rottentail (2004)
  22. Robowar (2018)
  23. Saving Private Perez (2011)
  24. Sharkenstein (2016)
  25. Space Captain: Captain of Space! (2014)
  26. Splatter Farm (1987)
  27. The Toxic Avenger (1984)
  28. Vampyres (1974)
  29. War Raiders (2018)
  30. Zombie (1979)

Mark Polonia

Fully half of all the films were directed or co-directed by Mark Polonia. Along with his late twin brother John, the Polonia Brothers are legends of the micro-budget industry.

That really started with Splatter Farm (co-directed with Todd Michael Smith). This was not their first feature and yet they were still only teens. The film is extremely crude in terms of technique. But it’s also amazing. Effortlessly, the boys create some of the most disturbing film that I’ve ever seen.

Most of the films I watched were made after John died. Polonia’s technique has certainly developed but his budgets haven’t. But he uses digital effects to great effects. Many of them are the sort of thing you see in Birdemic, but used really well to make the films look a lot more expensive than they are.

Polonia also uses digital effects to render creatures. These work less well and many of his films come across as proofs-of-concept more than finished films. But there is no question that the films work. And at times, like in Sharkenstein, they are works of comic genius.

I plan to write a more thorough discussion of Polonia, so you will have to wait for that. But if you have Amazon Prime, check out some of his films.

The Beastmaster

I’m a big Don Coscarelli fan but I’d missed this one because I’m just not that into these kinds of films. But this one works well. Having now seen all of his films, I can see what ties them all together. He makes films about young people surviving. If you remove all the horror from most of his films, you end up with My Side of the Mountain.

Black Sabbath

A very Gothic horror anthology by our friend Mario Bava. It’s not one of my favorites of his, but it’s still a classic.

Dawn of the Dead

Is it okay to not especially like this film? I know why I loved it when it first came out. It’s such a survival fantasy: you fight off the zombie and then you get to play in a shopping mall all by yourself. And the only way to die is by being a total idiot.

I still enjoy it. But it’s much too long. And there are so many other Romero films that don’t get enough attention. But I’ll admit: if people didn’t like this film, I’d be a loud defender. Because there is no question that it’s a hell of a lot of fun!

Les Diaboliques

This is a really good thriller with a clever plot. It’s a lot like a Hitchcock film but with much greater care. Bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad. At least until the very end. This one is definitely worth watching.

Don’t Torture a Duckling

I’m still obsessing about Lucio Fulci and this is one of his best films. More than in his horror films, this one is rich with themes — especially about sex and morality. And it shows the way that people act like monsters — well on display in many of Fulci’s other films.

Killer Nerd

This film ought to be used to recruit Incels. It’s brilliant — particularly in its use of Toby Radloff. But its misogyny is so extreme, it’s hard not to be troubled by it.

Little Evil

This parody of The Omen is hilarious. And it has an exceptional supporting cast. Sadly, it only seems to be available via Netflix streaming, which is odd given how good this one is.

Mega Scorpions

This is the last film directed by JR Bookwalter. I just revisited it and it’s actually really good. The further I get into the trenches of low-budget filmmakers, the more I’m impressed with his talent.

Messiah of Evil

Directed by noted screenwriting couple Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz, this is a very smart and creative zombie film. According to some scholars, this film had an impact on later Italian horror films like Zombie.

Parts: The Clonus Horror

This is a low-budget gem. Forgotten at the time of its release because of similar big-budget films, this one beats them all. It’s a great 1970s-style paranoid mystery. Who can you trust? No one!

Saving Private Perez

This Mexican comedy features a lot of great actors and some genuinely funny moments. But I was mostly kind of bored. Maybe I’d like it better if I spoke Spanish.

Space Captain: Captain of Space!

This Rocky Jones, Space Ranger parody is brilliant. I don’t know why these people haven’t done more. If you get a chance, see it!

The Toxic Avenger

Roughly speaking, there are two kinds of Troma films: trashy micro-budget quickies and more substantial and inspired stuff. This is in the latter group. It’s no Poultrygeist, but it’s damned good.

Vampyres

This is the find of the month: a sexy vampire filmed with equal parts sex and violence. In fact, it verges on softcore porn at times. But it is beautifully rendered. A must-see!

Zombie

Lucio Fulci’s seminal zombie film. It drives me crazy that people dismiss it as a rip-off of Dawn of the Dead, when it is so different and, frankly, so much better. If nothing else, go check YouTube for “splinter eye scene.”

See you next month!