Monthly Archives: December 2020

Hohoho! Watch “Christmas Evil”!

Christmas Evil

Without a doubt, my favorite Christmas film is Christmas Evil, Lewis Jackson’s brilliant slasher film about a man who was scarred as a child when he learned that Santa was dad and saw him getting it on with mom in ways never alluded to in “I Saw Mama Kissing Santa Claus.”

Lewis’ preferred title for the film is “You Better Watch Out.” But since Better Watch Out (2016), I just can’t use it because I just don’t like that film (even though I completely admit that it’s really well made).

Christmas Evil is based on old folklore about Santa Claus that sees him as a distinctly mixed-blessing. Yeah, he’s great to good little girls and boys. And there’s a wonderful scene in this film that features it. But if you are bad, get ready to wet your pants!

And more important: if you guilt Santa into working your shift so you can be with your wife and kids, and then you go out drinking with your friends, then you had better watch out! Santa’s going to give presents to your kids and then slit your throat with a Christmas tree star.

Buy the Blu-ray

Lewis Jackson hasn’t done much when it comes to feature films. I assume he’s spent the past many decades working in the trenches of industrial films. (And if you are reading this, Mr Jackson, please get in touch. I’d like to interview you for an article I’m writing about how filmmakers such as yourself manage to make their art and still make a living!) So you really out to send a buck his way by purchasing this film on disc. Then you can watch it the way it is meant to be seen every Christmas!

Video and Audio

Vinegar Syndrome released a fabulous Blu-ray/DVD combo. It’s a 4K print. It looks great! The film was shot and lit by veteran Ricardo Aronovich. It’s got far more nuance than one normally sees.

The audio is only provided in mono but it sounds good. Sadly, there are no subtitles.


There are three audio commentaries available. I’ve become increasingly critical of commentaries so forgive me for my negativity:

  • Lewis Jackson: this commentary is fantastic. It’s everything that you would want. Jackson provides extensive information about the film including his intentions. You should check this out if you want to know more about the film.
  • Lewis Jackson & Brandon Maggart: Maggart is fantastic as the lead in this film. But he doesn’t really understand the film and generally seems embarrassed by it. It appears to be from an earlier Troma release. I’d skip this one.
  • Lewis Jackson & John Waters: There are moments of worth here, in particular Waters’ discussion of the fetish elements in the film. But I found the commentary annoying because I’ve seen this film a lot and I was shocked that for all Waters’ talk, he clearly had never watched the film closely.

Other Stuff

  • Trailer: This is enjoyable but it would be terrible for getting people to see the film.
  • Interviews
    • Lewis Jackson: 7-minute interview that doesn’t add anything to the commentary, but is nice to see what he looks like.
    • Brandon Maggart: 7-minute interview of silliness worth checking out if you don’t listen to the commentary with him. He makes some good points, actually.
  • Auditions: 26-minutes of auditions from Richard Bright, Carla Borelli, Larry Pine, JoBeth Williams, Brandon Maggart, Pat Hodges, Michael Beck, Lindsay Crouse, Jeffrey DeMunn, George Dzundza, David Rasche, and Ellen McElduff. This is worth the whole price!
  • Deleted scenes: 7-minutes of excellent scenes. But they aren’t necessary. They make explicit what is clear in the film as released.
  • Comment cards: 26 cards from people who screened the film. They show how worthless such things are. But they are funny!
  • Storyboards: 4-minutes of storyboards and script. It’s interesting. My main takeaway from such things is always just that storyboard artists are really amazing.

Watch It Now

The main reason I run this site is that I admire artists who manage to finish works of art. So I hope that you will buy the Blu-ray/DVD combo. And after you’ve watched it a dozen times and thoroughly ingested it, I hope you will show it to your friends and family members.

But barring that, has a really good print of it. So you absolutely have no reason not to watch it. It isn’t even a scary film. Everyone gets what they deserve, which is my favorite kind of horror film!

I’m sure that Lewis Jackson would really appreciate you buying his film. But he strikes me as the kind of guy who would be grateful if you just watched it. Because the truth is, not nearly enough people have.

This is my favorite Christmas film. I’ve watched it at least 30 times, usually not on Christmas. But Christmas does not go by without my watching it!

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Image from Blu-ray/DVD combo release via Amazon under Fair Use.

The Curious Creation of Monster a Go-Go (1965)

Monster a Go-Go

Most people should try to leave this mortal coil without ever seeing Monster a Go-Go. It’s a mess that is hard to follow and offers few interesting moments. It’s a Frankenstein’s monster of a movie and it is for this reason that it’s interesting.

Production History

In the early 1960s, Bill Rebane was making a film called “Terror at Half Day.” He ran out of money but by June of 1963, he was back in production. The 3 June 1963 issue of BoxOffice states:

Producer-director Bill Rebane, with a revised script, is trying to get police cooperation from superintendent OW Wilson in shooting Loop scenes for his [science] fiction movie, “Terror at Half Day.” Hollywood producer [Dok] Stanford is Rebane’s new partner.

It isn’t clear who “Dok Stanford” is. We do know that Herschell Gordon Lewis came to the project around this time and co-produced it under the name Sheldon Seymour. He is also credited with “additional dialog.”

If we are to believe the lore about the film, Lewis purchased the unfinished film, added some material, and then released it so it could show as a double-feature with Moonshine Mountain.

Rebane, in the commentary on the Synergy Entertainment DVD, claims that he shot all the film. It’s possible but the extra material looks more like Lewis. But it doesn’t matter. One thing is clear: much less time was taken to shoot those scenes.

Separating Rebane and Lewis

We can distinguish between the two parts of the film because the first have features actor Peter M Thompson. He is gone in the new footage, which features the character’s brother.

According to some, when it came time for the new scenes, Thompson had gone bald and so plays his brother. I’m not convinced this is the case. But it is reasonable to assume that the scenes that involve that character (and ones associated with them) were from the later shoots.

This material takes up roughly 23 minutes of screen time:

  • 24:00 – 41:20: We get a bunch of backstory about how Frank Douglas was given some experimental drug. Then he’s been captured and is under observation. Then he escapes and steals the antidote.
  • 42:40 – 45:40: They find where Douglas is.
  • 46:55 – 47:30: They learn of another encounter with Douglas and that he seems to be unstoppable.
  • 50:50 – 51:30: They discuss informing the public about the monster.
  • 54:05 – 55:10: Final strategy discussion.

This material is the best lit of the film but also the most boring. I’m going to assume this is the Lewis material, but it could be the other way around.

Also, the information from BoxOffice indicates that Rebane was getting “police cooperation,” which indicates that he was probably shooting the nighttime city scenes.

This makes me think that Rebane did shoot those scenes and that it was only later that Lewis bought the footage and shot the 23 minutes above.

Who Cares?

Overall, it’s hard to say for certain. And I’ve already put far too much work into a film that really isn’t worth the effort. Both Rebane and Lewis did far greater work elsewhere.

Monster a Go-Go is the darkest side of exploitation filmmaking. The final film does have a couple of moments that are admirable. And Henry Hite as the monster is great. But despite an excessive amount of exposition, the story makes no sense.

It does show the business side of exploitation filmmaking. It’s probably a good story for budding filmmakers. Because the truth is that filmmaking is still just a business. And the sad thing is that there is even less demand now for independent films despite the fact that they are better than ever.

Image cropped from the movie poster via IMDb under Fair Use.

The Films of Slumberjack Entertainment

Slumberjack Entertainment

A friend of mine sent me a poster for what turned out to be a fun comedy-horror short called The Quacky Slasher. And any time I find something interesting I set about finding what else the filmmakers had done. That introduced me to the films of Slumberjack Entertainment.

There are two people listed as forming the core of Slumberjack Entertainment. First is Peter Mckeirnon, who has written and directed everything they’ve released. (He’s also written 3 horror novels.) With him is producer Rod Hay. Andrew Butterworth and Kate Dailey are also involved.

As is typical of low-budget producers, there are a lot of the same people working in front of and behind the camera on various projects. Of particular note is actor Neil Gallagher.

swings & roundabouts (2017)

Their first film is roughly 7 minutes without credits. It is shot MOS, as with pretty much all of their work. But in this case there is only voice-over. It features a man (played by John Williams with Ian Finney doing his voice) who sits in a park and talks about his youth being bullied.

It establishes a few things that are true for all their films. First, it features beautiful, carefully crafted shots. Second, it exhibits a darkly comic sense of humor. And third, the make-up effects are both realistic and attractive.

The Quacky Slasher (2017)

Despite the name, The Quacky Slasher is very simple in terms of plot: an insane man escapes from the mental hospital and becomes a vigilante wearing a duck mask. There is a backstory that I will leave to the film to explain.

Neil Gallagher as Mother - The Quacky Slasher
Neil Gallagher as the mother in The Quacky Slasher

The dialog is sharp and it features some excellent visual comedy. One part that I appreciated was that the cops here are pretty much identical to the ones in Blood Feast. They have no idea how to stop the killer unless the information is brought to them. I doubt this is an explicit allusion (Who knows Blood Feast like I do?!) but it’s a common thing in horror films — most likely because no one is that interested in police procedure.

The Quacky Slasher features Neil Gallagher in three substantial roles. I was especially taken with him as the slasher’s mother, which he plays with justified gusto wearing fake teeth that only Wallace could love.

The film is available to watch for free. If you have Amazon Prime, you should watch it there, since they probably make more money that way. If not, it is also available on YouTube. (It can’t be embedded because it is age restricted for reasons that are unclear to me.)

Dead Town (2016-2018)

Dead Town is a series of short films (named after lines in Talking Heads songs) that follows two brothers and a friend as they look for one’s daughter during a zombie apocalypse. The principals are Neil Gallagher (again), Michael Hagen, and Karl Davies. John Williams has a big part in the last two episodes.

This series has a very Quentin Tarantino feel to it. Basically, it’s just zombie-fighting scenes combined with the characters discussing various bits of nonsense. But it’s far more casual than anything Tarantino ever did.

All together (without credits), it clocks in at roughly 75 minutes. So it’s a feature length, but there isn’t much structure. If they wanted to, they could certainly create a B story about the daughter and wrap it all up. But it would take away some of the charm.

The first 3 episodes feature excellent effects by Andrew Savage. Later, Paul Fay puts together a dynamite dead zombie. It’s a thing to behold. It’s at 12:30 in the fourth episode if you only want to see it. It also includes some maggots, which I, as a huge Lucio Fulci fan, very much appreciated.

The Dog Walker (2018)

Their next release was a 4-minute short. It stars Gallagher and has just one idea. It isn’t especially surprising, but it’s well-done.

Other Stuff

There is also a 7-minute short starring Ian Finney called The House That Henry Built. It is not available anywhere that I know of.

There is other stuff of note on their YouTube channel. Two remind me of the short films of Michael Kallio. The first is Playtime With BUTTONS, which tells as full a story in 15 seconds as many features do.

The second is The Slip, which features Rod Hay:

There’s also a 7-minute comedy DEGSY starring Gallagher and Lisa Bazley. It’s actually kind of heartbreaking.

The Future

According to their YouTube channel, they have a feature film in development. But the only mention of a feature is a segment in an anthology film called “The Micro Killers.”

On their website, they say their segment is “The Fisherman.” But on their YouTube channel, they provide a preview for a segment called “Sins of the Father.”

It doesn’t really matter. They continue to produce films and it will be interesting to see what they do!

Slumberjack Entertainment logo taken from their website under Fair Use. Image of Neil Gallagher cropped from The Quacky Slasher under Fair Use.

Recent Additions: November 2020

Psychotronic Review

I’m now up to watching one to two films per day. It used to be that my default when I was bored was to work on something that paid well. But these days I realize that I would rather watch a film.

There is actually nothing I care about as much as this website. And it is getting some success. We are now up to roughly 50 unique visitors per day. And increasingly, filmmakers are noticing the site despite the fact that I don’t contact them.

We are also approaching 600 capsule reviews, which is amazing when you consider that they not only require my watching the films but about an hour of work.

September 2020 Films

  1. Brain Dead (1990)
  2. Chickboxer (1992)
  3. Cottage Country (2013)
  4. Creep (2014)
  5. The Dead Pit (1989)
  6. Dollman (1991)
  7. Fighting with My Family (2019)
  8. The Gods Must Be Crazy (1980)
  9. Guns Akimbo (2019)
  10. The Hearse (1980)
  11. His House (2020)
  12. Horrorvision (2001)
  13. I Had a Bloody Good Time at House Harker (2016)
  14. In the Trap (2019)
  15. The Jack in the Box (2020)
  16. Killer Piñata (2015)
  17. Llamageddon (2018)
  18. Lost in Space (1998)
  19. The Others (2001)
  20. The Paris Express (1952)
  21. Possum (2018)
  22. Pumpkinhead (1988)
  23. The Quacky Slasher (2017)
  24. The Return of the Living Dead (1985)
  25. The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
  26. Scar (2007)
  27. Sorceress (1982)
  28. Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama (1988)
  29. Southbound (2015)
  30. Sundown: The Vampire in Retreat (1989)
  31. Terminal Island (1973)
  32. Terror Trap (2010)
  33. Truth Seekers (2020)
  34. Waxwork (1988)
  35. You Can’t Kill Stephen King (2012)

Brain Dead (1990)

This is one of those thought-provoking films like The Matrix. Good for people who like more intellectual fare. To be honest, it hasn’t stayed with me, although I do recall liking it.

Chickboxer (1992)

I’m surprised I hadn’t already provided a capsule review. This came about because of the release of SOV Six-Pack. The truth is that I’ve tried very hard to love this film. It’s very charming and I like it well enough. But the fighting in it is terrible and it really harms the film. They were clearly rushing.

Cottage Country (2013)

This horror-comedy is very well-made. But it doesn’t spend enough time on the good stuff. And through most of it I was thinking, “I wish I had watched Tucker & Dale vs Evil.” The last part of it is very good, however.

Creep (2014)

Some things should be shown to film students. Creep demonstrates how you can have a lot of impact with very little money. In a sense, I hated this film. Everything is exactly as you expect (assuming you are a horror nerd). And I felt trapped having to sit through it while it unfolded. At the same time, it was done so well. I will get around to watching the sequel.

The Dead Pit (1989)

This is another film that I barely remember. It has some great zombies in it. But otherwise, you should stick to Lucio Fulci.

Dollman (1991)

But I remember this one! It’s a weird one. Parts are meant to be funny but I found so much more funny. In particular, it is chalk-full of action-film cliches. I loved it but I also felt bad like I might not be appreciating it as intended.

Fighting with My Family (2019)

This film about professional wrestler Paige is okay. It probably works better for upper-middle class people who look down on the art. It’s pretty sentimental. Kind of a “girl” film.

The Gods Must Be Crazy (1980)

This film has the same problems as ever — namely, racism inside the film and during the production. But it’s still a lot of fun. I didn’t remember just how slapstick it is.

Guns Akimbo (2019)

This is a really well-made film. It’s everything it intends to be. And I hate it. I could forgive everything in this film except for one: don’t comment on my enjoyment of the violence that it created — especially when I wasn’t enjoying it. Mindless entertainment is ruined when the creators think they are above it and have something to “say.”

The Hearse (1980)

You could do worse for a haunted house film than this. Some of it is very effective.

His House (2020)

This is an excellent art-horror film about a couple of asylum seekers who are haunted by ghosts of their old country.

Horrorvision (2001)

This is a solid Videodrome knock-off. It’s mostly interesting for the effects.

I Had a Bloody Good Time at House Harker (2016)

This is a funny and charming horror comedy featuring Whitney Moore from Birdemic: Shock and Terror, who you may recall I said was destined for greatness.

In the Trap (2019)

This is a pretty claustrophobic art-horror film that keeps you on the edge of your seat. Andrea and I came to opposite conclusions about the ending. But it’s well worth checking out.

The Jack in the Box (2020)

I often come to the end of horror films and have questions like, “Aren’t the police going to assume this guy killed a bunch of people?” This film deals well with these issues. It takes a while to get going but this one is worth the effort.

Killer Piñata (2015)

This micro-budget horror film delivers! They do a lot with a little. And it is very funny!

Llamageddon (2018)

The filmmakers probably should have made a short because this one has a lot of padding. Just the same, it’s a lot of fun. Not as good as Killer Piñata, but what is?

Lost in Space (1998)

People didn’t like this film because they remembered the later campy part of the series. For the first half of the first season, the show was very serious. So the film is a fitting tribute. But why? It’s a good example of how Hollywood takes itself way too seriously.

The Others (2001)

This might be one of the best haunted house movies ever made. It has a great feel to it along with some interesting elements. And it has some genuinely scary moments.

The Paris Express (1952)

I miss these brisk Noir films. It has everything you could ask for. And Claude Rains is great.

Possum (2018)

This is one of those films that haunts you long after you’ve seen it. It’s downright weird. But it leaves an impression.

Pumpkinhead (1988)

The title makes it sound like a silly horror film. But it’s very serious with a lot more depth than we normally get. Great effects too!

The Quacky Slasher (2017)

This 35-minute short is excellent. I have an article coming out about the people who made it. Watch it for free on their YouTube channel.

The Return of the Living Dead (1985)

This is a classic. It’s a lot of fun. But you have a lot of other choices for zom-coms.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)

Another classic. It’s kind of amazing to think that this was once thought to be edgy. It gets kind of slow in the second half.

Scar (2007)

This is a pretty good serial killer film. The first hour is wonderful. It gets into some torture porn at the end. If that’s your thing, have at it!

Sorceress (1982)

This one is a mixed bag. It’s clear something went wrong. The tone doesn’t work. But it does have some cool zombies toward the end.

Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama (1988)

This film was produced in just 6 weeks: from script to print. And yeah: it has some rough edges — especially with the script. But overall, it’s a very enjoyable film.

Southbound (2015)

This is an excellent anthology film. I highly recommend it!

Sundown: The Vampire in Retreat (1989)

Another weird one. A group of vampires builds a town in the southeast and starts an artificial blood factory so they can stop the daily grind. Bruce Campbell is very funny here.

Terminal Island (1973)

Another great one from Stephanie Rothman. I still can’t believe she had to abandon directing.

Terror Trap (2010)

I didn’t care for the ending of this, but it’s generally really good. You just might want to turn it off when the couple walks away. The epilogues just confuse thing and are also totally unbelievable.

Truth Seekers (2020)

This is a horror series from Nick Frost and Simon Pegg. It’s a whole lot of fun although you may need to watch it twice to figure it all out.

Waxwork (1988)

This is a lot better than most teen horror films. But it’s still a teen horror film.

You Can’t Kill Stephen King (2012)

This is one of those horror-comedies that stops being a comedy about halfway through. But it’s still enjoyable.

See you next month!