Category Archives: New Stuff

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!

Recent Additions: June 2020

Psychotronic Review

Instead of the usual layout here, I’m going to discuss these below because a number of these need to be discuss together.

  1. 100 Bloody Acres (2012)
  2. 2 Young 2 Die (2006)
  3. The Beyond (1981)
  4. The Birds (1963)
  5. BloodRayne: The Third Reich (2011)
  6. Blubberella (2011)
  7. City of the Living Dead (1980)
  8. Death Ship (1980)
  9. The Funhouse (1981)
  10. The Ghost and Mr Chicken (1966)
  11. Hell of the Living Dead (1980)
  12. The House by the Cemetery (1981)
  13. Housebound (2003)
  14. The Incredible Mr Limpet (1964)
  15. It Came From Outer Space (1953)
  16. Pizza Man (1991)
  17. Platoon of the Dead (2009)
  18. Poison Sweethearts (2008)
  19. Scare Campaign (2016)
  20. The Seekers (2003)
  21. The Unseen (1980)
  22. V/H/S (2012)

100 Bloody Acres (2012) and Scare Campaign (2016)

The Cairnes brothers are a successful editor and director in the Australian TV industry. They know their craft and work with some great people.

Their first feature was the horror comedy 100 Bloody Acres, which everyone should see. It features a twisted sense of humor that should appeal to anyone who enjoys horror generally.

Scare Campaign is kind of odd. It’s really well made with a great performance by Josh Quong Tart. But I find the plot predictable. But I eagerly await their next film. These guys are great!

2 Young 2 Die

David Palmieri is a successful grip in Hollywood and on the side he makes micro-budget (mostly) horror films. Such people are really inspiring because they could just relax in their careers. But he continues to put out films.

I’ve only seen 2 Young 2 Die (AKA Axegrinder). It was one of his first films. It features some good gore and a plot that kind of makes sense. I’d definitely like to see more of Palmieri’s work.

City of the Living Dead (1980) and The Beyond (1981) and The House by the Cemetery (1981)

This is Lucio Fulci’s “Gates of Hell” trilogy and it is amazing. Every horror fan should own them. And of course that means that they haven’t been released together, as they ought to be.

Check out my article, The Gates of Hell Trilogy. It also includes a thorough round-up of the available versions. Sadly, City of the Living Dead has been released really well only outside the US. If you only get one, I think The Beyond is the best. And most other people agree.

Housebound (2003) and The Seekers (2003) and Platoon of the Dead (2009)

I originally bought Platoon of the Dead when Tempe Video was closing down. It’s a good micro-budget zombie film. So I decided to look into the work of director John Bowker. There’s a double DVD with Housebound and The Seekers.

I hope to write an article looking at the progression of Bowker’s career. These two earlier films aren’t as good as Platoon. But they are still worthy and The Seekers was pretty fun.

The Birds (1963)

I grew up with The Birds. Because it was filmed locally, every time it came on TV, we had to watch it. I still enjoy it — especially Suzanne Pleshette and the bird-lover, Ethel Griffies.

BloodRayne: The Third Reich (2011) and Blubberella (2011)

These two Uwe Boll films were made at the same time. BloodRayne is a standard Nazi action film and Blubberella is a parody of it. They are both solid films, but the main reason to watch BloodRayne is that you will better enjoy Blubberella.

Death Ship (1980)

Death Ship feels so much like it was made for TV but it wasn’t. It has its moments. I didn’t much like it but to be honest, I really don’t like George Kennedy.

The Funhouse (1981)

I love The Funhouse. It’s scary, has interesting characters, and looks fantastic. Wayne Doba as the “monster” is great. And I quite like Elizabeth Berridge. This is one of Tobe Hooper’s best.

The Ghost and Mr Chicken (1966) and The Incredible Mr Limpet (1964)

Don Knotts has not aged well for me. I find him kind of annoying. Yet these films work remarkably well. The Incredible Mr Limpet is the lesser of the two. It’s got a strange Cold War kind of plot that seems tacked on. Still, the animation is good and it’s sweet.

The Ghost and Mr Chicken is a surprisingly scary film. I don’t have any children, but if I did, I’d definitely use it to infect them with the Horror virus.

Hell of the Living Dead (1980)

Hell of the Living Dead is a Bruno Mattei “me to” film. It’s not great. But it features some awesome gore. Frankly, I’ve always found the conflict in Day of the Dead kind of annoying and it’s the same here.

It Came From Outer Space (1953)

It Came From Outer Space is a great science fiction film from the people who brought us Creature from the Black Lagoon. It’s nice to get away from the usual “invasion” films of that time.

Pizza Man (1991)

Pizza Man is LF Lawton’s follow-up to Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death. It’s equally funny. Sadly, Lawton doesn’t make these kinds of films anymore.

Poison Sweethearts (2008)

Poison Sweethearts is a series of short films — mostly about women who are pushed too far. It’s roughly horror but presented in a very artistic way. It’s worth a watch. I really liked one of the shorts.

The Unseen (1980)

This is one of those “Great horror films you’ve never seen” type of things. I’ve gotten tired over the years of having plots where I’m trying to figure out who the killer is. There’s none of that here. And the story is heartbreaking. I highly recommend The Unseen.

V/H/S (2012)

V/H/S brings together a number of fine filmmakers to create a bunch of connected shorts. What’s not to like? Even the poor lighting and limited resolution is used for great effect. I need to check out Siren, which was spawned by this film.

Recent Additions: April 2020

Psychotronic Review

I’ve now done over a month’s worth of Anniversary Posts. The idea was that with the stay-at-home orders, I should keep busy. The problem is that this is the way my life normally is. I don’t have any extra time!

But the good aspect of this is that all the activity has raised our traffic. It’s now more than double what it was just a month ago. But it is a lot of work to do these every day. In fact, I’m taking a break today and posting this instead.

It’s often hard to find anything really interesting to write about. It’s even harder to find anything psychotronic to write about. So I may transition into making this a now-and-then thing. I’m feeling kind of gloomy about it right now because I’m exhausted.

The following list does not include at least 8 films I’ve recently watched but haven’t had time to post.

  • Bad Moon (1996): a pretty good werewolf film with great practical effects. Other than that, it’s interesting in that it looks at what a man would do if he found out he was a werewolf.
  • Bandits (2001): this big-budget crime comedy failed at the box office and I have no idea why. It’s a lot of fun.
  • Bigfoot vs DB Cooper (2014): I was so excited when I saw this title. How could you go wrong? The script almost writes itself. But this film really isn’t about DB Cooper or Bigfoot. It’s about a group of beautiful boys hanging out shirtless in a forest. That’s fine but a total waste of the best movie title I’ve heard in years.
  • Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954): this film seemed to always be playing on TV when I was a kid. And I can see why I didn’t care for it. It’s a bit adult. What a fine picture!
  • Day of the Dead 2: Contagium (2005): don’t listen to what the haters say. This is a solid zombie picture. Just because it has nothing to do with George Romero doesn’t make it bad!
  • Django (1966): this is one of the best Spaghetti Westerns. It’s over the top with a hero who’s far too good with a gun and a villain so evil he shoots poor Mexicans for sport as their children watch.
  • eXistenZ (1999): it’s amazing how long I take to add some of my favorite films. This is one of two or three of David Cronenberg’s best.
  • The Ghouls (2003): super low-budget video with an unusual gritty charm. Timothy Muskatell is superb as the sleaziest paparazzi ever who happens upon ghouls feeding on the homeless population of LA.
  • Harper (1966): Paul Newman stars as a PI whose life is falling apart but still cracks the case. It’s a good one to show your parents. And it features a great cast.
  • The Jackals (1967): What a bizarre one this is! Vincent Price plays on old prospector in South Africa who must deal with some bandits. It doesn’t play out as you’d expect. And Price isn’t in it as much as I’d like. But when he is it is a thing of beauty.
  • Legacy of Blood (1973): The children of a dead man start dying as they stay in his house as required by the will. The bad guy is exactly who you think it is. Except it isn’t!
  • The Ninth Gate (1999): Something seems off in this Roman Polanski film and yet it works. But I can see why people were disappointed.
  • Panman (2011): What a supremely bizarre film this is. It’s a wonderful parody of a slasher film. But it’s so much more. Sadly, I seem to be one of the few people who thing so.
  • Repligator (1998): This is about a military weapon that makes women become sex-pots. But when they get sexually aroused, they turn into alligators. Do you need to know more?!

Sorry for the short list this month. Like I said, I’m behind. I’ll get caught up soon though.

Recent Additions: Mar 2020

Psychotronic Review

This post is coming out a bit late because I’ve been so busy doing the Anniversary posts. Those take a lot of work. And as long as I keep them going, I don’t really need to do this monthly post. But I’m not sure how long I’ll keep up with the daily posts. We’ll see.

There weren’t as many films last month and many of them I’d seen long ago. As a result, it’s probably a better selection than usual.

  1. Attack of the Crab Monsters (1957): There is something about Roger Corman. Regardless of the film, he tends to do a better job than other low-budget directors. That’s fully on display here. Also, the 60-minute run makes for an enjoyable experience.
  2. Billy the Kid vs Dracula (1966): As is often the case with such films, I like this one a lot because of the sweet romance. Who would have thought a title like this was a great date film?
  3. Birdemic: Shock and Terror (2010): This film is horrible, but not in the ways people say. I have already started using it to help people see all the things that most low-budget films get right. Filmmaking is vastly more difficult than most people realize. Regardless, there are things that this film does well and Whitney Moore is great.
  4. Born in Flames (1983): This is an iconic feminist/queer film that proves that social justice advocates can be very funny. When I got to the place where a woman is rolling a condom on a man’s erect penis, I had to go back. I thought I imagined it.
  5. Bride of Frankenstein (1935): The film that made 7-year old Frank throw up! After they are done terrifying us, the best horror films inspire us in other ways. For me, the best moment her is when the Monster pats the hand of the Bride. It’s so sweet. And tragic.
  6. Bury Me an Angel (1971): What a strange film this is! Much of it is directed like the Keystone Cops. But its undertones are all dark and the ending is shocking.
  7. The Conqueror (1956): Most universes collapse on to themselves when John Wayne plays Genghis Khan. And face it: it’s been downhill ever since we survived it. I can’t really recommend anyone see this film, despite it being well made. But everyone should watch at least 20 minutes of it just to have the experience of Wayne being so badly cast.
  8. Dark City (1993): Before The Matrix, there was this. It’s shockingly good and repays multiple viewings.
  9. Demon Slayer (2004): This is a fun but forgettable film. It’s mostly just a teen drama with horror laid over it. It would have worked without the horror. But I could have used more.
  10. Easter Bunny, Kill! Kill! (2006): Timothy Muskatell is a real find. He is vile as hell in this film and it’s nice watching him die. The supporting cast is also really good. Excellent film to show on Easter if anyone did anything for the holiday.
  11. Evil Clutch (1988): Sure, it’s a rip-off of Evil Dead. But the plot has more focus and the gore is wonderful.
  12. Frankenstein (1931): Even though it isn’t as good as Bride, there’s a reason it’s a classic. Later monster movies lost sight of the fact that monsters can be both terrifying and sympathetic.
  13. Hell Asylum (2002): Another Timothy Muskatell film where he plays a disgraced TV producer trying to make a come-back with a horror-related reality show. He makes the mistake of staging it in a place that really is haunted. Great, often amusing, horror.
  14. Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter (1966): Not as good as Billy the Kid, which was made at the same time. But it’s still fun.
  15. Jim, the World’s Greatest (1975): Don Coscarelli’s first film is about a high school boy who tries to protect his younger brother from the anger of their alcoholic father.
  16. Kenny & Co (1976): Coscarelli’s second film puts the rest of his career into focus. He’s really interested in the world of guys and their culture of cool tricks you learn from The Anarchist Cookbook. I need to write about this some time.
  17. The Long Good Friday (1981): I first saw this at a small movie theater in Los Angeles a few years back. I mostly remember feeling really bad that there were no longer theaters like this near me. The film is great.
  18. The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008): This is the only one of the franchise that I’ve seen. It’s okay. It goes at breakneck speed through most of it. But it’s hard to care too much.
  19. Mutant Aliens (2001): This animated feature by Bill Plympton is really good and disturbing. It’s what you expect of him.
  20. Puppet Master II (1990): I know this one as “the Nita Talbot one.” It’s not one of my favorites, but I’ve had a crush on Nita Talbot since I was a kid.
  21. Puppet Master 5: The Final Chapter (1994): I’m always amused when a franchise announces that a film is the final one. The 13th or 14th Puppet Master film will be released this year. And yet, this film was kind of the end of that first series. Of course, the third (and best) one moves out of that timeline altogether. But I like this one more than most.
  22. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974): I didn’t see this film when it first came out. I was too afraid to do so. But when I saw it, I was amazed to find that it wasn’t at all what I was expecting. For one thing, it’s a lot funnier and more political than I ever would have expected. And unlike most horror films, its chilling nature stays with me. In particular, that house is as ghoulish as ever. It may turn me vegan yet.

Summing Up

There’s an incredible diversity of the films here — both in terms of content and budget (and technical abilities, at least when it comes to one of them). And that is what I want to capture, even if my main focus is on low-budget horror.

It gets harder and harder to keep track of all these films. Just for this post, I had to go back to what I had written in Short Takes to remember what some of the films were.

Remembering more distant films is that much harder. Just now I was wondering, “Is the blind man in Frankenstein or Bride of Frankenstein?” (It was Bride.) But I think this says a lot more about me than it does the films. I’ve always been this way.

One funny aspect of this is that I will often start watching a film only to notice that I’ve not only seen it before but written about it. Oh well. I continue watching.

Recent Additions: Feb 2020

Psychotronic Review

Another month of unique movie watching. I finally got past a bunch of arty “horror” films, which, as much as I liked them made me long for the simple pleasures of straight horror. But I didn’t watch as much stuff as usual because I had guests and lots of work.

There’s a lot that’s been sitting around. I just got a collection of blaxploitation films (one of which is below). I also got a collection of monster movies. I should probably avoid these because most of the films in these low-cost collections are usually available online for free. But I also think I should reward people who go to the trouble of putting worthy films on disk.

  • The Big Boss (1971): My brother was a huge martial arts film fan. The main thing I remember from those days was the over-the-top sound effects — a punch sounding like two-by-fours colliding. That’s mostly what I notice now.
  • The Black Gestapo (1975): This film could really use a bit more second-unit coverage. But overall, it’s pretty fun and has something to say. And that’s a pretty awesome title.
  • Blood of Dracula (1957): Don’t mistake this for the Warhol film. This is a 1950s teen horror film. And it’s quite good! If you’ve seen I Was a Teenage Werewolf, you know the plot.
  • Clownado (2019): this one was recommended to me by a friend as one of the worst films ever made. I liked it. It’s low budget and campy with some of the most disgusting gore around. The filmmakers seem to think the insides of humans look like a shepherd’s pie.
  • Curse of the Crimson Altar (1968): This one is a lot of fun in the way those 1960s British horror films usually are. Although they are supposedly the stars, Boris Karloff and Christopher Lee aren’t in the film that much. But that’s okay.
  • Dead & Rotting (2002): This is the only film David Barton ever directed. And it’s pretty good! Personally, I identified more the “bad guys.” But it still works. It has some decent make-up effects but little gore.
  • Demolition Man (1993): Films like this are always a problem because at base they push a very reactionary political theory. But the first half of this is incredibly clever and worth checking out. The end is by-the-numbers action.
  • The Fearless Vampire Killers (1967): Roman Polanski’s vampire film spoof. It’s okay but I didn’t find it amusing at all. I’d love to hear from someone who did. I’m sure some do. It’s really well made regardless.
  • The Fuzz (2014): A surprisingly good cop comedy with puppets. If you like silly movies with puppets, I don’t see how you can go wrong.
  • I Am Not a Serial Killer (2015): All my life I’ve believed that Christopher Lloyd was a space alien serial killer and now I have proof! When it comes to arty horror films, you can’t go wrong with this one. And it’s very sweet. This film ages well in the mind.
  • Jug Face (2013): This film shows how much you can do with a limited budget, but my main takeaway is just, “That was Sean Young?!” It’s a film where you feel sorry for pretty much everyone.
  • Knights of Badassdom (2013): Here is a silly one. It’s about a group of LARPs (live-action role players) who accidentally unleash an evil creature into the world. It’s my kind of film but I like The Last Lovecraft a lot more.
  • Let Us Prey (2014): International horror has exploded over the last decade or so. This Irish film (set in Scotland) has echos of about a dozen past horror films. It’s really serious for an hour and then goes completely crazy for a half-hour.
  • The Mummy (1932): I’ve loved this film for a long time. It’s rare a horror film manages to make the villain just positive enough that you really aren’t sure who you want to win. This is also Karloff at his best.
  • Night Moves (1975): This is one of those great 1970s paranoia films — as a PI film. The first time I saw this film, the ending lost me. So watch closely, but do watch!
  • Night of the Demon (1957): They really like their occult films in the UK, don’t they? This one isn’t really scary, but you do care about the main character and the way he gets out of his trap is clever.
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984): although I have problems with the ending, this is one of the best horror films ever made. You simply must watch it.
  • Nina Forever (2015): Now that I think about it, this is kind of like the prototype of Her Name Was Christa. The film is a lot of fun even with all the young angst. But if you can’t make it through it, don’t attempt Christa.

Summing Up

Slow month, I suppose. I’ve been disorganized because I know I watched some new films that I didn’t get around to writing about. Unfortunately, I have no memory at all. I had to look up some of the films in this list just to remember what they were.

Films like Blood of Dracula really highlight just how hard it is to even begin to cover all the low-budget films that have been made. And it only gets worse. The number of movies that deserve to be seen is only accelerating.

There are three films that everyone should see if they haven’t already: The Mummy, Night Moves, and A Nightmare on Elm Street. Of the recent films, I think I Am Not a Serial Killer and Let Us Prey deserve attention even though they have a few problems.

But every one of them is worth watching.

Recent Additions: Jan 2020

Psychotronic Review

We have a lot of films this month — partly because I finally finished off all of the films of JR Bookwalter. But I’ve also been trying to watch more films. There are so many that I feel ignorant even though I’ve watched way more films than a reasonable person has.

As you will see, I’ve gone back to films that I liked in the past. But I’ve been watching a lot more recent films. It’s easy to miss adding them to Short Takes because it’s harder to put them into any kind of perspective. It feels better to just let them marinate in my subconsciousness.

But for now, I have 31 films that were added this month with some final thoughts on them.

  • The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958): probably my favorite Ray Harryhausen film. This one tells a compelling story and really would work without all the animation.
  • Bless the Beasts and Children (1971): the perfect film for teenaged boys then and now. It holds up remarkably well. I still think Teft is cool and my heart bleeds for Cotton.
  • Bride of the Monster (1955): probably my least favorite Ed Wood film, it still has its moments. It could be the perfect film to introduce people to Wood because it’s only up from here!
  • The Briefcase (2011): the first feature film of Jason Krawczyk, it’s quite engaging and clever. It’s also funny. But it’s only a warm-up for Krawczyk’s masterpiece (see below).
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992): a film I love even though it is very uneven. The denouement is particularly disappointing. But the clever dialog and excellent performances make it irresistible.
  • Clash of the Titans (1981): another Harryhausen film. For some reason, I just don’t like it that much. But I suspect that says rather more about me than it does the film. It has everything you’d expect.
  • Don’t Look in the Cellar (2008): a surprisingly good no-budget with good acting. And with such a cheeky title, how can you not love it?
  • The Eyes of My Mother (2016): a Netflix production that proves death is not the worst thing that can happen to you. It features an amazing central performance by Kika Magalhaes and a simple, horrifying story.
  • Future War (1997): the result of a troubled production, I still rather like this film. At worst, it’s good to keep your film appreciation skills exercised.
  • He Never Died (2015): the best film I’ve seen in a long time. Jason Krawczyk makes everything work with a brilliant script and some idiosyncratic shooting techniques. The casting it great too — from Rollins on down.
  • Koreatown (2007): from another of my favorite writer-directors who toils in obscurity, Michael Kallio. Although not as good as Hatred of a Minute, it’s still a solid story well rendered.
  • El Mariachi (1992): the legendary $7,000 feature film. It’s just superb, regardless of its budget. I really like Robert Rodriguez’s work, and this film is as good as anything he’s done.
  • Maximum Impact (1992): a surprisingly good no-budget action film. It’s things like this that give JR Bookwalter his mystique. How did he do this?!
  • Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933): this is so much better than the Vincent Price remake — good though it is. I especially love Glenda Farrell’s fast-talking reporter.
  • Orgy of the Dead (1965): a softcore fetish film with Ed Wood’s usual obsessions. This is a really enjoyable and beautiful film.
  • Ozone (1995): JR Bookwalter’s masterpiece. Drugs are turning people into zombies and a cop tries to figure it all out before he too becomes a zombie.
  • Phantasm (1979): pure horror mixed with male bonding. It’s no wonder this film spawned 4 further films — all of them good.
  • Pietà (2012): if you’re into art films with torture and incest, this is the film for you! It’s really good with some great moments. But it’s not for everyone.
  • Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959): according to many, the worst film ever made. In fact, it isn’t even Ed Wood’s worst film. It has some interesting parts although I never feel the need to put it on.
  • Polymorph (1996): this is a really good film that combines science fiction and crime drama. Excellent script by James L Edwards.
  • Rated X (2000): a surprisingly good bio-pic about the notorious Mitchell brothers. Stylishly directed by Emilio Estevez.
  • Robot Ninja (1989): this is JR Bookwalter’s bloodiest film, and that’s saying something. The new release is far better than the original release, so if you haven’t seen it recently, you should do so.
  • Rosemary’s Baby (1968): Polanski’s classic about a woman impregnated by Satan is as effective as always. Watching it recently, I was particularly struck by the exceptional body horror.
  • Rounders (1998): although a standard melodrama, this film is just a lot of fun with all its details about the world of cards and con artists.
  • Rubber (2010): the only film I know about a tire that comes to life. This is such a clever film, I never tire (haha) of it.
  • The Rubber Gun (1977): this Allan Moyle and Stephen Lack collaboration is really compelling. It is very much like hanging out with a bunch of drug addicts for 90 minutes.
  • The Sandman (1995): a lot of people really like this film. Although there are some things I really like about it (eg, Matthew Jason Walsh’s performance), I’m not that fond of it — at least relative to other Bookwalter films.
  • The Sinister Urge (1961): one of Ed Wood’s lesser-known and better films. I prefer Jail Bait.
  • Spring (2014): this is a weird combination of horror and coming-of-age stories. It has some excellent horror moments.
  • Starry Eyes (2014): stardom presented as horror transformation. This film works well. I suspect it is also very funny for the right audience.
  • Zombie Cop (1991): my least favorite Bookwalter film. But like all of them, it has its champions.

Summing Up

Some art films have been appearing in my recent viewing with films like Pietà and Spring. That’s okay. But I’ll get back on more pure genre stuff soon, I’m sure.

I’d like to go back through classics that I haven’t added to the list like The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and Re-Animator. Soon.

Recent Additions: Dec 2019

Psychotronic Review

Another month, another dozen or so films. And this month, I’ve waded into some new territory — for good and ill.

As you may recall, I decided to do these posts so that people could see the new things that were happening here. But it turns out that other things have been happening on the blog.

I discovered an old Ed Wood short film, “Final Curtain.” It is interesting and shows some important things about him as a filmmaker. I also noticed what no one else did: Jenny Stevens is Ed Wood. Can it be that I’m one of the few people who actually takes Wood seriously?

Rather than wait any longer to write my grand discussion of his career, I wrote, Every JR Bookwalter Film Ranked. Bookwalter linked to it on his Facebook page and sent a huge amount of traffic over. He wrote, “To me, they’re all redheaded stepchildren, but feel free to take a stab at ranking if you dare!” My whole point of writing it was to get him to admit that Robot Ninja was better than Chickboxer

Now onto the new additions to our Short Takes.

New Films

  • The 13th Floor (1988): a sweet revenge-horror coming-of-age film about a young woman and her gangster father. It’s one of an increasing number of films that I’ve only managed to see via a terrible print. The days of the VHS were great because stores were desperate for content so everything was released. Now lots of films, like this one have never been released on disc. Note: there are a couple of other films with the same name.
  • The Addams Family (1964-1966): the television series based on the cartoon. When I was a kid, I preferred The Munsters. But over time, I’ve come to appreciate The Addams Family more. I bought the whole series recently and I wasn’t disappointed. Carolyn Jones and John Astin are wonderful.
  • Avenging Force: The Scarab (2010): a no-budget super-hero movie. It’s kind of amazing what Brett Kelly manages to do here. It’s pretty dorky and not close to my favorite of his films. But it is something to behold. You might want to wait until it is available on Amazon Prime, however.
  • A Bucket of Blood (1959): this is the perfect film to introduce your friends to Dick Miller. And Corman does an excellent job with the material. It’s surprising that he didn’t do more comedy because he was rather good at it. It’s available for free on Archive.org.
  • Dead Man (1995): another example of how art and psychotronic film so often overlap. It isn’t a traditional narrative but it’s constantly engaging and generally very funny. There is a copy on Archive.org so you really have no excuse for not seeing it.
  • From Dusk Till Dawn (1996): most people think this is the best of the three films. I think it’s the weakest. It’s very silly yet the first have of the film is done very seriously. People are used to it but it doesn’t work as well as it does in the later films.
  • From Dusk Till Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money (1999): this one never takes itself seriously. It’s a lot of goofy fun. And I really like Robert Patrick. I don’t think he gets enough credit.
  • From Dusk Till Dawn 3: The Hangman’s Daughter (2000): probably the best of the three, Michael Parks steals the show. It’s fun to imagine that this is what really happened to Ambrose Bierce.
  • Ghoul School (1990): despite all the problems this film clearly had, it’s quite a lot of fun. And I love the gore! Bookwalter and company may not have had a lot of money but they stepped up brilliantly. Of course, this is exactly my kind of film.
  • Going Hog Wild (1988): a series of mud-wrestling matches. I’d hoped that it would be more. It’s not exactly my kind of thing but I’m sure there is a good audience for it. See my blog post about it.
  • Scanners (1981): this was probably the first Cronenberg film I saw. And it holds up really well. A lot of things really come together in it. He managed to take the ideas of Stereo and put them into a solid thriller.
  • Singam II (2013): my first Indian action film. Although not technically Bollywood, it’s still Bollywood. I’m looking forward to watching more of these. It’s quite remarkable.
  • The Valley of Gwangi (1969): who knew that Ray Harryhausen made a western? Even apart from the animation, this film is pretty good. I prefer The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, but this one is still good.

Summing Up

It was a good month for films. I’m still trying to get the films in my personal library done but I didn’t make much progress this month. It’s more fun to add new stuff. But slowly I’ll get there.

I already have another blog post scheduled for next week. So I think that’s going to continue to happen. There’s always plenty to write about. It’s just a question of having the time.

Recent Additions: Nov 2019

Psychotronic Review

I fear this site seems static to the normal visitor. But this is not true. I’m constantly adding things. The problem is that most of what I’m adding are capsule reviews in the Short Takes section of the site.

So I figured maybe I should create posts to talk about what I’m adding.

New Films

  • 12 Monkeys (1995): one of the best films ever made. I don’t think that’s hyperbolic. It’s Terry Gilliam’s masterpiece — propelled beyond Brail because of David & Janet Peoples’ fantastic script.
  • Addams Family Values (1993): this Barry Sonnenfeld film (plus the original) holds up remarkably well with a good script and great acting. I still watch it from time to time even though you really can’t beat the original series.
  • Army of Darkness (1992): I like this film a lot but I don’t think it is that good. The middle is kind of a mess. And it bugs me that Ash drinks boiling water to kill the creature inside himself. How does that make sense? But mostly, it’s just way too silly for the beginning and ending. It does, however, set up Ash vs Evil Dead, which is a hell of a lot of fun.
  • The Blair Witch Project (1999): everyone I know talks smack about this film. I get that they are all embarrassed that they were wrong and I was right when it came out: it wasn’t actual found footage; it was just a clever storytelling device. But that’s no reason to pretend it isn’t a great film.
  • Blind Fury (1989): Zatoichi in America. I’m not sure you can go wrong with a blind Vietnam vet who’s a badass with a sword. Who knows why the film wasn’t a hit except that it comes off a bit too much like a television movie. It’s loads of fun regardless.
  • Bloody Mallory (2002): I love this film but I’m not sure others will. It’s pretty wacky with a crack team of demon hunters headed by Mallory with her knuckles tattooed with “FUCK EVIL.” It’s also very woke with strong cis and trans women. YouTube skeptics would love its anti-religious bent but not the fact that the filmmakers clearly like women.
  • Cast a Deadly Spell (1991): this is Raymond Chandler meets Terry Pratchett. It’s also very self-conscience and meta. They kind of blew the sequel by casting Dennis Hopper. This one is perfect with Fred Ward.
  • Christmas Evil (1980): it’s hard to believe this film is so little seen. It’s about a meek guy who is obsessed with Christmas and decides to become Santa — giving out toys to the good and vengeance to the bad. Essential Christmas viewing if you can get everyone to stop watching football or drag racing or whatever.
  • Dolls (1987): killer dolls, kinda. It’s a dark house film where all the bad people are cleverly killed by dolls and the good people live happily ever after. I use it as a lift-me-up when I’m feeling down.
  • Grave of the Vampire (1974): a halfbreed seeks vengeance against the vampire who raped his mother. This is an odd one with some nice touches like feeding the halfbreed blood out of a bottle.

Bootlegger’s Drive-in Saturday Night

I have Grave of the Vampire on a great DVD collection called Bootlegger’s Drive-in Saturday Night. Each of the discs contained two films. That one came with The Werewolf of Washington. It also has previews, intermission, and a reminder to replace the speaker before you drive away. You can get it and the other editions on Archive.org.

There are a lot of notable actors in these films: Lynn Bari, Antony Carbone, John Carradine, Lon Chaney Jr, Jackie Coogan, Sid Haig, Dennis Hopper, Boris Karloff, Christopher Lee, Dorothy Malone, Dick Miller, Jack Nicholson, Carol Ohmart, Basil Rathbone, Robert Reed, Steve Reeves, William Shatner, William Smith, Dean Stockwell, Rod Taylor, Mamie Van Doren, and Yvette Vickers.

So check them out! It’s a lot of fun to watch them all together with the filler material. And some of the films are great!

Summing Up

As you can probably tell with the titles I’ve added to Short Takes, I’m going through my personal collection. As a result, I tend to be a bit more keen on these than I am other films.

But as always: there are no bad films only limited viewers.