Producers: KM Yeung and Paul Leder
Director: Paul Leder
Screenwriters: Paul Leder & Reuben A Leder
Our review: A*P*E: Meta-Film of a Fine Vintage
Before King Kong (1976) could even be released, Paul Leder had a parody released. What it lacks in thrills, it makes up for in charm and chutzpah. From the poster: “Defy the JAWS of a Giant Shark; demolish an Ocean Liner; vanquish Monster Reptile.” Got all the 1970s blockbusters?
Well, in case you were confused, “Not to be confused with KING KONG.” (Which just so happens won’t be in theaters for a few months, so what do you say?) A wonderfully fun film — especially if you hate Dino DeLaurentis! (And who doesn’t?)
You can see this film for free on Archive.org, but under its re-released title, Attack Of The Giant Horny Gorilla. True psychotronistas may want to get the DVD or Blu-ray, which are in 3D and include commentary tracks by filmmaker Chris Alexander.
The Abominable Dr Phibes (1971)
Producers: Ronald S Dunas and Louis M Heyward
Director: Robert Fuest
Screenwriters: William Goldstein and James Whiton
A brilliant scientist and organist Dr Phibes (Vincent Price) sets about killing everyone on the surgical team that “killed” his wife. The murders are wonderfully creative.
Joseph Cotten plays the lead surgeon with his typical charisma. Virginia North plays Phibes silent helper. A funny revenge film. Opinion is divided, but I prefer the follow-up Dr Phibes Rises Again.
The film is copyrighted. It is commercially available in many forms included as a double feature with Rises Again. But I recommend getting Vincent Price: MGM Scream Legends Collection, which also includes: Tales of Terror, Twice Told Tales, Theater of Blood (one of my all time favorites), Madhouse, and Witchfinder General.
Producers: Morgan Peter Brown & Mike Flanagan & Justin Gordon & Joe Wicker
Director/Screenwriter: Mike Flanagan
A woman’s husband has been missing for 7 years. Her recovering drug addict sister comes to help her finalize the papers to declare the husband dead. Just as her life is getting back together, her husband reappears, physically and emotionally abused. He says he was “underneath.” It is soon clear that there is a malevolent force that has had him and it isn’t done.
This is a modern telling of Three Billy Goats Gruff. But without the happy ending. It is one of the best low-budget films I’ve seen recently. It’s filled with conflict and lots of genuine scares. Don’t miss it.
Absentia is copyrighted. It is available on DVD with a featurette, commentaries with the director & actors and director & producers, and deleted scenes. There is also a Region B/2 Blu-ray with the same extras.
20 October 2020
Ace High (1968)
Producers: Bino Cicogna and Giuseppe Colizzi
Director/Screenwriter: Giuseppe Colizzi
Alternate titles: I Quattro dell’Ave Maria
Following the events in God Forgives… I Don’t! Pretty Face and Jackass return the stolen gold and leverage it into great wealth. But outlaw Cacopoulos steals it and they must find him before he gives it all away or otherwise loses it.
This is more pure comedy than the first film and generally a lot more fun because of the star.
8 February 2021
The Addams Family (1964-1966)
Executive Producer: David Levy
Directors: Sidney Lanfield (48 episodes), Sidney Salkow (4), Jerry Hopper (4), Jean Yarbrough (3), Nat Perrin (1), Sidney Miller (1), Stanley Z Cherry (1), Arthur Lubin (1), and the great Arthur Hiller (1).
Screenwriters: Hannibal Coons & Harry Winkler (25 episodes), Phil Leslie (10), Keith Fowler (5), Sloan Nibley (5), and others.
A weird gothic family has adventures with the “strange” outside world, but somehow, everyone learns valuable lessons.
It’s shocking to think that this was allowed on television in the 1960s — especially the physical affection that Gomez shows Morticia; he kisses her hair at a time when married couples slept in different beds. Today, the show comes off as extremely sweet. I wish I’d grown up in that family!
The Addams Family is copyrighted. For what must be purely commercial reasons, the show was released on disc in three volumes despite the fact that there were only two (long) seasons. It’s best just to get The Complete Series. It includes commentaries with most of the living cast members and author Stephen Cox as well as some excellent featurettes. It is on 9 two-sided DVDs. It’s never been released on Blu-ray.
The Addams Family (1991)
Producer: Scott Rudin
Director: Barry Sonnenfeld
Screenwriters: Caroline Thompson & Larry Wilson (Characters: Charles Addams)
Uncle Fester went missing 25 years earlier. Some local criminals find that one of them looks just like him. So they try to con the Addams family into thinking he is Fester so they can rob them. But fake Fester finds that he rather likes his life with the family. The resolution is just as absurd as you expect.
The CG holds up pretty well. But the acting is so great, the film doesn’t need any effects. The scene where the kids perform Shakespeare makes the whole film worth watching.
Starring Anjelica Huston (Prizzi’s Honor), Raul Julia (Kiss of the Spider Woman), and Christopher Lloyd (Taxi). Featuring: Christina Ricci (Sleepy Hollow), Judith Malina (Dog Day Afternoon), Elizabeth Wilson (Quiz Show), and Dan Hedaya (Blood Simple).
Addams Family Values (1993)
Producer: Scott Rudin
Director: Barry Sonnenfeld
Screenwriter: Paul Rudnick
When Morticia has a baby, the family is forced to find a nanny. The only one willing to stay in the job is Debbie, a serial killer who plans to marry and then murder Uncle Fester. Although Fester turns out to be hard to kill, the marriage causes chaos in the family.
This is a fitting sequel to the original. The camp sequence is best remembered but it all works well.
Starring Anjelica Huston (Prizzi’s Honor), Raul Julia (Kiss of the Spider Woman), Christopher Lloyd (Taxi), and Christina Ricci (Sleepy Hollow) from the original. Also starring Joan Cusack (War, Inc). The Girl Scott from the original film, Mercedes McNab, is back in an even more annoying character.
The Adventures of Tintin (2011)
Producers: Steven Spielberg & Peter Jackson & Kathleen Kennedy
Director: Steven Spielberg
Screenwriters: Steven Moffat and Edgar Wright & Joe Cornish (comic: Hergé)
Hard-working reporter Tintin buys a model ship that has a secret message inside that reveals part of a treasure map. He teams up with a ship captain to find it while dark forces work against them.
This is a fun but forgettable adventure film. The animation looks great but despite its PG rating, it’s really more of a kid’s film.
15 April 2021
Producer: Ettore Spanuolo
Director: Lucio Fulci
Screenwriters: Giorgio Mariuzzo & Lucio Fulci
Alternate titles: Ænigma
A group of students and one teacher humiliate a young woman who runs in front of a car and goes into a coma. Somehow she and her mystical mother take possession of a new student who gets revenge against those who wronged her.
This is a revenge film with some good kills like a woman being suffocated by snails and slugs. But the film doesn’t really commit to that narrative. There were a couple dozen students involved in the initial incident and we get maybe four kills? It’s an interesting film but unsatisfying.
27 June 2021
The Aftermath (1982)
Producer/Director: Steve Barkett
Director: Ridley Scott
Screenwriter: Steve Barkett (story: Steve Barkett and Stanley Livingston)
Some astronauts return to Earth to find most of the population destroyed due to a nuclear holocaust. They are attacked by mutants and must battle with some kind of weird cult.
This is an odd one. Kind of compelling though. It reminds me of Day the World Ended. The biggest problem with the film is the producer casting himself in the lead role.
Starring Steve Barkett, Lynne Margulies, Sid Haig (Spider Baby), and the Forrest J Ackerman.
The Aftermath is under copyright but you can find copies floating around. You can get it on a Blu-ray/DVD combo that includes a lot of extras including a commentary with the producer and his son (who also stars in the film).
29 November 2022
Alabama’s Ghost (1973)
Producer/Director/Screenwriter: Fredric Hobbs
Our review: Alabama’s Ghost
Alabama happens upon the equipment of the vaudeville magician Carter the Great. So Alabama goes to Carter’s still-living wife and takes over Carter’s act. But it turns out that she is really a vampire. And there is a whole group of vampires (including Hitler’s favorite scientist) who are going to use Alabama to take over the world. Meanwhile, Alabama is being haunted by the ghost of Carter the Great. You’ve got to see this to believe it — psychotronic nirvana!
This film has never been released on DVD. It was once released on an Elvira VHS, which costs a fortune if you can find it. It is now pretty easy to find streaming. It’s on Amazon Prime. but as I write this, the only copy available is selling for almost $2,500. I lucked upon a bootleg some time ago, so look out for it. A decent copy (Elvira) is available on Archive.org.
Producers: Gordon Carroll & David Giler & Walter Hill
Director: Ridley Scott
Screenwriter: Dan O’Bannon (story: Dan O’Bannon and Ronald Shusett)
The crew aboard the spaceship equivalent of a cargo ship must investigate a beacon on a nearby planet. When they investigate, a creature attacks one of the crew and attaches itself to his face. Soon, the whole crew is fighting a very nasty monster.
This is rightly a classic. It’s as good today as it was four decades ago. There is much to enjoy in the films that followed it but none of them work quite as well as this one. It’s not a must-see; it’s a must-own.
Starring Sigourney Weaver (Heartbreakers), Ian Holm (The Fifth Element), Tom Skerritt (The Dead Zone), Veronica Cartwright (Invasion of the Body Snatchers), Yaphet Kotto (The Star Chamber), John Hurt (Nineteen Eighty-Four), and Harry Dean Stanton (Escape from New York).
Alien is under copyright. It is available in endless forms. It is on DVD with director’s commentary and deleted scenes. You can get a similar Blu-ray. There is a newer 4K Blu-ray that also has a more recent commentary. You can also get the four films on Blu-ray with lots of extras.
4 October 2020
Alien 3 (1992)
Producers: Gordon Carroll & David Giler & Walter Hill
Director: David Fincher
Screenwriters: David Giler & Walter Hill and Larry Ferguson (story: Vincent Ward)
Shortly after the end of Aliens, there is a fire onboard the ship and the surviving crew is ejected. The pod lands on a penal planet with only Ripley surviving. A facehugger was onboard, which implants in a dog and so we have another monster hunt.
Of all the films, this is the one with the weakest plot. But it’s so visually stunning that it doesn’t much matter. Also: we know Ripley so well by now that it’s nice to just hang out with her. Unfortunately, one of the visual tics in this film appears in Alien Resurrection in a much more annoying way.
Starring Sigourney Weaver (Political Animals), Charles S Dutton (Gothika), Charles Dance (Terry Pratchett’s Going Postal), Brian Glover (An American Werewolf in London), and Ralph Brown (Withnail and I).
Alien 3 is under copyright. You can get it in many collections. It is available with minor extras on DVD. It’s available on Blu-ray with significant extras. If you want the longer “assembly cut” (that I haven’t seen), you need to get Alien Quadrilogy (DVD) or Alien Anthology (Blu-ray), which are frankly good ways to go anyway.
4 October 2020
Alien Abduction: Incident in Lake County (1998)
Producer/Director/Screenwriter: Dean Alioto
Alternate titles: The McPherson Tape
During a Thanksgiving dinner in a rural house, a family is menaced by space aliens.
This is the first of the explosion of found-footage films of the late 1990s — followed by The Last Broadcast and the, of course, The Blair Witch Project. It’s shot as though by a college student taking video of a family gathering. And it feels very real. The acting is wonderful. And despite the form, it’s a well-structured story. It probably isn’t of great interest to viewers at this time beyond its historical importance. But the ending gave me shivers, so it’s still very effective!
Note that the film itself has no credits as befits its style. I took the credits above off a DVD cover I located but it is probably incorrect. Most sources say the story is by Alioto and the screenplay is by Paul Chitlik, who also co-produced it.
Alien Abduction: Incident in Lake County is probably under copyright but there is a good print on Archive. The film doesn’t seem to be in print at this time. You can, however, get The McPherson Tape on DVD and Blu-ray with extras.
27 August 2022
Alien Resurrection (1997)
Producers: Gordon Carroll & David Giler & Walter Hill and Bill Badalato
Director: Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Screenwriter: Joss Whedon
Two hundred years after the first films, the military is again experimenting with the aliens. This time, they’ve cloned Ripley. The aliens escape, of course. And everyone tries to escape from the aliens. It’s more like Aliens than it is Alien.
I quite like this installment. The military and scientific personnel are so creepy. The ship that docks is filled with colorful characters. And the action sequences are really good. I could do without most of the flamboyant direction. But the haters (including Joss Whedon who should just shut up) are wrong.
Starring Sigourney Weaver (Galaxy Quest) and Winona Ryder (Beetlejuice). The rest of the cast is great and includes Ron Perlman (Quest for Fire), Dan Hedaya (Blood Simple), and Brad Dourif (Spontaneous Combustion).
Alien Resurrection is under copyright. You can get it as a bare-bones DVD but it’s way cheaper to just get a used copy of the Quadrilogy. There is a low-price Blu-ray, which is said to have a bunch of extras. Or you could get all four films on Blu-ray as the Alien Anthology, which comes with a ton of extras for all the films.
1 October 2020
Producer: Gale Anne Hurd
Director: James Cameron
Screenwriter: James Cameron (story: James Cameron and David Giler & Walter Hill)
Fifty-seven years after the first film, Ripley’s shuttle is found. No one believes her about the alien. In fact, a colony has been on the planet for 20 years without incident. Shortly, however, all communication from the colony is cut. Ripley must return to the planet with an army unit to investigate.
Cameron took a horror film and turned it into action. That’s not a slight. It is probably the most accessible of the lot. I think it’s too long and I especially dislike the final sequence. But I still love this film.
Starring Sigourney Weaver (Eyewitness), Michael Biehn (The Terminator), Bill Paxton (Twister), Jenette Goldstein (Near Dark), Lance Henriksen (Sasquatch), and Paul Reiser (Mad About You) in his greatest role.
Aliens is under copyright. Like all of the series, you can get it in a bunch of different forms. You can get the extended cut (which is good) with a short Cameron interview on DVD. For a bit more money, you can get it on DVD with a second disc with a bunch of featurettes. There is a cheap Blu-ray. The release cut is available on Blu-ray with a bunch of extras.
4 October 2020
Alison’s Birthday (1981)
Producer: David Hannay
Director/screenwriter: Ian Coughlan
When she’s 16, Alison gets a message from her dead father not to go back home for her 19th birthday. But just like Hamlet, does she listen? Oh no! And there is serious satanic stuff going on. Don’t be surprised if she ends up in a 103-year-old body!
This film is quite enjoyable. The plot moves along at a nice clip and it’s interesting throughout. I’d be a major advocate for it had it not blown the ending, which is “clever” rather than satisfying. It rips off Rosemary’s Baby but then Get Out rips it off, so who’s to complain?
Alison’s Birthday is under copyright. There is a cropped print on Archive. I haven’t found a US disc release. You can find it streaming.
15 January 2022
All About Evil (2010)
Producers: Darren Stein and Brian Benson & Debbie Brubaker & Joshua Grannell
Director/Screenwriter: Joshua Grannell
A young woman inherits a movie theater from her big-dreaming father. Her step-mother tries to force her to sell and the daughter ends up killing the woman and accidentally showing the murder to her patrons who think it was staged. So what the hell? She goes with it filming increasingly brazen murders for her appreciative audience.
Films about snuff films are pretty tired. But forget all of those. This is so much fun. The gore is wonderful as is the general design of it. The plot doesn’t get bogged down in making its ridiculous premise believable. And the acting is very good. This film is pure joy. Great title too!
Starring Thomas Dekker (Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles) and Natasha Lyonne (Slums of Beverly Hills). Featuring Jack Donner (Retro Puppet Master), Cassandra Peterson (Elvira’s Haunted Hills), Noah Segan (Deadgirl), and Ariel Hart.
All About Evil is under copyright. It is currently out of print but you can stream it on Shudder.
15 June 2022
The Alligator People (1959)
Producer: Jack Leewood
Director: Roy Del Ruth
Screenwriter: Orville H Hampton (story: Orville H Hampton and Charles O’Neal)
A young couple on their honeymoon aboard a train is going through all their telegrams (like you do) when the man reads one, becomes upset, and goes to make a phone call. He never returns. His wife follows the clues to a plantation in the Louisiana swamp. There she learns the shocking truth of what happened to her beau that you won’t believe (unless you’ve read the title of the film).
This is a surprisingly good little B-feature. It’s got a real Southern Gothic feel to it. Although the ending is kind of silly (at least visually), don’t expect an absurd film. It’s actually pretty serious and you’ll probably get involved in it.
Starring Beverly Garland (Where the Red Fern Grows), Frieda Inescort (Shadows on the Stairs), George Macready (Tarzan’s Peril), Lon Chaney Jr (Spider Baby), and Richard Crane (Rocky Jones, Space Ranger).
25 October 2021
The Amazing Colossal Man (1957)
Producer/Director: Bert I Gordon
Screenwriters: Mark Hanna and Bert I Gordon
Alternate titles: The Colossal Man
Not a cult classic; a classic. There is just something about Bert I Gordon films that makes them irresistible. And with The Amazing Colossal Man everything is just perfect.
(As I write this, Gorden is alive at 99 years old. He directed his last film at 93. He’s an amazing man.)
In one way, this is a typical monster movie: a nuclear explosion creates a monster that rampages and is finally destroyed at the end. But in this case, we see the story from the perspective of the monster. He just wants to be cured. And how long can one man stand to read tiny newspapers?!
The film stars Glenn Langan (Margie) who manages to combine a clearly menacing character with pathos. Featuring: Cathy Downs (For You I Die), William Hudson (Attack of the 50 Foot Woman), and Larry Thor.
The Amazing Colossal Man is under copyright. Amazingly, it is not available on disc. You can get it on VHS for a lot of money. And you can pretty much always find it on YouTube.
Amazon Women on the Moon (1987)
Producer: Robert K Weiss
Directors: Joe Dante & Carl Gottlieb & Peter Horton & John Landis & Robert K Weiss
Screenwriters: Michael Barrie and Jim Mulholland
A series of sketches mostly oriented toward late-night television. The central piece is a 1950s science fiction film about 3 men who travel to the Moon and find a bunch of hot women there.
This was sold as a kind of sequel to The Kentucky Fried Movie. Few think it was as funny as the earlier film but there is no doubt it’s at least as creative. It’s overflowing with very funny ideas. And it should especially appeal to the kind of people who come around here. Tempe Video used the “I’m so scared!” sound clip for the copyright notice on their films.
The film has far too many stars to list. Of particular note are Russ Meyer, Paul Bartel, Ralph Bellamy (His Girl Friday), and Sybil Danning (They’re Playing with Fire). Dick Miller (A Bucket of Blood) was in a deleted skit. But there are many others you will recognize — some huge stars.
Amazon Women on the Moon should be under copyright but there is a cropped copy on Archive.org. It is available on a “collector’s edition” DVD with few extras. The Blu-ray has a much better collection of extras.
16 October 2021
America’s Most Haunted (2013)
Producers: Joe Anderson & Keith Golinski & Chris Randall & Jason Roth
Director: Chris Randall
Screenwriters: Chris Randall & Joe Anderson (story: Chris Randall)
The creators of a fake ghost-hunting show find themselves in a house with real ghosts, which they see as a great opportunity rather than a lethal threat.
This is a solid film with some genuinely scary parts to it. It features a good cast and clever script with a couple of twists.
Starring Brad Norman (Rocky and Bullwinkle), Brittany Risner (Fraternity House), David Gries (Devils in the Darkness), Joe Anderson, Dave Lyzenga, Jimmy Meritt, and Sue Ellen Pabst. James Karen (The Return of the Living Dead) has a notable role.
21 December 2020
American Mary (2012)
Producers: Evan Tylor & John Curtis
Directors/Screenwriters: Jen and Sylvia Soska
A young medical student is struggling financially. She happens to find work doing illegal surgeries. When one of her teachers rapes her, she drops out of school and serves up some much-needed justice. But maybe things get a bit out of hand? Well, definitely. They definitely get out of hand.
This is a stunning film. Conceptually, it’s a lot like David Cronenberg’s Crash but stylistically more like David Lynch’s best work. It’s simultaneously funny and deeply disturbing. Really.
22 May 2021
An American Werewolf in London (1981)
Producer: George Folsey Jr
Director/Screenwriter: John Landis
Two American students are traveling in the moors of England when they are attacked by a werewolf. One of them is killed and the other injured. The dead one visits the living one several times to get him to kill himself before the next full moon when he will kill a bunch of people. But does he listen?
This film is shockingly fresh even today. It’s very funny but in an unusual way. The effects are excellent as well.
2 June 2021
Amityville Island (2020)
Producer: Rob Hauschild
Director: Mark Polonia
Screenwriter: John Oak Dalton
A woman is taken over by a demon and kills her four children. Another woman is raped at a frat party and later torches it, killing 23 boys inside. The two of them meet on death row and are sent to a secret science installation where they will be impregnated with cloned super-soldiers.
I know this all sounds bizarre. It is! Yet this is the most fulfilling of the dozen films I’ve seen by Polonia. It’s helped a lot by a smart script that doesn’t over-explain what’s going on. At the same time, why was the shark necessary? And shooting the lead twice in the same location? Nonetheless, it’s a very compelling little movie.
Amityville Island is under copyright. It is available on DVD.
22 July 2020
The Amusement Park (1973)
Producer: Communicators Pittsburgh
Director: George Romero
Screenwriter: Wally Cook
An older man goes to a surreal amusement park where he is slowly worn down and brutalized to the point where he hides away.
This film has a very clear message: society treats the elderly really poorly. It sounds didactic and awful but it’s done with such style that it would be good even if you didn’t notice the social commentary. This is a remarkable film and very likely my favorite from Romero. It was apparently made for the Lutheran Society as an educational film about elder abuse. That’s not as strange as it may sound. Before Night of the Living Dead, Romero made industrial films. The Lutherans got a lot more than they wanted and didn’t release it. They clearly should have!
Starring Lincoln Maazel (Martin).
It is streaming on Shudder but otherwise isn’t available. I’m sure this will change. I’m thinking Criterion Collection or at least Shout Factory.
9 June 2021
And Now the Screaming Starts! (1973)
Producers: Max Rosenberg and Milton Subotsky
Director: Roy Ward Baker
Screenwriter: Roger Marshall (novel: David Case)
A newly wed couple comes home to his estate and she is immediately haunted — most notably by a bloody hand that also rapes her. There are secrets to be revealed but no one is talking. And when they finally do they get killed by the same force.
Another excellent Amicus film. This one has the perfect combination of gore and creepy atmosphere. And the back story is horrible and reframes the film.
Starring Stephanie Beacham (Dracula AD 1972), Ian Ogilvy (Witchfinder General), and Geoffrey Whitehead. Featuring Peter Cushing (The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires), Patrick Magee (Asylum), Herbert Lom (The Pink Panther Strikes Again), and Guy Rolfe (Dolls).
And the Devil Makes Three (2016)
Producers/Directors/Screenwriters: The Terrible Two (Samantha & Arthur Terrible)
Two friends go to a cabin in the woods to clean it out after the death of a relative. Various sounds and lights make them worried that they are being stalked. They come upon a local man camping nearby but he seems fine.
This film is a masterclass in controlling suspense. It also features minor but excellent gore and some of the best dialog I’ve heard in a micro-budget film. Note that it seems to have been re-released with a different (shorter) edit in 2020.
Starring Samantha Terrible, Arthur Terrible, and Owen Gresswell.
And the Devil Makes Three is under copyright. It seems only to be available on Amazon Prime.
5 March 2021
Angel Heart (1987)
Producers: Alan Marshall and Elliott Kastner
Director: Alan Parker
Screenwriter: Alan Parker (novel: William Hjortsberg)
Our review: Angel Heart Review
In 1950s New York City, a private detective is hired by a “religious loony” to find a missing person. But he soon finds himself knee-deep in Satanists with murders piling up behind him.
This is one of my favorite films. I never tire of it. It’s beautifully made and interesting on a dozen levels. And there are lots of great releases of it. So what are you waiting for?
12 September 2020
Another Day, Another Man (1966)
Producer/Director/Screenwriter: Doris Wishman
A newly-wed woman takes a job as a prostitute when her husband gets sick. There’s a subplot about her long-time prostitute friend becoming pregnant and fleeing town.
Although not as good a film as Scum of the Earth (1963), it is a whole lot more erotic. Wishman has a sense for what’s sexy that Herschell Gordon Lewis lacked. And despite the bad dubbing and questionable acting, the film is surprisingly gripping. It’s also pretty arty. Wishman had a great eye.
The film features people who worked almost exclusively in the softcore porn industry of the 1960s. Of particular note are the two male supporting actors: Agustin Mayor (The Horror of Party Beach) and Wishman mainstay Sam Stewart. The stars are Barbara Kemp and Mary O’Hara.
Another Day, Another Man is copyrighted. Something Weird released it on DVD along with Bad Girls Go to Hell (1965) along with a smattering of extras.
Producers/Directors: Michael Laicini & David Amito
Screenwriters: David Amito and Michael Laicini (story: David Amito)
Alternative titles: Antrum: The Deadliest Film Ever Made
A boy’s dog must be put to death because it attacked someone. The boy worries that the dog is now in hell so his sister takes him through the levels of the underworld to hell to save the dog.
I’m not that keen on the fake documentary part of this. But the film itself is amazing. It’s pure horror without much concern for the plot — very much like the best Italian horror. I love it.
26 October 2020
Aquarium of the Dead (2021)
Producer: David Michael Latt
Director: Glenn Miller
Screenwriter: Marc Gottlieb (story: Michael Varrati)
At the local aquarium, some contaminated drugs turn an octopus into a zombie. Then it moves around the aquarium ducts and infects other animals while the staff tries to get out.
The third of the Zoombies series. It’s at its best when Brandon Lee W and DC Douglas are together doing straight comedy. I found the more serious parts of the film kinda boring. And the firefighters part seems to be going for humor but left me cold. Still, it’s watchable. Interesting to see that those cheap digital effects haven’t gotten much better in 20 years.
Starring Eva Ceja, Vivica A Fox (Kill Bill: Vol 1), Madeleine Falk, Erica Duke, and Anthony Jensen.
Aquarium of the Dead is under copyright. It doesn’t seem to be available on disc in the US but you can find imports if you have an all-region player.
28 March 2022
Army of Darkness (1992)
Producer: Robert Tapert
Director: Sam Raimi
Screenwriters: Sam Raimi & Ivan Raimi
Ash is sent back to the Middle Ages via some time tunnel opened at the end of Evil Dead II. He is captured as an enemy combatant and thrown into a pit filled with Evil Dead things. When he survives, he becomes the only hope to rid the world of the Evil Dead. But Ash being Ash, he screws it all up.
The third of the Evil Dead trilogy, this is by far the silliest with the largest budget. For Bruce Campbell fans, it’s irresistible. For others, less so. If you loved Evil Dead II, you will love this one.
In addition to Campbell, this film features Embeth Davidtz (Junebug), Marcus Gilbert (Freebird), Ian Abercrombie (Firewalker), Timothy Patrick Quill (My Name Is Bruce), and Patricia Tallman (Night of the Living Dead). Richard Grove plays Henry the Red — the most charismatic person on the screen. I’ve never seen him anywhere else, which is odd because he seems like star material. Bridget Fonda (Single White Female) has a small role in the story frame.
Army of Darkness is copyrighted. It is available on DVD. But you should really get the 3-disc Shout Factory Blu-ray, which is overflowing with extras including the regular, international, and director’s cuts of the film.
Army of Frankensteins (2014)
Producers/Screenwriters: Ryan Bellgardt & Andy Swanson & Josh McKamie
Director: Ryan Bellgardt
A modern-day Frankenstein creates his monster but it, and dozens of others from parallel universes get sent back to the American Civil War where they are the Confederates’ best chance of winning the war.
This is a charming film with moments of very effective scares and gore. It’s also pretty funny with a wonderful take on Igor.
Featuring a cast of talented but largely unknown actors: Jordan Farris, Christian Bellgardt, John Ferguson, Rett Terrell, Raychelle McDonald, Thomas Cunningham, and Eric Gesecus as the monsters.
Assault on Precinct 13 (1976)
Producer: JS Kaplan
Director/Screenwriter: John Carpenter
Precinct 13 is about to be decommissioned. A bus transporting convicts stops at it to see to a sick prisoner. Some local gangs attack the place with assault guns with silencers.
This is a very effective film. It’s basically Night of the Living Dead. The villains are undifferentiated except for one scene where Frank Doubleday does his best impression of Klaus Kinski. After the siege starts, it’s a lot of fun. The movie has a bit of a reactionary subtext with the police and the “good criminals” versus the young criminals who are motivated only by their desire for carnage and chaos. But that’s to be expected from the genre.
Starring Austin Stoker (Sheba, Baby), Darwin Joston, Laurie Zimmer, Tony Burton (Rocky), Charles Cyphers (Halloween II), Martin West (Lord Love a Duck), and Nancy Kyes (Halloween III: Season of the Witch). Child star Kim Richards (Escape to Witch Mountain) has a small role.
24 October 2021
Assault on Precinct 13 (2005)
Producers: Pascal Caucheteux & Stephane Sperry & Jeffrey Silver
Director: Jean-Francois Richet
Screenwriter: James DeMonaco (original film: John Carpenter)
A transport bus for 4 criminals is forced by weather to stay at the all but abandoned Precinct 13. The whole place is attacked by what they at first believe are friends of one of the criminals but turn out to be dirty cops who must kill them all to hide their secrets.
This is a pretty good film. There’s too much backstory and character arc for my tastes but it’s entertaining. Most of the negative reviews are only complaining that it isn’t as good as the original. I’m not even sure you can say that. They are very different films — fun in their own ways.
Starring Ethan Hawke (Lord of War), Laurence Fishburne (King of New York), Drea de Matteo (Don’t Sleep), John Leguizamo (Land of the Dead), Maria Bello (A History of Violence), and Brian Dennehy (Legal Eagles). Gabriel Byrne (Miller’s Crossing) has a small role.
24 October 2021
Assignment: Terror (1970)
Producer: Jaime Prades
Director: Tulio Demicheli
Screenwriter: Paul Naschy (as Jacinto Molina)
Alternate titles: Los Monstruos del Terror, The Monsters of Terror, Dracula vs Frankenstein, Dracula Contre Frankenstein, Reincarnator
Space aliens have traveled a dozen light-years to Earth to take it over. But instead of just, you know, doing it, they revive the Werewolf, Mummy, Dracula, and Frankenstein’s monster to do it.
If this sounds oddly familiar, it’s kind of the plot of Plan 9 From Outer Space. It’s generally more coherent but then all these actors were alive.
Starring Michael Rennie (The Day the Earth Stood Still), Paul Naschy (Count Dracula’s Great Love), Craig Hill (The Bloodstained Shadow), Karin Dor (You Only Live Twice), and Patty Shepard (Blood Money).
Assignment: Terror is probably copyrighted but there is a decent print on Archive. There are a ton of bad prints out there that you can pay for. If you really want it, find the Scorpion Releasing Blu-ray that comes in widescreen with a commentary by film historian Troy Howarth.
11 July 2021
The Astrologer (1975)
Producer: Mark Buntzman
Director: Jim Glickenhaus
Screenwriter: ? (novel: John Cameron)
Alternate titles: Suicide Cult
A brilliant astrologer works for the government because he can predict the future and tell everyone who they will be based on when they are born. He learns that the second coming of Christ has been born. He tries to find them before some Satanic cult can kill them.
Surprisingly good modest-budget film with good acting. It features way too much talking but visually it’s interesting. It’s mostly notable for taking itself very seriously and I admire that in an age when filmmakers spend so much time winking at the audience.
Starring Bob Byrd, Monica Tidwell, Mark Buntzman, and Al Narcisse.
9 January 2022
Producers: Max Rosenberg and Milton Subotsky
Director: Roy Ward Baker
Screenwriters: Robert Bloch
A new doctor comes to an asylum for the incurably insane. In order to get the job, he must interview four inmates to determine which one of them used to be a doctor at the facility. We get a story of murder from each of the inmates.
This is an okay Amicus Productions film. I think they kind of mess up at the end (the twist is pretty good if not especially surprising). The House That Dripped Blood is much better. Just the same, the three stories outside the frame story are quite good and well worth your time.
Starring Robert Powell (Jesus of Nazareth) with Geoffrey Bayldon (Catweazle) and Patrick Magee (A Clockwork Orange). There are a lot of other great actors including Charlotte Rampling (DOA), Peter Cushing (Island of the Burning Damned), and Barry Morse (Space: 1999).
Asylum is copyrighted. It is available on DVD and Blu-ray with director commentary and one (DVD) or more (Blu-ray) featurettes. It is also available as The Amicus Collection along with And Now The Screaming Starts! and The Beast Must Die. It is packed with extras.
3 May 2020
At Midnight I’ll Take Your Soul (1964)
Producers: Geraldo Martins & Ilídio Martins & Arildo Iruam
Director: Mort Briskin
Screenwriters: Magda Mei and Waldomiro França
An undertaker believes that he will be immortal if his bloodline continues. When his wife can’t have children, he kills her. And then he rapes and kills a lot more people.
This incredibly creepy Brazilian film is the first in the Coffin Joe trilogy. It is in Portuguese with English subtitles.
The film is available at Archive.org in a bad but viewable print. You can get it on an all-region DVD with a few extras. It is also available as part of the Coffin Joe Trilogy (all regions) with more extras.
Attack of the 50 Foot Cheerleader (2012)
Producer: Roger Corman
Director: Kevin O’Neill
Screenwriter: Mike MacLean
A science nerd wants to be beautiful and popular so she takes a serum that she is working on and becomes beautiful and popular. Then she starts to grow and the evil businessmen want to steal her and the mean head cheerleader takes the serum and gets big and they fight.
Although I think you are always better off going back to Attack of the 50 Foot Woman, this version is pretty good — certainly much better than Fred Olen Ray’s opus. But it’s also kind of random. If you watch it, you should like it. You know what you’re getting, right?
Starring Jena Sims (Kill the Messenger), Olivia Alexander (Killer Eye: Halloween Haunt), Ryan Merriman (Independence Daysaster), and Sasha Jackson (Dominion). It features Sean Young (Blade Runner), Treat Williams (Prince of the City), Ted Raimi (Man with the Screaming Brain), and Mary Woronov (Night of the Comet).
Attack of the 50 Foot Cheerleader is copyrighted. It is available on DVD and various streaming services.
23 March 2021
Attack of the 50 Foot Woman (1958)
Producer: Bernard Woolner
Director: Nathan Hertz
Screenwriter: Mark Hanna
A giant space alien comes to Earth and turns a woman into a giant. She gets revenge on her cheating husband and his awful lover. A wonderfully fun film that I’m surprised more women haven’t embraced.
The film stars Allison Hayes (The Undead), William Hudson (The Amazing Colossal Man), and Yvette Vickers (Attack of the Giant Leeches). Featuring: George Douglas (The Snow Creature), Ken Terrell (Indestructible Man), Roy Gordon (The Wasp Woman), Frank Chase, Michael Ross, and Otto Waldis.
Attack of the 50 Foot Woman is copyrighted. There is a DVD with a commentary track where Tom Weaver interviews Yvette Vickers. It’s interesting that she seems so vibrant and yet died so lonely just a few years later.
Attack of the 60 Foot Centerfold (1995)
Producer/Director: Fred Olen Ray
Screenwriter: Steve Armogida
Alternate titles: Attack of the 60 Foot Centerfolds
Beauty researchers find that their miracle drug causes rats to grow enormous if they are given too much. One of their clients is a centerfold model for “Plaything Magazine.” In her competition for “Centerfold of the Year,” she takes too much and grows to be 60 feet tall.
You will get what you expect here. It’s campy with a lot of bare breasts. It isn’t tightly plotted, however. And Ray really isn’t much of a comedy director. Still, much of it is really funny. But I think you are better off with Kenneth J Hall. Evil Spawn is way sexier with better-looking women. And Ghost Writer is far more amusing with better-looking women.
Starring JJ North (Vampire Vixens from Venus), Tammy Parks (Bare Exposure), Raelyn Saalman (Bikini Academy), Ted Monte (Little Miss Magic), Tim Abell (American Bandits: Frank and Jesse James), John Lazar (Beyond the Valley of the Dolls), Michelle Bauer (Lust for Frankenstein), and John Henry Richardson (Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers).
Attack of the 60 Foot Centerfold is under copyright. It is available on a 4:3 DVD.
31 December 2020
Attack of the Crab Monsters (1957)
Producer/Director: Roger Corman
Screenwriter: Charles B Griffith
Scientists come to a previously irradiated island where the last group of scientists has disappeared. They discover that there are a pair of giant crabs (you might even call them monsters) who kill (or maybe “attack” is a better word) the group. When they kill someone, their consciousness becomes part of the crabs.
This is a surprisingly effective film. Sure, when we see the whole crab it looks pretty silly. But when a claw reaches in from out of screen, it works. And the mocking crab dialog is awesome!
Starring Pamela Duncan (My Gun Is Quick), Richard Garland (The Undead), and Russell Johnson (Gilligan’s Island). With Leslie Bradley (The Crimson Pirate), Mel Welles (The Little Shop of Horrors), and Richard H Cutting (The Monolith Monsters).
Attack of the Crab Monsters has an indeterminant copyright status as far as I can tell. There is a fairly bad copy on Archive.org. The Allied Artists Classics DVD apparently features a so-so print. The way to get it is with War of the Satellites and Not of This Earth on Roger Corman’s Cult Classics Triple Feature, which includes good prints and commentaries by film nerds.
18 March 2020
Attack of the Giant Leeches (1959)
Producer: Gene Corman
Director: Bernard L Kowalski
Screenwriter: Leo Gordon
An otter poacher sees an octopus-like creature in the lake that withstands 6 shotgun blasts. No one believes him but people keep disappearing. The local game warden investigates the problem.
This is one of many admirable films that MST3K has turned into a joke. It isn’t a great film, but scenes with the dead bodies floating to the surface of the water are really effective. Overall, it’s a very watchable film.
28 February 2021
Attack of the Killer Tomatoes (1978)
Producers: Stephen Peace with (?) John DeBello
Director: John DeBello
Screenwriters: Costa Dillon & John DeBello & Stephen Peace
When tomatoes begin killing people all over the nation, the President jumps into action. The press secretary tries to convince the people that the attacks are not happening or at least that they don’t matter. And Mason Dixon puts together a crack team to destroy them.
This film is very much like Kentucky Fried Movie. If you don’t like one joke, another is close behind. It’s not as much an homage as I would like, but I still find it very funny, even after all these years.
Attack of the Moon Zombies (2011)
Producers: Christopher R Mihm and Stephanie Mihm
Director/Screenwriter: Christopher R Mihm
At the Moon base they find an old plant that comes back to life, spews spores that kill a new member of the crew. But then, he turns into a plant zombie who similarly turns others into the same thing. The remaining crew must figure out how to escape.
Another parody by Mihm and crew, this one is pretty funny as well as being effective even apart from that. And it’s got a great Sleestak vibe going.
25 August 2020
Attack of the Puppet People (1958)
Producer/Director: Bert I Gordon
Screenwriter: George Worthing Yates
Our review: Attack of the Puppet People
An old doll maker, Franz, develops a way to turn people into dolls. He keeps a collection of them so that he won’t be lonely. The dolls try to escape. Will Franz die sad and lonely? Maybe not if this film were made in the 1970s!
Okay, so there are no puppets in the film. And the first time I saw it, I didn’t really like it. But now I love it. It’s a well made and charming film — one of Bert I Gordon’s best.
The film stars John Hoyt (When Worlds Collide), June Kenney (Teenage Doll), and John Agar (Tarantula!). Featuring: Michael Mark (The Wasp Woman), Marlene Willis (Rockabilly Baby), and Laurie Mitchell (Queen of Outer Space).
Attack of the Puppet People appears to be in the public domain and is available on Archive.org. It is available on DVD but you are better to get the 2K Blu-ray release that comes with a commentary track by film historian Tom Weaver.
Audrey Rose (1977)
Producers: Joe Wizan and Frank De Felitta
Director: Robert Wise
Screenwriter: Frank De Felitta
A man is stalking a young couple because he believes their daughter is the reincarnation of his daughter who burned to death in a car crash 11 years earlier. And he seems to be right. The girl has night terrors where she believes she is burning to death.
This film is only barely a horror film. And it jumps all around. The beginning is solid but then we find ourselves involved in a trial and finally some past-lives hypnotism. It’s well done but the story isn’t that compelling.
1 February 2021
Avenging Force: The Scarab (2010)
Producer: Anne-Marie Frigon
Director: Brett Kelly
Screenwriter: Trevor Payer and Brett Kelly
An archeologist finds a scarab that may explain the “secret of the pyramids.” It is an amulet of great power so, of course, The Sphinx (the bad guy) wants it. The archeologist’s former student finds the scarab and becomes The Scarab.
This ultra-low-budget superhero film has a charm that makes up for what it lacks in costumes and dialog. It’s dorky, but then so is every Marvel film. The difference here is that no one thinks this film is serious. Some of the fight sequences are impressive.
The film stars a lot of Brett Kelly regulars: Mark Courneyea, Alix Pasquet, John E McLenachan, Jurgen Vollrath, Angela Parent, and Jody Haucke.
Avenging Force: The Scarab is copyrighted. You can get it on DVD with 4 trailers from Tomcat Films.
The Awakening (2011)
Producers: David M Thompson and Sarah Curtis & Julia Stannard
Director: Nick Murphy
Screenwriters: Stephen Volk and Nick Murphy
A woman who exposes fraudulent spiritualists gets a job to uncover who is pretending to be a ghost at a boys’ school. She quickly determines the problem but stays on when she finds what appears to be a real ghost.
This is an exceptionally good ghost film. The plot is complex but it never goes for unbelievable tricks. And it has genuinely scary moments. The acting is fantastic.
19 January 2021
The Aztec Mummy (1957)
Producer: Guillermo Calderon
Director: Rafael Portillo
Screenwriter: Alfredo Salazar (story: Guillermo Calderon and Alfredo Salazar)
Alternate titles: La Momia Azteca
A scientist finds that his girlfriend is a reincarnated Aztec princess. They use this information to find her tomb and steal an ornamental breastplate. This disturbs a mummy who comes looking for it. Meanwhile, some criminals are trying to steal it.
This film follows pretty closely to The Mummy (1932) with an odd crime subplot. It’s surprisingly good. The scene with the mummy searching the house is especially impressive.
The Aztec Mummy may be under copyright. It’s kind of hard to find. I was only able to watch a Spanish-language version. You can get it on the expensive Aztec Mummy Collection.
22 February 2021