Producers: Gianni Minervini and Antonio Avati
Director: Lamberto Bava
Screenwriters: Pupi Avati & Roberto Gandus & Lamberto Bava & Antonio Avati
Alternate titles: Macabro, Frozen Terror
A married woman gets into a car crash that decapitates her lover. A year later, she is divorced and out of a mental hospital. She moves back into old “fling” apartment. But she seems to be masturbating while calling out to the lover. And there is something in her freezer.
This is a very strange horror film. But it pulls you through even as you know what will happen next. The end is kind of silly but effective all the same.
Starring Bernice Stegers (Xtro), Stanko Molnar, and Veronica Zinny.
Macabre is under copyright. It is available on DVD.
11 December 2020
The Machine (2013)
Producer: John Giwa-Amu
Director/Screenwriter: Caradog W James
A secret government facility is creating cyborgs for war. The genius scientist there recruits a brilliant young female scientist who asks too many questions and is murdered by the administrator. So the scientist places her consciousness in an android and the struggle continues.
This is a well-made low-budget science fiction film with some horror and action aspects. The plot gets pretty muddy toward the end but it’s all pretty interesting.
25 May 2021
Macon County Line (1974)
Producer: Max Baer
Director: Richard Compton
Screenwriters: Max Baer and Richard Compton (story: Max Baer)
Two young men are on a trip through the south before they go into the army. They pick up a young woman on the way. Their car breaks down in a small town. When some criminals rape and murder the sheriff’s wife, the sheriff assumes the youths did it and goes a-hunting.
This is a really strong exploitation film that is gritty throughout despite the tone changing from fun to suspenseful. Bobbie Gentry did a song for the film, which I assume led Baer to get the rights to her song “Ode to Billy Joe” to make his filmed version of it.
4 August 2021
The Mad Bomber (1973)
Producer/Director: Bert I Gordon
Screenwriter: Bert I Gordon (story: Marc Behm)
Alternate titles: The Police Connection, Detective Geronimo
Los Angeles is being terrorized by a bomber. The only lead is a rapist who may have seen the bomber’s face when he was in the attacking a woman. So now they are trying to find the rapist. To find the bomber.
This Dirty Harry-inspired film definitely wants for a more interesting detective. But it’s more than made up for by the title character.
The Mad Bomber is probably under copyright but there is a cropped print on Archive.org. It is available on a couple of DVDs but I suspect that they are both cropped. It hasn’t been released on Blu-ray.
22 September 2022
The Mad Magician
Producer: Bryan Foy
Director: John Brahm
Screenwriter: Crane Wilbur
A designer of magic illusions is stopped from starting his own act by his employer and a competitor magician. This causes him to go on a revenge-fueled killing spree.
This is basically a low-budget version of the previous year’s House of Wax. It does some cool things with the fact that Price plays a master of disguise. But it also features short segments that don’t go anywhere like when he loses his boss’ decapitated head. Still, who doesn’t like Price in these kinds of roles?
The Mad Magician may be under copyright. There is a decent (cropped) copy on Archive. There is a similarly cropped version on DVD. There is a very expensive Blu-ray version that is widescreen with some extras.
27 August 2022
Mad Max (1979)
Producer: Byron Kennedy
Director: George Miller
Screenwriters: James McCausland & George Miller
Bad bikers make life terrible for the people in a dystopian future. Max is one of the cops charged with fighting them. But when they kill his wife and son, it gets personal.
This is an excellent example of what you can do with a small amount of money. It’s exciting throughout and the plot is more inventive than you’d expect. It spawned a number of good sequels.
15 April 2021
Mad Max 2 (1981)
Producer: Byron Kennedy
Director: George Miller
Screenwriters: James McCausland & George Miller
Alternate titles: The Road Warrior
The film takes place in a far more dystopian world than in the first film — similar to A Boy and His Dog. Max is roaming, looking for food and gasoline. He helps a group of settlers barricaded in an oil refinery. You know: because he’s still a Good Guy (even though he’s also an asshole).
This film had ten times the budget of the first film and it shows. The action is bigger and the film just looks a lot better. It’s all very badass with few of the softer elements of the first film.
15 April 2021
Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
Producers: Doug Mitchell & George Miller & PJ Voeten
Director: George Miller
Screenwriters: George Miller & Brendan McCarthy & Nico Lathouris
Furiosa smuggles 5 “breeders” away from local despot Immortan Joe. When this is discovered, his people give chase. And Mad Max is reluctantly conscripted in Furiosa’s effort.
This is roughly a remake of Mad Max 2. But in another way, it isn’t even a Mad Max film. The character really isn’t that important or interesting. It’s still likely the best of the bunch. My only complaint is that it continues the modern trend of showing people surviving obviously fatal crashes. But this doesn’t stop it from being an outstanding film.
16 April 2021
Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985)
Producer: George Miller
Directors: George Miller & George Ogilvie
Screenwriters: Terry Hayes & George Miller
Alternate titles: Mad Max 3 (not really but it’s what I call it)
Max reneges on a promise to kill someone in Bartertown and is banished to the desert. There he finds a large group of children. He leads some of them into Bartertown, which they destroy.
This is the longest and most boring of the trilogy. The only way to really enjoy it is to pretend it is a parody of the others.
15 April 2021
Producers: Milton Subotsky & Max Rosenberg (Amicus Productions)
Director: Jim Clark
Screenwriters: Greg Morrison and Ken Levison (based on the novel Devilday by Angus Hall)
Vincent Price plays an actor famous for his “Dr Death” movies. After the release the fifth film, he announced his wedding engagement. But later that night, a man dressed as Dr Death decapitates his fiance, sending poor Price to the loony bin. Years later, released, Priced is hired to reprise the role of Dr Death for a BBC television series. And Dr Death starts killing people again. The plot isn’t hard to guess. And the denouement makes roughly as much sense as that time I killed my wife because she sang out of key in the shower.
Still, it’s a lot of fun. Horror heavyweights Peter Cushing (the Christopher Lee of Frankenstein and, yes, Star Wars) and Robert Quarry (Dr Phibes Rises Again). Ellis Dale and Catherine Willmer do a wonderful job playing the kind of caring parents we all wish we had. This film makes a great double feature with Theatre of Blood.
Producers: Joseph E Levine & Richard P Levine
Director: Richard Attenborough
Screenwriter: William Goldman
Shy magician Corky adds a ventriloquist part to his act. But in order to do it, well, he went a little insane. And now the dummy, Fats, is in charge. And he’s homicidal.
This is a really good evil dummy film. Not as good as Devil Doll, but still really good. And it has an awfully sweet ending.
4 November 2021
The Magic Sword (1962)
Producer/Director: Bert I Gordon
Screenwriter: Bernard Schoenfeld
This is basically a hero’s journey with an orphan trying to save the king’s kidnapped daughter to win her hand in marriage.
This is the film you show to anyone who questions the brilliance of Bert I Gordon. It’s a charming, inventive, and fun film — Gordon’s best and one that should make anyone’s career.
18 September 2022
Malatesta’s Carnival of Blood (1973)
Producers: Richard C Grosser & Walker Stuart
Director: Christopher Speeth
Screenwriter: ?? (Story: Werner Liepolt)
A family takes a job at a carnival. But soon, they find themselves hunted by ghoulish characters.
This is a bizarre film with the logic of a dream. The protagonists never run away despite clear evidence they will be killed. Yet it’s all so weird and creepy with great sets that it’s hard not to love.
Starring Janine Carazo, Daniel Dietrich, Chris Thomas, Betsy Henn, and Paul Hostetler. Lenny Baker (The Paper Chase) and Hervé Villechaize (Fantasy Island) have notable roles. Jerome Dempsey is the standout here.
31 January 2022
The Man Who Killed Don Quixote (2018)
Producers: Mariela Besuievsky & Gerardo Herrero and Amy Gilliam and Grégoire Melin & Sébastien Delloye
Director: Terry Gilliam
Screenwriters: Terry Gilliam & Tony Grisoni
Toby, a film director, is shooting a big-budget commercial near where he shot a student film about Don Quixote a decade earlier. Things aren’t going well, so he re-acquaints himself with the people he worked with on it only to learn that the man who played Don Quixote now thinks he is the character. He mistakes Toby for Sancho and the two are drawn into a number of adventures together.
This film is a real gem for lovers of the original novels. And thankfully, they removed the time travel aspect of the film (I was afraid it was going to be another Time Bandits). It may require multiple viewings to figure out if you aren’t very familiar with the source material. But it’s some of Gilliam’s best work.
Starring Adam Driver (The Force Awakens), Jonathan Pryce (Ronin), Joana Ribeiro, Stellan Skarsgård (The Hunt for Red October), Olga Kurylenko (Johnny English Strikes Again), and Óscar Jaenada (Cantinflas).
27 March 2021
Mandao of the Dead (2018)
Producer: Gina Gomez Dunn
Director/Screenwriter: Scott Dunn
A young man must use astral-projection to reverse the murder of a man his older nephew is stalking. And then he must do it again to save the nephew. And there is a vampire.
The plot’s pretty silly but the characters, dialog, and acting are first-rate in this very funny low-budget gem. This is from the group that made Schlep. The sequel Mandao Returns was released in 2020.
Featuring Sean McBride, David Gallegos (2-Headed Shark Attack), Scott Dunn, Gina Gomez Dunn, Marisa Hood, Sean Liang, and Alexandre Chen.
Mandao of the Dead is under copyright. It’s available on Amazon Prime.
1 May 2020
Producer: Marie-Thérése Mackle
Director: Lynne Davison
Screenwriter: Matt Harvey
A probation officer’s new client’s violent past makes her a suspect in recent disappearances. The truth is worse than it seems and the officer and her family become the target of evil root-based witchcraft.
This is an awfully good film — especially for this kind of folklore-oriented horror film that we know from so many well-made but dull Nordic horror films. The two main characters are really interesting and the plot takes some unusual paths.
Starring Deirdre Mullins (The Dark Mile), Derbhle Crotty, Paul Kennedy, and Nigel O’Neill.
Mandrake is under copyright. It is available on Shudder.
29 November 2022
Manhattan Baby (1982)
Producer: Fabrizio De Angelis
Director: Lucio Fulci
Screenwriters: Elisa Livia Briganti & Dardano Sacchetti
Alternate titles: L’occhio del Male
The young daughter of an archaeologist and his wife on a trip to Egypt gets an amulet from a mysterious woman. Then things go wrong. The father is temporarily blinded and back home, the daughter and a son keep disappearing into another world that may be ancient Egypt. Then the adults start disappearing.
This film seems to have fallen out of favor with people but I don’t see why. Anyone who likes the Gates of Hell films should find much to like here. The final sequence with the birds is particularly good.
Starring Christopher Connelly (The Invasion of Carol Enders), Emily Hacker (as Martha Taylor), Brigitta Boccoli, Giovanni Frezza, Miss Italia 1979 Cinzia de Ponti (Devil Fish), and an outstanding performance by Cosimo Cinieri (The Guernica Tree).
29 June 2021
Producers: Robert S Baker & Monty Berman
Director: John Gilling
Screenwriters: John Gilling and Leon Griffiths (story: John Gilling)
Alternate titles: The Flesh and the Fiends
Two grave robbers figure that it’s easier and more profitable to just kill people. The head of the local medical school doesn’t much care. One of his students falls in love with a local prostitute. And eventually it all falls apart.
This is a strong film. The story’s kind of scattered but it all moves along and is engaging throughout. None of it is scary though. There are a few different versions of this. I’ve seen the 95-minute version that features a shocking amount of nudity for a mainstream film of that time. It tells the true story of Burke and Hare.
Mania may be under copyright but there is a good print of it on Archive.org. There are various other ways to get it. There is an Alpha Video DVD. Also, it is on DVD or Blu-ray via KL Studio with a 2K transfer, Tim Lucas commentary, and the shorter American version.
Maniac Cop (1988)
Producer/Screenwriter: Larry Cohen
Director: William Lustig
A cop is running around New York at night killing non-criminals and it is bumming out the police commissioner and captain. They find a cop to blame but the killings continue so the wronged cop must hunt the villain down.
This is a hell of a lot of fun from the man who brought you It’s Alive. It’s a solid cop film that pushes against much of the Dirty Harry nonsense that was so common at the time, even as it uses most of the same tropes. And, of course, it’s also kind of a horror film. Finally, it features an unusual story structure.
Starring Tom Atkins (Escape from New York), Bruce Campbell (Ash vs Evil Dead), Laurene Landon (Yellow Hair and the Fortress of Gold), William Smith (Invasion of the Bee Girls), Sheree North (The Lieutenant Wore Skirts), and Robert Z’Dar (Return to Frogtown). Richard Roundtree (Shaft) and Sam Raimi have small roles.
Maniac Cop is under copyright. It is available on DVD with significant features including a director++ commentary track. The Blu-ray is cheaper but doesn’t have the commentary track for some reason. It’s been released in a lot of other forms. Strangely, I haven’t found a release with all or even two of the series films together.
4 January 2021
Maniac Cop 2 (1990)
Producer/Screenwriter: Larry Cohen
Director: William Lustig
Starting right where the first one ended, the two surviving characters are quickly killed and replaced with even more attractive cops. But now the Maniac Cop is helping criminals in a cunning plan to… Well, the film is almost over before it’s explained.
This one really is better than the first. The plot is more interesting and it looks fantastic. But Bruce Campbell is hardly in it. Laurene Landon lives a bit longer.
6 January 2021
The Manster (1959)
Producer: George Breakston
Directors: George Breakston and Kenneth G Crane
Screenwriter: Walt Sheldon (story: George Breakston)
Alternate titles: The Two-Headed Killer
In Japan, an evil scientist is doing experiments on evolution. An American reporter comes to interview him, so the scientist takes the opportunity to drug him and start the process of turning him into some kind of half-gorilla — it’s confusing. Basically, a second head grows and then he turns into two beings: one human and the other gorilla. Like you do.
Much of this film is just a melodrama about a guy’s midlife crisis where he leaves his wife. But it’s all in the context of this truly original evil scientist film. The eyeball on the shoulder scene is so great that Sam Raimi used it in Army of Darkness. It’s really a must-see film for anyone interested in weird movies.
8 June 2021
El Mariachi (1992)
Producers: Robert Rodriguez and Carlos Gallardo
Director/Screenwriter: Robert Rodriguez
An itinerant musician is mistaken for a criminal who uses a guitar case to hold his guns. But when the enemies attack, the musician turns out to be more than a match.
Rodriguez’s first feature film is a tour de force that is constantly exciting without feeling forced. It’s also the first of his Mexico Trilogy with the remaining films starring Antonio Banderas, which are good but lack the original’s effortless charm.
Starring Carlos Gallardo (Dead Hooker in a Trunk). With Consuelo Gómez, Reinol Martinez, and Peter Marquardt.
El Mariachi is copyrighted. It is available on DVD with great extras including a commentary by Rodriguez, which is one of the best I’ve ever heard. There is a standalone Blu-ray, but I don’t own it and it looks suspect. If you want it on Blu-ray, you can get it with Desperado with all the usual extras. You can get the trilogy on DVD. I haven’t found it on Blu-ray. There is a Blu-ray that also comes with Machete, but it’s a French import and I can’t speak to its quality.
Producers: Claudia Brandt & Elbert van Strien and Burny Bos
Director: Elbert van Strien
Screenwriter: Elbert van Strien and Ben Hopkins
A children’s therapist comes to believe that one of her patients may be God, messing with her. Eventually, she kidnaps the boy and demands answers.
Although I found it on Shudder, it is not a horror film. More of a thriller. The first half of the film is excellent. I’d be pushing it on all my friends if it had ended at an obvious point at a bit under an hour and a half. But it goes on for another half hour to a very concrete and predictable ending. Still, the use of color in this film is marvelous and I’d love to see more from the whole crew.
Marionette is under copyright. It is available on DVD.
12 August 2022
Producer: Richard P Rubinstein
Director/Screenwriter: George Romero
Martin is a modern, non-magical vampire. That basically means that he drugs women, rapes them, and then drinks their blood — leaving them dead. And now he’s moved in with his Catholic uncle who is going to save his soul and then kill him.
This is a gripping but very odd horror film. Basically, it’s just a serial killer film with a vampire pretext and many coming of age aspects. Rather than narration, we get Martin calling into a radio show to talk about his life. It’s great fun.
Martin is available in a reasonable print at Archive.org. It is available on an expensive DVD with commentary by Romero. There is also what looks like a Japanese import all-region Blu-ray. There is a less expensive (but still expensive) DVD but it is cropped.
Martyrs Lane (2021)
Producers: Christine Alderson & Katie Hodgkin
Director/Screenwriter: Ruth Platt
A little girl lives with her pastor father and distant mother. She steals and loses a locket of hair much cherished by her mother. A little ghost girl comes to her at night and gives her clues to the location of the locket — and much more.
This is a shockingly good film. It has some scares but mostly the relationship between the girls is what really keeps your attention. It’s also a good mystery — the details of which are revealed in a very satisfying way. It features an exquisite script with effective and non-flamboyant direction and design with outstanding acting throughout.
Starring Kiera Thompson, Sienna Sayer, Denise Gough (A Dark Place), and Steven Cree.
Martyrs Lane is under copyright. It is available from Shudder.
20 September 2021
Mars Attacks! (1996)
Producers: Tim Burton and Larry Franco
Director: Tim Burton
Screenwriter: Jonathan Gems
Martians contact Earth for a friendly visit. But it is quickly clear that they just want to kill all humans. They are defeated only thanks to an underrated country-western singer.
This is a wonderfully clever film with enough stars for a couple dozen films. For some reason, people preferred Independence Day to this film, which is shocking given how much more believable Mars Attacks! is.
Starring Jack Nicholson (Five Easy Pieces) in two roles. There are too many others to mention, but of particular note are Lukas Haas (Witness) and Sylvia Sidney (Beetlejuice). Pam Grier (Sheba, Baby) also stands out.
Massacre Time (1966)
Producer: Oreste Coltellacci
Director: Lucio Fulci
Screenwriter: Fernando Di Leo
Alternate titles: The Brute and the Beast, Le Colt Cantarono la Morte e Fu… Tempo di Massacro
A man receives a mysterious message that he should return home. When he gets there, he finds his brother a drunk and the whole town owned by a Mr Scott. No one will tell him why he was summoned and they tell him to leave. But he will have none of it. Eventually, he and his badass drunk brother take on the evil family that has taken over the town.
A lesser Fulci film but still an interesting story that unfolds with gusto. It’s got a real Greek Hero vibe to it.
Starring Franco Nero (Django), George Hilton (All the Colors of the Dark), Aysanoa Runachagua, Rina Franchetti (Atom Age Vampire), Giuseppe Addobbati, and Nino Castelnuovo (Diary of a Telephone Operator).
Massacre Time is probably under copyright. It is available on DVD and in a number of collections.
28 July 2021
Producers: Peggy Rajski and Maggie Renzi
Director/Screenwriter: John Sayles
In 1920 West Virginia, a union organizer comes to help the striking coal miners as thugs from the Baldwin–Felts Detective Agency do everything (including murder) to break them. It all ends in a showdown that is a lot better than any telling of Tombstone.
Is this low-budget Sayles epic psychotronic? I think so. The payoff when the bad guys get their due is stronger than it is in Witchfinder General.
Starring Chris Cooper (American Beauty) and Mary McDonnell (Sneakers). Featuring: James Earl Jones (Conan the Barbarian), David Strathairn (Dolores Claiborne), Bob Gunton (The Shawshank Redemption), and many others.
Matewan is mostly copyrighted but there is a nice widescreen version on Archive.org with Spanish subtitles. It is available on an expensive, barebones DVD. Criterion has released it on DVD and Blu-ray with a 4K print (odd given it was shot on 16mm), commentary, and lots of interviews.
The Matrix (1999)
Producer: Joel Silver
Directors/Screenwriters: The Wachowskis
A hacker is looking for a man named Morpheus who will tell him what The Matrix is. Eventually, they get together and he learns that he has been living inside a computer simulation. What’s more, he is the man who will lead the humans to crush their machine oppressors.
This film hasn’t aged as well as it might have but it’s still a hell of a lot of fun. It’s really stylish with beautiful action sequences. It’s also filled with a great collection of characters that are mostly killed off.
The Matrix is under copyright. It is available on DVD and Blu-ray. It’s available in many other forms — most notably Ultimate Matrix if you are a freak for the films. It’s much more economical to get 4 Film Favorites.
3 March 2021
The Matrix Reloaded (2003)
Producer: Joel Silver
Directors/Screenwriters: The Wachowskis
It is months after the events in the first film and Neo is a well-known Matrix badass. But the machines are tunneling toward Zion and Neo must reach the Source before it is too late.
This film does everything that was in the first movie but more extreme. The problem is that the plot is not very good, there are a whole bunch of new, less interesting characters, and the action sequences are over-long. There’s probably a good hour of padding in this almost two-and-a-half hour film. This is a great example of professionalism in the service of nothing. It also makes the first film worse because you realize that there was nothing under the surface.
4 March 2021
The Matrix Resurrections (2021)
Producers: James McTeigue & Lana Wachowski
Director: Lana Wachowski
Screenwriter: Lana Wachowski & David Mitchell & Aleksandar Hemon (characters: The Wachowskis)
Alternate titles: The Matrix 4
Thomas Anderson is a game designer who created a trilogy of hugely successful games that are the three previous films. But he thinks something is off. Could it be that all those films were just his delusions? Or is he somehow back in The Matrix. Lots of meta-humor and action follow.
If you are a serious fan of the first three films (even if, like most, you found the later ones disappointing), you should certainly see this. There’s a good half-hour of this film that I was laughing through. It’s a film that rewards those hours watching the previous films. For anyone else, it probably isn’t worth bothering. It’s too long. Most of the action is tired when it isn’t simply boring. And it’s excessively sentimental. Ultimately: signally that you know this is all just a cash-grab doesn’t really change the fact that’s all just a cash-grab.
Starring Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss from the previous films. Featuring Neil Patrick Harris (The Mesmerist), Jessica Henwick (Underwater), Jonathan Groff (Looking), and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (Watchmen).
The Matrix Resurrections is under copyright. It is not yet available on disc.
19 January 2022
The Matrix Revolutions (2003)
Producer: Joel Silver
Directors/Screenwriters: The Wachowskis
Taking up right after the previous film, Neo is trapped in a train station inside the Matrix. He gets out but must again go on a trip — this time to the Machine City to fight Smith (the Anti-Neo).
Of this two-hour special effects extravaganza, perhaps a half-hour is good. We spend a ridiculous amount of time with characters we don’t care about in Zion fighting the machines. We also spend a bunch of time in the spaceships. Basically, if we are in the Matrix, we aren’t having fun. Seriously: just watch Speed Racer.
Starring Keanu Reeves (Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure), Hugo Weaving (The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert), Carrie-Anne Moss (Memento), and Laurence Fishburne (Deep Cover). Bruce Spence (Mad Max 2) has a notable role.
The Matrix Revolutions is under copyright. It is available on DVD and Blu-ray. You are better to get the 4 Film Favorites on DVD. Or for the real freaks, get the Ultimate Matrix (which I own, of course).
4 March 2021
Producers: Robert Barich and Robert Madero
Director: Michael Dugan
Screenwriters: Robert Barich & Robert Madero
A woman is possessed by the same demon who took over and eventually killed her mother. She kills people in wonderfully inventive ways before her therapist rids her of the demon.
This film just kind of floats there with little dramatic momentum. But there’s a fair amount of nudity and some excellent deaths. And I found the flashbacks particularly compelling.
9 December 2020
Maximum Impact (1992)
Producer/Director: JR Bookwalter
Screenwriters: Thomas Brown and JR Bookwalter (story: Bookwalter and Brown)
When Jerry goes to an insurance meeting in the big city, he learns that his employer is involved in some bad stuff. After witnessing a woman take part in a snuff film, he rescues her. And when Jerry’s wife is murdered, it’s payback time!
This film is far better than it should be. It actually works as an action film despite being made for pocket-change. The plot is rough around the edges but if you go with it, you’ll like it.
Maximum Impact is under copyright. It is available on DVD along with Zombie Cop.
Producers: Marius Balchunas and Scott Sturgeon
Director/Screenwriter: Lucky McKee
A young woman is obsessed with the beautiful body parts of people she knows. When she finds that no one really loves her, she kills people to get their body parts and assemble the perfect doll/friend.
This is an outstanding film. Long before the gore starts, it’s horrifying. McKee has a great ability to extract the creepy from disturbed characters.
May is under copyright. It is available on DVD, which has at least a director commentary.
28 February 2021
Me and My Mates vs the Zombie Apocalypse (2015)
Producers: Daniel Sanguineti & Christian Doran
Director/Screenwriter: Declan Shrubb
Three telecom workers, one’s daughter, and two of her friends are locked inside their work building during a zombie outbreak. One attempts to reconnect the 3G to contact the army while the others fight off the zombies with one shotgun and two paintball guns.
This is an often funny zombie film. It’s also very “politically incorrect” and Australian. The gore is excellent. My favorite part is when the main character runs over a zombie with a lawnmower.
Starring Alex Williamson, Greg Fleet, Adele Vuko, Matt Popp, Andy Trieu, and Jim Jefferies.
Me and My Mates vs the Zombie Apocalypse is under copyright. It is available on DVD with director commentary and some featurettes.
25 January 2021
Mega Scorpions (2003)
Producers: JR Bookwalter and Jennifer Kessler
Director: JR Bookwalter
Screenwriters: C Courtney Joyner (as Gene Yarbrough) and JR Bookwalter (as Lance Randas)
Toxic waste illegally dumped causes the scorpions to grow big. This effects an entire town but especially the halfway house for drug addicts, some of whom think they are seeing things that aren’t there — but are.
This was the last film that Bookwalter directed and it makes me wonder why he wasn’t dragged into TV. He does a great job with a small budget. This film is better than most of what you see on Syfy.
Starring Nicolas Read, Marcella Laasch (The Kids Who Saved Summer), Sewell Whitney (Diane), Sarah Megan White (Camp Utopia), John Henry Richardson (Haunting Desires), Stephen O’Mahoney (Dead & Rotting), Trent Haaga (The Ghouls), Lilith Stabs (Bad Movie Police), and Brinke Stevens (The Naked Monster). Ariauna Albright (Polymorph) has a small part.
Mega Scorpions is under copyright. Unfortunately, it’s never been released on disc. It is available on Amazon Prime.
11 July 2020
Mermaids of Tiburon (1962)
Producer/Director/Screenwriter: John Lamb
Alternate titles: The Aqua Sex
Large luminescent pearls are found off the coast of Mexico near the island of Tiburón. An earnest scientist and a villainous criminal go to look for them only to find a group of mermaids who are not keen to give them up.
John Lamb was a successful underwater cinematographer and it shows in this film. It’s clear that he’s more interested in making a nature documentary than this one. But he does a good job with the other scenes as well. Apparently, when the original release didn’t garner any attention, he shot some more footage of topless women with bar feet and sometimes flippers. This is somewhat jarring but it is apparently meant to suggest that only some of the mermaids have tails. I don’t know. It would be nice one day to see the original version, but it’s really hard to find.
Mermaids of Tiburon is under copyright (or at least the later “nude version” is). The nude version is available on DVD with Yambaó.
26 March 2021
Mesa of Lost Women (1953)
Producers: G William Perkins and Melvin Gordon
Director: Herbert Tevos and Ron Ormond
Screenwriter: Herbert Tevos
An evil scientist living in the desert has created spider women (and a really big spider). He sort of zombifies a scientist who wouldn’t work on his fiendish plot. And the zombified scientist kidnaps some people and takes them to the evil scientist.
This is a delightfully kooky 1950s science fiction film. It shares a lot with the lesser Ed Wood films. But the giant spider is pretty cool!
Jackie Coogan (The Addams Family) stars as the evil scientist but it isn’t much of a part and he isn’t even in the film that much. It also features Robert Knapp, Paula Hill, and George Barrows (Robot Monster). Lyle Talbot (Jail Bait) does the narration. Dolores Fuller (Glen or Glenda) is an extra here.
17 February 2021
Messiah of Evil (1973)
Producer: Gloria Katz
Director: Willard Huyck
Screenwriters: Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz
Alternate titles: Dead People
A woman goes searching for her father in a seaside town that has been taken over by cannibal walking-dead types. But they move fast!
Katz and Huyck were married and the whole thing was a joint venture. They also wrote American Graffiti, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, and Howard the Duck. Not surprisingly, the film is well-written and filled with lots of great ideas and moments. The direction and editing are weak but it’s still a really good film that you should check out.
Messiah of Evil should be under copyright but there is a wonderful widescreen print of it on Archive. There are a lot of bad copies available on disc, so be careful. The way to get it is with the Code Red DVD or Blu-ray, which come with a commentary with Katz and Huyck and lots of interviews. But these discs are really expensive! There is also a widescreen print available with Bloody Wednesday.
11 July 2020
Midnight Movie (2008)
Producers: Kacy Andrews & Liam Finn & Jacques Thelemaque
Director: Jack Messitt
Screenwriters: Mark Garbett and Jack Messitt (story: Sean Hood)
The writer, director, and star of an early 1970s horror film very similar to The Texas Chain Saw Massacre loses his mind. He’s shown it as therapy at a mental hospital and all 70 people there disappear after what looks like an attack. Now 5 years later, it is being shown as a midnight movie and we learn what happened to those people as it all happens again.
Although the genre of “evil film” is overdone, Midnight Movie is really quite good. It features characters strong enough to care when they start dying. And the plot keeps you on your toes. It’s also very interesting visually. You probably won’t want to move Heaven and Earth to see it but if you get a chance, I don’t think you will be disappointed.
Midnight Movie is under copyright. It is available on the Killer Cut DVD with director commentary, interviews, deleted scenes, and a bunch more. You can get pretty much the same thing on Blu-ray without the commentary. If you just want the film, you can get Horror Triple Feature: Vol 2 Blu-ray, which also includes Scar and Terror Trap.
26 December 2020
The Mighty Ducks (1992)
Producers: Jordan Kerner and Jon Avnet
Director: Stephen Herek
Screenwriter: Steven Brill
Alternate titles: D1: The Mighty Ducks, Champions
A sleazy lawyer must do community service after a drunk-driving incident. Slowly, he turns a group of tween misfits into a great hockey team.
Although this film is almost comic in its devotion to the structure of the sports film, it’s still pretty fun.
2 April 2021
Million Dollar Baby (2004)
Producers: Clint Eastwood and Albert S Ruddy & Tom Rosenberg & Paul Haggis
Director: Clint Eastwood
Screenwriter: Paul Haggis (stories: FX Toole)
A young female boxer wears down an old crotchety manager until he agrees to train her. She rockets to the top of women’s boxing but tragedy awaits.
Although I think much of the praise for this film is overblown, it tells an incredibly effecting story. It has no nuance but that works if you watch it like you would a Greek myth. Because that’s what it is. By the end, everyone is sobbing — especially the men.
Starring Hilary Swank (The Homesman), Clint Eastwood (High Plains Drifter), Morgan Freeman (The Shawshank Redemption), Jay Baruchel (Tropic Thunder), Anthony Mackie (The Hurt Locker), and Brían F O’Byrne (Easy). Margo Martindale (Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story) is outstanding as the worst mother ever. And professional boxer Lucia Rijker plays “The Blue Bear” — the main heavy.
22 February 2021
The Milpitas Monster (1976)
Director: Robert L Burrill
Screenwriter: David E Boston (Story by Robert L Burrill and David R Kottas)
Our review: The Film Made by a High School
A monster evolves from the overflowing garbage in Milpitas. A bunch of high school students set out to destroy it.
This film has far more production value than it has any right to. It falls down in terms of its script, which doesn’t hang together especially well. But it’s hard not to appreciate the film just based on its production story.
Starring Douglas A Hagdohl, Scot A Henderson, and Scott Parker. It also features celebrities from the Bay Area at that time including Bob Wilkins.
The Milpitas Monster is under copyright. You can get it on DVD.
16 August 2020
Mississippi Burning (1988)
Producers: Frederick Zollo and Robert F Colesberry
Director: Alan Parker
Screenwriter: Chris Gerolmo
The KKK in Mississippi kill three civil rights organizers. Two FBI agents come to town to solve the case but they are stymied until they turn to questionable tactics.
This is a highly fictionalized telling of the investigation into the murder of Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner. It suffers some from the “white savior” problem. But it’s still a great film with a really effective last act.
Starring Gene Hackman (The Conversation) and Willem Dafoe (To Live and Die in LA). It has a fantastic supporting case: Frances McDormand (Fargo), Brad Dourif (Spontaneous Combustion), R Lee Ermey (Full Metal Jacket), Michael Rooker (The Replacement Killers), Pruitt Taylor Vince (Constantine), and Stephen Tobolowsky (Sneakers). Badja Djola gets the best scene in the film.
Mississippi Burning is under copyright. It is available on DVD and Blu-ray. They both feature a commentary with Parker, but as usual, he gets lost in the movie and goes for long stretches without talking.
27 August 2022
Producers: Sabine Brian & Ronald Versteeg
Director: Nico van den Brink
Screenwriters: Nico van den Brink & Daan Bakker
A family in The Netherlands is under attack by other-worldly creatures, perhaps unleashed by scientists digging nearby. But things are not as they seem and there are great consequences to what is happening.
We seem to be seeing a lot of these kinds of films set in northern Europe. And like most, this one is well-made with fine acting and a compelling script. If you like this kind of film, I don’t see how you go wrong with it. But it doesn’t really inspire me.
Starring Sallie Harmsen and Alexandre Willaume.
Moloch is under copyright. It is available on DVD.
12 August 2022
Monster a Go-Go (1965)
Producers: Sheldon S Seymour (Herschell Gordon Lewis) and Bill Rebane
Director: Bill Rebane
Screenwriters: Jeff Smith & Dok Stanford & Bill Rebane (additional dialog: Sheldon Seymour)
Alternate titles: Terror at Half Day
On his return to Earth, an astronaut disappears. But the dead bodies start piling up. We soon learn that a radiation drug he was given has turned him into a monster.
This film is a mess and unless you are a researcher, I wouldn’t spend the time to watch it. Rebane had to abandon the film he was making. Lewis needed a second feature for a distribution deal. So he bought the footage and added roughly 20 minutes of new footage and put together something that only a freak could love. And that might be you!
Starring Phil Morton, June Travis (Over the Goal), and Henry Hite.
Monster a Go-Go appears to be under copyright. It is available on DVD in as good a quality as you could hope with an interview and commentary track with Bill Rebane. There are other ways to buy it but this is the only version anyone who’s seriously interested in it should get.
5 December 2020
The Monster Club (1981)
Producer: Milton Subotsky
Director: Roy Ward Baker
Screenwriters: Edward & Valerie Abraham (novel: Ronald Chetwynd-Hayes)
A very hungry vampire sucks a pint out of horror writer Ronald Chetwynd-Hayes. The vampire is so grateful that he takes Ronald to The Monster Club where he listens to music and is told three horror stories.
This is a much-hated anthology film but I can’t figure out why. The music is actually pretty good. There’s a wonderful striper segment. And the stories are (in order): poignant, funny, and something that would make a great feature.
Starring Vincent Price (House on Haunted Hill), John Carradine (Stagecoach), James Laurenson, Barbara Kellerman (Satan’s Slave), Richard Johnson (Zombie), Donald Pleasence (Halloween), and Stuart Whitman (Night of the Lepus).
5 February 2021
Monster From a Prehistoric Planet (1967)
Producer: Hideo Koi
Director: Haruyasu Noguchi
Screenwriters: Iwao Yamazaki & Ryuzo Nakaishi[
Alternate titles: Gappa the Triphibian Monster, Daikyojû Gappa, 大巨獣ガッパ
A group of scientists and reporters for Playmate Magazine go to a remote island looking for animals for a resort the magazine is opening. There, they find a beaked dinosaur baby, which they take back to Japan to display. It’s parents soon come to Japan looking for their child with the usual results.
Although this is kind of a rip-off of Gorgo, which is a rip-off of King Kong, I really like this film. The monsters are weird. The miniature sets are awesome. And the romantic subplot is needlessly complicated and stupid (I mean that in a good way). Also: you get to see Japanese people in blackface!
Monster From a Prehistoric Planet may be under copyright but a horribly cropped version and a wonderful (slightly cut — for the better) widescreen version on Archive.org. It is available on DVD, but it is to 4:3. If you want it, get it on DVD or Blu-ray from Media Blasters, which includes both the Japanese and English versions in widescreen.
5 February 2021
Monster From the Ocean Floor (1954)
Producer: Roger Corman
Director: Wyott Ordung
Screenwriter: Bill Danch
A young American woman vacationing in Mexico finds love and a monster! SEE her scared by a one-person submarine! WATCH her react to an off-screen octopus! THRILL TO her battle with a shark!
Really: thrill to her battle with a shark! This is clearly in the ocean and that shark is clearly in the frame with her. Some of it is the result of a long lens, but not all of it. It’s very impressive. This is also the first film Roger Corman produced. Wyott Ordung is best known for writing the screenplay for Robot Monster.
Monster Movie (2008)
Directors: Mark & John Polonia
Screenwriter: Mark Polonia
Alternate titles: Dinosaur Activity
A group of four friends go on vacation for a week only to find the area overrun with dinosaurs. They struggle to escape the area.
Somehow, the Polonia brothers manage to make even the most absurd ideas work with a combination of good cheer and relentlessness. We don’t see many dinosaurs here and most of what we do see is pretty cheesy. But as usual, they make effective use of sound editing and off-screen action. This was the last film made by John Polonia who died of a heart aneurism at 39.
18 July 2020
The Monster of Phantom Lake (2006)
Producers: Christopher R Mihm and Josh Craig
Director/Screenwriter: Christopher R Mihm
A couple of guys from a local business dump nuclear waste into a lake. A crazy hermit who lives nearby falls into the lake and turns into a monster that torments two scientists and a group of teens who are camping.
This was the first film by Mihm — parodying 1950s teen exploitation films, most obviously The Horror of Party Beach. It’s hard not to compare Mihm to Larry Blamire (The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra). But they are quite different. Mihm is much more serious about creating (loving) parodies and almost all the comedy comes as a result of that. I find this one particularly funny — also quite sweet.
22 August 2020
Moon of the Wolf (1972)
Producers: Everett Chambers and Peter Thomas
Director: Daniel Petrie
Screenwriter: Alvin Sapinsley (novel: Leslie H Whitten)
In rural Louisiana, the mauled body of a young woman is found. Everyone thinks it is her lover. It isn’t. It’s a werewolf. A left-handed werewolf.
This is actually a pretty entertaining made-for-TV mystery that kinda gets around to some horror at the end. The story is good and it is a slightly different take on werewolves. The make-up, however, is hilarious.
Moon of the Wolf may be under copyright but there is a decent print on Archive. It is available on a few DVD releases (one two three) but given the low quality of the streaming copies, I wouldn’t expect much.
16 March 2022
Moonshine Mountain (1964)
Producer/Director: Herschell Gordon Lewis
Screenwriter: Charles Glore
A TV folksinger goes to rural Carolina to get back in touch with his roots. Things start out contentious. Eventually, however, he is accepted by the locals who share his love of music. Little do the people know that their local sheriff is a serial murderer and rapist.
This is a very typical Lewis film: mostly long-shots with exaggerated acting and a flimsy plot. Also typically Lewis: oddly compelling. It was made shortly after Two Thousand Maniacs! with many of the same people. The music is surprisingly good — especially Glore’s guitar playing.
12 December 2020
Moose: The Movie (2015)
Producer: Chad Carpenter
Director: G Logan Dellinger
Screenwriters: Darin Carpenter and Chad Carpenter
Alternate titles: Moose
Two idiots let the Moose-man free and it wanders around the countryside ripping people’s heads and limbs off. But there’s a new forest ranger in town and he most definitely might be up to the job of stopping it!
This is one of the sillier films I’ve seen in the last decade. I didn’t find it especially funny but it does have its moments. And it’s very sweet.
Starring Zack Lanphier (Sudsy Slim Rides Again), Chantel Grover, Dave Nufer, and Tom Gammill.
Moose: The Movie is under copyright. It is available on Amazon Prime.
16 October 2020
The Mortuary Collection (2019)
Producers: Allison Friedman and T Justin Ross and Ryan Spindell
Director/Screenwriter: Ryan Spindell
A young woman comes to a funeral home looking for a job. The mortician tells her stories about the dead bodies there. But it turns out that the mortician and the woman have ulterior motives.
The basic outline of the film is the same as The House of the Dead. But there is a lot more here as you would expect for a film made 40 years later. Overall a very enjoyable film.
16 October 2021
Motel Hell (1980)
Producers: Steven-Charles Jaffe and Robert Jaffe
Director: Kevin Connor
Screenwriters: Robert Jaffe and Steven-Charles Jaffe
A farming brother and sister make a special kind of meat product that is secretly a combination of pork and human. They kidnap passersby, cut their vocal cords, and plant them in the ground to fatten them up. Things go a little sideways when the brother decides to keep a pretty young woman at the house and marry rather than eat her.
This is a weird one. There is much of it that I really liked — especially the scenes right after the planted humans escape. And some of it is very funny. At the same time, the film meanders through most of its length and the only sympathetic character is missing from almost the whole film. Still, this is definitely one that psychotronic fans ought to see.
Motel Hell is under copyright. It is available with Deranged (1974) on DVD. Shout Factory has released it on Blu-ray with a commentary/interview with the director and over an hour of other interviews and background content.
23 October 2021
Mother Krampus (2017)
Producers: Scott Jeffrey & Rebecca J Matthews and Tara MacGowran
Director: James Klass
Screenwriter: Scott Jeffrey
Alternate titles: 12 Deaths of Christmas
A witch is abducting, torturing, and killing children. She appears to be getting revenge for a bit of vigilante justice 25 years earlier.
It’s hard to completely grok this story, but it’s easy enough to follow the main plot and appreciate the ending. It also features some scary and ghoulish moments.
11 February 2021
Mother of Tears (2007)
Producers: Dario Argento and Claudio Argento
Director: Dario Argento
Screenwriters: Dario Argento, Jace Anderson & Adam Gierasch (story: Dario Argento)
A box is dug up outside a church and inside are relics of the Three Mothers: evil witches who control the Earth. Opening the box brings havoc to the world in the form of the last living witch, Mater Lachrymarum, and her minions. The only thing that can stop her is a young art student who, unknown to herself, has special powers.
This is the third film in The Three Mothers trilogy — made 30 years after Suspiria and 27 years after Inferno. It has a bad reputation — probably because it has a rather different look than the first two films. But of the three, it is probably the most intense. It’s well worth watching.
Mother of Tears is copyrighted. It is available on DVD with a making-of documentary and interview. It has been released a couple of times on Blu-ray but never as Region A/1.
30 May 2020
Mother, Jugs & Speed (1976)
Producers: Peter Yates and Tom Mankiewicz
Director: Peter Yates
Screenwriter: Tom Mankiewicz (story: Stephen Manes and Tom Mankiewicz)
A failing ambulance company struggles with a lack of staff. A disgraced former cop joins the team and things heat up when the secretary becomes an EMT.
I tend to think of the 1970s as the greatest decade for American film but even I must admit that there were a lot of films like this made. It’s not bad. It’s just kind of pointless. And it depends upon finding the stars far more charming than anyone does today. It also suffers the way films always eventually do that are obviously pleased with how progressive they are. Yikes! The one thing you can say for it is that they didn’t typecast; Bill Cosby didn’t play the guy who rapes an unconscious woman.
Starring Raquel Welch (100 Rifles), Bill Cosby (Uptown Saturday Night), Harvey Keitel (Reservoir Dogs), Allen Garfield (The Conversation), and Larry Hagman (Primary Colors). Bruce Davison (Willard) has a small role.
Mother, Jugs & Speed is under copyright. It is available on DVD with no real extras.
18 August 2021
Mother’s Day (1980)
Producers: Michael Kravitz & Charles Kaufman
Director: Charles Kaufman
Screenwriters: Charles Kaufman & Warren Leight
Three women camping are abducted by a crazy woman and her two mentally challenged sons. The women are raped and assaulted but they eventually escape and come back for revenge.
This film is extreme in every way — including costume design. Much of it is absurd but the story unfolds at such a good clip that it is an enjoyable experience. The final revenge doesn’t have quite the impact of I Spit on Your Grave. (Well, one of them does!) But it’s rewarding nonetheless. And the make-up effects are really good. Finally, the film is social commentary — if you care to see it.
Starring Beatrice Pons as “Rose Ross” (Car 54, Where Are You?), Nancy Hendrickson, Deborah Luce, Tiana Pierce, Frederick Coffin as “Holden McGuire” (Crash: The Mystery of Flight 1501), and Michael McCleery as “Billy Ray McQuade.”
20 April 2021
Producer/Director: Russ Meyer
Screenwriters: WE Sprague and Russ Meyer (Story: Russ Meyer, James Griffith, and Hal Hopper)
Three psychos on motorcycles rape and kill before vengeance is meted out by the veterinarian husband of a gang-rape survivor and the widow of a man recently murdered. Fun times!
This is the male-psychopath equivalent of Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! This one has a bit more to say about the world and more characters to like.
Starring Haji (Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!) and Alex Rocco (The Godfather). With Steve Oliver (The Naked Zoo), Holle K Winters, Timothy Scott (Fried Green Tomatoes), director Coleman Francis (The Beast of Yucca Flats), and Russ Meyer himself as a wonderfully vile sheriff.
Motorpsycho! appears to be copyrighted. It is available on DVD but I can’t speak to its quality.
Producer: Donald P Borchers
Director: Barry Shils
Screenwriter: Joseph Minion
A 10-year-old boy saves his money, steals a car, and hits the road. He collects game cards from a gas station chain, hoping to win $50 million. Along the way, he meets curious people and has adventures.
This is a wonderful film — a surreal black comedy. It would be easy to dig into its meaning and symbolism but it’s more enjoyable to just go along for the ride. It features a clever script and a wonderful visual style that combines the vastness of the landscape with the intimacy of a coming-of-age film. See this film!
Starring Jordan Christopher Michael. Featuring John Diehl (Land of Plenty) and Robert Picardo (Star Trek: Voyager). Some of the other players are: Susan Tyrrell (Cry-Baby), Jack Nance (Eraserhead), Garrett Morris (Cooley High), Michael J Pollard (Bonnie and Clyde), Mary Woronov (Night of the Comet), Meat Loaf (The Rocky Horror Picture Show), and Dick Miller (Matinee). Drew Barrymore (Whip It) has a non-speaking role.
Motorama is copyrighted. It has only been released on DVD and it is cropped.
1 May 2021
The Mountain of the Cannibal God (1978)
Producer: Luciano Martino
Director: Sergio Martino
Screenwriters: Cesare Frugoni and Sergio Martino
Alternate titles: Slave of the Cannibal God, Prisoner of the Cannibal God, La Montagna del Dio Cannibale
A woman goes looking for her lost scientist husband in the jungle of New Guinea. With her, she brings a guide with a past and a brother without a soul. They battle spiders, snakes, and eventually a very messed up tribe of cannibals.
This is a well-crafted film, but it suffers from mostly unlikable characters. It kills off the best character halfway through. It’s also difficult to watch what looks like real acts of animal cruelty (eg, slowly gutting a lizard, roasting a crab in a fire).
You get to see Ursula Andress’ boobs a couple of times, but they really don’t compare to Akushula Selayah’s. There is also a fairly explicit scene of a woman masturbating. I’d say this film was erotic if it weren’t for other things like a man anally raping a hog and the feeling of creepiness that comes across even when people simply kiss.
The Mountain of the Cannibal God may be under copyright but it is available for free on Archive.org. It is available on Blue Underground and Reel Vault (MOD) DVDs. It is also available on Blu-ray with both cut and uncut versions. If you can play Region B/2 Blu-ray discs, there is a 2K transfer with the best extras you’ll find (still not great). There are many other versions around. Be careful about aspect ratio and length. All the ones listed here should offer an uncut widescreen version.
5 August 2020
Mouse Hunt (1997)
Producers: Alan Riche & Tony Ludwig and Bruce Cohen
Director: Gore Verbinski
Screenwriter: Adam Rifkin
Alternate titles: Mousehunt
Two brothers inherit a very valuable house. While restoring it to sell, they do battle with a very smart and resourceful mouse.
This is a fun frolic with lots of slapstick and endearing characters. It’s a great one for the “This film wasn’t what I wanted it to be so it’s bad” critic’s genre. Clearly, if you are looking for a realistic film about a battle between two men and one mouse, this one is a pass.
18 June 2023
Mr Sardonicus (1961)
Producer/Director: William Castle
Screenwriter: Ray Russell
A young man is not allowed to marry the love of his life who is forced to marry an older rich man. Years later, he is a brilliant doctor and he gets a letter from her begging him to come. She is married to a deformed psychopath who forces the doctor to heal him or she will be surgically deformed.
The make-up effects leave something to be desired but otherwise, this is a great film with a rewarding ending.
Mr Sardonicus is available on DVD with a short documentary. It is available on Blu-ray along with Homicidal. If you are a fan, get the William Castle Film Collection, along with 13 Frightened Girls, 13 Ghosts, Homicidal, and The Old Dark House. It has no extras, but few Castle releases do.
11 May 2020
Ms 45 (1981)
Producer: Navaron Films
Director: Abel Ferrara
Screenwriter: Nicholas St John
Alternate titles: Ms .45, Ms. 45, Angel of Vengeance
A young woman is raped on the street only to come home to an intruder who rapes her. But she fights back and kills the second rapist. She dismembers him and deposits his body parts at different places in the city. At one point, a creepy guy follows her under the pretense that she “forgot” her bag and she kills him. Then she starts hunting men.
This is a fantastic film. It’s not really a revenge story. And many of the men don’t exactly deserve it. But it’s still rewarding. And some of the murders will make you squeal with joy!
Starring Zoë Lund (Bad Lieutenant). It features photographer Editta Sherman as the nosy neighbor. There are a bunch of people who really haven’t been in other stuff and that’s interesting because they are great: Albert Sinkys, Darlene Stuto, Helen McGara, and Nike Zachmanoglou. Director Abel Ferrara plays the first rapist.
8 September 2020
The Mummy (1932)
Producer: Carl Laemmle Jr
Director: Karl Freund
Screenwriter: John L Balderston
A cursed mummy is released from his tomb. But rather than killing everyone, he works to bring back his dead girlfriend. Eventually, he gets around to killing people, even his reincarnated girlfriend.
This classic Universal horror is as good as Frankenstein and Dracula. The mummy is a very sympathetic character and its unusual ending is both sad and appropriate. If you’ve seen other mummy films, this one shows you how it ought to be done.
I assume The Mummy is under copyright. It is available on DVD with decent extras and on Blu-ray with even more. You can also get The Mummy: Complete Legacy Collection, which has all the extras of the Blu-ray along with The Mummy’s Hand, The Mummy’s Tomb, The Mummy’s Ghost, The Mummy’s Curse, and Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy.
15 February 2020
The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008)
Producers: Sean Daniel and James Jacks & Stephen Sommers and Bob Ducsay
Director: Rob Cohen
Screenwriters: Alfred Gough & Miles Millar
The son of the O’Connells from The Mummy (1999) finds the mummified remains of an ancient Chinese warlord. Bad people bring him back to life and the O’Connells along with an immortal Chinese woman must put the mummy back in the box (so to speak).
This film is pretty much nonstop action — a lot like Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, which came out two years earlier. There’s not much to it but it’s fun enough.
No one really stars in this. It features Brendan Fraser (George of the Jungle), Jet Li (Romeo Must Die), Maria Bello (A History of Violence), Luke Ford (The Black Balloon), Isabella Leong (Spider Lilies), and John Hannah (Four Weddings and a Funeral).
The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor is copyrighted. It is available on DVD with deleted scenes and a relatively interesting director commentary. There is also a Blu-ray with even more features. But if you like the series, just get The Mummy Ultimate Collection with the trilogy and The Scorpion King.
18 March 2020
Munster, Go Home! (1966)
Producers: Joe Connelly & Bob Mosher
Director: Earl Bellamy
Screenwriters: George Tibbles and Joe Connelly & Bob Mosher
Herman Munster inherits an English title and mansion so the family is off across the Pond. But they find a scheming family there and locals who do not like the lot of them.
The color is annoying — it really looks better in black and white. I much prefer The Addams Family but it all has an undeniable goofy charm to it. If you like the show you should like this.
Starring Fred Gwynne (Pet Sematary), Yvonne De Carlo (Buccaneer’s Girl), Al Lewis (They Might Be Giants), Butch Patrick (The Phantom Tollbooth), and Debbie Watson. The film also features a great supporting cast with Terry-Thomas (How to Murder Your Wife), Hermione Gingold (Bell, Book and Candle), John Carradine (The Grapes of Wrath), and the great Bernard Fox (The Private Eyes).
18 July 2021
Murder of a Cat (2014)
Producers: Molly Hassell & Sam Raimi & Gillian Greene & Ivan Orlic
Director: Gillian Greene
Screenwriters: Christian Magalhaes & Robert Snow
A young man finds his cat murdered with a crossbow bolt. Thus begins his hero’s journey into the dark heart of suburban America.
This is a very funny, surprising, and sweet film. The strong script is made even better by the amazing cast and a simple, at times documentary-style, look.
Murder of a Cat is under copyright. It is available on DVD but apparently not Blu-ray — at least in the US.
18 June 2023
Murder Party (2007)
Producers: Skei Saulnier & Chris Sharp
Director/Screenwriter: Jeremy Saulnier
A parking cop finds an invitation to a Halloween “murder party,” so he decides to go. But it turns out, it is a bunch of students who are going to create art based on his murder, which they are going to accomplish that night.
This is a really good horror-comedy — a very quirky gore-fest. The filmmakers don’t think much of the New York art world!
Murder Party is under copyright. It is available on DVD with commentary and other extras.
14 February 2021
Producer: Kirk Edward Hansen
Director: Tom Callaway
Screenwriters: Neal Marshall Stevens (as Benjamin Carr) & “Daniel Elliot”
An object from space crashes into the Earth. It combines with a motorcyclist and goes around killing people at a special military outpost. A combined team of Marines and CIA agents are sent to deal with the situation.
This film is fine in terms of production value. The actors are pretty good but they really struggle with the awkward dialog. But the big problem is that the story unfolds in a mechanical way that isn’t terribly engaging. It’s nothing to seek out but if you do happen to see it, you may be impressed with its overall look.
Murdercycle is under copyright. It is available on DVD with no extras.
20 March 2021
Mutant Aliens (2001)
Producer/Director/Screenwriter: Bill Plympton
Earl the astronaut is sent into space but then double-crossed by the head of the Department of Space, left to die. But Earl survives and comes back to Earth in 20 years with some adorable and deadly space aliens with a mind toward vengeance.
This animated feature is very much in Plympton’s style with his wild and often coarse sense of humor. And the narrative is unusual in that Earl’s central aim is subverted without him ever learning “valuable lessons.” But the bad guy does get his due.
The film is voiced mostly by people with little if any acting experience outside this film. Many of them work for Plympton in other capacities.
Mutant Aliens is under copyright. You can get it on DVD with a feature-length documentary.
18 March 2020
Producers: Stuart Fenegan and Ted Sarandos
Director: Duncan Jones
Screenwriters: Michael Robert Johnson & Duncan Jones (story: Duncan Jones)
Alternate titles: Moon II
In a cyberpunk future, the girlfriend of a mute man goes missing. He enters the underbelly of society fighting with organized crime and pedophiles looking for her.
This film exists in the same universe as Jones’ fantastic Moon. This film doesn’t have its purity of plot but it’s still exceptional.
Mute is under copyright. Currently, it seems only to be available on Netflix.
10 February 2021
My Alien Girlfriend (2019)
Producers: Sean King & Taylor King and Chad Johnson
Director: Sean King
Screenwriters: Sean King & Taylor King
A successful geek is about to be married to a woman who is clearly wrong for him. She goes to a bachelorette party while he stays home. But a space alien crashes in his backyard who takes the form of a famous movie actress. He is now trying to get her home before his fiancé finds out.
This is a very sweet film with a well-structured plot and lots of laughs performed by an excellent (but strangely unknown) cast. It’s the perfect film for guys who like this kind of film. I watched it with two female nerds and they probably liked it more than I did, but I don’t think they laughed as much.
Starring Ken Breese, Max Reeves, and Abigail Stanton. Featuring Morgan Makana and Taylor King.
My Alien Girlfriend is under copyright. It is available on Amazon Prime.
10 February 2021
My Dead Girlfriend (2006)
Producer: Anne-Marie Frigon
Director: Brett Kelly
Screenwriter: John Muggleton
A guy accidentally kills his girlfriend. But she was into the occult and cast a spell bringing her back to life. Can a living man and a dead woman have a fulfilling relationship? No. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a happy ending for this couple.
Brett Kelly does his usual with a pocket-change budget. This one really stands out with a very funny script by John Muggleton and a fantastic score by Howard Sonnenburg.
The film stars Brett Kelly (who you’ll know from other Brett Kelly films) and Caitlin Delaney (popular production manager and coordinator in Canadian television). Featuring: Jody Haucke (Rise of the Black Bat), Anastasia Kimmett (Kingdom of the Vampire 2007), Jason Daley (production assistant in Canadian television), and Ella Rose Swinimer. The creepy friend who lives with his mother is the writer, John Muggleton.
My Dead Girlfriend is copyrighted. Tempe released it on DVD.
My Favorite Year (1982)
Producer: Michael Gruskoff
Director: Richard Benjamin
Screenwriters: Norman Steinberg and Dennis Palumbo (story: Dennis Palumbo)
A washed-up drunk who was an action film star is supposed to be a guest star on a live TV comedy show in 1954. The youngest writer on the show is tasked with keeping him sober for rehearsals and the show. They get into various adventures and learn important lessons about themselves.
This is a very funny and engaging film. It isn’t quite as good as I had recalled. Its late second act kind of falls apart. And it gets pretty sappy at the end. But it’s still a lot of fun.
Starring Mark Linn-Baker (Perfect Strangers), Peter O’Toole (The Stunt Man), Jessica Harper (Suspiria), Joseph Bologna (Transylvania 6-5000), Bill Macy (Maude), and Lainie Kazan (My Big Fat Greek Wedding).
14 June 2021
My Name Is Bruce (2007)
Producers: Mike Richardson and Bruce Campbell
Director: Bruce Campbell
Screenwriter: Mark Verheiden
A teenager unleashes the god Guan Di who seeks revenge on a former mining town for the deaths of Chinese miners. Who does he turn to for help? His favorite movie star: Bruce Campbell. But when Campbell finds out this isn’t a joke, he does the only reasonable thing: he runs away.
This is a very silly love letter to Bruce Campbell fans everywhere. People who aren’t familiar with his oeuvre will miss out on half the fun. But it’s still a very fun little film. Kids will probably love it although most parents wouldn’t like all the sex jokes and scary moments. Parents suck!
The film stars Bruce Campbell as Bruce Campbell (Or is it “Cambell”?) from The Evil Dead, Bubba Ho-Tep, and The Man With the Screaming Brain. Ted Raimi plays three different roles with his own brilliant style of over-the-top acting.
Ellen Sandweiss (The Evil Dead) plays Cheryl. (Get it?) Tim Quill (the Blacksmith in Army of Darkness) is the gay gun store owner who says, “My money’d have been on that blacksmith from Army of Darkness. Now that’s one stud.” Dan Hicks (Evil Dead 2) is his lover. The McCain Brothers, a musical duo, play the singing mayor and sheriff.
The director of the film Bruce Campbell is starring in is Michael Kallio, the director of a lot of great low-budget horror shorts (Ash vs Evil Dead: Aunt Linda’s Bake Off) and features (Hatred of a Minute). The guy with the video camera is Kurt Rauf who is a cinematographer and was part of the crew for the first two Evil Dead films.
Mystery Men (1999)
Producers: Lawrence Gordon & Mike Richardson & Lloyd Levin
Director: Kinka Usher
Screenwriter: Neil Cuthbert (comic book: Bob Burden)
Three friends are struggling as superheroes when uber-superhero Captain Amazing is kidnapped by the evil Casanova Frankenstein. So they hook up with other budding superheroes to save the day.
This is a funny concept and a beautifully rendered film. It still manages to not often be funny. Greg Kinnear, in a supporting role, really is the source of most of the laughs. It’s a film more to admire than enjoy.
Starring Ben Stiller (Tropic Thunder), William H Macy (Happy, Texas), Hank Azaria (Mystery, Alaska), Janeane Garofalo (Sweethearts), Paul Reubens (Pee-wee’s Playhouse), and Geoffrey Rush (Shakespeare in Love).
Mystery Men is under copyright. It is available on DVD and Blu-ray. It comes with decent extras including a director’s commentary that will make you reconsider ever listening to another one. It is nonstop Hollywood happy-horseshit. But it does beat commentaries where the director is so full of himself (it’s only ever men) that he thinks it’s okay to insult cast and crew.
18 August 2021
Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933)
Director: Michael Curtiz
Screenwriters: Don Mullaly & Carl Erickson (story: Charles S Belden)
Wax sculptor Ivan Igor is thought dead in a fire that destroyed his museum. But 12 years later, he re-emerges handicapped but alive with a new museum. All is not as it appears, however, and plucky reporter Florence Dempsey searches to uncover the mystery.
I like this film more than the Vincent Price classic House of Wax. The plot is the same but the various subplots are great. And at this late date, the two-color Technicolor gives the film an other-worldly feel that improves it.
Mystery of the Wax Museum is still under copyright. It is available along with House of Wax on DVD for a reasonable price. No features to speak of. It’s also available alone on DVD using a process that turns it into full-color.