The Best of Netflix DVD: Reggie Banister Enters the CEMETERY GATES!!
Reggie Banister of “Phantasm fame” is one of my favorite horror heroes-hands down! The horror franchise is my all time favorite of the genre, Reggie is one of the main reasons why it resonates with me so hard. What I’ve noticed though is Reg really doesn’t take center stage in any other movies I can think of, it’s usually just brief cameos in things like ‘Bubba Ho-tep’ or even ‘Kenny & Company’. Well that’s what I was led to believe but low and behold through the Netflix “red envelope” dvd mailer program (that’s sadly coming to an end soon), I received a movie from queue that’d been sitting there for years! The 2004 (or 2006?) horror flick CEMETERY GATES finally arrived in the mail, I really had quite low expectations and quickly noticed Reggie Banister was appearing, I figured he’d likely be doing another “horror cameo” in a low budget production. Well I couldn’t have been more wrong!
I was pleasantly surprised, Reggie is one of the main characters in this one & better yet even the movie is somehow a total gem-a gore soaked, practical fx creature feature with heart and a heroic dose of humor while also a somewhat intriguing story at play. Yeah I was expecting a steamin’ load of shit and what I got was one of my new favorites of the 2000’s horror movies. It’s filled with a cast of fun characters, many of which are total boneheads, which make this little gnarly flick even more of a blast. It’s the story of an escaped lab animal-a giant mutated Tasmanian devil named “Precious” who goes on a muderous rampage in the countryside when set loose by some numbskull animal rights activists.
The lab Precious came from is owned by……Reggie Banister, a seasoned scientist who’s sad about his son moving out on his own. His son an aspiring horror filmmaker is heading out to the country with his horny numb nut buddies to film a zombie film, little does he know his childhood now mutated “pet” Precious (who was experimented on) is running wild in the vicinity.
Precious though is not the only threat, there’s some horny braindead hillbillies, who look like the perfect lunch for a tasmanian devil, also raising hell. Reggie and his sexy scientist buddy soon discover the missing creature and set out to the countryside to try and track it down before it goes completely bonkers on the local population.
Cemetery Gates has got a lot going for it, Reggie pretty awesome in it and there’s a certain bit of idiotic charm to his relationship with his son AND his son’s relationship with the former lab pet turned mutant. It’s also a load of fun to see all these utterly moronic characters get ripped to shreds by Precious. We’ve got the idiotic hillbillies, some middle aged stoners, Richard Elfman as an insane fisherman, the bonehead amateur actors and a few random hikers that suffer the brunt of the gore. The fun is really had when we see Precious in the flesh on it’s killing spree. She tears limbs, decapitates and rips apart a ton of people all in gloriously gooey practical fx and real onscreen “blood” galore. The creature looks pretty damn good too in that sorta 1980s style monster mayhem.
It’s so absurdly charming looking in the flesh and when the final confrontation goes down with Precious it becomes a “family affair’. Reggie, his son, his girlfriend and Reggie’s hot lab partner go all in on taking down the mutated ‘taz in a dark subterranean lair beneath a cemetery. There’s some real heart here at it’s core that sincerely shines through all of the moronic antics that occur and I really appreciate the entire fiasco.
It to me, hits all the right beats, finally another film essentially featuring Reggie front and center to love. He’s here in all of his hair dyed glory to kick some monster booty once again & who’d have thought it’d be again in the mid 2000’s? There’s some good atmosphere and plenty of mischief for Reggie & co to get into as well. If this thing had been released in the 80s it’d be a bonafide cult classic. I’ve NEVER heard anyone speak a peep about Cemetery Gates, so I’m taking it to my platform to get the damn word out.
It’s the perfect midnight movie to rock with some starving cinemaniacs-they may doubt it’s merit by it’s cover but chances are it’ll quench any gorehounds thirst as well as tickle their funny bone. Cemetery Gates is true 2000’s cult classic in the wings….
BEST of Red Netflix Envelopes: 1993’s Bonkers Super 8 Vampire Flick – ‘Darkness’!
The end of an era will soon be upon us, the red envelope Netflix “dvd by mail” system will finally come to an end later this year. Sigh…..It’s a bit depressing, I had a lot of fun awaiting these mini movie packages for soooo many years. Truth be told I discovered some truly unique lil’ hidden gems over the years as their dvd selection was once a wildly vast treasure trove…so here in honor I’m gonna blog weekly about my all time faves. The first being 1993’s DARKNESS: The Vampire Version-which I just got delivered for a second time. The dvd online is quite rare and fetches a pretty penny on eBay!
So here’s a really unique movie that still remains in their library- ‘Darkness’ is a cool little vampire movie with a cast completely made of what looks like no one over twenty years old. Leif Jonker the director was apparently only 17 when he started conceptually with the production and started filming in 1988, wrapping it up in 1991. He filmed it on super 8 and the whole affair is a mega blood drenched teenage nightmare in the best way possible.
Jonker doesn’t play for laughs here either which is refreshing, it’s all played as straight as it can be with machetes, chainsaws and teen vamps that sadly have no fangs! But alas, it’s a bit of marvel to behold just how ambitious this little splatter flick really is for a gang of ravenous teen punks who set out to shock their audience and for the most part do a bang up job at it all.
Darkness is filled with some legit action, suspense, blood, guts and some great attempts at serious acting. Even though the “vampires” feel more like a rabid gang of cannibals they still show their supernatural side while succumbing to the more traditional vampire trappings. Sunlight and holy water in particular. One sequence where the main characters a being chased through a river by vampires and a bottle of holy water is poured into the water causing some cool carnage as it mixes and destroys them is a real inventive highlight.
It’s a race to the sunrise as a cast of teens are chased across the countryside fleeing from blood thirsty vamps. There’s not more much to the plot honestly, but It’s so damn charming that Jonker went the full distance on it’s production it really doesn’t need to have an intricate story. The finale is well Wirth the wait to, as there’s an over abundance of exploding heads, melting flesh and crudely animatronic decrepit vampire’s to watch meet their gnarly demise. Sadly Jonker didn’t go on to put out much more-the only thing officially listed on Letterboxd is a short film from 1983 called ‘Ghost Carol’ described as a “Super 8 short about a ghost that kills a group of teenagers at Christmastime”. It’s a 22 minute horror film I need to find a way to see!
Supposedly Arrow video will be giving this a fancy blu release sometime in the future? It looked like it was supposed to come out a few years back, the trailer below is from four years ago. If it ever sees the “light of day”(no pun intended) I’ll be picking up a copy for sure. In the meantime if you’ve still got the red Netflix envelope system intact (at least until it ends later this year) put this bloody little nugget in your “queue” and get ready to rock! One of my favorite weird back catalog Netflix dvd finds-especially first time seeing it years back…..
VHS Verdict: The 1990s Fairy Tale “Horror” of RUMPELSTILTSKIN!
I saw ‘Leprechaun’ IN the theater back in ’93, my girlfriend and I were the ONLY ones in the entire theater! Of course I had a damn good time and believe that ‘Leprechaun’ sort of kick-started a little mini genre of “fairytale horror” in the 1990s. While the director of the original Leprechaun also made another movie a few years later 1995 Rumpelstiltskin! Yep Mark Jones the writer and director of the ’93 cult classic also gave the a similar treatment to this weird little one without the “success” of the Warwick Davis fronted franchise.
Well last night I Pulled out my cool promotional copy of the VHS along with my projector, some friends, drinks and checked it out on the “big” screen. In all honesty I’m not entirely sure that I’ve ever really seen this movie before (even though I could have sworn that I had). Nonetheless Rumpelstiltskin delivered the same ridiculous goods in the same fashion as the original Leprechaun. The best way to describe this one would be a sort of “Terminator style” road chase movie- but instead of an imposing hulking cyborg you get a gimpy numb-nut fairy tale villain, who cracks ridiculous one liners while he chases a woman down trying to steal her baby to suck it’s soul!
In other words it’s a god damn good time! Our main mischievous villain here, Rumpelstiltskin, looks like he was plucked right out of Stephen King’s horror anthology ‘Cat’s Eye’. He wakes up from a 1000 year slumber and dropped into the 1990s. This all after being turned into a small stone sculpture after a group of villagers hunt him down after he steals one of their babies. You might think that this guy would have a hard time navigating the ’90s, but quite the opposite. Rumpelstiltskin seems to be quite adept in nearly everything he tries, Whether it’s riding a Harley or driving a stick shift semi truck- ‘ol ‘Rumpy can do it! The funny thing is he comes across more like a character that might appear in ‘Ernest Scared Stupid’ than a wicked soul sucking goblin!
It’s your fairly standard “being chased through the countryside road trip” horror formula (which I FUCKING love)- but it definitely does have a few really fun tricks up its dirty little sleeve. Our main character is a widowed single mom (Kim Johnston Ulrich) with a baby of course and some of this actually plays out a bit like a “Sex in the City” episode. She hangs out with her horny female friends, drinks wine and tries to navigate being single in the era with a baby…the last thing she needs is THIS weirdo throwing a wrench into being a mom!
There’s definitely a certain degree of unpredictability to some the characters we’re introduced to which makes this an even more interesting watch. Particularly when we’re introduced to a sleazy, cheezy, sexist TV host, who comes across a bit like a second rate Howard Stern. The type of character you won’t be seeing “rise to the occasion” in any movie coming out in 2023 that’s for sure.
However I’m a sucker for an unlikely pairing of characters ‘on the run’ from true danger in horror movies and this one really BRINGS it. You’re never quite sure who’s going to suffer the consequences from an encounter with ol’ Rumpy! If you’re a fan of the original ‘Leprechaun’ there’s definitely a lot right here to love, Some cool make up effects, pretty sweet action sequences, explosions and like Warwick Davis’s character, some great idiotically witty banter! Rumpelstiltskin is prime candidate for a sweet new blu ray. It’s really long overdue that he gets a cult following and the true recognition he deserves-this is a really sweet totally 90s horror comedy, jam packed with ridiculous fashion of the time and characters you’re likely not to see anytime soon on the big or small screen. A great example that the 90s indeed does have some horror gems hidden within the decade! Track down this weird little fairy tale & turn off your brain to thoroughly enjoy the ride..
1990’s B-Horror Classic ‘DEMON WIND’ Getting a Sequel?!
Yowza!! I’ve always thought some of the cool lesser known horror movies of the late 80s/early 90s should get modern sequels-I mean why not?! Especially with many of these lost classics now getting discovered by masses of new horror fans with awesome blu ray labels cleaning up often “only released on VHS” gems and repackaging them with lots of cool extras as well as a super sharp new restoration. Vinegar Syndrome did exactly that with 1990’s DEMON WIND and now it’s confirmed it’s going to get a brand new sequel 33 years later!! Ok though, before getting too excited here let’s see what the details are exactly on this one!
First, the official title is apparently going to be ‘DEMON WIND 2: The Serpents Coil’ and it’s NOT being made by the original’s director Charles Phillip Moore and from what I can tell he isn’t writing this one like he did the original. I think it’d have been cool to have the original writer craft the story plus I’m a fan of one of his other movies, ANGEL OF DESTRUCTION from 1994 featuring Maria Ford. Oh well….Instead part 2 will be directed by Eric Mathis from Grime House Films, who’s got only one feature film under his belt, a 2022 horror anthology called ‘The Macabre’, I’ve never seen it-so hey Eric if you’re reading this send me a copy for review! 😉 I guess I’d be basing how promising the ‘Demon Wind’ sequel will be on how well his first movie translates. Curious indeed. Here’s the trailer:
Hmmm…obviously ‘Demon Wind 2’ has too look a little more slick than this-but considering it’s a first effort, at least from the trailer, I’d say there’s still potential. Next I’m wondering if the sequel will have some of the 1990’s films original cast returning? I heard at least one of the cast members from the original might be on board, but to really add that legit inter-connective tissue it’s going to need some real ties to the first film.
Also I think, this modern sequel is going to need to have a similar look and steer away from shoddy CGI fx. I recommend going ALL in on practical effects-gory, gooey, slimey and bloody…oh and NO CGI blood-don’t make that mistake! It seems so far that he’s got a few peeps involved from ‘Full Moon’ and an FX artist Joe Castro who did work on ‘The Barn 2’. I’ve seen the first one and dug it-but I do need to check out the sequel, from the trailer though I’ll be honest the FX stuff doesn’t look quite on par with the first film-and that was a little ruff too.
Still that doesn’t mean Demon Wind 2 won’t look awesome.. here’s what the director had to say himself about the sequel coming at us all 33 years later:
“I’ve dreamed of doing this for so long. Like many of us, I’ve been a huge fan of the original Demon Wind since I was a kid, when my older brother rented it and I secretly watched it after he left it out. For years, I’ve been trying to track down the rights owners, and I finally managed to arrange a phone meeting and work out a deal to produce this film!
My goal is to honor the tradition of the original, which had so many incredible and memorable creature and kill effects. We’re bringing the huge creature FX, loads of gory kills, and all the things we love as horror fans, and delivering them in a major way! We’ll explore the past, the characters, and their stories, and revisit the farm and Harcourt’s gas station, really play on all the things that made the original so great!”
I’m down for this film 100%, I definitely have my reservations though trying to recapture the B-movie magic of a for the most part, underrated gem from 1990. I like the idea of re-visiting the original’s locales but also hope they take it to a few new unique new creepy places. The last thing I’d want is essentially a modern remake/reboot that doesn’t live up to the original. I often times think someone attempting this type of sequel should really research what made the movies from this period look soooo good. Watching the trailer for ‘The Barn 2’ made me realize how cheap things can look when shot digitally, it looks just like it was shot in 2022, while trying to masquerade as an 80s film. Demon Wind 2 needs to have the look and atmosphere of the original even though I’m assuming it indeed takes place in current times. 1990’s Demon Wind was a lot of fun and the plot for part 2 sounds promising with occult researchers investigating a satanic murder site and stumbling upon an evil cursed ancient artifact that opens a gate from hell. Of course unleashing sinister creatures for another total bloodbath.
Fingers crossed that ‘Demon Wind 2’ delivers the gory goods, brings back some original characters and looks and feels a lot like the 1990 original. I don’t know if the original writer/director is still around or alive-but I think meeting or consulting with him would be a great idea too! I’m cautiously curious about modern sequels to lesser know horror classic-but I’ll be there for the show for SURE! Follow Grime House Films on Instagram for more juicy details!
Hong Kong’s 1989 Satanic Cult Action Flick- BLOOD RITUAL!
After re-watching the 1976 classic satanic cult/ road trip/ action/ horror/ hybrid ‘Race with the Devil’ I was still in the mood for more “devil cult” related flicks. Well lucky for me, Hong Kong gave us a nice little CAT III gem from 1989 called ‘BLOOD RITUAL’ and it delivers quite the grimy punch-a wild and crazy little forgotten actioner that’s ripe for a fancy-ass blu ray release!
I had quite a bit of fun with this one and it’s sorta refreshing when weeding through so many overly slapstick Hong Kong horror comedies, when you come across something that really balances just the right amount of humor action and gore all into one weird little freaky package. ‘Blood Ritual’ definitely starts out with a bang. Featuring a sexy sweat covered woman in red high heels, completely naked being, stalked by a gang of cult members all dressed in white. She’s caught, carried away and immediately enters into, you guessed it, a god damn blood ritual!
We then get a tuff cop who’s hot on the case and a detective who’s just been released from prison, who’s trying to start a new life. At least that’s what I was able to cobble together with rudimentary & hard to read subtitles on this film print. They both get way more than they bargained for when it comes to their attention via a pretty sweet looking indie comic book zine that’s been making the rounds in Hong Kong that a killer satanic cult has been taking innocent victims for their bizarre ritualistic sacrifices. It’s all dressed up with evil hand drawn imagery, sexy sinister situations and pentagrams a’ plenty! It’s the kind of comix I couldn’t seem to get enuff of in the late 80s- DAAAAMN~!
This starts a race against time, trying to track down the wicked cultists before they snatch their next innocent victim. Meanwhile we get a pretty likable/comical cast and I’d go as far to say that it at times actually moves a bit into the “rom com” category as well, making it quite an interesting little over the top mash up. So the “recently released from prison detective” (I’m guessing that is what he is?) manages to meet a sassy bar room singer one evening and even manages to rent a room from her family. In classic form, neither of them get along too well together at first and their “relationship” leads to one of the strangest sequences I’ve seen in a Hong-Kong movie yet. Involving a severed finger, a ring, laxative, a fishbowl and chopsticks. Ok so if your imagination is running wild you’ve probably guessed exactly the truly bizarre scenario that unfolds to help complete the detectives bizarre lead on these cult members whereabouts. It sorta has to be seen to be believed, you won’t see this line of action in ‘Silence of the Lambs’ or ‘Se7en’ to get a lead on a case that’s for SURE!
I really love checking out these obscure and in this case forgotten foreign films like this that managed to hit all the right wild beats yet still remain unknown to the general public, here in the USA at least. Movies just like this that manage to show you something you’ve never quite seen before in a film-it’s pretty impressive. ‘Blood Ritual’ delivers some genuine thrills and chills as well as some frenetic action sequences that are quite unique to this era of Hong Kong cinema. Stunt work that blows your mind. Also the cult members are the real devilish deal, sever their limbs and they’ll use them as a weapon in a total animalistic rage against you-it’s not being played for laughs either, something I totally can get behind. Check this shit out if you’re in doubt!
Filled with spooky locales, intense bloody action, some pretty decent humor (as least from what I could make out), some “romance” and a finale that’s right up there with the best of anything that USA produced in that era, imo better – Blood Ritual will knock you right on your ass. Think a bit of Stallone’s ‘Cobra’ with more over the top action and a vicious killer cult to dismantle. I got a copy of this on DVD from Far East Flix, though I enjoyed it, I’d say this movie is in desperate need of a cleaned up blu ray release with better subtitles.
The subs at times don’t seem to make a lick of sense either, many of them disappearing completely into the background of the movie doesn’t seem to help, still I was able to get the gist of things and could tell it’s a unique littler horror thriller in need of a “CULT” following. Someone step up to the plate and give Blood Ritual the damn respect it rightfully deserves!
The MOVIE MELT Podcast Gets Educated at GHOUL SCHOOL?!
It’s finally time to go BACK to school, but not with Rodney Dangerfield, with the MOVIE MELT Podcast. You bet! I went back on to discuss the low budget 1990 horror comedy GHOUL SCHOOL! This nearly forgotten movie fetches a pretty penny on eBay for a VHS copy and is known by cult movie fanatics as a boner-fide classic. So does Ghoul School desperately need a fancy-ass blu ray release? Or should it stay forever encased in a moldy VHS tape?!
That being said how fun is it really to go back to Ghoul School? Is it as sexy as the cover might suggest? Or is it far more terrifying than you might suspect? You can really learn a lot from this one I tell ya!
Perhaps when you attend Ghoul School you actually end more stupid when you finally graduate? Here’s sweet teaser you’ve got to check out, a fundraiser for the movie from way back when that we discuss on THIS episode! Could the teaser be more satisfying than the real thing? Hmmmm….
Well we’ve got the scoop and all the useless details about this weird little punk rock low brow horror oddity as well as a school related battle of the bands and lots of senseless movie talk about what you might be wanting to watch if you’re a cinematic super freak! Check out the latest episode HERE!
KIDS vs. ALIENS: If “Goosebumps” was Rated R!
I’ve been looking forward to Jason Eisener’s ‘Kid’s vs. Aliens’ since I heard the ‘Hobo With a Shotgun’ director was making a feature length film based on his awesome short horror segment in V/H/S/ 2. Granted it’s been a long time since I’ve seen it, I remember really digging the concept and execution of it.
The simple premise of this movie is so right up my alley it feels like it almost was tailor made just for me. In a nutshell some kids have a Halloween party that goes off the rails when evil aliens descend upon their lakeside household. The alien visitors for the most part resemble our traditional “Greys”, which I find to be one of the most terrifying creatures of the more modern era. I guess though they’d be more in line with what we saw in 2014’s ‘Extraterrestrial’ though (minus the CGI) than say the brilliantly bizarre 1989 Whitley Strieber biopic ‘Communion’. That being said, you’ve gotta admire how ambitious this movie is with all of its practical effects work and not a shred of CGI really anywhere to be found. Add in a lean run time of around 75 minutes (68 of them actual movie time) and you’ve got a nice, fast paced horror adventure at the ready.
Plus the main kid protagonists of this movie are also quite charming for the most part. None of them get bogged down in modern online politics or social commentary, they’re just kids in danger with wildly filthy mouths being….kids. In essence they’re a fairly solid attempt of mixing the kids in Stand By Me with The Goonies. I’d say for the first 3rd of the movie I was pretty sure this might end up being one of my favorite horror films of 2023. It’s got a lot of heart at its core as well (maybe trying a bit too hard at times) and characters who you can for the most part get behind on this weird little ride.
However with ALL of that going for it, still there’s something here that in my opinion just didn’t quite click the way it should’ve. That’s not to say this isn’t a fun little movie, becuz it is. It just misses the mark at being a modern horror classic, maybe because they’re trying just a bit too hard at mostly everything they attempt to sell the audience. It’s same problems I had at times with 2013’s ‘Knights of Badassdom’ a movie which I do admittedly still enjoy quite a bit.
I guess I would say what it does succeed at being is a pretty excellent R-rated “Goosebumps” movie. In many ways, even the way it’s filmed looks a little bit like a vintage Goosebumps episode for better or for worse at times. I guess my problem was maybe my personal expectations weren’t quite met in the way I’d initially hoped for. Though this movie in many ways borrows heavily from the likes of classics like Fire In The Sky, it really lacks the intensity, atmosphere and mystery that could have pulled from it, even if just a little bit of it. The aliens In my opinion are shown way too much in plain sight. All of the things that make grey aliens so terrifying is completely absent here, they run around roaring like enraged grizzly bears.
The aliens also look a bit too much like men in rubber suits, which I usually don’t mind, but easily hiding them a bit more might have benefited this greatly. More of the monsters isn’t always better. Overall though I do appreciate the almost entirely practical nature of this film’s special effects. It’s refreshing to see filmmakers getting a bit more old school these days!
Though the characters for the most part are fun wonky children, they do try a bit too hard to sell us that on all levels. Much of the character development feels a bit forced. The kids and their antagonist teen enemies end up being somewhat over the top caricatures and don’t always feel like “real’ people. The kids are NERDS, the older teen sister-hero is a NERD and the teens are really reeeeally meanies who don’t like NERDS. By the middle of the movie I found myself wishing their personas had been toned down. They started to feel like they were written by the “modern day Kevin Smith” or something. Ok, well maybe not that bad. Instead of growing to like them more as the movie progressed, I found myself becoming slightly annoyed with everyone’s behaviors and actions even if they were good in nature.
Looking at it now though with zero expectations, it’s still one I do plan on revisiting again. It’s got plenty of action and really does try to feature a cast of heartwarming lead characters and pathetically almost unbelievably evil teen villains to you are basically told to hate anytime they appear. It also takes place on Halloween and makes it prime viewing for the holiday. There’s a lot of good here so don’t get me wrong, I just feel like someone needs to put together an amazing home invasion Grey alien horror film and do it the right way. In the perfect world I was hoping this would be a mix of 1989’s Communion and maybe like Evil Dead. (here’s a still photo from Communion).
Instead it leans hard into the campy territory and doesn’t skimp on some impressive Gore FX either. Perhaps it’s really my own expectations that took this down a few pegs for myself, with all the crappy stuff out there streaming I do think there’s a lot of fun to be had. Check this one out, it’s worth a rental, but don’t go in expecting it to be quite as cool as his segment was in V/H/S 2. Still thank you Jason for adding an entertaining alien invasion flick to the cinematic horror library!
‘Evil Dead Rise’ Trailer Feels Like a ‘Conjuring’ Spin-off?!
There’s a lot of hype lately around the return of the “EVIL DEAD” franchise with Evil Dead Rise and personally I’m just not feeling the heat so far. Sure it’s kinda neat to see the classic Necronomicon book again onscreen, but at least in the trailer, that’s about the only thing that’s feeling “Evil Dead” about the whole affair in my opinion.
When I saw the poster, the first thing that came to mind wasn’t the classic franchise, it really looked eerily similar to the 2022 horror film “SMILE’. For a moment I thought it WAS perhaps a SMILE spin-off being announced.
In fact if you took out the Necronomicon from the trailer I’d have honestly thought this film was a James Wan produced spin-off sequel set in his “Conjuring” universe. Or like a sequel to ‘The Exorcism of Emily Rose’ or something. And don’t get me wrong, I like James Wan’s movies but Evil Dead Rises doesn’t do anything at least in the trailer to separate itself from the current horror trends-and why would it? It looks like another Blumhouse film (maybe it is?) and to me seems almost like a pointless franchise reboot that’ll probably be forgotten fast in a sea of 2023 similarly stylized corporate Hollywood horror films. Where’s the flavor of the original films?
I often wonder if Hollywood is even capable of making a movie that looks and feels like something like the original Evil Dead films? Everything looks too slick, I think someone needs to step in and dial things back, legions of fans would truly flip out if they could replicate the real atmosphere of the the originals, this ain’t it. That’s not to say I won’t eat my words, perhaps Evil Dead Rise will be the BEST of all Evil Dead films?
I think fans deserve something different if you’re really going for an honest attempt to revitalize Evil Dead. I’d rather have a movie sequel to ‘Ash vs Evil Dead’ Season 3 personally. I’d much rather have a sequel in tone to Evil Dead 2 or Army of Darkness, that feels really like part of the old franchise. It could even be more in tone with the 1981 OG film, set in the 80s with more of a classic look?
Or follow Pablo and Kelly from Ash vs Evil Dead if we really want to steer clear of Ash. I think there’s likely a much better way to transition Evil Dead back onto the big screen and so far this seems like a mis-step.
I’m going to see it and I hope I’m proved wrong but it all just looks and feels too familiar to the modern horror films of the last few years. I like modern horror, but if you’re going to try to bust out a classic franchise again you’ve got to capture what made it so special to begin with…
‘VIOLENT NIGHT’: A Killer Santa You Can Really Root For!
As far as modern holiday horror goes there’s a clear over abundance of yuletide garbage out there being mass produced as of the last 10 years. I don’t know what triggered it but it seems every year the floodgates open with a slew of sub par cinematic Christmas sludge. Well this year we’ve got a killer Santa Claus movie, but this time with a Kris Kringle that you can really get behind with some holiday cheer!
From director Tommy Wirkola, who helmed the highly entertaining “Dead Snow” franchise and also the equally enjoyable ‘Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters’. ‘Violent Night’ is easily just as fun as his previous films, part Die Hard, part Home Alone with a little bit of Santa’s Slay thrown into the mix for good measure. We get the real deal Santa Claus who’s feeling a bit down on his luck getting thrown into a truly “violent night”. He’s forced to use his unique supernatural yuletide abilities to defend a wealthy family trapped in their mansion from a gang of vicious criminals led by John Leguizamo!
Santa though has gotta sober up quickly, as he spent most of the evening drinking at a dive bar rather than delivering presents to kids on his “nice” list this Christmas eve. However all the action doesn’t necessarily fall just on Santa’s shoulders, we also have a little girl named Trudy played by Leah Brady who’s hell bent on helping Santa and her family annihilate the greedy criminals as well from inside the mansion.
That’s where the “Home Alone” aspect of this film really takes shape and boy does it deliver some bloody boobie traps! Brady is totally charming in the role and really helps make this little adventure memorable. Like much the director’s previous work this one is equal part comedy as well as action while managing to not let anything slip into a total farce. Yes, there’s plenty of legitimate thrills to be had here and really fun colorful characters that really help drive this film. John Leguizamo shines as the big baddie and it’s been soooo long since I’ve seen him, his presence was truly a welcome addition to the mayhem. David Harbour though steals the show as Santa Claus, I’ve always felt he has a special onscreen charisma and it really continues to shine here in the role. There’s also some pretty neat little twists and turns in the plot, some concerning Santa himself that makes for a uniquely intriguing back story to jolly ol’ elf.
What was most surprising was the inclusion of Beverly D’Angelo (of Christmas Vacation fame), who for the 1st quarter of the movie I was left scratching my head trying to figure out where I’d recognized her from? It’s been so long since I’ve seen her in anything and she does look quite different these days. It’s quite nice to see some of these actors in a major motion picture this holiday season!
The action sequences are also really well choreographed and filled with some pretty over the top gore, Violent Night definitely doesn’t skimp on the red stuff! There’s a lot to love here and the movie also showcases a fair amount of heartfelt family holiday drama, it’s not simply just another hack and slash.
I highly recommend seeing this on the big screen and I definithey will be returning to it next year if not maybe one more time in the theater this year! Violent Night is THE wild holiday flick of 2022, Don’t snooze on this one!
VHS Verdict: 1986’s ‘BULLIES’ Channels ‘The Karate Kid’ Via ‘DELIVERANCE’!
I just watched what I consider to be a true bonafide lost 1980s gem, at least to me this movie was something I’d only found and watched by sheer chance. I frequent thrift stores quite often and upon discovering director Paul Lynch’s ‘Bullies’ a 1986 Canadian genre mash up of horror, thriller, action and revenge on VHS, I was most certainly intrigued, while realistically not getting my hopes up too damn high.
I’m pleased to report that ‘Bullies’ delivered the damn goods and then some in nearly every way I’d been hoping! Like I said in the title, this movie is essentially a mixture of The Karate Kid and Deliverance. I guess we’d categorize it as “Hicksploitation”. Sorry all you lovable hillbillies out there, but it’s kinda like if The Karate Kid’s Cobra Kai were evil messed up psycho mountain men! And when I say evil I mean evil with a capital E!
We follow the simple story of a teenage boy who moves with his mom and stepfather to a cozy little mountain town smack dab in the middle of the woods to run a family business. The only problem is some of the locals are restless and don’t particularly like the new arrivals in town…at all. A wicked gang of family hicks are on the prowl to fuck with anyone they please and no one seems to give a damn, not even the cops- imagine that huh?!
Luckily our teenage equivalent to Daniel Laruso befriends a cool local Native American man, who he establishes a strong bond with and like Mr. Miagi he teaches him some serious life lessons, survival and even a few nifty combat techniques. Something his stepfather whom he somewhat loathes and views as a useless coward doesn’t seem to have ANY interest in being part of. Of course he meets the beautiful Olivia D’Abo, and of course crushes out hard. I mean what are the chances he meets a babe like her in this po-dunk town? Lucky guy! Or is he?
As it just happens to turn out that she’s the sister of one of the insane maniac hillbillies who who threaten the town folk on any whim. But that’s not gonna stop the teen romance though as the two are immediately lovestruck. So the pissed off hillbillies up the ante with their evil shenanigans and the boy’s step dad is too chicken to stand up to them. These guys not only terrorize the teenagers but also go on the war path against the parents too, leading to a truly shocking rape scene that ups the stakes to deadly proportions and drastically shifts the tone. Be warned! ‘Bullies’ takes some dark twists and turns but by the final act you’ll be rooting for revenge with all of your damn heart. Even though it does go to some dark places it oddly has a lingering light feeling to it somehow, an 80s charm of something like The Karate Kid or My Bodyguard. Most importantly are how, for the most part, endearing the characters are in this grimy little banger. It makes the journey one worth taking.
I’d say this is the perfect coming of age revenge flick, filled with genuine heart, romance, comedy and some pretty wild and crazy action sequences. You also get served some gory kills and some intense explosions that put this one in a league of its own as a intriguing lost 80s gem. Bullies exists on VHS only and is just begging to be cleaned up and released on a slick blu ray. It really deserves far more attention from cult movie fanatics, if you get a chance check this one out, but beware, these “Bullies” are playing for keeps!!