I just had to do a post about this cool little short horror film most genre fans missed out on, it’s something I’ve been waiting years to check out, especially since it features the late great Rowdy Roddy Piper in the lead role! ‘Portal to Hell’ was one of Roddy Piper’s the last projects he filmed back in 2015 just before he sadly passed away. This crowd funded short was originally supposed to be the pitch for a feature film. Unfortunately that never happened for obvious reasons. At least we have this rad little 12 minute horror comedy which really should’ve been included in some sort of larger horror anthology feature film as I think it’d made for a sweet little installment.
I’ve always suspected Roddy would have made for a great “Ash” type horror hero and this could have been the spark that ignited that flame. For years I’d check to see if the short film had been released anywhere but never could find much info about it at all. The other day I randomly did a Youtube search and the whole thing popped up for all to see just nine months ago. On on minuscule budget, I think they did a great job with this little horror story and but I’m even more bummed Roddy wasn’t able to become the star of his own unique little horror franchise. If you’re a Lovecraft fan or just love Rowdy Roddy Piper you’ve gotta check this out! Spread this around, it should have way more than just 900 views!
I’d never seen a Roberta Findlay movie before up until a few days ago, but I’m pretty damn stoked to check out more of her work in the horror genre for sure! ‘The Oracle’ is a sweet yet nasty little horror film from 1985 that took me pleasantly by surprise. It really looks more like it was filmed in the late 70’s, even the clothing styles and general quality of the film has a gritty and dirty grindhouse vibe to it that certainly amplifies the charm. Taking place in the seedy areas of NYC during Christmas time (yeah a new holiday horror flick for the books) Jennifer & her asinine hubby move to a new apartment once occupied by an elderly psychic woman and soon stumble upon her creepy ass ouija board ‘The Oracle’ that she often used to communicate with the spirit world.
Jennifer, hyped on her new place, throws a swingin’ housewarming bash and with everyone witnessing, uses “the oracle” to contact a angry spirit of murdered man who demands bloody revenge upon his killers. From that point on the ghostly presence relentlessly terrorizes her & tries to manipulate her into avenging his death. Eventually she complies, but soon the murderers (the dead dude’s ex-wife & greedy biz partner) become suspicious of her snooping, and they re-hire the psycho who’d carried out the vicious killing before to try and track down Jennifer.
There’s a lot to love here with this mean ass supernatural horror romp. it’s got some truly unique characters, a cool female heroine & the killer is equally interesting being a trans/lesbian villain who’s as nasty as they come for horror movie standard of the day back then. The movie doesn’t go out of it’s way to get the point across, but in today’s landscape I doubt that you could present the character at all in the light portrayed in The Oracle. Still it was interesting deviation from the evil traditionally male killers of the 70’s & 80’s. For the obviously low budget it has it makes great use of it’s big city locales & it’s charming, ambitious special fx work. Interestingly enough this film came out a full year before 80’s cult classic ‘WITCHBOARD’.
These two actually have very similar plots and while Witchboard remains the winner here as far as quality horror there’s definitely something awesome about Findlay’s attempt. It’s nastier and carries a sort of sleezy quality that genre fans of B-movies might actually appreciate more when all is said and done. There’s plenty of subpar acting going on here and decent amount of fairly impressive gore to be found. The end of course tries to go the distance with it’s limited FX budget and in my opinion delivers the goods via a sweet little supernatural encounter.
I’m quite curious to check out more of Findlay’s movies, from what I’ve read it seems she dabbled in directing “X-rated” stuff in the 1960’s, 70’s & 80’s before tackling the horror genre with this movie in ’85. I’m curious about her string of movies through the 80’s, her most popular being Tenement. If you’re a fan of trashy 80’s horror you just might dig The Oracle & now you’ve got an excuse to give this underrated gem a whirl during the holiday season too!
Hey! I’ve been watching a TON a movies this last week, some old and some new some good, some great, some well…anyway here’s my reviews of some of my most recent gambles! Have you seen any of these?
The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot (2019)
This movie has all the ingredients sprinkled just within it’s title alone to be possibly the greatest movie of all time! Add in the awesome Sam Elliot as “the man” who does the killing and you pretty much can’t lose right?! Well going into this you just might think it’s supposed to be some sorta’ over the top exploitation style action flick, luckily I watched the trailer and did a bit of poking around beforehand, cuz’ this one is pretty much the opposite of what you’d be lead to believe from it’s wild and crazy title. Knowing this already, I felt prepared for a good heartfelt drama, but instead was delivered a jumbled mess of a movie. A mash up of flashbacks to WW2, romanctic interludes from the past and back to the modern times of Sam Elliot’s now lonely existence should have held more much more weight. I was left wondering why even have these insane all too brief plot lines with Hitler and Bigfoot at all? None of them are very memorable and neither have much real time dedicated to them. In fact I’d have preferred the movie more if they’d have skipped all the ‘Bigfoot and Hitler’ stuff altogether. It’s well acted and looks great but it’s weak meandering storyline for a movie with a title like this leaves me quite perplexed. I was really looking forward to this one, but man towards the middle I was starting to feel like nodding off, while my mind began wandering, finding myself checking the clock and runtime. It fails a drama & an adventure flick and it leaves me pretty disappointed with what it could have been ultimately.
The Final Terror (1983)
This little largely forgotten slasher flick is officially my first blu ray disc I’ve ever purchased. It’s 20 steps up in film quality from it’s previous VHS release, much of what was shrouded in darkness by the terrible transfer, making many of the scenes so damn hard to watch. Well this cleaned up version is truly stunning, being a horror movie that takes place in the forests of the Pacific NW most of it’s appeal comes from the lush vast foliage captured here. It’s a sweet little survival flick that features both Daryl Hannah and Rachel Ward in early roles as part of a camping crew that heads off into the woods only to be pursued by an evil psycho backwoods stalker. The problem for some may be the extremely low body count and high survivor rate of the group of twenty somethings. I think it’s a pretty cool different take on the genre, the whole movie has a genuinely spooky atmosphere, creepy foreshadowing campfire tales, cool raft scenes and a pretty likable cast. We even get an over the top super duper young Joe Pantoliano. It’s also got a great slasher villain, who unfortunately gets far too little screen time. But If you’re looking for a beautiful looking 80’s survival flick with some slasher elements sprinkled about, The Final Terror will likely quench your thirst! Continue reading
With the recent announcement of ‘American Horror Story: 1984’ looking to cash in on success of 80’s throwback series like ‘Stranger Things’ and Stephen King’s reboot of ‘IT’ I thought it’d be nice to give a shout out to a great flick from 1983 called ‘The House on Sorority Row’ I watched a couple days ago. ‘American Horror Story: 1984’ is going to be fully immersed in the 1980’s slasher genre. That being said here’s a pitch perfect Slasher flick I recommend they watch before releasing the new season, they likely’ll need all the help they can get by trying to convincingly tackle the genre. This mysterious little flick from 1983 deserves a helluva lot more praise than it’s gotten throughout the years. Director Mark Rosman brings one of the best to the genre!
The House on Sorority Row’s filled with a pretty tightly knit little mystery that’s full of fairly unpredictable twists and turns that never lag in it’s execution. Hitting all the slasher tropes in a pretty unique way, considering it was released back in 1983. First off we’ve got a full cast of great characters, almost entirely female as well and rather than giving us a troop of the usual moronic teenagers for the killer to prey upon, we get ones who you just might care about getting off’d. Our gang of sorority sisters here are a pleasure to see onscreen and most definitely take the plot into some fascinating territory. There’s the old seemingly mentally unstable sorority house mother who desperately wants the girls out of the house for the summer. However determined to throw one final grand graduation bash at the house, the sorority sisters get into a heated argument with her that quickly escalates to uncomfortable levels. They devise a plan to play a wicked prank on her, and in doing so set into motion a night of terror as they try and cover up their actions from the public. Deciding the show must go on they reluctantly continue with the big bash and soon find them being stalked by a ruthless slasher out to put the kebosh on their festivities.
Sounds simple enough, but there’s a lot more going on here than meets the eye, the set up to this one is pretty awesome as the girls quickly prove they can be just as nasty and cunning as any 80’s frat boy. The acting for the most part is rock solid here too, but don’t fret, as there’s still plenty of 80’s cheez to go around. One of the highlights being the grad party and it’s totally rad live power pop band ‘4 Out of 5 Doctors’ who perform there that boost the level of fun up a few notches alone. It’s the kind of party that makes you wanna jump into a time machine to attend & get down in the 1980’s. We’ve also got a great final girl here that’s totally worth rooting for as she slowly throughout the evening puts the pieces of the bizarre mystery together while her & her friends are stalked on the spooky campus. It feels a bit like a demented Scooby Doo mystery that takes itself fully seriously in the best way possible.
It’s also not afraid to get nasty with it’s gore fx there’s plenty of inventive kills scattered about to revel in as well. The finale really ramps things up and keeps you for the most part guessing til the end about what the fuck is actually going one here. The killer is pretty awesome too and the last 5 minutes (which I wish would’ve lasted longer actually) are filled with tension, thoroughly impressive camera work & the reveal of the maniac in the flesh is pretty iconic in it’s own right. This one’s really got it all as far as slashers go, a stunning orchestral score from Richard Band, great spooky sets, sweet fx, excellent characters, a cool mystery and a pretty sweet ass slasher villain. If you’ve never seen this one and are a fan of the genre this one hits a home run!
Ok, so I’m not going to go into full deep detail here on Jordan Peele’s latest horror outing ‘US’, as there’s easily enough online analyzing with the buzz and huge hype surrounding it. I’m gonna just give a few quick thoughts on it now that I’ve had a couple days to let it sink into my brain and let you know an unbiased opinion, the good and the bad, as a huge horror hound and a big fan of his first film ‘Get Out’. Most already know the plot of this one but if not here’s a quick refresher:
Married Couple Gabe and Adelaide Wilson take their two children to their long time family beach home expecting to relax and hang with with friends at the beach. But as night falls upon them, their vacation quickly turns to terror and utter chaos when dopplegangers of themselves violently raid their home. It turns into a evening of terror as they play a deadly game of cat & mouse with insane mirror images of themselves.
So Jordan Peele has undeniably crafted a damn good mainstream horror movie once again that feels like a high budget, more violent episode of The Twilight Zone. That’s a great thing, as I’m always down for an intelligent, thought provoking horror flick and this one leaves you with a lot to think about. ‘Us’ fully delivers the frantic action, legit scares as well as some stunning violence and grooves along at near perfect pace never losing a beat. Right from the start Peele gives us a clue as to what influences he’s drawing from here, I liked the 1980’s opening with the ‘C.H.U.D.’ vhs in plain sight as well as ‘The Man With Two Brains’ and ‘Goonies’ next to the old TV which also is broadcasting something that should be paid close attention to. There’s a lot of clues sprinkled about here throughout and it’s a fun thrill ride.
The acting of course by everyone on board was pitch perfect and the sense of dread and despair Peele drums up shows he fully understands the genre in all the best ways. The evil family that arrives upon the scene are likely to become modern horror icons, scary as ever and their perplexing motives for even being there at all is easily one of the best parts of the entire movie. I’ve always thought the doppleganger concept was a frightening one, meeting an “off” version of yourself in a dark alley is something of nightmares. Peele take this concept, puts it on steroids and leaves you thinking just how you might really react being put in a similar situation.
Now with all that being said, as a big horror fan, I found many of the brilliant tense scenes a bit undermined by attempts at comedy, much of which admittedly landed pretty well but felt out of place. For me though as funny as Peele makes the dialogue at these moments, (I feel) perhaps this trend of following scenes of tension with a joke a bit tired at this point. It takes me out of the movie in a big way, I understand the masses dig that type of thing, but it’s kinda something I feel so many try to replicate due to the success of the Marvel movies. It felt tonally off & I personally can do without, unless I’m watching something like ‘Ash vs Evil Dead’. I also found that within the first 20 minutes or so the major twist was so blatantly obvious I’d actually put it to the back of my mind as being not a likely possibility. However when the end roared forward it was indeed revealed to be exactly what I’d expected. Maybe I’ve seen too many of these horror flicks? So possibly a minor spoiler to some, I’d actually wondered if Jordan Peele had seen the 2015 movie ‘A Christmas Horror Story’ as there’s a story in the X-mas horror anthology that features a black family that well, let’s just say experience the same thing basically. Coincidence? Maybe.
By the very end it was clear that there’s a social commentary going on again here as in ‘Get Out’, perhaps a good one but the insertion of it this time around I think kinda derailed the horror mystery that came before it. It feels more like a fable by the time the end credits hit, one that introduces new plot info to seemingly prove some kind of lesson. The explanation for the madness that erupted before feels slightly forced, just doesn’t make much sense and ultimately in my opinion changes the dynamic of the whole movie altogether. I’d actually rather be given no real explanation for what occurred than be given some sort of societal lesson at the end of the movie. It all comes pretty much out of left field, reaching a more sci fi inspired explanation that requires some serious suspension of disbelief and a much more surreal dream like approach that feels a bit out of place here ultimately. I guess it’s much more of a symbolic presentation, at least towards the end and perhaps I just wasn’t expecting it to move fully into that mode.
In a way I guess I can compare it to M. Knight Shyamalan’s movies, where sometimes his twist ending undoes some of the brilliantly crafted terror that came before it by trying to prove some deeper “meaningful” point. However, that’s just my opinion as I know many love those movies that tie into real world issues. That all being said, I highly recommend ‘Us’ as it’s still a shit load of fun and miles above the crappy ass normal Hollywood B.S. that you’re likely to see at a big cinema. Surely one of the best horror movies of 2019, Check it out and let me know if you think I’m way off here with some of my criticisms?
I for some damn reason checked out this shoddy sequel to the 1990 horror flick ‘Mirror Mirror’ the other night & the one surprise greater than anything this film could muster up was Mark “Incredible Hulk” Ruffalo in his first “real” movie appearance! So ‘Mirror Mirror 2: Raven Dance’ came out in 1994, though it really feels much more like a mid 80’s movie with it’s special fx work/plot. It starts off pretty strong actually, showing a lot of cheezy promise, that is if you’re a fan of low budget 80’s horror stuff. We’ve got creepy nuns in a convent along with a “terrifying” giant vintage mirror that’s some sort of portal to another dimension of evil. It emits that 80’s style energy electricity fx I love so much, all over the damn place turning a bunch of nuns into piles of burnt ash, it’s admittedly a pretty sweet opening making me for a second think I’d unearthed some sort of forgotten gem of a horror flick!
Well we then switch to “present day” 1994 where we meet a bad ass alternative rock band on tour, who seem to be channeling the Red Hot Chili Peppers and for some reason they’re rehearsing for a gig in town at the old church. There’s a random teenage girl there hanging out with them, who ends up being the main focus of the movie and of course the douchey band members can’t resist uncovering the giant haunted mirror & are sadly destroyed all too soon by the evil mirror’s supernatural energy blasts. I was hoping these idiots would be present most of the movie but alas…Anyway Roddy Mcdowell also stars in one of his most boring roles and the movie slogs along at a snail’s pace until Mark Rufflo emerges as some sort of “mysterious” character who might be evil but it also some sort of “sexy” love interest. That actually was pretty unexpected!
Throw in a weird crazed handyman, a useless subplot with a greedy stepsister trying to extort some big money from the main character and eventually about 30 seconds of a pretty cool monster, more energy bursts from the mirror and well….ah…ok…who gives a shit, let’s not waste anymore time trying to explain this crappy ass mess, so here’s Mark Ruffalo’s first movie appearance in this boring pile of shit waste of time horror flick!!
I never even knew a movie existed where Charles Bronson and Will Sampson (Chief Bromden from ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’) teamed up to battle a giant albino monster buffalo up until a couple weeks ago. But yeah ‘The White Buffalo’ is just that, a wild west adventure flick that channels ‘Jaws’ in obvious ways but alsogives a lot more to ponder upon later. This 1977 action flick features Bronson as Wild Bill Hickock who’s haunted by nightmares of a vicious monster buffalo, so much so that he’s developed a bad habit of grabbin’ his pistols during the dreams and randomly firing it in real life while he’s in a deep slumber.
The visions intensify and soon Bronson’s on a cross country quest to track down this pesky monster. There’s some great action in between of course where Bronson kicks a ton of ass and gets into some crazy saloon shootouts, cuz let’s not forget what he’s best known for, over the top ass kickin’ action. Meanwhile the awesome Will Sampson plays the legendary Crazy Horse, who’s daughter happens to be slaughtered by the giant buffalo in a bloody massacre on his settlement and it inspires a quest of revenge against the beast.
I really dig this forgotten gem, from the cool sets to the atmospheric gothic journey when Bronson heads off on into the mountains in a stage coach, to the drama between Hickock and Crazy Horse as they try to come to terms with the white man’s dominance in the world. Of course my favorite part of this 70’s horror/action hybrid is the threat of the giant beast looming in the mountians, which I read was inspired by the success of ‘Jaws’. The creature appears within an almost dream like landscape, even when outside of Bronson’s nightmares.
The giant beast is actually pretty well done I think, considering the times, using animatronics and puppetry and well placed camera angles. there’s some pretty bloody and intense scenes later as well when the duo finally confronts the albino behemoth. Considering the movie had a PG rating back then at least it gets nice and dirty when it needs to. We all know those 70’s “PG” rated flicks can feel a lot more like an R rated movie in modern times. The movie definitely works best showcasing the unlikely alliance between Bronson & Sampson and does it’s best to show what sort of bonds and trust can develop against a greater threat. I had a blast with this one and it’s easily become one of my favorite Bronson movies! Track this one down, it’s a unique little largely forgotten monster flick!