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The Box Set Project

Occupied

box10movieindexWhen Occupied opens to a pretty blonde with a nice spiral perm sleeping on the beach under a blue filter and new age music, it immediately got me worried that this is going to be an art film. Rolling her bicycle down the woodland road to a log cabin does nothing to allay my fears.

Still, the production values are good – video and sound are professional quality as the blonde is greated by what appears to be an extended family member (a niece?) that she is staying with at the house. Weird that we don’t see the parents though, the father – who has set up in cameras all through the house – makes a phone call to check up on our characters and about the 21 minute mark, but otherwise there’s not another human it sight.

Our first act is spent getting to know our main character and her niece, exploring the index2area – the little girl with a video camera constantly in her hand.

As we begin the second act, the voices began to swirl in our main characters head. More creepy new age music pops up as she writes strange things in her notebook and tries to find her way into the forbidden room… Did I mention, the log cabin has a forbidden bedroom? It’s always locked and off-limits the niece informs her. Her father works in there and keeps it locked even when he’s working (Don’t sweat it. That whole thing is a red herring. So are the cameras).

It’s the notebook though, the notebooks seems to be the trigger of her madness. As she begins her descent in earnest I find myself wondering more and more what’s going on – is this a procession flick? Is it just a crazy girl movie? A haunting? This is kind of information I need, and it’s index.jpgnot apparent on the box.

In the end, The best way I can describe this is as a suspense film made by an art film student who watches too many lifetime movies. Being under 90 minutes, it’s not over long – the film takes exactly as much time as it needs, no more, no less. There are some interesting moments here, and occasionally we hit a really well done emotional beat. You really do feel for the niece in particular. Ultimately though, nothing actually happens in the film.  It comes off too much like a soap opera and feels out of place in this horror set (Though I can’t imagine where else it would play).

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Bunnyman

bannerpdindexBunnyman starts with a low res shot on video bit featuring a girl running from the house and getting murdered. It’s very reminiscent of Texas chainsaw massacre actually, fortunately it’s just the appetizer and the rest of the film is done with a higher quality video. It opens with a girl stuck in a refrigerator and once again, running from something – it’s a weird enough opening to grab your attention and steel you for what comes next

We get some kids on a road trip, who managed to anger the large truck behind them. It’s not a promising beginning and I feel like I’ve seen this before too many times already.

The truck driver begins to stalk them, and action made all the more ominous by the brief glimpse we see of the fur covered hand inside the trucks cab. By the way, the girl we saw running earlier? She is in the back of the truck and about to be chained to a tree.

Eventually the images2kids are run off the road and the Bunnyman continues on to his evil deeds. We’re treated to some excellent gore. It’s our first glimpse of the bunny man, and he won’t be back though until the 50 minute mark.

The kids travel on foot, looking for help, and as the night wears on, things get dire and ominous. It’s a slow strech – not a slow burn, just a middle section that drags. However, when the Bunnyman shows back up and the stalking begins things ramp right back up.

I kind of wonder if there just wasn’t enough in this movie for a full feature. Seriously, imagesthis may have been better off as just a short. The suit is too stark, though it provides a surreal image on occasion and that helps. Still, the film feels weak, and I’d kind of like to see it redone with more care and gore.

Wait, what? What do you mean they made two more of theses things?

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Brain Twisters

boxghmv5bodc4mzm5ndu1nl5bml5banbnxkftztcwota0ndawmg-_v1_I was so stoked to actually have a film from the 90’s here… I enjoy 80’s and 70’s schlock, but sometimes a little fresher in needed.

From IMDB: “Employees of a software company discover a conspiracy to use the games made by the company to control the thoughts of its customers.”

If I didn’t know better, I’d swear someone saw the Lawnmower Man and decided to try and make their own version, but without access to the special effects. However, Lawnmower man came out a year later so perhaps I’m just sniffing something in the zeitgeist of the time. Indeed, it’s a shame it’s going to inevitably draw comparisons to that movie because it’s really got it’s own character to it. The detective angle is very much played up here, I almost feel as if I’m watching a sort of alternative giallo…where instead of black gloves, we have cybernetic memorization.

This one is definitely worth a watch, and would go well with a screening of other outdated cyber-thrillers like Arcade or Horrorvision.

 

 

 


Satan’s Slave

boxghmv5bmjezntc3njyzmf5bml5banbnxkftztywmzm3otg5-_v1_IMDB describes this as “A young girl is caught up in a devil cult run by her evil uncle and cousin. She can trust no one and even people she thought were dead comes back to haunt her. ” It’s a little thin of a description, but not entirely out there…

Satan’s slave, also known as Evil Heritage, has an excellent satanic cult vibe to it. That along with Michael Gough gives it a very Hammer-type of feel to it. It’d be easilly mistaken for a Hammer film.

The dream-like quality as our heroine moves thoguh her adventure visiting her uncle is almost reminiscant of Phantasm and in a lot of way’s we’re kept guessing what is actually going on – even at the end. This one was a strong start for me on this set and I’m really digging the whole Crown International Pictures set.


Terrified!

boxghterrified-movie-poster-1963-1020216144You know what? I didn’t expect such suspense from a film done in 1963. Perhaps I shouldn’t be that surprised at the level of violence from the era that brought us Night of the Living Dead, but I was.

From IMDB : “A masked lunatic kills off people in a haunted house. ”

Well that doesn’t tell us much does it?

At the core is a college student fascinated with fear. He spends the first half of the movie pontificating about it to his girlfriend and his professor – After the first shock  in the opening it switches to a lot of set up and unfortunately it drags. however when we get into the second half of the film and he’s being stalked by a surprisingly creepy assailant in a mask, who has some entertainingly brutal fates in store.

The look of the villain works better than it should and this film has one of the creepiest cemeteries around. The old western-looking town is a bit off-putting though. It pulls me out of the film a bit. Still for 1963, this is a gem. Fast forward though the first 40 minuets and get straight to the good stuff. This is exactly the kind of movie I’m looking for in this set!


Trip With Teacher

boxghmv5bmzkymja1mtc3mf5bml5banbnxkftztgwmdc0mzkwmze-_v1_uy268_cr90182268_al_From IMDB : “A teacher and her class of female students take a class trip to the desert. Their bus breaks down, and they find themselves terrorized by a gang of psycho bikers. ”

That’s really about it. This is a perfect example of seventies grindhouse film. It’s a paper thin plot with some action and a lot of exploitation, and reminds me a lot of Graydon Clarke’s Satan’s Sadists.  It doesn’t quite qualify as a Biker movie, or an action one. It’s not quite a rape/revenge flick, though it comes close.

What’s interesting is I can see some potential here, but I suspect time and budget didn’t really allow for any development – even if the producers were so inclined. We have whole unlikeable characters (every one of the girls on that schoolbus are utterly distasteful) and the missed opportunity for a character arc in any of thier cases, opting instead for titillation. It’s what the film was made for I suppose, but it’s not my thing. Check out the trailer instead of the movie. It’ll be largely the same experience but at a fraction of the time.


Nightmare in Wax

boxghmv5bodizmdazndm4ov5bml5banbnxkftztcwnjgwmtaymq-_v1_From IMDB : “The disfigured curator of a wax museum murders his enemies and then uses their bodies as exhibits in his museum. ”

All I can say about this one is it’s a poor man’s “House of Wax”. Indeed it really feels like a remake…but without Vincent Price. I even get a dash of the Mad Magician in the performance. There’s nothing particuarly bad about this movie, Bud Townsent directs a fun saturday afternoon horror flick here and I wish it could stand on it’s own, but in the end, I find myself watching Cameron Mitchell and insted longing for Vincent Price.

This would likely make an excellent double feature with house of Wax though (and is far superior to that remake Dark Castle did some years back anyhow….)


Blood Mania

boxghmv5bmtm5nzc5ntgzm15bml5banbnxkftztcwote5ntcxmq-_v1_uy268_cr70182268_al_From IMDB : “A sex-crazed nympho helps speed along her father’s death so she can use the inheritance to help out her depraved boyfriend. ”

It dismays me that this is marketed as a horror film. It’s got some thriller elements – certainly some violence, but it’s really more of a soap opera. He loves her, but she loves him instead and lets kill this guy to steal his fortune….It’s really neither bloody nor maniacal and even the opening credits push a horror element that really isn’t here.

This isn’t Nightmare on Elm Street, it’s closer to Basic Instinct. I think I would have liked it better if I’d know what I was going in for.

 


Prime Evil

boxghindexI get the strangest feeling I’ve seen this before – or maybe that’s just some thing in the whole Crown International Pictures style? There’ve been a LOT of Satanic Cult films here…not that I’m complaining!

From IMDB : “A coven of devil-worshiping monks living in New York City search for victims for their sacrificial ceremonies.”

Like most of these movies, it’s a simple concept, drawn out to entertain a feature length. While we get some interesting kills along the way, infused with a hefty dose of Catholic iconography and mysticism, you can tell they pretty much spent the bulk of their budget at teh very beginning of the movie and the very end with glimpses of the demon they serve and some well done gore shots that close the film. It’s forgettable fun, and I can see myself revisiting this in the future.


Madmen of Mandoras

boxghmv5bmdg1m2fmnjktmjhjzi00yzkzlwe4zgutmta5zjcxota5ntrlxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymtq2mjqyndc-_v1_ux182_cr00182268_al_I think these guys are trying to pull a fast one on me! I’ve seen this movie before haven’t I? This is obviously “They Saved Hitler’s Brain”!

Well… not exactly. But we’ll get to that in a moment.

From IMDB : “At the end of World War II, Nazi officials spirited the living head of Adolf Hitler out of Germany to a hiding place in the South American country of Mandoras, in order to revive the Third Reich at a later date. By the 1960s these men believed the time had come, so they kidnap a top scientist in order to force him to help keep Hitler alive. Several intelligence agencies find out about the plot and send agents to stop it.”

mv5bmjm3mdqzotkxml5bml5banbnxkftztgwnjc0ntgwmze-_v1_Here’s the thing, I HAVE seen They Saved hitler’s Brain…but that’s actually a longer movie. Extra footage was shot so they could release it under that name. THIS film; Madmen of Mandoras, is actually the original. There’s less to see here, and quite frankly, that’s a blessing. See, the extra footage was shot over a decade later- and it shows. Radically diffrent haristyles of the late sixties as opposed to the early 50’s, diffrent clothing fasions, diffrent cars – there’s no attempt made to hide the extra footage being fro ma diffrent era.

It’s baffling as well – this wierd detective kind of story that’s been grafted on to the movie clashes with the mad scientist intrigue. The styles are jarring against each other and it dosen’t help that the new “B” storyline is terrible. I have to say, the ending with the head melting is actually a little gorier and I do like it better, but that’s all that I like better.

Do youself a favor and stick with Madmen rather than They Saved – the shorter running time combined with the purity of the B film is far more satisfying.