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The Box Set Project

The Apocalypse

Apocalypse starts off with campers watching a shooting star. Well, it’s not just a shooting star, it’s not just a little meteor, it’s the end of the world! Teeny fiery meteors falling from the sky, killing people individually with the smaller ones, and smashing houses with the bigger ones, until finally one large enough to destroy a city vaporizers Monterey.

They’re messing with the radios as well, and disrupting atmosphere.
Because of this pollen meteor, all eyes are in the sky… The one that fell already was as big as a house. And the one that’s following it in four days is as big as the size of Texas… An extinction starter.

We are introduced to A park ranger and his estranged wife, who’re trying to get to their daughter and her college friends down in LA. But right now they have got bigger worry… Toxic ash and a landslide near their home, And a tornado near their daughters. Even stranger, people are vanishing.

I don’t see any real story here. The film just drifts from scene to scene with the disaster as the background rather than being the main thrust.
It’s a very talky movie, with some strange religious overtones. Not specifically Christian… But more, someone who maybe thinks they know what Christianity is from watching Hallmark movies and UP TV? Considering the Asylum makes terrible horror and sci-fi movies, trust them to mess up religious one too huh?

Ultimately, It serves as a good example of how boring a rural disaster movie can be. That’s really more the province of urban films. Buildings collapsing, cars crashing, fire and smoke in… The end of the world! This is just a tornado here and there superimposed on the background. A sinkhole… CG cracks in the street. People huddling in the wreckage, but no real spectacular destruction. Even when L.A. gets flooded by title waves… It’s quick and terrible CGI. Oh, and everyone dies at the end when the big one hits.

I really don’t know who this movie is for. I’m not a disaster movie fan, so OK, maybe that’s part of my problem, but it’s not for the horror fans. And if you were going to make a movie for Christian audience, you’ve got to actually get the theology right. And the theology in this thing is all over the place…(People don’t get raptured here and there just as they die….or suddenly believe.. I know of no beliefe like that. Even the mid-trib folks don’t go there) I don’t really feel like this was made by believers, but rather by somebody who saw the Left Behind films and thought they’d take a crack at it.

Part of me really wants to give Jones a bit of a pass, because it’s his first film. I think you’d be more likely to get that pass from me if it weren’t for these so severely botched theology in here and the pandering attempt at a religious movie when you obviously knew nothing of their beliefs. This thing is just bad. Pass. Skip. Runaway. Avoid at all costs.
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The House That Would Not Die

boxhhindexI had my suspicions about The House That Would Not Die from the word go considering it’s a Aaron Spelling production, and I feel a twinge of apprehension as I realize this is a television movie. Still Barbara Stanwyck is a good sign, and she’s playing opposite Kitty Winn as her niece Sarah . This young actress would go on to have parts in not only The Exorcist, but The Omen and The Exorcist 2 as well! It’s enough of a pedegree for me, so I hunker down and prepare to soldier through.

The film opens with us flying us through an old house with all the furniture covered while eerie music plays in the background. Through the window we can see the new owners pull up in a car, but it feels like you’re being watched.

The next door neighbor shows up and everybody seems astonished when they meet him. He seems friendly enough, and yet his obsession with the house is a little strange… Not to mention insisting they join him for dinner next-door that night.

All the neighborhood shows up and insists that they should have a seance in the new house. This, amid strange dreams and the purchase of a weird old painting from the junk shop that jumped off the wall and into the fire, start to ease us away from the whle soap opera feel the film and into some slightly more suspenseful elements. It’s still has all of the burnt soft camera lenses that we’re so used to from CBS TV movies in the 70s, as well index2as the powder blue tones of Paul Lynds television home.

Barbara Stanwyck‘s in for a good bit of abuse in this movie, getting attacked not only by the next-door neighbor, but also her niece as the spirits of the house possess both of them. As the film progresses, Sarah slips deeper and deeper into her possession, speaking in a different voice and acting strangely. The possessions gone far enough that even once they clean the house, Sarah still carries spirits with her, and the family must resort to an exorcism if they are ever to live in peace again. What happens though, if the exorcism fails? Ghosts in the house forever battle against each other through their human agents?

Like most television movies, it’s competent but not scary. It’s very much a product of its time, and have some interesting ideas, but ultimately fails to satisfy me. It seems like a very strange inclusion with the set, totally very different, while thematically some more. If you’re a fan of TV movies, you may enjoy this, otherwise I’d say skip this one.


Haunting of Winchester House

boxhh41maVWogqWL._SY445_.jpgIf the asylum logo showing up wasn’t bad enough, the film is made by Mark Atkins which feels a little bit too close to Peter Atkins – as if the author himself is perpetuating the Mockbuster feel. In this frame of mind then, it’s no wonder that I find the opening scene of the UPS driver delivering a parcel to feel very much homage to Spider Baby.

The house itself is achieved in an interesting manner, it’s obviously a matte or possibly a CG model. But more often than not however it’s quite convincing. Still, the thought of family (even if they are just care takers or something) is just casually moving in and out of the Winchester mansion seems a little ridiculous.

They arrived to find the house unlocked and surprisingly furnished, not to mention painted bright colors. They were originally meant to be lodging in the caretaker wing But a note left on the kitchen table states that it’s uninhabitable so they get to live in the main house.

We get foreshadowing almost immediately. A photograph from the 19th century of old images1.jpginhabitants, a mysterious little girl stalking the family’s daughter and a doomsayer who shows up at the house asking what the family is doing there. They let him know they’re just passing through, staying for a couple of months while elsewhere, the daughter follows a creepy ghost  girl into the cellar. The doors slam behind them giving her a good shock, though no harm done. From the cellar she brings up a chalkboard that was obviously once used by one of the people in the old photograph – a deaf man. It’s enough to spark the further curiosity and the dad decides to go for a walk and explore the mansion further.

Back in the house, the little ghost girl creeps on the daughter while the other ghosts draw closer and closer to the father. The daughters intentions are a natural, almost as if she is asked – before the ghosts take her away altogether, vanishing into the house.

images.jpgTogether, the mother and father find hundreds of newspaper clippings in briefly give us the story of the window Winchester. It’s brief though because we have to move along to the next nightmare. Mother dreams of dead, malformed babies while ghosts haunt the daughter. I’ve got to admit, the fact that they’re going so heavy on the spooky visitations and character affects this early on in the movie is impressive. By the time we’re 20 minutes in we’ve already seen some ghosts and things ramp up to some pretty scary levels before you even hit the 40 minute mark!

We get a non-stop hunting and even a certain degree of hopelessness when the police arrive around half way point. Not only are they unable to hear the family within the house, but they find themselves attacked outside the house and unable to render any aid whatsoever.

There are plenty of greasepaint ghosts here but there’s also a fair amount of grotesque latex cases as well – way more than I would’ve expected from a low-budget asylum flick. The ghosts are everywhere, they provide the house and the filmmaker understands lighting – he knows enough to keep these make-up jobs in the gloom and in the shadows. He understands blocking and finds the most effective angles to have to shoot these ghosts from, arranged to create the maximum tension.

I always say that I try to make it to the third act of a horror movie because that’s when the action really gets moving, but this film is all third act action with a brilliant variety of beans and a constant dire threat to our main characters. Just when you think you’re about to get a lull in the action, they throw a creepy ghost in a rocking chair at you or a shape in the shadows emerging.

They managed to get a phone call out to the neighbor – he is a paranormal investigator and he shows up at the house to explain the rules and help get them through the night and solve the mystery of the house. It’s a weird place for this exposition, we usually get this kind of thing closer to the beginning, not in the last 30 minutes. He explains there is poltergeist activity going on here, probably stemming from a hidden object. There are various ghosts in various stages of death, and those different ghosts are dangerous in different ways.

81JvVEaNr2L._SL1500_Now with some direction, the activity begins again, and they begin to search for their lost daughter (actually I didn’t entirely notice that the house had abducted her) and a way to expel the spirits. There’s multiple twists along the way and an ending that I probably should’ve seen coming, but really didn’t.

While the questing aspect at the end isn’t as intense and some of the ending is over the top, the siege section in the second act of this film makes it a genuinely good horror film and one of the best asylum productions I have ever seen. It’s amazing what a skilled filmmaker can do with such a production. I don’t even care that it’s one of their mockbusters (released at a time to capitalize on the release of the film Winchester) this one is a definite high recommend.

 

 

Moving to a new house

Bad CGI

Ghost Children (Bonus for white dress)

Ghost watching from a window

something walks by in the background

Copyright free name that sounds like another franchise (Amityville, Ouija, ect)

Mockbuster

Cover misrepresents the movie

Stock DVD cover (Distributor’s similar House style)


The Man Cave Collection!

You know, I got so obsessed with all the marvelous schlock I was getting at the Dollar Store that I kinda dropped off the box set bandwagon. I mean we did the K-horror one last year, but I really haven’t been indulging as much as I used to.

This one caught my eye. Seriously? “Man Cave Pack”? What does that even MEAN??? (Besides fire sale Dimension sequel titles and a bunch of Asylum originals….) And these things are all over the place, from Hellraiser to War of the Worlds….PART 2!

I see a bunch of repeats and revisits here, but there also enough new stuff to get me stoked for this set – and it’s worth it for that WotW2 cover illustration alone!


Alterscape

boxalterindexAlterscape is a sci-fi thriller about an Iraq war that with PSTD who seeks out an alternative therapy from scientists in the basement of a building with a computer that can alter your emotions. The experiment has side effects, darkening his personality and granting him weirdly undefined psychic abilities, sometimes telekinesis, and occasionally grievous bodily harm. It’s all a front to make him into a sort of super soldier weapon… I think. It’s quite muddy but that seems to be the gist of it.

Alterscape is one of those esoteric sci-fi forays, or at least it wants to be. It goes for the whole sort of head trip thing that we would get from films like The 13th Floor or the Twilight Zones “we can remember it for you wholesale”. The whole messing with the human experience harkens back to that. The problem is it fails to define a lot of its canon, so we’re never entirely sure it’s actually going on or why. It doesn’t help that they’ve bought the same cheap package of special effects vortices that I just watched in the Dean Koontz movie Hideaway. The basement office of the scientists imagesfeels cheap, with an old CRT computer screen and EL wire thrown about in the cramped space to give it a slightly high-tech feel.

I grabbed it off the shelf At dollar tree largely because it featured Michael Ironside, and this underrated actor can generally under elevate anything he’s in. However you can tell he was probably only on set for a day or two and even he can’t save the stinker. There’s a good idea in here somewhere, but I feel like they bit off more than they could chew, and had an interesting idea that really couldn’t sustain a full feature. This might’ve been better off as a short, but even then it’s a concept that needed to be more fully fleshed out before they put it on the screen.  Without a better execution the film ultimately Falls flat.


Hologram Man

boxalterindex5Look, I like John Amos, but even if I don’t know what he’s doing an action film like this… Of course his last billed so just because he’s on some variations of the cover might not mean anything. I’m a fan of Tiny Lister to though, and the title Hologram Man is nicely intriguing. Also doesn’t hurt that we start off with a fire fight between cops and guys in long coats in the middle of a field of burning cars.

Despite his prominence on some versions of the cover, Amos is killed by the 13 minute mark because this movie is really about his partner Decoda. Our villian is sentenced to some sort of digital incarceration and we flash forward about 10 years. It’s a nicely dystopian future and we have a domed city with lots of concept cars (like in Demolition Man) roaming the streets, and it’s all controlled by any of a corporation, The baddie up for parole. The hearings aren’t held in person, though you appear as a hologram… Hence the title. He takes this time to escape the holographic matrix as an autonomous hologram, complete with laser hands and a blue glow like index4Automan.

While Decoda trains in a goldeneye video game on the holodeck, William Sanderson from Blade Runner clones a new body out of weird shape changing rubber. It’s now up to Decoda to stop the seemingly unstoppable hologram man

Believe it or not, I actually really like this. It’s exactly the sort of movie that I would’ve rented as a teenager for sleepovers and watched in between Nintendo games at my buddy Mike‘s house. The action is good. It’s not over the top, But lots of entertaining bang bang. It’s awesome always fun to get a glimpse of the Japanese union Church from Prince imagesof Darkness as a set in another movie, not to mention watching the cops in black dyed uniforms left over from the visitors in The V mini series. The biggest problem is that there’s very little original here. Joe Lara as Decoda is doing his best impression of Lorenzo Lamas. Michael Nouri is trying very hard to be Chris Sarandon in the entire movie wishes it was Demolition Man. It’s built on tropes rather than a solid foundation story, but sometimes it’s enough for an entertaining rental


Silencers

boxalter

indexSilencers is one of those movies that’s a little confusing from the word go. they’ve change the cover in this edition, otherwise I think I would’ve recognized it from the video store days. Traditionally this has a stark white cover with the title in the nemesis on, featuring three men in black with large hats pulled down in sinister fashion over the shadowy faces. It was a blockbuster staple that you could almost always count on finding on the shelves, right next to Patrick Stewart’s Safe House and the Curse of the Blair Witch documentary.

 We start off with credits over a retelling of the Roswell Landing, then go right into aliens abducting a cow (in a CGI spaceship that looks pretty good as long as it doesn’t move) and then follow up with a shoot out at a funeral between and the alien trenchcoat Mafia and the Secret Service, led by someone who looks a lot like the dad from step-by-step.

Turns out it all concerns of plot and a deal with aliens for their interdimensional travel technology. The whole thing has a very 1990s television look to it, TV level production values in special effects, stock soundtrack played under flat lighting, with a lab that reminds me a bit of Timecop and a concept that feels reminiscent of Stargate.

image2sHalfway through, we have another alien arrive from another dimension, and fighting the assassin from the beginning. But I can’t tell who’s the good guy who’s the bad guy, because the assassin is working for some secret government agency. One act in and I’m still not sure what the hero is. But it does seem to represent a war between two alien races.

When the alien trenchcoat mafia decides they know longer want to cooperate, the military calls in the Secret Service being from the opening shoot out to take care of the problem. With the aid of a good alien he’s got to hunt down the bad aliens stop them from bringing their army through the dimensional gate to conquer the earth! (It’s an awfully small army though, only about eight people… Maybe there’s just more that we’re not seeing)

The film evolves into sort of buddy cop action flick, and they’re not stingy with the blanks or the sqibs (Red squibs AND green squibsby the way!). Plenty of action, however it moves a little slow and an hour and 40 minutes is too long to sustain the story. Still a solid classic rental and if you find it as part of a DVD set, it’s prbably the best way to grab this film!



Curtains

index.jpgMy first impression of curtains is that it looks like an old 80s detective show – a Magnum PI or Columbo… We head into a crumbling old mansion as an actress is being admitted to the psych ward (I heard the director played by John Vernon – you won’t recognize the face but that voice is unmistakable from tons of television and animation ) She has an outburst and find herrself in a straitjacket and the movie begins in earnest. Turns out she’s getting herself committed just to do research on the role.

Elsewhere another actress is murdered and then the director gathers all the other prospects for the role to a house for the night. It’s a confusing narrative to say the least, but at least once we get to the house things seem to make sense. The mystery feel pervades the with the masked killer only shopping.jpgvery occasionally coming out to slice up a new victim has a very slasher style. Indeed if not for the slight gore and nudity, I’d be absolutely certain that this were a TV movie.It’s certainly slow enough

Curtains is the weakest entry in this set – and very much feels like it doesn’t belong in this collection. This one is a pass. Enjoy the other three movies in this collection and don’t bother with this one.


Secret of the Clown

index.jpgThe shadowy silhouettes and well done kills that begin Secret of the Clown give us a promising open, though someone needs to teach these guys about set lighting – things are so dark you can barely see anything. The glimpses of the monsters arms though, there mummified and awkward – unsettling and a good introduction. Once we get into the film proper though, the tension keeps up, with quick cuts of the murders and an occult ceremony happening as a young woman research is something in the local well lit library. The parking lot has the same lighting problems though, and I’m afraid this is going to kill the whole movie. The sound mix as well, it’s muddy, Almost as if the entire thing has been ADR. The quick cuts however keep coming as the young woman takes a shower – she’s obviously experiencing visions.

In the background, there is a creepy clown doll – and it’s left behind when Val walks out on her boyfriend. The boyfriend talks about how she thought the clown protected her. One of his friends smashes it in anger, and that’s when strange happenings begin.

Bobby is haunted by the ghost of his friends who died, and visions of things happening in the house – something is controlling this haunting, and he wants to get to the bottom of it. He brings in a psychic in a very exorcist like scene – and together they begin trying to figure out what haunts the house. The battle to find the killer and rid the house of it’s haunting is quite compelling – I wasn’t expecting so much of a haunted house kind of film. There is elements of American Werewolf in London and The Exorcist here. The imagery is frequently compelling and well crafted, with a surprisingly shoppingexcellent set of twists towards the end. When we finally see the clown itself, it’s a genuinely good design – tattooed and clad in rags. The face itself is the only part that really resembles a clown. It’s a great concept, but held back by and inexpert execution. That’s really the problem with the entire film. Great ideas and a definite vision, but the entire thing is dragged down by the low production values.

At the end of the day it’s still recommend, but only for people who can see past The production as it is and can see it for what it could’ve been.


Hoboken Hollow

index1.jpgHoboken Hollow doesn’t waste any time – it begins with a hitchhiker being hanged and somebody butchering human meat before jumping into the credits. It does say it’s inspired by true events, for whatever that’s worth – that’s usually a bit of a warning that it’s going to be complete nonsense.

The credits play out over shots of jerky being hung, a man being chased, an axe and a van – the movie very much is trying to be Texas Chainsaw Massacre (but without a monster like Leatherface), and we know exactly where we stand. Interesting collection of names though, with Dennis hopper, and Michael Madsen, Lynn Shea and C. Thomas Howell – makes me really curious as to what we’re in for.

The Gore is plentiful, but they frequently linger too long on it which makes it clumsy. Nevertheless, the bloodiest hit-and-run you’ve ever seen as well as severed body parts and backwoods creepy keeps my interest.

The story revolves around a ranch that vagabonds come to work at – complete with an ominous warning inside the bunkhouse. A general supplies store front, run by an old woman and her mentally challenged son is it’s public face, but the ranch work however is more like indentured servitude. Sometimes just to step up from slavery, although there are fewer shackles and chains. The rules are a bit looser  for the old timers but these new recruits are very much treated as slaves. In the background, the torture porn keeps going.

shoppingThings start to slow down in the middle, we are supposed to be more repulsed by the horror of these men slavery, but I’m here for gore and terror. It’s enough to make me wonder if the earlier blood and guts were inserts done after the fact when they decided they needed a little bit more torn flesh.

The climax ends up being weak compared to the strong start on the school, and the entire movie is fairly predictable. This one is not a high recommend, I could probably easily pass on this one and I feel like I’m missing anything


Room 33

index.jpgRoom 33 starts with a van full of people on the road, heading out to a Roller derby match. We’re treated to some really interesting looking credits – the film may be grainy, but the credits are scratching letters overlaid on artistically rendered vines and branches and dark backgrounds. It’s actually really effective. Once we get past the credits the van comes upon a couple whose car has broken down and there is some question about the wisdom picking up hitchhikers, this is a horror movie after all!

There is work to avoid something – we’re not sure what, really good quick flash cuts of the background, and rammed into a tree.

The mysterious road that the van is riding on however comes to a dead end – that’s not what the map says, but there is no way to proceed and the van is nearly out of gas.

Look there’s a driveway!

Well where there is a driveway, there is a house right?

index.jpgAs they make their way to the house, they can hear strange noises, screams coming from the woods, before finding an old abandoned building that they decide to stay the night in – They’ll look for gas in the morning.The ominous graffiti inside doesn’t deter them.

Inside they find a young woman with extreme PSTD who initially attacks one of their party with a shovel, misses, then cowers underneath the sink in the kitchen. Outside a man in black stalks the premises… and he has some connection to the girl.

It’s a good set up with some surprisingly fresh innovation, blending slasher, stalking with just a touch of haunt. Shots of the girls on rollerskates (and presumably being followed by a cameraman also on skates) creates an interesting smooth motion and energy to the film. Things start to ramp up before we even hit the halfway shoppingmark, so you certainly can’t complain about its pacing.

I wouldn’t entirely call the ending a twist – but it’s definitely a satisfying resolution, even if it doesn’t give us all the answers we need

Room 33 is a genuinely fun and satisfying horror movie, and if the rest of the films in this collection in it like this, I’m looking forward to finishing it up


They

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From IMDB : “A psychology student finds all her childhood fears and phobias becoming real after a traumatic event. ”

They was one of the reasons I picked up this box set in the first place. It seems like a good opportunity to consolidate my DVD collection a bit. I have seen this film before, it’s probably one of the biggest profile releases on this set! Still, I understand why it was collected here. They has gotten a lot of flak over the years, people seem to really, really hate this film – and I don’t understand why. Is it the “Wes Craven presents” conceit? A backlash or a disappointment that it’s not up to the quality of other Craven films? Objectively speaking, let’s face it – Craven’s involvement in this film was probably limited to cashing a check.

It’s a strong story to me, I remember the commercials being intriguing but I simply never made it out to the theatre in time. Sitting at home watching it on my television, the film scared me. It genuinely frightened me.  It immediately sets the tone for this film and the kind of things that were going to start seeing here. It’s got the look and feel of a lot of films from this era, things like Jeepers Creepers and Darkness Falls. The fact that they never really show you the monster is brilliant – you see enough of it to know that there is something there, something exists in that space and is stalking you but man, the fact that we never get a good full-fledged reveal makes it far creepier than anything – whatever these things are just thoroughly creeps me out.

Of the films in this volume, this may well be the scariest and if I wern’t reviewing it for this column, it would almost certainly be a “in defence of “. I love this movie and if you haven’t caught They, it’s really worth a second look. It’s one that seems to have gathered more appreciation of a time, although it’ll never be a classic it certainly deserves to be more than just a footnote in an eight pack of horror movies.


The Sacred

indexThe Sacred tries to creep us out  right from the beginning, with imagery of spiders and blood and eyes over the credits before dropping us into 1709 and Indian (they say Native American, but they sure look Inuit to me) ceremony hosted by a high priest with cockroaches in his being. The creatures that come from the human sacrifice ramp up the creep factor with a satisfying amount of blood before blasting us back into the present day

A group of geology students sail into the wilderness, guided by a mysterious stranger (The doomsayer that’s in evey slasher film). At this point if feels very “Creature From the Black Lagoon”, but I suspect there’s no monsters here – just ghosts. Indeed, upon finding a totem pole, there are strange voices to be heard in the distance.

Creepy things start to happen once they arrive at their cabin. They discover their grounds were a place of judgement, and execution – they’re not the first to come here, but index2.jpgthe last group didn’t leave alive. The land remembers, the land haunts and the land kills.

The Sacred is haunting and creepy and beautifully executed – one of the best films in the set. They’re proficient with the gore but don’t over use it. The film relies more on atmosphere to support some really well done kills and creature effects. I’m overwhelmingly impressed with how well directed and shot the film is – it may not be original material, but they play in this familiar sandbox really well, and the bloody antagonists of the climax to the entire film justice. This movie alone it’s worth the price of admission and a great reason to buy this collection.


Black Dragons

boxclassicsindexI can’t remember if I’ve watched Black Dragons before or not. It’s definitely on my radar because of Bella Lugosi, even if it is one of his lesser films. We get an introduction – fifth columnists are lurking in the US! this revelation is overlaid with several disasters happening around the country. We got a cabal of people there just to make trouble. Bela Lugosi infiltrates as one of their number, then one by one, they start to end up dead, each clutching a Japanese dagger…baffling the police.

Black Dragons drinking game : Drink every time somebody slides the double doors in the house closed, and take a shot every time Lugosi creeps up behind someone.

While it’s not bad, it’s really nothing more than pulp fiction. Lugosi could very easily be playing The Shadow of The Spider and the story would be largely the same. It’s definitely a worthwhile pick, if only to see some early Clayton Moore in his pre-Lone Ranger days. It’s got a wild twist at the end, but it’s definitely a B-movie classic, and served well by its short 61 minute running time.


Satan’s Slave

mv5bmjezntc3njyzmf5bml5banbnxkftztywmzm3otg5-_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.


The Devil’s Partner

boxclassicsindexIt might be easy to mistake the Devil’s Partner for a redneck, hillbilly film. You got an old mountain man bringing out a sheep in the wilderness, but then we get a good look at the arcane document that he is writing in its blood and see a hand reach over to help him and my faith in the occult thriller is restored.

Our credits go over a bus on the road headed to the flats, and a lone passenger getting off in a rumled suit to pop in to the local café. He’s way out of place in the small town restaurant. And he announces he’s looking for his uncle, the place clears out And the cops show up.

They suspect foul play in his death, he wasn’t very liked in the community.
As our hero Nick inspects the spell written on the floor, the dog mauls the local mechanic Dave, coincidentally opening up a job for Nick so he can stay in town. He takes employment at local garage, catching the eye of the girl who runs the local restaurant. The real horror here though, is that he’s wearing a bowtie in the shop! Also he’s picking up the local drunk for more arcane rituals. He gets trampled by a rabid horse.

It’s really not good to be an animal in this movie.

index2After discovering the body of the dead drunk,the local sheriff pops over to the shack Nick has been staying in, discovers the spell written underneath the rug, while his Yorkie sidekick digs up a goat bone on the side of the building. The sheriff starts to think there’s more going on here than meets the eye, and contrives a way to trick Nick into revealing himself.

Despite being a B feature from 1961, The Devil’s Partner is actually a pretty solid flick. It would be perfect horror host fodder, and I’d be completely content to stick around at a drive-in to watch this after the main feature. It’s flooding around YouTube and has popped up in several collections, it might just be worth your time.


Voices

indexWe get some j horror up next with voices. It has a strong opening that makes me think of poltergeist with more blood and is a good way to wash the taste of the last horrorfest movie out of my mouth. We head directly to a Japanese high school, complete with all the stereotypes you can expect from one of these films. There is a wedding coming up this weekend. Well there WAS a wedding, until the bride jumped off the balcony and slammed into the floor.

I’m not sure where this is going, but I’m still engaged – in no small part because I wanna get to that scene I witnessed at the beginning. Besides, the hospital the bride is being treated in is incredibly creepy in a ghost story kind of way… and what happens next is quite bloody.

Indeed, Voices is full of brilliant bloody imagery, creepy dream sequences and moves at a nicely quick pace, maybe too quickly as I sometimes give confused as to what was going on.  I’m not sure if the schoolgirl main character is cursed or haunted here, but it’s certainly never drags.

All around our ingenue, people are dying or trying to kill her as she searches for answers. For someone familiar with anime or Japanese film, this movie is comfort food. Everything, the themes, characters, all of it is very familiar. That’s not a bad thing by the way, it’s everything I want from a horror film. Its supernatural with blood and character. Indeed, it’s exactly the sort of thing that made J horror popular in the early to thousands.


Monstrosity

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indexMonstrosity is trying to pull one over on me. I know this film, but I know it by different name… The Atomic Brain. We have a scientist who is trying to transplant animal brains into humans, indulging in some body snatching, and dooing other mad scientist kind of work while a narrator talks over everything. We’re almost 10 minutes in before we actually get any dialogue that isn’t coming from the narrator! The excessive narration may have something to do with the fact that the film was never entirely shot, with the production company running out of money after 10 days of filming and having to try and fix it up in the editing room. Still, the lab looks very good for the period, and the science FX are impressive. Of course the problem with any brain transfer movie, is as old as Frankenstein… you’ve got to get the tissue fresh, and the old lady who the mad scientist is working for, is definitely going to be picky about what kind of young body he transfers her brain into. To that end, they hire some maids from other countries, to give them new imagesvictims to experiment on.

Even at 64 minutes, the movie feels dragged out. It seems like the sort of thing that would work better as an episode of anthology series like Thriller or the Twilight Zone. I also always have a tough time watching straight versions of films already been done on mystery science theater 3000! And this one is so perfectly suited for it, it almost feels empty without The additional spectacle of the robots mocking it. It’s worth having around for the imagery though, and would make a great background film for a Halloween party.


Night of the Blood Beast

boxclassicsindexNight of the blood beast is another one of those movies that I recall seeing at some point on mystery science theater 3000, and I know that I’m pretty much just gonna have to strap in and hope for the best. At least it’s a Roger Corman film, and the spaceship shots are pretty well done over the credits, even the shots of the pilot going down in his ship are tense and engaging.

They rush the pilot to the local hospital. “By all medical standards this man is dead!”

Really?

Of course the problem is, the body is not decomposing. He may be dead, but everything seems to be in stasis… everything except for one strange gash on his arm. They even discover normal blood pressure beginning. Strange things are happening on the cellular level in the blood, with an extra cell present, dominating and keeping it active. It’s enough that our dead pilot is up and walking again by the time we hit the halfway point in the film. They discover he’s got a foreign bodies breeding within index1him, and that’s when the giant monster bursts through the door.

The monster escapes into the wilderness just outside of LA – where every 50s sci fi movie seems to be set – and abducts the ingenue. Meanwhile, the undead pilot argues with his fiancé over whether or not they should kill the monster… Him too… He seems to have curious psychic connection with it, and insists it’s not evil.

Is it meantime, the monster learns to talk, and he insists that he brings ultimate salvation imagesfor mankind… But is it salvation or subjugation?

The ending feels ambiguous, it almost seems like the monster is right… And maybe the humans are overreacting? But they’re not portrayed as overreacting. It makes for a genuinely strange conclusion, on the other hand, any conclusion to this film is a good one. Nice looking monster, but I’d still like my 62 minutes back.


Curse of the Wolf

index.jpgCurse of the wolf starts off in the chat room with someone consulting a bed on how best to tranquilize or subdue the large dog – large like a wolf. I very much get the impression that this movie is trying to be Ginger Snaps, and that worries me – low-budget knock-offs are rarely satisfying.

Our young lady werewolf has obviously been taught by a group of werewolf hunters. We get our first attempt at a transformation sequence through flashbacks as she lays prone and drugged in her basement. It turns out that the other hunters are also werewolves. They do well to keep the suit in shadows and quick cuts as much as possible – because the suit is awful.

We get stark font credits over loud metal music and the whole thing starts to feel very amateur before we even hit 15 minutes. They drag her back to the cavern club house, and we just kind of… Drift. Six months later we cut to a vets office, she appears to be index.jpgworking there mostly to have access to drugs she needs to control her werewolf disease. She stops a bunch of metalheads street dogs from assaulting a woman using her super werewolf kung fu, but at half an hour, about a third of the way through, I’m still waiting for a story to kick in. The hunters are looking for her again to bring her back into their fold– I guess that is close to a story as I’m going to get.

Amateurly filmed with not enough plot (and terrible lighting – everything is crazy dark), curse of the werewolf comes off feeling like a bunch of guys had been playing werewolf the index2apocalypse, or vampire the masquerade too much and decided to make a movie of one of their adventures. Even with the inclusion of several competent martial artists, this is not One of the underworld movies. We get some gore here and there along with copious amounts of metal music and it seems like at some point somebody wanted to turn this into a character study of Life fighting the curse, but it all falls kind of flat. How on earth did they manage to stretch this out to an hour and 45 minutes? Even when viewed on fast forward the movie feels endless. Skip this one – it’s not really even worth putting on for background noise.


The Vampire Conspiracy

indexReading the description for the vampire conspiracy, it sounds like Saw with vampires – in the washed out grey dirty room that it starts in does nothing to dispel that impression. Five people are abducted by maniacal vampire and put into a deadly maze of wits and endurance – if they make it out alive, the vampires fortune is theirs but if they fail they will be doing to be his bloodthirsty slaves forever.

The film starts with two people who are at the end of this particular game, and obviously about to lose as the vampires descend upon them. It’s not a bad start, and I’m feeling optimistic about the next 88 minutes. Maybe less if there is a lot of credits. Then the head vampire shows up, in a long cloak and a frilly pirate shirt, looking like he stepped right out of an Anne Rice porn parody. And now I’m worried again.

On the other side of the credits, the film begins in earnest, with five people in a white marble room – very reminiscent of Cube. 20 minutes and I’m still waiting for the action to start – it’s been a very talky first act with the vampire basically explaining to his index2.jpgcaptives what the plot is. What little action we seen, one of the guys taking a swing at the vampire, the vampire tossing another one out of the way – it’s all stilted and slow.

Once we get into exploring the house, the trap some cells aren’t exactly so complicated – it’s picking the lock on one door and trying not to open the other one that houses the vampires.

They go in for foggy flashbacks, very much like Saw – and attempt to connect the relationships between the people in the game. There is a good deal of squabbling between the prisoners, in an attempt to build tension through the interpersonal conflict – but it’s a waste, we haven’t had enough time to really connect with these characters so the squabbling just falls flat.

The film attempts a third act climax by having the remaining characters confront their pasts – that is to say confront the people that they have loved and lost. Dead partners and brothers, resurrected and to emotionally confront them before revealing they are now vampires.

index2The setting is smart – because they’re wondering through a maze of identical rooms, all they really need is one set with a couple of extra walls to create hallways in. Shooting could be one or two days with a group of extras to provide vampire attacks and the rest of the time we simply got this small cast off for five people.

What really disappoints me, is the lack of  gore. We have some vampire teeth and minimal make up on the horde of bloodsuckers, but the kills and the defense with the stakes never gets particularly bloody – I never get any torn flesh or complex make up jobs. It’s an interesting idea, but lacking both tension and blood. The film ends up being quite unmemorable. You might wanna watch it just for curiosity, but I won’t blame you if you don’t make it all the way through.


Fist of the Vampire

index.jpgFist of the vampire… What a stupid name… And that logo looks a lot like they want to emulate the Shaw Bros intro – the film dives into grainy footage that says it’s from 1977. I don’t know, these 70s vampires look awfully 21st-century to me as they pursue a guy in a ponytail and a three-piece suit down a desaturated alleyway.

On the other hand, maybe I’m being too hard on things – we get into some bloodletting and action right away, and if they keep this kind of pace this may well be a nicely entertaining flick.

The vampire attack is brutal – full of blood and fire. Somebody knows how to use after effects and bought some stock footage. This is especially evident as we watch some very stylized credits over metal music. A lot of quick cuts and flashing images, leading us into the gunfight that begins the film. Young one flees the policeman, shooting it out in a video store and eventually being followed to her hideout where more gunplay ensues. You can tell the makers of the film are movie people, the living room walls are covered in DVD shelves, and I wouldn’t be surprised if index1.jpgthat video store was actually creation in somebody’s basement. Nevertheless, they really know how to stage action, whether it’s hand-to-hand throwing punches and kicks or pistols and automatic weapons enhanced by CG muzzle flashes. It’s well done enough that they’re able to maintain this action sequence for long stretches of time without you getting tired of it. 23 minutes into the film, we are finally getting a breather from the action as detectives investigate this crime scene, – and I didn’t even notice that time fly by.

We move on to a detective investigating an underground fighting ring. It’s being run by the vampires from the 1977 sequence and in large part appears to be there to showcase several martial artists in exciting fighting in sequences that aren’t required to propel the narrative. With all of the stilted performances being delivered by the amateur actors here, I understand why – they need all the production value they can get, and these fight index2sequences really do add quite a bit.

The thing is, even with some of the week performances and by the numbers plt points, this is still a really entertaining action film. A box set like this is the perfect place for it, though it might be more at home in an action set rather than a horror one. Either way, it’s worth a watch. Of all the movies in this said, it was the only one that really made me want to explore the directors other work – and there’s been quite a bit of it – low budget direct to video crap but with as much fun as I had here, it might be worth a look. If you have the opportunity, definitely catch this one at a film festival or marathon. Just remember to turn your brain off first.


Bachelor Party in the Bungalow of the Damned

index2.jpgI’m not really expecting much from Bachelor Party in the Bungalow of the Damned – but I’m hoping that it’s got its got a sense of humour as the name indicates. I noticed that Lloyd Kauffman is gonna pop in here and I’m looking forward to seeing his cameo. It comes early and is one of Lloyds best ones ever.

Set up is pretty much what the title says, a dude picking up bros and heading to his bachelor party at the bungalow. Strippers arrive about 20 minutes in and of course, Demons. They drug the bachelor before seducing all the guys (not a difficult task, tight leather). Debauchery leads into some gruesome deaths before everything is interrupted by a call from the fiance. The best man escorts the succubi out, And they reluctantly comply, staring longingly at them through the windows. The groom is not dead but looking anemic

This is when the three Demon girls return, claiming thier car has broke down.

index2Around this time, the best man discovers the dead bodies in the Demon ladies attack. The word vampire gets used, but they don’t feel like vampires to me – whatever they are though, the film is full speed ahead from here out – bloody and gory and with plenty of action. The pacing gets a little choppy though, there’s at least two places where the film probably should have ended but wouldn’t have met its length requirements to be a feature – the segways between scens are awkward, almost feeling like they were tagged on. I’d have liked that better if it had been integrated more smoothly. Still, I actually really, really enjoy this. It’s low budget, sophomoric humour,and Unpolished production values but great dumb fun.


Grave Mistake

index.jpgGrave mistake starts off with a drunk guy in the middle of the desert by A shallow grave pouring chemicals on it in the hopes it will destroy the body… Well, at least we know how the zombie apocalypse got started on this one!

During the credits we get a zombie attack on a truck in and some kids heading home from the skate park. It turns out the drunk with the chemicals is also an abusive father – nice.

We kept to the mechanic in his office having flashbacks of his time at war – things ended badly there, and there is some PSTD involved. You are moving seen of him trying to decide whether or not to kill himself we cut to a jump in the car reading is on the box and then what appears to be an impromptu medieval fair going on in the wilderness. I’m extremely confused. (It seems to be more of an excuse to have guys who can swing swords at the zombies later on)

Mechanics assistant is a goofy Conrad Brooks type who’s written a book on surviving the zombie apocalypse. Good thing to do, because there is some news report that the zombies have arrived!

Zombie some cells are only in airbrushed grey with some gruesome flight details, but it’s effective enough and someone’s certainly beginning to learn their gore fx . There are some clever mixtures of gore and camera trickery used to achieve some of the more interesting kills, but not much of a story – it’s secondary to the filmmakers ability to show off their make up skills.

index2We get to standard small group on a run (heading to the local armory), as well as the occasional zombie attacks, the running out of gas gag and the “let’s go shopping” scene.

The actors do a fair job and the cinematography is adequate despite the consumer grade equipment being used here.

It’s worth watching as part of a collection like this, especially for some of that kills force the end and hopefully would serve as a good calling card for the filmmakers to go on to bigger and better things.