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The Midnight Horror Collection Vol. 11

Dollman

midnighthorrorindex.jpgOh Full Moon, how I love thee. Tim Thomerson too. Albert Pyun perhaps not so much, after all he was the one who gave us that appalling Captain America movie with Matt Salinger. Still, Dollman has been one of Full Moon’s stable of franchises for awhile, so I’m kind of looking forward to seeing how this turns out. Please don’t let me down “story by Charles Band”!

The film begins a galaxy away from earth, on a red planet called Artotos. We get some stock footage from Buck Rogers and then cut to a criminal being chased through concrete alleys. He holds up in a laundry room with 13 hostages and that’s when they send Tim Thomerson . Big gun, sunglasses and an attitude. He’s got a reputation as a Dirty Harry space cop – in other words he’s playing Tim Thomerson . Did I mention he’s also already under suspension? Doesn’t matter, he gets the hostages out without anybody getting hurt and this just makes the index2police chief angrier. Despite him saving the hostages, the police chief and the news reporting that everybody died in attempt to frame Thomerson .

Thomerson is then kidnapped by gangsters who attempt to kill him in the wilderness – he turns the tables on them, blasting them on the pieces before the leader escapes… Pursues his flying saucer in a spaceship and his own and they both plummet through a rift in space, ultimately crashing on earth.

There’s only one problem, the people on Earth are six times larger than the people from index1.jpgThomerson’s planet. It’s a world plagued by graffiti in crime and gangbangers in the middle of a block war.

Six times his size or not, Thomerson isn’t about to sit and watch an assault happened and immediately saves a girl from three gang members with his insanely powerful gun. The girl issafe, but she knows that the gangbangers will be back so she picks up dollman and his entire space ship and runs off. In the meantime the gangbangers discover the head from space, and he makes adeal with them. He promises ultimate weapons  if they take care of him – and more importantly if they take care of Thomerson . The gang shows up at the girl’s house and Thomerson index3.jpgfights them off – the boys are a little surprised that Dollman has such a big gun!.

As the girl attempts to make things better in this impoverished neighbourhood, the 81JvVEaNr2L._SL1500_Dollman starts to give the people hope – hope that maybe they can ultimately get rid of the gangsters. The gangsters of course are ready to respond in kind, kidnapping the girl and spiriting her away to an old ironworks… It’s up to Dollman now to rescue her!

Dollman is classic full moon – an over the top comic book action film with a touch of gore though they’re not veering so far as to be gross. They managed to be low budget without looking cheap and this is a perfect example of full moon when they’re truly on their game!


Ghoulies 4

midnighthorrorindex.jpgI didn’t even realize there WAS a fourth Ghoulies movie – I thought the series died after Ghoulies go to college!

The film begins with a very comic book like Female thief dressed in revealing leather who is able to easily overpower and murder the guards. The killing makes her less than sympathetic but progresses the story quickly. She opens a box from Cairo and extracts a jewel – obviously the prize she was here for. Spray-painting a pentagram on the floor she begins a ritual, and the bodies of the slain guards disappear while in the center a hooded figure materilizes, demanding the jewel. She tried to give it to him but steps over the line, breaking the circle – both men vanish in smoke as the cops arrive. The thief leaves and in doing so misses the arrival of two small Ghoulies.

index1.jpgThese are not the Ghoulies that you may remember from Charles Band’s films, this is really a pair of two little people in suits – more goblin than Ghoulies. They immediately launch into three stooges style violence upon each other before scampering off into the darkness.

I have a bad feeling about this. At least it’s directed by Jim Wynorski.

On the other side of the credits we meet a pair of wacky cops on a stakeout.They foil a robbery at the local liquor store, getting drawn into a bloody gun fight.

In the sewers, our burglar, Alexandria summons the man in the cloak again. He informs her that there is a second stone and that she must find it for him (and it just so happens to be hanging around the cops neck). This means more human sacrifices, fortunately Art index2.jpgCarney’s character from the honeymooners is down there and ready to get killed.

Our two Ghoulies themselves flash back to the first film to try and connect everything… It’s debatable whether or not this was a wise move, it highlights the very different look of the actors in costume from the puppets used in the previous movies. According to IMDb, the puppetry was a cost the film could not afford.

The Ghoulies sneak into the cops trunk to hitch a ride. They accidentally blast a hole in the roof of his car while he is in the quickie-mart getting milk, then run off into the darkness. And this does nothing to inspire confidence from his superior detective Kate. He heads home, too tired to even boff his girlfriend or a hooker or whenever she is… The images.jpgGhoulies follow as he dreams of scenes from the first film.

Elsewhere, the Ghoulies and stop a mugging.

Alexandria luers the cop out by kidnapping his partner, but what she doesn’t know his hooker girlfriend is already absconded with the ruby necklace. It turns out, the cop knows Alexandria – they used to date. When she discovers he doesn’t have the jewel, she commands the brainwashed partner to murder him. We get a fist fight in the warehouse, destroying tons of antiques, conveniently laid out on the table.

Alexandria heads to the cops apartment, but the Ghoulies are already there searching… They pepper spray her and make good there escape.

images1.jpgDetective Kate puts cop to bed and I and meets the hook a girlfriend in a amusingly Catty exchange. Sadly, it’s the last time she’ll see her because Alexandria scoops her up outside the apartment and sacrifices her to hooded guy. Detective Kate notices this happening through the window and it sets the cop off to go look for her. Turns out they used to be Satan worshippers together but she got too into it and he dumped her at the mental asylum.Well now, the inmates are in control of the asylum – and Alexandria is using it as a hideout (And a place to complete her ritual).

Who taught the mental patients Kung fu?

The cop and detective Kate show up just in the nick of time to disrupt the ritual and attempt to save hooker girlfriend.

81JvVEaNr2L._SL1500_In some ways, I really like this.The heavily occult themes of this film really harking back more towards the original movie.I can’t complain that the Ghoulies have minimal screen time, once again that also harkins back to the original film. My main objection is that the Ghoulies are little people in costumes that look nothing like the originals rather than puppets. They are constantly cracking wise – it gets grating .Still, overall it’s a stronger entry into the Ghoulies series then part three and one of the better films in this midnight horror collection


Autumn

midnighthorrorautumn_xlgAutumn has some good ideas. I genuinely like the concept where we see the evolution of the Zombie.

It starts off in urban England which gives it an initial 28 days later feel, but soon moves out to the country and we gt far more of a Night of the Living dead vibe. Forget the cover art by the way, it’s not the sci-fi epic about a plague that the cover would suggest. We don’t really see alot of it, we see more of that first shelter that the survivors are huddled in. We see the first zombies, wandering aimlessly…not eve noticing other people…..not hungry. Not yet.

As the film goes on, we se the zombies start to develop senses, becoming  triggered by sound and light. as time passes, the hunger kicks in and they become the real threat we’re used too. The progression is original and fascinating.

81JvVEaNr2L._SL1500_If this movie has a real problem, it that it’s too long, and WAY too talky. It’s a melodrama in the extreme and would really benefit from some judicious cutting of some of those dialogue scenes. I understand how we got here, the film is based on a book and there’s a LOT of ground to cover. From everything I’ve heard, it’s really true to the source material. Still I think it could have been streamlined into something a bit better paced. This is definitely one to watch, but you need to be prepared for a long somewhat PBS style zombie film and be in the mood for more philosophy than horror.


In the Dead of Winter

midnighthorrorindex.jpgIn the Dead of Winter begins at a bleak prison for somebody out in the mountains… We’ve got a con being released and meeting up with his Friends in their pickup truck. He checks his gun and heads out to cause mayhem…

I can’t help but notice that this film is produced by Tanya York, Donald G Jackson’s old financial partner. That explains the shot on video look to the film and makes me feel just a bit wary.

Sam, the contact that just got out start off by visiting the local sheriff – presumably the man put him in prison. He guns him down front of his family and races off  in the truck. accompanied by a combination of new-age jazz and bad Casio soundtrack.

After that, it’s a joy ride in the mountains on snowmobiles, because why not? They’re looking for an abandoned cabin to hide out in, but when they arrive they find it’s not as abandoned as expected! And amorous young couple have already taken up residence for the weekend and Sam and his crew have found their next victims.

When the boyfriend attempts to fight back, they take him outside and bury him up to his neck in the snow – it’s actually a clever gag.

Inside, girlfriend get Sam scan and turns the table on her attackers – it’s a stand-off, with them threatening the boyfriend and her threatening them. It all goes wrong and the couple both end up dead. Time for Sam and his crew to run off.

After some internal squabbling when they get lost, they discover a cave to hole up in. The cave brings bad dreams but in the morning they take off on the snowmobiles until they run out of gas. That’s when they get shot at.

They flee the unseen gunman and desperately searched the woods for  cover. Their unseen assailant pursues them in a Snowcat. The guys split up, one group and start all the other starts to succumb to frostbite.

All four of the crew are separated – one finding himself and literate than ice, one getting killed accidentally, and one inexplicably encountering Daniel Boone in the middle of the 81JvVEaNr2L._SL1500_snowy wilderness. We discover it’s the local sheriff that’s been chasing Sam- apparently he didn’t die from his gunshot wound. I was hoping for a twist, like it was the sheriff’s widow or something.Sam stumbles into a bunch of bear traps and the sheriff leaves him to die. The ending is so straightforward it feels anticlimactic. This one is a definite skip.


Haunting of Winchester house

midnighthorror41maVWogqWL._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.


Gingerdead Man 2

franchisebannerinde4xGingerdead Man 2 begins with a fairytale style recap of the previous film. We get the best moments and an adequate explanation for the sort of insanity that were about to witness.

By the way, I don’t put this out there all the time, but I’m a born-again, conservative, evangelical Christian, so if this title was meant to offend someone it’s me. I find it hilarious – and yes, this scene does appear in the film (at the very end).

The run run run theme song is amazing – it’s like somebody mashed together “run as fast as you can I’m the gingerbread man” with “cherry bomb” and it’s the perfect theme as we movie into a movie studio set where they’re making a horror film. This is Full Moon image8sPictures kind of making fun of itself – this horror movie appears to be a mixture of Ghoulies and Puppet Master. I’m amused that I have the dagger the dark wizard uses.

Wonder what is better accidentally hits the wizard, he screams cat – and we get a glimpse of John Carl Bulchler who is the director of this unfortunate picture.

Craft service arrives with a box of goodies – cookies, doughnuts, and the Gingerdead Man!

images9.jpgA Make-A-Wish kid arrives at Cheatum studios because his last wish was to see the horror movie studio empire. Things aren’t going well – the studio has too many things in production, they’re running out of money, and horror blogs are constantly trashing them. On the set, people are quitting, fighting and there’s just general chaos.

Meanwhile, the ginger dead man is getting edgy – he’s got to kill somebody before he gets too stale! Normally I’d complain about the fact that the first kill happens off screen, but it’s such a hilarious spectacle – we cut back to the Gingerbread Man standing over at the decapitated corpse with several knives sticking it in another one in his hand that it just works so well.

“1 down, 4 to go!”

In the meantime we get back inside the studio where David DeCatoeu is directing a sci-fi picture on another set, while a porn crew is filming a gonzo movie in the directors office, and the Gingerdead Man is off to find his next victim! This ends up being an extremely offensive kill involving an electrified curling iron. The outrageous and offensive really become the pattern – even when it’s a traditional kill like a stabbing it’s punctuated by the Gingerdead Man delivering the most offensive and ridiculous dialogue the filmmakers can think of. This is how we get scenes like the Gingerdead Man hitting on one of the the puppets from the film, before humpin81JvVEaNr2L._SL1500_g it and then destroying it with a chainsaw (which is bad news for the puppeteer, whose hand is still in there).

They begin to realize something is wrong when the Make-A-Wish boy is abducted by the chainsaw wielding cookie man. They discover the Gingerdead Man has rewired the robot on the sci-fi set and comes after them using it as a Mecha. And that’s about the time when we hit the third act twist.

The brilliance of Gingerdead Man Two isn’t just the fact that you can get away with the cookie saying whatever he wants, no matter how outrageous or offensive, but it’s the self depreciating satire that this film is. It’s a satire that completely deconstructs the Full Moon legacy – much the way Terror Firmer did with Troma. Gingerdead Man is just good, lunatic fun – filled with Easter eggs and inside jokes for horror fans.midnighthorror


Children of the Corn : Fields of Terror

midnighthorrormovieposterRight off the bat I’m pretty sure in trouble when I see the title of this Children of the Corn sequel is“fields of terror”. Also, I see that Alexis Arquette is starring.  Seeing Fred Williamson and David Carridine billed towards the end gives me a little bit more hope though, and I actually do usually enjoy Eva Mendez, but I’m not getting my hopes up considering how uninspired the opening is. Ethan Wiley has his work cut out for him here if he want’s to creep me out, and I don’t think this little Elliot-from-ET looking kid walking towards the green screen is gonna pull it off. I want blood to kick this thing off, not lasers and lightning and adobe after effects. The kids look too non-descript, and I’m only 10 minutes out. Our corn children in this film dress and very contemporary clothing – and that detracts from the creepiness. It’s not just enough to have a shadowy kid pick up a scythe to make it scary. Thankfully we do seem to be at the tail end of the 90s, so the embargo on blood and gore from that era seems to be lifting. The kills aren’t particularly original, but they are visceral.

Children-of-the-corn-5-fields-of-terror-kidsThe clothes are only part of it – our protagonists talk about how bad the town smells, they try and make a point of describing how boring the place is. That’s funny, considering it’s a farming community, and everything looks so clean and crisp. The clothing is too nice and trendy – it just doesn’t fit the narrative. Equally out of place is David Carridine’s cameo as the leader of a cult – it’s the first time in a Children of the Corn movie that we have seen an adult that seems to be the head of our corn children and it feels very out of place.

I have to admit though, it passes the watch test. It moves right along at a good steady 81JvVEaNr2L._SL1500_pace and never really drops my interest. There is a clumsy attempt to expand on the mythology of he who walks behind the rows from the original Children of the Corn,  But it seems more thrown in for styles sake rather than story and is gone too quickly, failing to impact the mythology at all.

I got to admit, I wonder if I’m being too hard on this but at the end of the day, this is a very by the numbers sequel. A group of strangers blunder into the town – discover corn children, and murder ensues. It might be alright if you’re just looking fora midless horror flick, and I probably won’t change the channel if they were running this on the Syfy channel.