In addition to the usual reviews and comments you would find on a horror movie blog, this is also a document of the wonderfully vast horror movie section of the video store I worked at in my youth.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Brought To You By The Letter M.

This week I watched a pair of eighties slashers, Joe Giannone's 1981 flick Madman and Buddy Cooper's The Mutilator from 1984, the latter of which I had never seen before.

Madman was technically a re-watch, but I remembered little past the antagonist named Marz and the opening where the inevitable dickhead screwed over everyone in the movie by doing the thing that they're not supposed to do. I recall this being decent when I was a kid, but it did not hold up well. I just have so many questions.

This was supposed to be a camp for gifted children, but there are only five and half of them looked as old as the people watching over them. And by “watching over them”, I mean they stuffed them in a cabin so they could go drink and screw. You know, usual slasher stuff.

Gaylen Ross in Madman

Gaylen Ross was in this movie - under the assumed name of Alexis Dubin - and God bless her because she's one of the few bright spots. I wonder if she was as confounded as I was while doing that awkward, awkward hot tub scene that went on forever.

Madman does have two other points of interest. I realized this movie was the root of my phobia about car hoods falling on my head while I'm leaning in to check the fluids – that rod is so flimsy, I don't trust it! Then, there's that classic scene where Ellie (Jan Claire) panics and hides in the refrigerator.

And the most ridiculous thing is that it worked! She'd have been fine if she'd just stayed in there for more than thirty seconds. Lastly, I think the main detractor was that the ending sooooked. It's super frustrating seeing the Final Girl get smoked at the zero hour, but the guy who'd been wandering around the woods alone almost the entire movie – stumbling into the killer's cabin twice I might add – somehow managed to get picked up at the end. Unacceptable!

Moving onto The Mutilator which had somehow eluded my eyes until now. This had a slightly less annoying bunch of good looking people, including Matt Mitler, star of such unclassics as Breeders and Deadtime Stories. In typical slasher form, they go to a remote location, engage in some drinking and fraternizing and then get picked off by a guy who likes to sleep with his axe.

Speaking of fraternizing, this one also has a weird sexy water time sequence, made so by music that would've been more at home in some seventies TV police drama. Sadly, The Mutilator committed the cardinal sin of killing the hottest girl (Frances Raines) first. In slow motion, no less. Actually, Imdb tells me that was a last minute change because they couldn't get their original gore gag to go. Also, they put milk in the pool to make it cloudy. Gross.

So the killer – who it's not a reveal to say is Mitler's dad – was hella pissed. In an unnecessarily nasty scene, he jabbed a giant fish hook through a gal's groin before beheading her. I have to ask, why so furious? I get it, your kid accidentally shot your wife, but you know what? You could've also locked up your arsenal of loaded guns. Just saying.

The Mutilator featured better gore – two sizable continuity errors notwithstanding – so I'll give the edge to this one over Madman, but they are both definitely second-tier efforts.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Nailed It!

There's a new episode of The Rewind Zone up at Rue Morgue TV. This time host Yasmina Ketita regales us about her love of the awesomely awful 1985 slasher Nail Gun Massacre.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Tiff Vids 2019

Another TIFF is in the books. Genre highlights for me were Bong Joon-ho's Parasite, Rose Glass' Saint Maud & Andrew Patterson's The Vast of Night.

I also enjoyed Richard Stanley's newest Color Out of Space, even if Nic Cage's usual shtick seemed at odds with the subject matter. I'm just glad Stanley is making movies again.

Anyhoo, as per usual, videographer Robert A. Mitchell was once again on hand - now travelling from his new digs in Texas to be with us - to shoot the following interviews.

For more footage from last week's festivities, check out Mitchell's YT channel here.

Friday, September 6, 2019

Tiff Time!

TIFF has come around again so I'll likely be incognito for the foreseeable future. See you on the other side, kiddies!

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Be Kind! Rewind!

Another cool thing I discovered this weekend was Shudder's original podcast Video Palace. This is a terrific little audio play that I came across while surfing Amazon Video.

One of my all-time favourite pieces of media is Limetown (I get to watch the first episode of the upcoming TV adaptation at TIFF this weekend, Yay!) and I think Video Palace fits right into that oeuvre. This should be of particular interest to tapeheads because it exists in our world, relying heavily on hearsay and urban legend to propel its narrative, all while using technology's latest tools. 

I highly recommend it. Don't have Shudder? Well, don't you fret, as it can also be found here

Tuesday, September 3, 2019


I heard some terrific news this weekend. Adult Swim's Toonami is adapting Junji Ito's bonkers manga Uzumaki into a four-part anime miniseries. Check out the trailer below.

Man, that music by Colin Stetson is fucking perfect. As we know, Uzumaki was made into a feature in 2000, and though it had unsettling visuals in spades, I think this anime may best capture Ito's unrivalled forays into cosmic madness. The miniseries is set to be released in 2020.

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Night Light 2019

Check out this sweet poster for the newly formed Night Light Film Festival.

Taking place this October 3rd-5th at the Apollo Cinema in Kitchener, Ontario, Night Light will be showcasing both contemporary and retro genre cinema. For more info, go here.

Friday, August 30, 2019

More Like "On Bore" Amirite?

This week's VHS was Don Edmonds' 1980 rock n' roll slasher, Terror on Tour.

Several women are being murdered during concerts of controversial rock band The Clowns. Could the killer be a fan? Or even a member?

I'm not sure what I was expecting with this movie, but considering it was from the guy who brought us the first two Ilsa flicks I surely hoped for something less dull as dirt.

Technically it's a slasher in that nubile groupies were picked off one by one, but the movie meandered so much I often wondered if I was watching either a Drugs PSA or a biopic about a hot new rock band. Pacing was a huge problem, as the killer's most brazen rampage happened like thirty minutes into the movie. There's nowhere to really go from there, right? And they didn't even pay off the fact the band were using trick knives onstage to stab their go-go dancers. That's a no-brainer.

It didn't help that like, six people were all wearing the same black-and-white make-up, so there's no way to really differentiate anyone. Literally the only ones with anything to work with at all, are the two roadies – both red herrings, as one paints his face wishing he could be in the band and the other gets pissed because his alcoholism gets him fired. I mean, Imdb had to tell me “The Soup Nazi” was in this.

No idea which guy this is...

And then there were the female roles, such as they were. Meaty roles in slashers (if you're not the Final Girl of course) were anemic at best, but there was no hiding the fact that ladies were meant to be empty knife holders. The sound on my VHS was pretty tinny, but I could swear that one of these chicks comes up to a band member at one point and says. “I think you're better than The Beatles or the Kiss.” Shit, Dyanne Thorne could've helped this movie immensely.

Terror On Tour was made at the height of the slasher boom so there's really no excuse for to how stale it was. I mean, even assuming the music was supposed to be this movie's strength, it's not even as catchy as the ditties presented in stuff like New Year's Evil and Killer Party.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Friday, August 23, 2019

Full Moon Fever 2019

In preparation for an upcoming article for Delirium Magazine and also that I'm working the booth at Fan Expo, I brushed up on nineties Full Moon movies this week. By brushing up, I mean I somehow viddied sixteen titles between Monday to Friday. 

Most of them I watched through, which is their official streaming site. You should check out their 7-day free trial, as it not only has FM titles, but also that of Blue Underground and Wizard. Okay, enough shilling, here's a quick rundown.

My introduction to Full Moon and still one of my faves.

Sherilyn Fenn & Charlie Spradling are so hot in this they almost melted my laptop. I didn't remember it being so rapey when I was sixteen.

This was a lot of fun. Jackie Earle Haley plays the villain. 

Stuart Gordon & Charles Band make a fine pair. This is a high point in Full Moon's catalogue. 

Some cool stop motion and Anders Hove bringing it as the villainous Radu.

The only thing more distracting than all the sci-fi exposition were all the close-up shots!

Hard to describe, definitely more incoherent than I remembered it. The flying hand was still cool, even if it is just ripping off Phantasm.

A Puppet Master redo to be sure, but these new creatures are certainly memorable.

This riff on Invasion of the Body Snatchers is one of Full Moon's more pedestrian offerings.

Completely bonkers idea and good move to cross market the soundtrack featuring Blue Oyster Cult.

Can't get the rights to Dr. Strange? No problem, just make your own!

Man, I love nineties computer graphics. It's like Seth Green says; "VR is the wave of the future!" Over twenty-five years later, the future is here!

Overall, this is the best PM film of the series, even though I'm still partial to Part 2.

Even though barely an hour long (when you take out the flashbacks), this is still amusing and a pioneer of the now-ubiquitous cinematic crossover event.

High concept and larger production values than normal. Solid flick.

Gordon is back with another winner. And this time he's brought Jeffrey Combs AND Barbara Crampton. Top notch make-up effects in this one.

So yeah, now my brain is slightly fried. I think I've earned myself some sun, wouldn't you say?

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Friday, August 16, 2019

The Deadliest Film Ever Made.

This Friday, I’m forgoing the usual VHS to do a rare post about a new release. I went to a screening of David Amito & Michael Laicini’s film Antrum this week and just had to throw down some thoughts here.

A recently unearthed film believed to be cursed tells the story of a little boy and his older sister who dig a hole to hell.

I did consider further cultivating the myth surrounding this movie, but its Imdb page now lists the release date as 2018 so I guess the jig is up. I knew nothing about Antrum going in so as far as I knew it was made in 1979. And I can’t say for sure that, if not for co-director Laicini’s appearance at the screening (he’s not in his sixties) and the blatant homage to Mulholland Drive toward the end of the film, I wouldn't have been duped. While at The Royal, I got a kick out of all the precautions and disclaimers.

We even got an onscreen thirty-second countdown clock before the movie rolled, just in case anyone had zero-hour second thoughts. Antrum was also book-ended by documentary footage about all the dead viewers this movie has left in its wake.

Curiously, this marketing campaign works for and against the movie in some ways. Daring someone to watch a movie definitely gets you more eyeballs, but I feel like even without all the hoopla, the movie could stand on its own as a retro-experimental piece. Though, by Laicini’s own admission, “experimental” is not a word you should ever utter when speaking to possible distributors.

I generally dig movies that covet this vintage vibe and Antrum was one of the most authentic examples I’ve seen. It had a dream-like quality that lends itself to multiple viewings as well as a thinly veiled nihilism that further aligned it with the era in which it was spiritually conceived.

In addition to the haunting sound design and score, the movie featured a lot of spliced in stuff that you might expect from a “cursed” flick. Not all of it worked, but I did like the idea of the summoned demon watching us watch the movie.

Antrum is one of those movies that I like more and more as I think back on it. I'm getting a kick out of envisioning alternate realities where it actually released in the late seventies. Would Antrum have served as a prequel the 1981’s The Pit? Would it have enjoyed a cult following similar to that of The Evil Dead, a picture with whom it shares more than a few similarities? Who knows?

Regardless, I’m pretty proud of this little Canadian oddity that comes with its own embedded lore, the likes of which I haven’t seen since The Blair Witch Project. I read an angry review on Imdb (posted the day after this screening so I assume we were at the same one) about how the filmmakers ripped off a 2016 flick called Fury of the Demon. I guess he didn’t stick around for the Q&A to hear that Antrum was actually shot in 2015. Oh well. Guess I’ll have to track that one down, too.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Friday, August 9, 2019

If You Go Out In The Sun Today...

This week's VHS is Harry Falk's 1989 TV movie High Desert Kill.

Three men on a hunting trip in the desert encounter an unseen force that preys upon their weaknesses.

This one's a bit of a strange beast, in that I wasn't sure what I was actually watching for a good chunk of the running time. More specifically, for the first hour the antagonist was completely ambiguous, only appearing as sudden silences and Predator vision. Keeping the viewer in a state of confusion only works for so long and this one tottered on the verge of annoyance. It's a bit tough to stay engaged when the scariest thing in the movie is this guy's dance moves.

Fortunately, the movie has Chuck mothafuckin' Connors! And while High Desert Kill might not be as wild as Tourist Trap, he certainly makes the most of his screen time. Another face I was happy to see was that of Marc Singer. I haven't seen him in ages (I don't watch Arrow) and I was transported back to a time when The Beastmaster and V were constantly spooling through my top-loading VCR.

Chuck Connors (channelling Tim Thomerson) in High Desert Kill.

High Desert Kill was a tad dry, but at least it was an interesting idea – once it finally gets around to letting us in on it – even if said nugget felt like an abandoned Twilight Zone script padded out to feature length. You could do a lot worse though.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Direct To Video.

I'll just leave this right here...

I've got one word for Dustin Ferguson's new project, Direct to Video... SOLD!

Friday, August 2, 2019

Sleaze in the 6ix

This week's VHS is my recently acquired copy of 1983's American Nightmare.

Eric (Lawrence Day) travels into the city's underbelly to find his missing sister.

Hey, you know you've been doing this a long time when you start duplicating movie posts. I remembered I watched American Nightmare a few years back at Trash Palace, but didn't think I'd actually done a review. But I did. And now it's Thursday night and I'm already committed so now you can compare and contrast.

Lora Staley as Louise in American Nightmare.

So first off, I have to reiterate that American Nightmare is basically the closest thing that exists to a Canuck giallo. I was once again surprised by how grimy this movie was for a Canadian joint. Practically every female character gets naked and a good chunk of the movie is padded with strip tease performances – some by actual Toronto peelers. I feel like this would make a good double bill with Strange Shadows as they both exude – save for their less than stellar treatment of transvestites – the best traits of the grindhouse era.

Hey, even though my first review might have had an exceedingly witty jab at the NDP, this one has Gifs!

The biggest laugh about this movie still remains that though it is called American Nightmare, it couldn't possibly be more Canadian. You've pretty much got every familiar face of the time, including Michael “Mike” Ironside, Tom Harvey and Lenore Zann, actors drop a-boot's at will and there was a driving scene where shops like Color Your World and Bi-Way streamed by. I mean, the climax takes place on the roof of Channel 47/Cable 4 with the CN Tower in the background for Christ's sake!

So what have we learned here? Well first, Toronto can be pretty greasy when it wants to be and second... I should really double check my database before picking my posts. Anyhoo, happy Simcoe weekend everyone!

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Shorts Fantasia 2019.

At Fantasia this year, I sadly didn't see any movies that knocked my socks off (my fault, I missed the ones that peeps were buzzing about after the fact) so I figured I'd rundown some short films you should keep your eyes out for.

Up first, is Germ├ín Sancho's creeper Fears. I was super impressed with this creative take on the monster-in-the-closet tale. Another pair of efforts that caught my attention were Lance Edmands' Whiteout and Joshua Giuliano's In Sound, We Live Forever, as they both involved innocuous situations that deteriorate quickly.

For the gore hounds out there, you need look no further than Oskar Lehemaa's Bad Hair. Just think of it as if The Peanut Butter Solution went full-on body horror. If you don't cringe at least once during this, you ain't got a pulse.

Fortunately, I was there for this year's edition of the Born of Woman programme. It was as strong as always, but there were a trio of standouts in my opinion. Opening up the block was Yfke Van Berckelaer's Lili. Buoyed by a terrific performance by Lisa Smit, this uncomfortable and all-too-real short was a good indicator of what we were all in for that evening.

Erica Skoggins' The Boogeywoman was a provocative short that blended coming-of-age tale with urban folklore by way of David Lynch. Skoggins (like BoW alumni Natalie James & Alice Waddington before her) has such a firm grasp of story, sound and visuals that I'm sure a feature film cannot be far away. Lastly, it's not an overstatement to say that Jamie DeWolf's Girl in the Hallway obliterated everyone in attendance. This was an incredible piece of work.