Friday, April 29, 2016

Non-Horror Post: Last Wednesday, I chose a side...

And decided to see Captain America: Civil War.

And loved every minute of it!

I'll be honest, after that underwhelming DC mash-up that is Batman V Superman, I was a bit skeptical on seeing another hero-vs-hero movie (and more skeptical now on seeing Suicide Squad when it comes) but Disney/Marvel knows how to make a good superhero movie work!

Where do I begin? I love the thought-provoking realism of this entry and I love the fact that it didn't devolve into mere superhero theatrics at the end with the inclusion of this movie's villain, Zemo. I love the two teams created out of the Avengers. I love the cameos. I love how they'll be slugging each other was perfectly paced for the wait. I love Ant-Man's little distraction. I love that they're hinting a new solo movie for Spiderman. I love that they're hinting a solo Black Panther movie. I love the bromance between Steve, Sam and Bucky. And I love how this movie effectively placed me at the edge of my seat from beginning to end, especially that final battle between Cap, Bucky, and Tony.

I hadn't felt this kind of rush since I saw Jurassic World, Godzilla (2016) and Guardians of the Galaxy, and I am happy to say, waking up 7:00 AM to get my tetanus shot first before walking through an entire town just to see this was well worth it! (I need to get my shots cuz my dog bit my finger for the umpteenth time. Long story for another time...) If you are yet to see this, I will punch a llama for it. I will eat a live rat for it. I will do this and that for it. And I highly recommend it.

See it!


Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Foul Play: Night Of The Dribbler (1990)

Night of The Dribbler (Canada, 1990)
Rating: *
Starring: Fred Travalena, Gregory Calpakis, Flavia Carrozzi

Heh. Ahahahahahahaha...

No. A hundred fucking times "No".

Night of The Dribbler was a supposed lost slasher until a few horror fans became aware of its existence, herd enough attention about it and somehow convincing a high power (or at least an unfortunate distributor known as Code Red) to have it released. Little do they know they'll be wishing they hadn't done that.

In this movie, a really terrible basketball team known as The Plumbers is on their 6th year losing streak and appears to be losing their teammates on one suspicious accident at a time. A lot of them got hurt. Very few gets killed. All perpetrated by a hoodlum in a rubbery basketball mask. But who could it be? Is it our hero, Stan Bates (Gregory Calpakis)? A benchwarmer stuck on ball boy duties who dreams of becoming a basketball star? His overbearing dad who isn't too happy with his son's current position? The goth girl Becky (Flavia Carrozzi) who obviously had taken a liking to Stan? Or maybe it's that weird science teacher who always gets himself in wrong place at the wrong time?

Personally? Who cares. Night of The Dribbler is a sad, futile, unfunny attempt to be another Airplane! version of a slasher movie, so much so that its 88 minute running time left like 88 hours! The obvious reason for this is that the writing had it that there'll be a joke in every minute, all of them sadly falling flat on their faces for how ungodly un-hilarious, inept and overworked they are. Making all of this worse is the fact that none of the casts have any charm or wit to their portrayals, the entire movie cannot hide its overall low budget, and the "slasher" subplot (which the film was extensively marketed with) was hardly used with only two victims ending up dead and the rest are harmed so badly that they can't play basketball. Yeah, harm counts. We pay good money to have a slasher out and all we got is a spoof with fucking harm counts. Zippy-Dee-Doodah...

Before this movie, the one of the last slasher spoofs treated to us was Pandemonium back at 1982 and that personally remains one of the best slasher spoofs ever made; it has workable characters, a pace in its jokes, and the overall randomness felt balanced enough to really make the funny tone work. A few thing Night of The Dribbler obviously lost even before the actual movie began. For its worth, I dig the killer's mask, but this if this is the only thing I can root for in the entire movie, then what's point?

Nothing! Just like this movie will be in my memory after I finish fifteen Jello-Shots! Avoid like a plague!

1 male head seen
1 male electrocuted in a pool with a live TV
Total: 2

The Mother of All Troma!: Terror Firmer (1998)

Terror Firmer (1998)
Rating: ***
Starring: Will Keenan, Alyce LaTourelle, Lloyd Kaufman

And once again, I dive into another love/hate relationship with Troma Entertainment as I "treat" myself with one of their better films, a self-referential stab at their own goofiness that's loosely based on a book titled  All I Need to Know about Filmmaking I Learned from the Toxic Avenger, known as Terror Firmer.

The plot revolves around Troma Studios finishing another Toxic Avenger entry but can't seem to do so as their blind director Larry Benjamin (played by none other than Lloyd Kaufman himself) keeps changing the plot, the crew and actors just keep boning each other, and then there's a mad femme fatale killing a good portion of the people involved in the movie.

There's also tension within the production assistants as the serious Casey (Will Keenan) and eccentric Jerry (Trent Haaga) both have the hots for another PA, Jennifer (Alyce LaTourelle). The triangle goes from sweet, to romantic, to sexual, and then downright weird, but in the end she can only chose one and by the time that happens, something weirder and deadlier is bound to follow.

Then again, a lot of weird things have been going on throughout Terror Firmer that I am actually surprised that I sat through all of it and, by damnation, enjoyed a hefty portion of the madness! Yes, I still see this film as an overworked gross-out comedy that wholeheartedly addresses itself as the loving tribute to all things Troma, tackling jokes from the prude to the rude, offensive to disgusting, immature to mature (if you catch my drift) but with the violence so plentiful and the story actually making some slight of sense in terms of commentary and plot, all hope may not be lost for Terror.

The slasher bits here are an absolute treat on my book, featuring an intriguing killer babe with a bloodlust to match a rabid dog in heat. She quips like Freddy Krueger, has a moral compass (and voice) similar to Jennifer Tilly's character Tiffany in Seed of Chucky, and a maniacal sense of killing spree to rival Angela Baker from the two 80s Sleepaway Camp sequels, in sense of creativity. Gore is obviously plentiful as, again and obviously, this is a Troma slasher, wherein the word subtle is buried underneath the pile of gunk, cum and shit, and almost every kill had to involve gallons of fake blood, realistic latex organs, and other kinds of bodily fluids.

I also found the fact that our killer is a supposed metaphor for mainstream movies hacking up indie flicks as an interesting notion; though I do love and respect indie flicks, with many of my fave slashers and horror flicks being hailed from indie directors (hey, Jennifer Kent!), but when it comes to most Troma movies, I can't help but understand where she's coming. Of course, in a way for Troma to make itself look sympathetic and the "real" victim here, the killer's real identity had to be in par with the overall gross comedy tone and pretty much have everything end up with a big middle finger to political correctness, catering to its (growing) fans. (As does many other Troma titles out there)

Production quality is (what else) of B-grade standard that often tips into Z-flick ineptness, so do not expect that much stellar acting and all that relatable character plotting, but do know you will be treated one or two offensive gags to the next. The humor here is specifically made for hard-core Troma fans and the copious amount of cameos of other well known Troma characters (The Toxic Avenger and Sgt. Kabukiman being some of them), so it is no surprise that this movie will divide viewers between the understandably utterly appalled and those who be laughing their shits off at every poop and fart joke here coz, well, Troma humor. I honestly find myself at the former but I did came to appreciate the self-referencing nature of the film, pretty much the cinematic equivalent of a stand-up comedian poking fun at their own flaws much to the approval and laughter of their audience.

At times, however, a joke seems to go on forever and this is among the reason why I couldn't fully enjoy Terror Firmer at its finest. With the length of the movie running for nearly two hours, those who are not familiar or used to the film's brand of humor may get tired or annoyed at some point, making the film a real test sanity and patience among the rest. Thankfully, when it does something right, may it be a joke, a murder, or softcore porn (yes, softcore porn), it does it with much slyness and overkill that it can be considered great as an effort.

Good "Good" Troma movies are hard to come by and, interestingly, some of the Troma movies I did enjoy are simply released by the company. On that note, I did notice that most of the movies I dislike from this studio are directed by Kaufman; I am, however, 1/16th proud to say that Terror Firmer finally changed that, at least for now. Kaufman, your films are an acquired taste and I want nothing to do with it, but I am happy that I somewhat enjoyed Terror Firmer. May The Toxic Avenger be with you!

1 male bludgeoned to death by his own severed leg
1 female disemboweled, fetus torn out
1 male found dead under a mountain of cereal
1 male repeatedly stabbed on the head with a broken bog, brains scooped out
1 female trampled (flashback)
1 male crushed through an escalator, hacked apart with an axe
1 male shot on the head
1 male dies, cause unknown
1 male had his head fried by a falling stage-light
1 male had his legs crushed off between trucks, killed
1 male drowned in feces
1 female had her breasts shot off with a shotgun
1 male crushed underneath a car
1 male had his hand chopped off with an axe, groin mutilated
1 male decimated by a bomb
1 hermaphrodite set ablaze, ran through the groin with a boom mike
Total: 16

Friday, April 22, 2016

Bloody Coconuts and Reggae Horror Shows: Club Dread (2004)

Club Dread (2004)
Rating: ***1/2
Starring: Jay Chandrasekhar, Bill Paxton, Kevin Heffernan

I should start off by saying I am not familiar with the comedy group Broken Lizard outside of this "slasher spoof" and I'm not sure I get their definition of  a "spoof", being the kind of guy who grew up watching and loving spoofs like Airplane!, The Naked Gun series, the Hot Shots duo and the first three Scary Movie movies. Still, if they can do a decent slasher comedy like this with their brand of comedy then, hell, they can shit in a box and call it comedy for all I care.

Somewhere in Costa Rica is Coconut Pete's Pleasure Island, a place for swinging partiers and drunk vacationers to spend a week under the sun, having fun, and getting some. That is until someone in a rainslicker and carrying a mean kukri, who may or may not be the island's urban legend figure "Machete Phil", begins to drop the guest and staff count down one kill at a time. The further the days go and the more victims pile up, the harder the staff tries to convince everyone that everything's under control and that nobody else is gonna bite it during their stay. Of course, this is a load of bull as the killer eventually makes a scene and all hell break loose.

As mentioned, I never heard of the Broken Lizard group before seeing this and never really bothered to see their other movies after, hence I am not sure how much of their comedy was applied here, but one thing is certain and that is Club Dread's barely the usual spoof one would expect. (At least not in today's Epic Movie and Disaster Movie infested celluloid) In fact, this is hardly a spoof as it is more of a real slasher movie with a few comedic moments, as the jokes here are hardly quippier than your usual sex and drugs mishaps commonly found in 80s and 90s college/sex comedies, sets of old hat jokey dialogues and camp-grade situations that try to be offensive or interesting but barely denting out any comedy gold from the attempts. Granted I did smirked and chuckled at some jokes but I've seen many of these supposed comedies done before from gag shows and other (more) decent comedy flicks, making a whole gaggle of these quips a hit-or-miss.

In the end, I believe Club Dread played better with its slasher elements, with the killer played straight, the murders being gruesome, and there is actually a sense of dread and mystery underneath the cheeky tone and colorful characters. Club Dread may not have twisted the flow enough to make it a unique spoof, but it follows the rules and cliches with so much respect and understanding, all the while delivering some interesting set-pieces for the murders both straight and comical, I actually learned to overthrow the point that this film was intended to poke fun at the very tropes it is ironically playing quite well. (The Pac Man maze, for instance. Who knew watching a guy dressed up as a  yellow blob trying to run away from a killer dressed up as a pineapple would be so thrilling yet so random at the same time.)

The writing is also a treat from this movie, taking cues from Agatha Christie's Ten Little Indian as the killer appears to base their murder spree from the lyrics of a stoner song. And with nearly everyone having some backstory and suspicious quirks, Club Dread does away the whodunit treatment with some flair before we have our killer revealed at the hour mark and swerving into a campy survivalist-type bodycounter.

Being a film funded and released by a big company like 20th Century Fox, you can expect the best (if not just great) production quality from this movie. The picture looks slick, the audio is great, and it boasts some of the more entertaining set of victims, suspects, and red herrings-to-be. (Including Bill Paxton as the stoner, singer and island owner Coconut Pete) Gore effects are minimal as the killer prefers traditional slaying like hackings and slashings, but the build-up to these killings are great, plus we did have a funky head rolling on an electronic turntable and villain's own great demise to satisfy a little of our gore lust.

Overall, though I am unimpressed by the comedy elements played with here, I love the rest of Club Dread as a fairly decent hack as an early 2000s slasher. A cult classic among more open slasher fans and die-hard Broken Lizard groupies, I for one am one of the former and proud to say that this is one of the better slasher comedies I've seen around this bloody and interesting hobby of mine. If you're yet to see it, expect some laughs, expect some blood and expect a fair bodycounter. That's all you have to know!

1 male slashed through with a kukri
1 female falls off a cliff
1 female decapitated with a kukri
1 male stabbed to death with a kitchen knife
1 male slashed on the gut with a kukri
1 male had his throat cut with a kukri
1 female hacked armless with a kukri
2 males immolated in explosion
1 male electrocuted in a pool with a live TV
1 male found hanged
1 male decapitated with a kukri
1 male gets a thrown kukri to his chest
1 male found with his gut hacked open
1 male crushed and bisected with ropes, drowns
Total: 15

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Watch This With Hambone: Terror at Blood Fart Lake (2009)

Terror at Blood Fart Lake (2009)
Rating: ***
Starring: Jesse Ames, Teen Ape, Andrew Baltes

A little guilty pleasure of mine. One that gives me the chuckles every time I feel like seeing it.

We first see Hambone; Hambone is a rich dude with a weird accent and refers himself in third person. Hambone just invited his friends to his lakeside cabin. Hambone is happy that his life (and his T-shirt business) is working out well for him. Hambone decided to take a dip at the lake only for Hambone to be attacked by a killer.

After that incident with Hambone, we now follow a group of five idiots who are supposed to be stereotype slasher victims depicted by actors who are clearly into tats and piercings; these guys are Ben the main nice guy, Zeebs the cocky jock-type who also has a weird accent, Sally the overweight goth, Snake the stoner, and Gwendelyn the misplaced 50s flapper who has a thing for movies.

Along the way, they come upon Leo, a hillbilly with a (not) dashing mustache warning them of a death curse at the lake they are visiting, all the while helping them re-fuel their van by peeing into it. Not wanting to do anything more with Leo, the kids continue their way and meet their flamboyant afro-wearing host Caspian, who instantly taken a liking to them. It’s not too long, however, before the killer strikes again, apparently a gayish skull-headed scarecrow slasher named Jimmy, who in turn is unaware that a mysterious femme-fatale vigilante is hot on his trail. With all of this, one question remains; will there be anybody left alive in the end?!

Done in an obviously meager budget, Terror at Bloodfart Lake didn’t bother hiding any of its homegrown quality as we can tell these are just people in cheap costumes having a good time in making fun at the sub-genre itself, trying to make the jokes work with its weird plot, weird visuals, and a plethora of weird writing for equally weird characters.

This is a personally tough film to review since I can tell the humor here is not going to cater everybody’s funny bones; it has this subtle yet over-the-top randomness that follows the typical backwoods slasher format, only with some odd set-pieces and each character sporting their respective clich├ęs dumber in cartoonish exaggeration, this including our killer who speaks with a shrill flimsy voice, kills with outrageous murder weapons and merrily skips away after snuffing one off. Some may find this hilarious, some may look at it as desperation, so it’s only real disadvantage (like any zero-budget slasher spoof out there) is how well it caters to its audience’s taste for comedy and tolerance for zero-budget.

Thankfully for this film, I am one of those who found its jokes far from the obnoxious in-your-face overworking of what is considered today as "spoofs". (Disaster Movie. I'm looking at you, you sonova-) With Terror pretty much boasting some workable quips and visual humor that sort of remind me of the refined craziness of Airplane! or even the Naked Gun trilogy only with a near-absent budget, you can tell these guys had a blast doing this film even if some of the jokes had been done before. I guess this is what puts me in a tad bias position when it comes to this title: I just love a movie with a heart!

The amateur acting and obvious lack of props surprisingly go quite well with the purposely bad script, and while some of the gags did got a bit gross, these can be easily overlooked by the dialogue and body language driven absurdity that this movie possesses. It's not perfect as a slasher or as a full-on comedy, but any film that can make corn murders as bloody and cheesy funny, or terrible pick-up lines as groan-tastically hilarious as Terror did deserves at least a viewing.

If you want to try your hands on some homemade slasher spoof, Terror at Bloodfart Lake is an absolute addition to your viewing tick list. A little gooey, a little bad, but a whole lot of fun!

1 Hambone killed
1 male stabbed on the eye with a corn cob
1 male gets a corn cob shoved through his arse, exits out of groin
1 female force-fed with her own fat, choked
1 female ran through with a corn cob, neck broken
1 male eaten alive by...hell leeches grown from someone's arse...wait, what?
Total: 6

A Bad Place To Bleach: Fear Town, USA (2014)

Fear Town, USA (2014)
Rating: ***
Starring: Anna Callegari, Cody Lindquist, Amber Sophia Nelson

Welcome to Fear Town, USA, where gun-packing boyfriends shoot their girlfriends (and themselves) to death, retail discussion is a great substitute for campfire stories, and households store hundreds of bottles of bleach.

It’s also St. Blevin’s Day and the kids are delighted to celebrate that one holiday honoring a heroic pilgrim who tricked thousands of innocent Polish children into drowning. As parties are thrown and road trips are made, little do these idiots know that they’re in mortal danger as a masked psycho is on the loose killing people, the ghost of a deceased bully continues her trolling from beyond the grave, a van full of hooded people is seen around, and somebody who may or may not be Satan has stopped by in a party.

Told through the perspectives of separate groups, mainly four geeks on a quest to lose their virginities (or as they call it "pussycrush"), a girl who can see ghosts, and a group of campers wherein one has a urinary problem (just to name a few!), Fear Town, USA is a sort of anthology similar to that of Trick'R Treat (2007), wherein seemingly unrelated stories run their courses, only to be linked with one another through little snippets and chances.

A spoof of backwoods teen-kill with a fodder of hilarious sidelines, Fear Town might be cheap in production but it worked away its gags with much heart, style, timing, and cheese as far as their budget allows it, focusing more on the anything-can-happen mishaps, randomness and quirky dialogue that befall on its characters. As a marketed backwoods slasher, it is pretty decent on that department with the funnies coming more from its victims rather than the killer. For most, the welding mask-wearing psycho was played straight and was treated as the tying presence for all the segments, with the only hilarity we got out of him is that he has troubles shooting arrows and his motive during the reveal.

But personally, I believe the best of these subplots have to be the nerds getting stopped for a multitude of reasons that are hilariously crazier than the last, and the bits about a ghostly teen troll whose method of killing involves calling people fat over and over again. These segments have the most charm with the characters involved and simply for the absurdity of it all, matching quite well with the overall tone of the movie.

Due to the unpredictable nature of its narrative, Fear Town manages to keep some of its jokes fresh and modestly hilarious without going too over-the-top. (Most of the time. The hermaphrodite gag at the end was just unsettling, if not too disgusting to be funny) A bit immature and corny at a side, yes, but I find these spoofs modest and chuckle-friendly all through out with its near-deadpan simplicity, reminiscent of the old Airplane! or Naked Gun movie.

I will also say that I am a little impressed at the amount of props and sets used for this flick despite the cheap budget; they’re nothing grand (obviously) but, again, it worked well with the narrative style and humor so that’s a kudos for the film’s creative team. Of course, this would also mean a reasonable lack of blood and while I can overlook this in favor of the movie's comedy, I can tell this will not sit well for those who were eyeing for the gory kind of slasher spoof unless they're open for a little more variety done in a near zero-budget.

Some jokes and gags can get too random, but the net result is still an entertaining horror-spoof that could use more polishing. Nevertheless, Fear Town, USA still works as a junk food slasher spoof, the sort of movie you can rent overnight or over the weekend just for you to laugh your arses off, with or without the assistance of your favorite good brewsky. Worth a try!

1 female shot dead (by accident)
1 male shot dead (by accident)
1 female strangled to death
1 female drowned in a pool (flashback)
1 male shot on the chest with an arrow
1 male stabbed to death with an arrow
1 male ran through the arse with a machete
1 female hacked on the head with a machete
1 female happily ingests a 90% more poisonous brand of bleach
2 males knifed, dies after realizing how much of a jerk they were in life
1 male ingests bleach
1 male ingests bleach
5 victims seen dead from ingesting bleach
1 male seen dead from ingesting bleach
2 victims seen dead from ingesting bleach
1 male and 1 female dies from ingesting bleach
A number of victims seen dead from ingesting bleach
1 female decapitated with a machete
1 male hacked to death with a shovel
1 male and 1 female seen dead from ingesting bleach
1 female seen dead from alcohol poisoning
Total: 28+

Thursday, April 14, 2016

The Power Generator Massacre: Bloodsucking Pharaohs in Pittsburgh (1991)

Bloodsucking Pharaohs in Pittsburgh (1991) (AKA "Picking Up The Pieces")
Rating: ***
Starring: Jake Dengel, Joe Sharkey, Susann Fletche

First of all, no. While the film was shot in Pittsburgh, it did not include any bloodsucking pharaohs.

What we have instead are two bumbling detectives, Joe Blocker and Sweeney Birdwell (Joe Sharkey and Jake Dengal respectively), following a trail of murder and dismemberment that's getting more brutal (and absurd) than the last, perpetrated by a madman who pulls a kid's wagon full of high-powered tools, cleaning appliances and a large gas-powered generator.

Their only leads happen to be pieces of parchment with hieroglyphics on them and the fact that a spree similar to this happened in Las Vegas some time ago, little details that could mean anything... except that the perp might be hiding around Pittsburgh's Egyptian district (yes, apparently, that is a thing) and it is the same killer from the Vegas spree.

Unfortunately for these two detectives, they're idiots. Just idiots. But fortunately for them, Joe's former partner's daughter (and meter maid)  Deedee (Susann Fletcher) decided to come out of the blue to help them with the case and she's doing a better job at it! But just when things are finally looking up for the trio, the killer kidnaps Deedee, transpiring to a melting pot of underground cults, ninjas, a woman's smoking aversion therapy, and more blood. Of course.

Overall weird and making little sense despite the (sort of) existence of a plot, Bloodsucking Pharaohs is really a love letter for 60s/70s gore flick and cheesy 80s slashers, doused in spoof juice that oozed out of films like Airplane! or The Naked Gun trilogy, and set out to dry in an air of obscurity and cult following.

As a parody, it's pretty hit-and-miss with the gags, often feeling like it was trying a tad too hard to be funny as it attempts to cover a lot of comedy styles. In turn, the humor felt inconsistent and resulting to a rather confused final product that's either a straight-out parody or just a cheesed up slasher flick. A good example of this randomness includes a detective's chain-smoking wife going through a rehabilitation program that involves a gaggle of "deterrent", from a film viewing of a plane (full of chain-smokers) crashing, to being electrocuted by a group carrying cattle prods. These are scenes inserted every once in a while throughout the movie, serving very little purpose but to pad up the running time and be, well, funny. Unfortunately, it's only funny in a selective case and it does very little for the main story until the chaotic climax. wherein a supposedly hilarious scene somewhat helps the detectives finish off some bad guys.

Thankfully when it does manage to deliver, Bloodsucking Pharaohs in Pittsburgh delivers well; the three leads are likable on a level and while they can be annoying as characters, they're not insulting bad. (Also, we got Don Brockett from Mister Roger's Neighborhood as police chief Buzz Saw. How weird is that?) The mystery is a decent one, too, despite the obvious solutions, and it manages to deliver a great dose of gore courtesy of a makeup department under the supervision of effects maestro, Tom Savini. (In fact, the gore might as well be the best thing about this movie!)

It eventually breezes to a rather fun and energetic climax that ends with a satisfying note as a horror-comedy. Safe to say, Bloodsucking Pharaohs is flawed, but not a total lost especially if you have a funny bone and/or a gore craving to spare. It tries to work with what it have and it attempted to be hilarious without being all on our faces with it, so I guess that deserved the film at least a single viewing. Try it out!

1 female had her skull sliced open with a buzzsaw, brains removed
1 male shot to death (flashback)
1 female eviscerated with a hedge-trimmer
1 female had her insides sucked out with a vacuum
1 dog sucked and crushed through a vacuum
1 female jackhammered to death, pinned to a meter post
1 female shot
1 female shot
1 female shot on the head
1 male boiled alive until his skin peels off
1 male beheaded with a spear
1 female crushed to death in a hydraulic press
Total: 12