Saturday, April 29, 2023

Dog Pagans in Campus: Blood Cult (1985)

Blood Cult (1985)
Rating: **1/2
Starring: Juli Andelman, Charles Ellis and James Vance

I remember reading about Blood Cult (1985), interestingly, through a review of another low-budget, cheesy slasher known as Video Violence (1987). The article mentioned that the inspiration for Video was from one of its director's experiences at a rental store where a mother once came and thought of renting a horror film for her kids so long as it doesn't include nudity. Just nudity. Nevermind the gory violence, but apparently onscreen boobs and butts are the bigger concern. That memory was then recreated as a scene in Video with a mother character renting Blood Cult for her little kiddies and that got me into looking into that title. 

In some ways, I'm glad I did!
Billed it as the "first movie made for the home video market" (never mind Boardinghouse (1982) or Sledgehammer (1983), I guess), this mini-budget horror shlock starts with a college girl showering (her big poofy hairdo remaining poofy, logic be damned) while a figure dressed in black sneaks into the sorority house, meat cleaver at hand. Before long, the maniac cuts down the soapy sorority babe into a hacked-up mess with a limb taken and a strange gold coin with a dog's head sigil left behind. A second murder would soon occur at another sorority, this time a poor gal is decapitated and her roommate gets savagely beaten unconscious with the aforementioned dismembered noggin'. Trashy, cheap yet cheesy fun!

Getting on the case is one Sheriff Ron and he's reasonably baffled by the morbidly macabre nature of the killings. Listing the help of his daughter, a local librarian, Sheriff Ron deduces that the slayings might be of the occult nature as the dog-faced coins left at each crime scene are linked to a cult that worships a canine god named Caninus and believes in boons granted through the offering of body parts. It's no surprise then that more murdered college girls start piling up all over town, a farmer's pet dog is reportedly decapitated and strange "poachers" are spotted at some nearby woods holding bonfires and eerily chanting. Things that I'm sure would end well for horror movie sheriffs who are kicking overtime to investigate them...

Understandably loathed by many horror movie fans for reasons ranging from amateurish production and tedious direction, to monotonous pacing and all-too-natural casts (as in, the most everyday-looking people out there with acting chops just as unremarkable), I, however, couldn't help but appreciate Blood Cult (1985) for what it is, a cheesy horror shlock that does have its good moments; looking past its low budget mediocrities and overly talky detective elements, there's decent editing and camera work to be seen, as well as unintentional hilarity from its dodgy writing and how dramatic (or lacking) the acting and line reading can get. The generous amount of blood splatter and gore whenever the movie dips into the slasher elements are a nice bonus, but I genuinely like the overall story, finding it quite interesting for a low rent, mid-80s gothic serial slasher piece.

Though not an overall great movie, I couldn't put myself to call Blood Cult (1985) a complete waste of time, not with it being entertaining in its own terribly cheesed-up way. You could say this title is a guilty pleasure of mine, a joke of a horror flick that I just find tolerable enough for some laughs and an occasional watch. If you're looking for a shot-on-video slasher and don't mind sitting through a bad one, feel free to try out this movie!

1 female hacked to death with a meat cleaver
1 female decapitated offscreen, head used as a weapon
1 female hacked to death with a meat cleaver
1 female found hacked on the head, fingers chopped off
1 male hacked to death with a meat cleaver
1 female falls to her death
Total: 6

Thursday, April 20, 2023

Stoned, Boned and Owned: Halloweed (2016)

Halloweed (2016)
Rating: ***
Starring: Simon Rex, Shannon Brown and Jim O'Heir

Not wanting the infamy of having a serial killer father tainting their already lackluster lives screwing teachers of the night and smoking the devil's lettuce, step-brothers Trent and Joey Modine decided to haul ass to a town called Mooseheart to start anew, get their shit together and maybe even make a honest living to better themselves. Easier said than done, though, when the supposed All American Dream town is more of an all American dumpster fire with overly excited cops inching to do cavity searches, small town politicians getting on each other's throats and intolerable trailer trash making up the majority of the headcount. Nonetheless, the brothers make it work as Trent gets a job at a suicide support circle in hopes of impressing a local girl who starred in an infomercial promoting the town, all the while Joey works under Mooseheart's main pumpkin (and weed) supplier Patch as a drug donkey.

All is well until the town's legendary boogeyman, the Candy Corn Killer, suddenly makes a reappearance, coinciding conveniently with the Modine brother's arrival. Not wanting Mooseheart to figure out their less than stellar reputation as the sons of a maniac and have the new wave of murders blamed on them, Trent and Joey have no choice but to figure out who's behind the killings, save the town they're starting to accept as home and maybe, just maybe, smoke a hashful to celebrate a job well done. (Given they survive all of this...)

A stoner comedy at most, a slasher film as an afterthought, Halloweed (2016) is an absurd mix of humor and horror that doesn't quite balanced the "haha's" and the "holy shits" as nicely as it should, but I appreciate the effort done as it does have its moments of lowbrow quippy, cheesy fun and even a decent slasher murder or two. 

For half of the film's hundred minute running time, the story focuses on the Modine brothers settling in to the new town and getting around the weirdos living in it, leading up to plentiful subplots such as an election campaign between two manipulative arses brilliantly played by Parks and Recreation's Jim O'Heir and Reaper's Ray Wise, and Joey's drug-selling shenanigans under the literal watchful eye of Danny Trejo's eye-patch wearing wannabe drug lord who kept spewing "he who has the weed, has the power", even dragging along a pot dealer played by, unsurprisingly, Jason Mewes of Clerks and Jay and Silent Bob fame, to help with the operation. It amounts to a what's more or less a series of comedic moments tackling lowbrow topics of gross bodily functions, sexual and gay innuendos, and, yes, weed jokes, though only a handful of these seems to hit their marks on the laughs, while the rest kinda fizzled out for how over-the-top and desperate they feel. Fortunately, Shannon Brown and Simon Rex did a swell job on comedic timing and delivery as Trent and Joey respectively, with Trent being the straight man to Joey's immature and giddy personality, both actors giving their best to make these brothers be the hilarity that mostly carried the film. 

Things do get a lot better once Halloweed (2016) finally goes hack'n stab on us on its second half, kicking it off with a decently fun scene in a courthouse wherein one of the politicians gets a surprise visit from a killer donning a baby mask and full grown onesie, somehow pulling in all the good ropes of a cat-and-mouse chase and even throwing in seemingly supernatural hints with doors opening and closing by themselves and hauntingly devilish baby giggles echoing throughout the empty halls. Cue in the murder mystery angle as we learn of the town's history with a maniac who terrorized its citizens back in the 80s, somehow evading capture over the years, and I do get the vibes that this film is aiming to be a little smarter or wittier with its humor by going meta on us suddenly, name-dropping horror movies left and right, though it never took the horror itself too seriously, going as far as having this angle play second bananas to a romantic comedy plotting between Trent and his love interest. This means that the slashings are kept to a bare minimum after the initial attack and the slayings that come after are hardly on the creative side, but the comedic flow of the whole thing works nicely enough and the goofiness of the killer's get-up and how our heroes try to save their skin (and the town) without actually doing much in terms of confronting the goon did got a decent chuckle out of me. 

As stoner horror comedies go, Halloweed (2016) is watchable. Even more so, perhaps, if you're in a recreational state during Halloween (Yes, this is also a Halloween movie. Hardly felt like one but, yeah...) It's far from the best example of clashing marijuana humor with masked maniac massacre mayhem, but it works close enough to being a worthwhile viewing, given you don't mind the obvious low budget and the low blow running gags.

1 male executed via electric chair
1 male knifed to death
1 female knifed to death
1 male gutted with a knife
1 male killed with a knife, mostly offscreen
1 male knifed in the side, bled to death
Total: 6

Saturday, April 1, 2023

"Golden Title": Frozen Flesh (2001)

Frozen Flesh (2001)
Rating: LEGENDarily bad
Starring: Frank Gillis

I found it. I've seen it. The horror movie to end all horror movies. A macabre masterpiece of maniacal madness. A psychological shocker of surreal sins. An aberration of abnormal anguish. A presentation of putridness unmatched by many classics I've seen in my entire existence. A heart-stopping horrifying horrors of horror simply known as Frozen Flesh (2001)!

With a running time of almost two hours, we see the methodic mindset of a masked mass murderer expertly played by the one and only Frank Gillis, as they showcase to us what goes in the mind of a deranged individual as they feast upon what's not meant to be feasted. A gruesome buffet of human viscera and gore fills the screen every minute, artistically shot in red tint and sickening close-up, surely to sear it in our minds as we sit through this nightmare play of devilish directions. A true art of hellish sensibilities and a daring display of deadly malice, we would soon see this monster wield their blood-caked knife with furious frenzy, either to battle their own invisible demons or to succumb in their need to defile the human form with a swift carve of their blade, over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over...

And over...

Okay, truth be told, that's two hours of my life I'm not getting back. Frozen Flesh (2001) is a weird little shit of a "movie" where we literally just watch a guy in a striped shirt and bag over their head just sitting there, while a plastic body part that you can buy at a Halloween goods store being passed on as this garbage's "gore effects" gets cooked inside an oven before our wannabe horror star just starts wielding the knife in the air repeatedly, in different angles. All of this in almost two hours of running time! Two fucking hours of red tint and bad score, while we watch what's basically some guy's take on a performance art without the striking and though-provoking sensibilities of actual art. I'm sure this is all good on paper at some point, maybe even philosophical or psychological even, but in practice and execution, I think a shitload of things got lost and tossed away, resulting to this head-on attack on our endurance and patience.

It's only fitting to cover this pile of cinematic excrement on April Fools Day as that's what it is. A joke. A big stupid joke of a movie that I guess only those with a certain warped mindset (or high on something both powerful and illegal) would find entertaining. If you're one of the people who enjoyed Frozen Flesh (2001) then more power to you! I'm glad this movie gave you joy while you find yourself strapped in a straightjacket and locked inside a padded room that one time you had a mental breakdown. In the meantime, the rest of us here would be better off seeing other movies to cleanse our palate of this worthless filth and that includes cheekier and hammier bad films that are Oscar winners when compared to this...

1 victim seen with their pieces being cooked. For an hour.