Thursday, December 30, 2010

Midnight Movie...

One of my all time favorite places for horror movies to take place is a movie theatre.  I think the general theatre atmosphere can only add to a movie, especially if it is supposed to be scary, exciting or both.  The majority of Midnight Movie takes place in an old movie theatre.  The cool old style ones, with only a few screens, a small concession stand and the hallway leading to the different screens.  So already this movie had a lot going for it, imo. 
The movie is about a rare screening of a horror movie.  Well the director/star of the movie has been locked away in an insane asylum, but of course, he escapes on the eve of the showing.  Well the movie plays and soon enough, characters from the audience start dying on the screen.  It seems that the hulking killer from the movie can skip between the screen and real life. 
In addition to the setting, the movie has a other things going for it.  The first is a couple of likable characters.  One of them is fairly amusing even, and has all the good lines.  Since this is a slasher movie, we need well executed gore effects.  This movie delivers a couple of those.  I didn't think they were anything mind blowing, but they were certainly well done.  A couple of the death scenes fall flat, but thats par for the course. 
The design of the killer was pretty cool too.  And I'll commend the movie for taking time to develop the characters before the killing starts. 
It's not all good though.  A few parts of the movie are dull.  This is especially notable once the cat and mouse games start.  You know, the killer has been chasing people around for a while, and you glance at the clock and there is still twenty minutes left.  Hmmmm, not a good sign.  The movie opens and contiues with a great pace but things progressivly slow down as the movie continues.  I'm not saying that it's bad, because its worth a viewing or two, but had the initial energy been maintaing throughout the entire movie, I would have been much happier about the end results. 

Dolly Dearest...

A family moves to Mexico because the father has purchased a toy factory that makes world famous toys.  He gets there to find a dilapidated factory, but fuck it, they already movied into an amazing house with maids and lots of space.  He gives his daughter one of the leftover dolls and before you can say 'Child's Play rip off', his daughter is bonding with the animated doll.  You see, this doll has been possessed by a Mayan spirit which was released from its tomb by a snoopy archaeologist.  Fun fun fun.  Soon enough, the daughter is having spastic fits whenever she is around a priest and mumbling ancient language curse words. 
The whole movie is a play off of Child's Play, but it is pretty well done.  There are a couple good scares and the doll animatronics are ok for the time.  Denise Crosby looked hot from time to time, but here she didn't quite pull it off.  Maybe it was the sweaty locations, but something seemed off with her. 
There is scattered gore, but none of it is over the top or abusrd or anything like that. 
This came out in a time when all the big horror franchises has already faltered and people were scrambling to find a new horror hero.  Well, it wasn't Dolly Dearest. 
That said, the movie isn't unwatchable but it's also far from great. 

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


This title immediately grabbed my attention due to its cool box art, the black alien in an outer space setting.  I had seen pieces of this on Saturday afternoon TV but I had never seen the entire thing.  It seemed to be a common movie at the time, since most rental stores of the day had a copy of it.  In the 90's, when many video rental stores were closing, I bought a copy of it from the epic Movie World who were, unfortunately a casualty of Blockbuster.  They always cut the VHS boxes to fit them into the white clamshell boxes that they rented, so the collector value of titles from that legendary store are pretty low, unless you find someone who just has to have a certain title.  Creature was always in the science fiction section of that store, but a lot of other great titles were, as well. 
Anyway, the movie is mostly about an alien offing people aboard a space ship.  You see, they are on a rescue mission.  They encounter a rogue scientist, who is the highlight of the movie.  He is played by Klaus Kinski, who is pretty much wacked out in any role he plays.  Another highlight of the movie is the tremendous gore.  There is a lot of alien related violence.  A lot of the aliens victims come back as zombies, so there is a lot of action in regards to that, as well.  My favorite setpiece was the alien biting off a female characters head, blood splashing everywhere and then the head plops to the ground.  It's a classic 80's gore scene, completely over the top and in your face. 
As of now, Creature isn't readily available on DVD.  There is a cheap public domain copy that shouldn't run you over $10.  The quality is ok, but the colors are real soft, especially in scenes that take place in the light.  I own two copies on VHS and they both look at least the same as the DVD.  The movie doesn't cost you a lot if you track it down on DVD or VHS and is very worth checking out. 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Sorority House Massacre...

I remember, at the height of the home video boom, going to stores and selecting movies based off of the box art.  There were so many titles that promised gold and delivered shit, yet they were big renters due to their superb cover art.  Microwave Massacre comes to mind when I think of that situation.  In hindsight, I was a young boy, so basically any box promising bloodshed and tits was going to be a hit and I did base many many many many movie rentals off of box art with a big titted babe on the cover.  Sorority House Massacre was one of those rentals.  I was already a slasher movie fan, and the cover art for this fed into all of my interests.  It was a picture of a girl in a sexy outfit and there was a silhouette of a guy with a knife looking through the window at her.  Haha!  It's classic VHS cover art.  I don't remember specifically, but the girl on the cover might not have even been in the movie.  Back then, that was a common occurance, pictures of people on the cover who weren't even in the movie. 
Through all my years of movie watching and collecting I have never seen a VHS of this besides the time that I rented it.  It is on DVD now though.  I often read reviews of this where people completely confuse it with Slumber Party Massacre.  I think later sequels of that movie are tied into the sequel to this movie, so I think that is where the confusion comes from. 
As a slasher movie, this one is ok.  The set up is about a group of girl who are having a party at a house and one of the girls is psychically linked to events that had happened in the house in the past.  The first half of this is pretty cool.  They have a lot of shots of the girl and the killer having similar behavior and the girl even mimicing his behavior.  I thought those shots were great and added a lot to the movie.  In fact, I say that added to the creepiness factor, something which a lot of similar movies of the time were lacking.  Of course, the killer eventually shows up and it falls in place with standard slasher fare. 
I like the fact that the film makers tried to do something a little different with this and although it does turn into a generic slasher movie, I say it is still worth a watch. 

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Hollywood Strangler Meets The Skid Row Slasher...

Long before, over a decade before, there was anything called DVD's, we had VHS tapes.  VHS tapes were expensive.  Priced to rent movies sometimes cost as much as $80 for one copy!  Eventually, companies figured out that they could make much more money if titles were priced to sell.  Then, you could always find titles from $14.99 to $39.99, sometimes a little more even.  Of course there would always be "cut out bins" at any places that sold or rented VHS.  These were often titles that no one rented and the stores would sell them for recoup some of their losses.  Over the years, I got stacks of good movies in those bins.  Stores that only sold titles, often had a section of very low priced titles, stuff they wanted to get rid of in a hurry or titles that came "thrown in" with distributors bigger titles.  There was a K-Mart that was near my house.  It is still there today, run down and sad looking compared to the other mega store companies that flourish today.  That K-Mart always had a great low priced VHS section.  I found many great video oddities there, Rana: The Legend Of Shadow Lake, Barbarian Queen, Ironmaster and more.  Some days I would go up there was a bit of money and get three or four movies and waste away a day watching them.  One of the titles that always stuck out was The Hollywood Strangler Meets The Skid Row Slasher.  It was in the bin foreeeeeeever.  Years passed and it was still there.  No one wanted that poor movie.  The fact that pallets of movies had come and gone and that movie was still there always interested me.  The box had a pretty average design and the pictures on the back were nothing to make you want to rent it, much less buy it.  Any information I could find on it, this was long before you could look up anything and everything on the internet, said that it was a terrible movie.  Fuck it, that was a recommendation to me!  So the next time I was at that store, I got it...
There is a photographer in Hollywood.  He takes pictures of girls and ends up strangling them.  Then, he meets a girl, who happens to be spending her free time knifing people in Hollywood.  The two spend the rest of the movies going about their business until they meet.  They seemingly fall in love but that doesn't work out too well. 
This movie was filmed without dialogue.  The director (Ray Dennis Steckler- hiding under the name Wolfgang Schmidt) was notorious for filming on the cheap.  Distributors insisted that it would be impossible to sell a silent movie so he added music and narration, in place of dialogue.  I don't think dialogue would have helped much though.  The pace is very slow and there are scenes that drag on forever.  Occasional action and nudity pick up the pace, only briefly, quick to return to boredom.  Some of the narration is poorly recorded and it frequently sounds like the person talking is mumbling.  Probably not the best idea, since there is no dialogue. 
I thought it was odd how there are no sub plots.  Usually in movies like this, there are bumbling police trying to figure out what is going on.  Not here though.  The one thing that this movie has going for it is that it dwells on two sleazy people and don't concern itself with anything else.  I think doing so gives the movie a gross feeling that movies can't convey anymore.  That's not to say that it's good, or even worth watching, because 99% of people won't make it through this. 
This has been relased on DVD with an optional commentary by Joe Bob Briggs that is really funny.  I say watch it with the commentary on.  Borrow or rent, be wary of buying. 

Friday, October 29, 2010

New Year's Evil...

There is this TV show and they are showing a New Year's Eve marathon and they have a countdown for each time zone that changes to the new year.  Apparently, this show is huge.  What we see of this show is musical numbers and monologues and they all pretty much suck.  Then a killer shows up and starts offing people for each time change.  Then he calls the show and plays the recorded murders over the phone.  The concept is cool, but the execution is weak. 
The main failure of the movie, imo, is that they show the killer's face way too soon.  That took away all of the mystery and excitement out of finding out who he is.  The killer isn't that scary either.  Maybe a little bit weird, obviously, but far from scary.  It's also a let down that there isn't anything cool about the killer.  Maybe they tried to go for the "this can be anyone, even the guy next to you!" route, but it doesn't work.  At the end of The Burning, you see Cropsy, and you are like, "Damn!!!"  You see the killer in this and you are like, "oh".  Also, none of the kills are very inventive either. 
I can think of a lot worse movies than this one but there are also a lot better ones.  A late entry slasher letdown from Cannon. 

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Video Castle and The Outing...

One of the main places that I discovered horror movies was a place called Video Castle.  It was on Vine Street in Willowick Ohio.  That town is about 20 minutes east of Cleveland.  It's where I grew up.  Video Castle is long gone.  The place where it was at is now a License Bureau.  I still remember the big Video Castle sign, giant white letters and a red background.  The place was smaller, with wire racks of movies along the walls and jutting out from the walls and forming mini aisles.  This was long before any of the giant movie rentals places existed.  When you came in the front door, the horror section was to your right.  I still remember certain titles, Microwave Massacre, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Re-Animator, the Howling, Slumber Party Massacre, Sleepaway Camp, The Outing, etc.  Video Castle always displayed the cool promo items too.  Posters, cardboard displays, etc.  There was an older guy who worked there.  He was heavier, with graying hair and glasses.  The other guy was younger, with black hair.  He would talk about movies forever, if you let him.  Not a bad thing.  I really wish I could remember their names so I could attempt to find them and interview them about the 80's video boom.  They had other genres too, but I was always a horror/action guy so those are what I remember best.  Later on when places like Blockbuster came about, the smaller places, like Video Castle, slowly died off.  At Video Castle, there was always a back room that rented porn.  Once places like Blockbuster took over the video market, the smaller places could only survive by renting porn because that was the one thing they could offer that Blockbuster did not.  Soon, all of the stock at Video Castle was for sale and they made most of their money from porn rentals.  That is always the nearing of the end for those stores.  I can name five or six others who followed suit in the years after.  I bought as much as I could while it was still open.  He had tons of great titles for sale, some of which I still own to this day.  Finally, I was there one day, and he informed me that they would be closing.  And that was the end of Video Castle. 
One of the titles that I bought the last time that I was at that store was The Outing.  It's a slasher/monster movie hybrid about a trio of thieves who rob an old lady and steal a lamp.  Well, there is an evil genie in this lamp.  Inevitably, the genies gets set free and lays wasts to most of the cast, in various gory ways.  People are ripped in half, eaten by resurrected mummies and impaled with spears.  Most of the movies takes place at night at a closed history museum.  This is a pretty cool atmosphere for a horror movies, as it is naturally shadowy and darker. 
Some of the acting isn't too hot, but the effects are good and the pace never really drags.  Honestly, the movie always seems to get average at best reviews but it has sentimental value to me and that is probably why I revisit it often.  I recently acquired a nice DVD R of this and anything I see it or the VHS on the shelf, I'm bombarded with memories of Video Castle.  The world is lacking without stores like that still around.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

12 Hours Of Terror @ The Capitol Theatre, Cleveland Ohio

The great Capitol Theatre on W. 65th and Detroit, decided to show twelve hours of horror movies last Saturday night.  The line up was...
Nightmare On Elm Street (which replaced Halloween, which was on early fliers)
The Dead Matter
Night Of The Creeps
The Devil's Rejects
Child's Play
and a surprise secret screening. 
Of course, we weren't going to miss this. 
We got there early and they were showing old movie trailers.  Lots of cool stuff was shown and I don't think some of the people expected the nudity levels that were in some of the trailers.  Ha! 
I won't review most of the movies becasue entire books have been written about them and the others are well known enough already.  I will talk about the ones I had not seen. 
After the first movie, some fatso drunk lady was on her phone and someone told her to shut the fuck up but she argued and bye bye fatso drunk lady.  Later on, she was seen in the lobby yelling about Child's Play being last.  "You shouldn't make everyone wait to see Chucky!  It's just wrong!"  Hahaha!  Cleveland scum. 
The Dead Matter was the second movie of the night.  It was a vampire and zombie mix.  The big hype was that it was locally made.  That is cool.  Unfortunately, the movie was hard to sit through and totally killed the momentum that Nightmare On Elm Street created.  It did have some name actors (including Tom Savini) but the movie dragged something fierce and seemed a lot longer than it actually was.  Pass. 
The surprise secret screening was a movie called Primal.  It was a backwoods monster/slasher movie.  I was happy that they gave some exposure to a newer movies.  Primal wasn't too bad.  In fact, some part were pretty cool.  The make up and effects work was pretty good, as well.  My only complaint was that the monsters shriek was annoying as fuck.  The very end of the movie got a lot of intentional laughs.  Check it out! 
Night Of The Creeps was next.  Everyone knows about that, but I was thrilled to see it in the theater.  A+++++ movie. 
I hope they continue to do this every year.  The turnout was really good and people were spending lots of money on food and drinks.  Plus, they served beers so I guess a lot of people liked that too.  Not this guy though!  Haha.
Btw, the trailer for Gone With The Pope looked fantastic and I will be seeing that for sure on November 6th. 

Mirrors 2...

Everyone who writes for Crimson Screens was a big fan of Mirrors.  I'm overly critical of movies sometimes but I thought Mirrors was great.  It did get a little silly towards the end but overall, I had a great time watching it. 
I saw an advertisement for Mirrors 2 and immediately wanted to check it out. 
Well, it's not too hot.  The plot is about a security guard who sees a ghost in a mirror.  We quickly find out that the ghost is the spirit of someone who died and now they are out to get the people who killed her.  The acting is ok, there is some overacting (especially from one of the bad guys).  The cast is full of "should have been famous" people like Nick Stahl and Emmanuelle Vaugier.  Ms. Vaugier has some weird shit going on with her eyes, like one looks noticably bigger than the other one, and it's distracting as fuck when there are close ups of her face, 
There is a good amount of gore.  Some of it is practical effects and some is CGI.  The practical stuff looks great.  The CGI is passable but is very obvious, especially when it is mixed with the practical effects.  Blah.  There is a great decapitation scene and some guy eats glass and gets mega fucked up. Also, lots of surgically enhanced boobs. 
Mirrors 2 is very loosely linked to the original Mirrors, if that matters.  I kind of missed Keifer Sutherland though.  Mirrors 2 is watchable, even a little enjoyable, but pretty unnecessary. 


Frozen is a new movie directed by the guy who made that retro slasher borefest Hatchet.  I put Hatchet in with movies that try to be a movie from 30+ years ago.  And 99.9% of the time, those movies end up being weak imitations instead of a modern versions of a golden age of horror/exploitation.  Anyway, Frozen is about three people on a ski trip.  They trick their way onto a ski lift for "one last run" but there is a mix up at the controls and just when they are far enough away to not be heard or seen, the ski lift stops for a week.  Obviously, the cold quickly becomes a major issue.  The rest of the movie is about their attempts to get off the lift. 
The movie has a lot going for it.  The acting is good and the set up has a lot of character development, which really helps later on when they are stuck.  Early on, there is a lot of implied violence, which also works to boost the terror level. 
I think the movie fails, as a whole, because it gets redundant after a while.  There was too many scenes of people waking up cold and the "this is your fault" "no, it's your fault" arguments seem tired. 
The movie has a cool premise and is even good for a while, but once the routine sets in, my attention was strained. 
Netflix, don't buy. 


Hello! This blog will be the Internet version of my print fanzine/newsletter. The newsletter is available at stores around Cleveland. Sometimes I manage three issues a month and other times I go on hiatus because, unfortunately, real life has to be a top priority sometimes. Either way, I will be able to update this faster than I can put out issues. This doesn't mean that I will stop putting out issues, because I will not. In fact, I have an issue very close to completion.
I will review and talk about all varieties of movies on here, but the majority will be horror, exploitation, drive-in, action, etc movies.
If you want to get physical copies of Crimson Screens Fanzine, contact me through this page and we can take it from there.