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.