Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Prime Evil (1988)

I know it probably doesn’t need to be said but there’s nothing like a scourge of bubonic plague or the promise of living an extra dozen years or so to get people to renounce the triune God, sell their souls to the Devil, and sacrifice their relatives to eternal damnation. At least that’s the premise of “Prime Evil,” a late 80’s horror flick that tells the story of a Satanic cult which arose in the 14th century, arising out of the fear and superstitions that surrounded the black plague (sort of like how the Jonas Brothers got started). The cult has discovered that by dedicating themselves to the Evil One (Satan, that is, not Mel Gibson) and offering their children or grandchildren up for sacrifice, they are able to extend their lives, not for all eternity, but by a whopping 13 years without aging. Funny thing is I believe Rachel Welch was able to do that exact same thing largely with the help of modern surgery and without all that pesky mucking about with tiresome (and possibly illegal) human sacrifices.

Despite the story’s origins taking place in the ancient past, the vast bulk of ‘Prime Evil’ occurs in the present day where we primarily follow the events of two women. The first that we meet is Sister Angela who becomes involved in the story when she is nearly run over by an obviously traumatized priest (whose trauma, we are shocked to discover, was NOT due to the rejection of his sexual advances by his fifth altar boy that week). She follows the priest into a church only to discover that he has keeled over dead minutes later and is now being looked over by another priest, Father McCabe. A small demonic talisman is discovered on the dead priest’s body which links his death with an ancient Satanic cult, sort of like how multiple empty French fry containers link a heart attack victim to McDonalds. Sister Angela later arranges a meeting with Father McCabe and reveals to him that she knows about the cult that killed the priest. It turns out that this cult not only subjected her to ritual abuse as a child but also owes her 20 bucks for sharing a cab with her once in New York. Because of these sins against her, Sister Angela asks that she be used to infiltrate their group in order to undo them. The priest initially is against the idea but then, in about as much time as it took him to decide what color hat to wear that day, he wholeheartedly embraces it. Father McCabe then devises a plan with the nun. Since a number of the cultists masquerade as Catholic priests, he decides to have Sister Angela play the part of a disgraced nun who has renounced her faith, believing that this will allow her to join the cult. Sister Angela readily agrees to the plan. What is particularly noteworthy about this scene is that these two manage to devise a plan to defeat a Satanic cult that has survived for centuries and has the legions of darkness providing its enforcement arm in about as much time as it takes the average person to order a pizza over the phone.

We now turn to Alex, a woman who works at a local woman’s shelter who is also the granddaughter of one of the members of the Satanic cult. It turns out the grandfather had sacrificed other members of his family in the past in order to extend his life but his latest pack of 13 years is about to run out (and he lost his “Sacrifice 10 Relatives, Get 13 Years Free” punch card). As such, he now needs another descendent to give up to the dark one and begins weaving a web to ensnare Alex as the next victim. What’s more is that he will get bonus points of some sort since his grand-daughter is also a virgin. What those bonus points are is not made clear but I would hope, at a minimum, they involve a Wendy’s Double Baconator. By the way, the reason Alex is a virgin is that her father got her involved in pornography when she was a child and she becomes traumatized whenever she tries to have sex. I don’t know what you think, but a relative-sacrificing grandpa and a child-porno father make for about as dysfunctional of a family as the Lohan’s at a Fourth of July Picnic.

So, in any case, that’s the set up of “Prime Evil,” and for the next hour plus we are left sitting on our couch, covered in Cheeto crumbs, biting our toe nails and wondering: (a) Will Sister Angela be successful in defeating the cult before they kill again? (b) Will Alex escape the evil clutches of her Satanist grandfather? and (c) Is there any of that pint of Ben & Jerry’s still left in the freezer? The suspense is downright unbearable!

Here are a few points worth noting (** Warning: Hail! Spoilers! **):

  • “Prime Evil” was one of the last films to be directed by Roberta Findlay (aka Robert W. Brinar aka Linda Michaels aka Ann A. Rifkin and about a dozen other names, both male and female) who is probably best known by horror fans as the co-director (along with her husband, Michael) of the quintessential movie-whose-notorious-reputation-far-exceeds-what-it-deserves film, “Snuff.” She was also known to have directed a number of soft porn films earlier in her career such as “A Thousand Pleasures” and “The Kiss of Her Flesh” which, if the nude and erotic scenes in “Prime Evil” are any indication of her talent in that arena, are probably nothing to run out and stock up on tissue and hand lotion for.
  • In an early scene in the film, Alex is shown at the shelter helping a young woman, Cathy, get back on her feet. Despite the fact that Cathy is a drug addict that has only been drug-free for only a month as well as a prostitute, Alex manages to secure a job interview for her on Wall Street (!) as a paralegal because of Cathy's “good resume.” I’m guessing that it didn’t mention Cathy’s ability to consume illegal drugs or turn tricks on the street or the fact that she has a parole officer (though who doesn’t on Wall Street these days). It must have been a tight job market at the time.
  • Alex’s mother is murdered by the Satanists in one of the strangest (and possibly most ridiculous and inefficient) ways I've ever seen, that is by making it appear that she died by choking on her own vomit by pouring booze into her mouth. You’d think that having Beelzebub covering their behinds these donut-holes could get away with a faster, less cumbersome and more believable murder methodology such as, say, having the victim run herself over with her own car. During the murder it should also be noted that, despite her blood curdling shrieks which could probably be heard in Zanzibar, her daughter somehow can't hear her a few doors down the hallway.
  • This film contains one of the worst on-screen relationships I've ever seen, second only to that of Sid and Nancy. The characters of Alex and Bill (her boyfriend) are continuously fighting and then forgiving each other only to immediately start fighting again! Why these two were a couple was beyond me.
  • In probably what was the director's sorry attempt at creating "atmosphere," a number of the non-scary scenes are shot in rooms that are poorly lit to the extreme, creating large shadows which are cast all over the walls. Such lighting techniques might be effective during a tense or suspenseful scene, but are pointless in moments showing, for example, two cops discussing a case they are working on.
  • The demon, which is very small and looks like the mutated fetus of the Taco Bell Chihuahua, arrives rather nonchalantly to the final scene of devil worship and, despite being one of the powerful minions of Satan, is defeated pretty easily. In fact it’s so anti-climatic that I’m thinking the director should have had Sister Angela dropkick the midget-demon through some goalposts or explode it in a microwave (ala “Gremlins”) just to up the ante a bit.

About the best thing I can say about this movie is that at least it has a title that warns the viewer of its quality right up front because “Prime Evil” is just that. It is 100% LOATHESOME. The plot feels like someone put a bunch of half-baked ideas into a blender and then pressed the “Clusterfuck” button. Furthermore, the dialogue is terrible, the characters are annoying, the acting is horrendous, the editing is a hack job, and the cinematography is uninspired. This is actually the second time that I’ve watched this celluloid power dump. The first time I watched it was a version that was obviously a “TV-friendly” edit because every time there was a scene of someone getting their head cut off or disrobing, the shot would quickly cut away. I originally thought that the edited footage may explain a few of the film’s problems (particularly the horrid editing), though I highly doubted that the few minutes of film that I missed out on could make up for this unforgivable waste of time. My second viewing of the film, which was of the unedited version, confirmed my suspicions as the film remained a rank turd…only with some blood and nipples thrown in. If you are into devil worship films, you can certainly do a hell of a lot better than ‘Prime Evil’ (the gawd-awful “Devil’s Rain” alone kicks this movie’s ass and then, when it’s down, kicks it again). In any case, for lovers of bad cinema, it’s worth at least one viewing though a second viewing may leave you without a soul. With that being said, I have to leave now and go look for mine. Shrew out!

Check out the trailer for 'Prime Evil'! (*Warning* Contains Nudity)

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Night of the Bloody Apes (1969)

I gotta tell ya, if there's one thing that I love better than punching myself repeatedly in the stomach until my navel hemorrhages, it has to be watching "B" grade movies! And that's especially the case if they involve hideous, murdering bloody apes! And today's Killer Shrew review fills the bill quite nicely as it is just brimming over with hideous, murdering bloody ape action! So grab yourself a banana and snuggle up for a rundown of yet another weird, wild and wacked movie!

"Night of the Bloody Apes" (aka "La horripilante bestia humana" which, I believe roughly translates to "Make Love to Me, Monkey-Man!") begins, after a series of blood-soaked opening credits, in a shocking and bold new scenario for Mexican cinema: A wrestling scene involving masked wrestlers! But not only are these masked wrestlers, these are female masked wrestlers! And despite our desire to get down to the business of watching some serious bloody-ape action, we are subjected to an extended scene of watching two women pummel the shit out of each other (SPOILER: There WILL be more wrestling scenes later in the film). The wrestling scene continues until one woman tosses her opponent out of the ring and seriously injures her. [Note: The connection between female masked wrestlers and bloody apes escapes me for the moment, but I think it has something to do with the director needing to find some sort of an excuse to include masked female wrestlers in his movie.] The story now shifts to a Dr. Krallman who we soon learn has a son dying of leukemia. Apparently, despite all that he and his fellow doctors have tried, there is nothing that can be done to save the lad (who, by the way, resembles an even more emaciated version of Jude Law). Since time is running short, Dr. Krallman decides to take matters on a serious new angle so, with the aid of his assistant (who obsequiously always refers to the doctor as "master" ala Igore ala Torgo), he visits the local zoo and locates the nearest gorilla (which, via the magic of stock footage, poor editing and general goofiness, transforms into an orangutan and then into a man in a cheap gorilla suit). In one of the most memorable (read: laughable) scenes in the film, he fires a tranquilizer dart into the gorilla which does the classic grabbing of his heart with both hands gesture (I shit you not) and then keels over backwards flat on its back. The doctor and his assistant get the zonked-out ape back to the doctor's home laboratory where we soon discover their intentions. Krallman, despite the fact that it is deadly to transfuse human blood of the wrong type to another person, is going to transfuse the gorilla's blood to his dying son. And what is more, to make this more effective, he is going to transplant the gorilla's heart to his son as well. So, giving modern science "the bird" he proceeds with the operation which amazingly seems to work! But before you can say, "Planet of the Apes is THE greatest movie of all time!" 17 times really fast, we find out that not all went as well as originally thought. In fact, we soon discover that not only will the transplanting of a gorilla's heart and blood into a human cause the patient to suddenly, and without adequate warning, transform into a pasty faced version of Michael York after freebasing too much Jagermeister, but will also cause him to gain body weight faster than DeNiro between movie roles. Yes, you guessed it... the transplanting of the gorilla's heart and blood turned the young lad who is dying of leukemia into a murderous, raping, blood thirsty ape-man who is dying of leukemia. Well, you can't win 'em all, I suppose. But in any case, the bloody ape escapes from the doctor's home and, of course, goes on a murderous, raping, blood thirsty rampage. When the doctor and his servant discover this tragedy, they realize that they need to undo what they have done and stop the bloody ape before he throws poop at anyone!

Here are a few points worth noting: (WARNING: Keep your SPOILERS off of me, you damn, dirty ape!!!)
  • The film's USA title is somewhat misleading, as it actually takes place over the course of several nights and, in fact, only involves a solitary bloody ape (actually an ape-MAN). The film should have, therefore, been titled: Nights of the Bloody Ape. Makes you wonder if there was ever a large outcry of people demanding their money back due to the lack of a plurality of bloody apes in this film.
  • Fans of MST3K (or of Mexico produced holiday fare) may recognize the actor who plays Dr. Krallman, Mexican cinema standard José Elías Moreno, who also played the title role in the jaw-droppingly surreal Santa vs. Lucifer epic, "Santa Claus" (a film which, by the way, has to be watched either with the aid of MST3K riffs or copious amounts of illegal narcotics to be fully appreciated).
  • Don't get your bananas in a bunch...there IS a link between the injured masked wrestler shown at the beginning of the film and the bloody ape, though the connection isn't made until about an hour into the film. I won't tell you what the relation is, but I will say it DOES NOT involve the bloody ape and the masked wrestler getting together and going off on love-fueled killing spree road-trip that ends with the two of them driving off over a cliff while being chased by the police. So you know that much, at least.
  • There is abundant amounts of gore in this film and it's not for the squeamish...particularly because much of the gore is REAL. That is, during the transplant scenes they used actual shots of heart surgery being performed...yeesh! This shrew's gotta admit that there were moments during those scenes that he wishes he hadn't been eating leftover lasagna at the time of the viewing (*pukes slightly in mouth*). However, on the other hand, there is also cheezy stage blood up the wazoo to complement the real blood and guts. And I mean cheezy enough to make a chunk of Velveeta look like a delicate slice of Brie de Melun. Some of the most memorable money-shots include a "scalping" performed by pulling the blood-soaked toupee off of a bald man (no joke) and an eye gouging which reveals the human eye to only be a half sphere type of thing backed by what appears to be a racquetball sized amount of grade-school paste (or some kind of hot breakfast cereal).
  • The skin factor is fairly decent, at least in comparison to other "bloody ape" movies, of which I'm aware of none, though many of the nude scenes involve the monster ripping the clothes off a screaming woman in pseudo "rape" fashion or killing a woman as she steps out of the shower. Funny how all the men conveniently die fully dressed. Is it just me or does it say something about the filmmaker's views towards the opposite sex that all of the woman in the movie die or are attacked in this manner? Hm... (*strokes beard*)
  • One of the more WTF moments of this film is a brief appearance of a "beat" cop who is clearly Mexican, but who sports an Irish accent. All one can say is, WTF?
  • The version of this film that I own is the one issued by the incomparable "Something Weird Video," purveyors of some of the finest in grade B and exploitation movies. The print and transfer is surprisingly good considering the age of the film, the grade of the film, and the typical quality that you get from SWV. As is typical with these DVDs, you get a second feature on the disc ("Feast of Flesh") as well as a number of trailers, shorts, and even some outtakes from the main movie. There's even an Easter Egg! For only $10 you could do a lot worse!
Despite it's definite "B" grade status, inane plot, hideous make up effects, and goofy wrestling scenes, "Night of the Bloody Apes" is quite an enjoyable film for its class. It's fairly well paced, has enough blood and boobs to keep your lower nature satisfied, and is just plain fun. And if you are looking for hideous ape monsters, masked female wrestlers, heart surgery footage, cheezy eye gouging, and blood soaked toupees being removed from bald heads, then this is a film for you!

Check out the trailer for "Night of the Bloody Apes" here! (Warning: Contains nudity and violence)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Blood Freak (1972)

It’s time for me to now pay homage to what I truly believe to be the greatest “B” movie that I have ever considered myself privileged to witness. You’ve seen “Plan 9 from Outer Space,” “Eegah,” “Manos, the Hands of Fate,” perhaps even “Ishtar,” and you think that you can now die a happy, fulfilled individual because you believe that you have thoroughly plunged the depths of human incompetence and inadequacy. But you are sadly wrong. For there is one film that beats them all; one film that, in this shrew’s opinion, is the true holy grail of bad movies. One film that glowers at all the other “B” movies and shakes its wang at them, saying, “Bow down and prostrate yourselves before the supreme ineptitude that is ‘Blood Freak!’”

If you have never heard of this movie (let alone have never seen it), the back of the DVD package sums up nicely what it’s about: “The world’s only turkey-monster, anti-drug, pro-Jesus, gore film!” And that’s putting it lightly. Here’s the story in a nutshell. Herschell (played by Steve Hawkes, who has an accent as thick as Arnold’s but none of his charisma) is a lone biker who one day meets and befriends two sisters. One is Jesus-lovin’ Angel, who continuously tries to convert him to the ways of the Lord, while the other is bad-girl, Ann, who always tries to covert him to the ways of drugs, sex and generally having a good time. Herschell, of course, takes the path of least resistance and hooks up with Ann and her party loving friends and, as a result, soon becomes a drug addict. He also meets the girls’ father, a turkey farmer who offers him work doing odd jobs around the farm which drifter Herschell accepts. Upon arriving at his new job, he meets up with other employees at the turkey farm: two lab scientists who perform experiments to improve the quality of the turkey meat. They quickly convince Herschell to become a guinea pig for them and eat some chemically enhanced, highly experimental turkey meat to see if there are any side effects. But the combination of the drugs and tainted turkey meat eating are too much for Herschell’s system and he quickly mutates into a turkey headed monster which must kill and drink the blood of drug addicts to keep it satiated. And from there the movie gets even goofier.

What causes this film to suck on such a supreme level, and go beyond (and below) what the typical bad movie can only dream of becoming, is that it not only sucks in its execution, its terribly annoying music, its festering acting, its god-awful script-writing, and its horrendous make up effects (the turkey head is basically a papier-mâché mask), it also sucks at the very core of its story idea. Most bad films, if you look at them close enough, have at their core at least the germ of a good idea that, if polished and honed in the hands of a competent producer and director, might produce a semi-decent flick. ‘Blood Freak,’ however, doesn’t even have that going for it. Its story and premise are so appallingly ridiculous that no director, no matter how competent, could make anything good of it.

Here are a few moments worth noting (** Spoilers, shmoilers! Keep reading! **):

  • Peppering this atrocity are frequent interludes with the director, chain-smoking Brad Grinter, who sits in what looks to be a cheap trailer (complete with warped fake-wood paneling), wearing pseudo-silk pajamas and sucking down cigarettes like someone was going to snatch them from him at any moment. During these sections of the film, Brad gibbers on about the largely incomprehensible philosophy that is supposedly the “meaning” of this film.

  • The acting in this film is repulsive through and through, but the cream of the crop has to be the two lab-scientists that the turkey farmer employs. No amount of written description can properly convey how badly these two doorknobs act.

  • Probably the most jaw-dropping scene in the entire film is when the now drug-mutated, turkey-headed Herschell goes to his girlfriend, Ann, and she has a one-sided conversation with him (he can only gobble back in reply) in which she ponders how their relationship will continue and what their children will look like. What then ensues in an implied amorous encounter (with Ann saying “Oh, Hershell” and him simply gobbling).

  • One of the Blood Freak’s victims is a local drug dealer (played by a Clint Howard look-alike). The monster knocks the dealer out, places him on a buzz-saw table, and then proceeds to saw his leg off. The victim then proceeds to scream endlessly while the camera focuses on his bloody stump. By the way, the actor playing the victim is obviously an amputee and the filmmaker obviously just had the monster cut away the fake part of his leg.

  • The cherry on the top of this vomit sundae comes at the very end when the cigarettes finally get the best our beloved narrator/philosopher and he goes into a hilarious coughing fit. As the picture fades, he then smiles weakly to the camera as if to say, “What the fuck. We don’t have enough money to re-shoot that.”

Well, I think I’ll stop now, largely because I can’t think of any more synonyms for “inept,” “bad” or “horrid.” This film will take you down roads of such pure, rank cheese that, while in the midst of it, you feel that you could never stomach watching it again. But when it’s over, and you walk out into the sunshine of a new day, you suddenly feel yourself aching inside, yearning to see more of it. Such incompetence has rarely been seen on such a grand, almost epic scale. So do yourself a favor. Do not just rent this film from Netflix or Blockbuster or whatever. Run out and purchase it. And if your local bookstore or video store doesn’t currently carry it, pound on the checkout counter and say in a bold, yawping voice so that all may hear, “By the power of the gods and all that is holy, I demand ‘Blood Freak!’” (or, as an alternative, you can simply order it from By purchasing this DVD, you are casting your vote and telling your world that you are a lover of horrible, be-sodden films of only the utmost rankness and that nothing better will satisfy you.

Check out the trailer to this "turkey" here:

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Shock Waves (1977)

Without a doubt, the Nazi’s have gone down in history as one of the most despised and hated groups of all time, and with darn good reason. Besides being hateful, racist, murderous, war-mongers who wouldn’t turn down the invasion of a country even if it were populated by an unstoppable army of syphilis-infested, cyborg Rosie O’Donnells, they are also responsible for giving us the song, “99 Luftballoons.” But, being a believer in giving credit where credit is due, one thing has to be given to the Nazi’s: they make a damn fine movie villain. Think about it. If it wasn’t for the Nazi’s, as well as a few other select evil groups (communists, drug overloads, serial killers, religious fanatics, Wang Chung), movie makers would be left with pretty slim pickings when it came to coming up with proper foes for their heroes and heroines to deal with. Can you imagine a Nazi-less “Raiders of the Lost Ark” or “The Sound of Music” de-Nazified? Without a good Nazi or two to pepper your film with, it just wouldn’t be the same. Indiana Jones would be stuck fighting off evil hoards of cultist blood-sausage makers and the Von Trapps would be required to give up their music to run and hide from an invading force of imperialistic Hummel manufacturers. Yes, the Nazi’s, along with their trusty side-kick, nuclear radiation, have long provided horror movie fans with a bevy of horrible villains, mutated monsters, and goose-stepping baddies. And today’s movie, “Shock Waves” is no exception. Nazis abound in this film, being more ubiquitous than Yoda puppets at a Star Wars fan-boy circle jerk. But these are Nazis with a difference. Besides being your average evil, racist, murderous, “Luftballooning” Nazis, these are underwater, zombie Nazis!

After a brief intro, “Shock Waves” opens, as movies often do, with an overly sun-burnt woman being rescued from a derelict dinghy by a Bubba Gump shrimping boat. We are quickly flashbacked to an earlier part of the story where we will learn how this woman, Rose (played by Brooke Adams of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” fame), came to be in her predicament. [Not to give anything away, but we sadly never learn the back story of the Bubba Gump boat crew.] In one of the best moments of the movie we are provided a excessively long shot of our heroine (sans sun-burn and obviously in much better health) swimming through the ocean in a particularly nice yellow bikini. There was a voice over during this part but I can’t remember what was said because, for some reason, I was distracted at the time. In any case, she soon pulls herself up onto boat where she and her yellow bikini proceed to take a sunbath. The story from this point forward becomes a little clearer for me as film-doms equivalent of a cold shower is introduced: John Carradine, who plays the part of “Cap’n Shabby,” the commander of the vessel. His only other crew members are the first mate (who looks like he should be sporting a “Mustache Rides” t-shirt) and the cook (who resembles Ron Jeremy after he went to seed.) Accompanying these four are three middle-agers who apparently are into paying money to travel around islands in a rickety old boat captained by a crotchety old man. In any case, as the boat proceeds on its journey, some strange events begin to happen. First, someone pisses on the film. Actually, what happens is that the sun suddenly turns everything around the voyagers a bright putrid yellow which, for reasons that are never really explained, causes a sunken ghost-ship to rise to the surface. Later that night, Cap’n Shabby’s ship of fools, piloted by mustache-boy, runs into the ghost ship, causing it to run aground and forcing the passengers and crew to abandon it for a nearby, seemingly deserted island. However, after exploring for a while, the doomed party soon comes across a dilapidated mansion.

Enter horror-legend, Peter Cushing, looking like he could play one of the zombies without requiring much make-up. Cushing, we eventually find out, is a former SS Officer who was responsible for commandeering a group of undefeatable Nazi soldiers (called “Der Toten Korps”) who were genetically created to not need oxygen so that they could man U-boats without needing to surface. They are said to be neither dead nor alive, but somewhere in between, sort of like Harrison Ford’s career. It would seem that these soldiers have been lying dormant for many years under the ocean waves but, holy Schnitzelbank, our unwary travelers have now awoken them!

Here are a few points worth noting (Warning: Achtung! Vee have vays of making you vatch Spoilers!):

  • Star billing is given to Peter Cushing and John Carradine; however, the combined screen time for both of these actors is about 10 minutes. Directors need to take that into consideration next time they put Ben Affleck in a starring role.

  • While there are some genuinely well shot underwater moments that are fairly creepy, the sight of the undead SS mucking around slowly beneath the waves really puts the kibosh on the impact and, at times, just looks ridiculous. On the other hand, the shots of the zombies rising up out of the water is sometimes effective but they are shown ad nauseum (hey, as the saying goes, if you’ve seen one undead Nazi rise up from the water, you’ve seen them all).
  • This film has one of the more unique kills in a horror film that I’ve seen lately: death by sea urchin. Come to think of it, though, killer sea urchins might actually be a more terrifying monster than underwater, zombie Nazis.
  • Although Brooke Adams looks damn fine in a bikini, she needs to not scream on camera because she resembles Skeletor when she does that. Not a good look for her.
    An important health tip: Never eat food prepared by a cook whose kitchen walls are plastered with porn.
  • The music in Shock Waves is pretty effective at times, providing some good ambient moments to compliment the creepy underwater sequences. At other times, though, the music sounds like someone just got a new Casio keyboard for Xmas and has just been dying to try it out.

It can easily be said that “Shock Waves” is the “Gone with the Wind” of underwater, zombie Nazi movies, but that’s not saying much. It’s certainly the best underwater zombie Nazi movie ever made, but the same can be said of “Piranha 2” being the best flying killer piranha fish movie. As a horror movie, “Shock Waves” is about as dull as a butter knife after cutting through a cement block. The deaths aren’t gory, the tension is non-existent, and the pacing is slower than pouring frozen peanut butter through a funnel. On the other hand, as a “B” movie, I found it reasonably enjoyable, though not on a “Blood Freak” or a “Monster-A-Go-Go” level. In short, it wasn’t good enough to be good and it wasn’t bad enough to be bad. As such this is not a film that I’m going to be returning to very often, unless I’m really in the mood for some heavy duty mediocrity, or if I’m itching to see Brook Adams in that yellow bikini again.

If you don’t have time to watch the whole film, be sure to check out my video of “Shock Waves – The Good Parts!”

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Attack of the Giant Leeches (1959)

Any good history book will tell you that that for millennia, going back even so far as ancient Greek and Roman times, leeches were once used for medical purposes in a process known as “bloodletting” which involved putting leeches on a sick patient’s skin in order to suck the diseased blood out of them. For more than a century, however, this ignorant viewpoint has largely been dispelled and leeches are now put to more proper and useful purposes, namely dumping salt on them and watching them melt. And, if you’re Roger Corman, they make a damn fine (and relatively inexpensive) movie monster!

Attack of the Giant Leeches (aka “The Giant Leeches” aka “Attack of the Blood Leeches” aka “Demons of the Swamp” aka “Swamp Hickey from Hell”) tells the saga (in just over an hour) of one town’s battle with the forces of darkness in the form of giant, mutant leeches. After the credits roll, the movie opens up with what at first appears to be a rather depressing episode of “Hee Haw,” complete with hicks, overalls, a general store, and lots of “corn licker.” We are soon introduced to Dave Walker (played by Bruno VeSota looking like a cross between Hoss of “Bonanza” fame and William Conrad of “First Alert” fame) who is married to young, hot, and white-trashy “Liz” (played by Yvette Vickers). [Note: You might think that the prime “suspension of disbelief” necessary for this film comes from the acceptance of the giant mutant leeches, but that is far outweighed by the disbelief that the young and hot Yvette Vickers would be in holy wedlock to this man without the cultural impetus of arranged marriages.] Despite Walker’s intense love (lust?) for his wife, it’s soon learned that Liz has long since tired of cold, doughy sex with her husband and has recently been filling in the gaps of her sex life by engaging in extra-curricular activities with another man (played by Michael Emmet who also played the shrimp-infested victim in “Night of the Blood Beast”). When Dave discovers this, he becomes insanely jealous and chases the two adulterers into the local swamp with a shotgun only to lead them into the mutated-arms of a couple of oversized, blood-sucking, leeches! The leeches pull the doomed lovers under the surface of the swamp and take them to their underwater cave where they proceed to feed off of their blood. Walker tries to convince a few of the townsfolk of the horror that he’s just witnessed but they, of course, laugh it off and instead lock him up for murder. Then, in the supreme head-scratching moment of the film, he proceeds to hang himself not out of guilt, but out of fear of the leeches (Here’s a better idea: just stay out of the swamp you big, dumb bastard!). When some of the residents hear of Dave’s death, instead of concluding that he was either guilty of murder or crazier than a dog-shit casserole, they start wondering if the monsters might be real after all.
Enter Game Warden Steve Benton (played by Peter Graves doppelganger, Ken Clark) whose specialties include knowledge of wildlife, warding locals off from using dynamite to catch fish, telling the local law enforcement to go soak their fat heads, and being covered in more chest hair than your average yeti. Initially Benton is under the impression that Dave simply murdered his wife and her lover, but when a couple of other people go missing, and after some further investigation, he comes to a shocking conclusion. It turns out that every 50s horror film’s good friend, radioactive sludge, has been up to its old tricks again by allowing itself to be dumped into the local swamp and this has caused the resident leech population (but nothing else for some reason) to mutate into enormous, bloodthirsty monsters! Not only this but they have also grown fairly intelligent (as demonstrated by their newly developed human-harvesting abilities), sprouted arm-like appendages, and begun to emit a sound not unlike an outboard motor slogging through tapioca pudding. Now it’s up to Benton and the rest of the town to rid themselves of the slimy monsters before they are all sucked to death!

Here are a few points worth noting (Warning: Spoilers are for suckers!):
  • This is a heavy contender for the award for cheapest movie monster ever. The giant leeches are clearly people inside large black trash bags which have had a few items glued onto them (including anus-like blood sucking appendages) to turn them into the unconvincing leech-monsters. But you gotta hand it to Corman who was truly a master of milking a budget but still turning a profit!
  • One of the movie’s taglines, “Massive Blood Sucking Monsters!” sounds a lot like one of my former bosses.
  • This film was directed by Bernard L. Kowalski who also directed “Night of the Blood Beast” which came out the previous year. And that’s not the only thing these films share: Both were also produced by Roger Corman, shared some of the same actors, and even used the same musical score! On top of that, both films have been used for episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST3K).
  • Here’s a little known fact: leeches, like earthworms, are hermaphrodites. This means you can tell a leech to go fuck itself and it can!
  • Although this movie is in the public domain and can be readily obtained at, there are a number of “for sale” editions that I highly recommend. The first is the aforementioned MST3K version (part of their “volume six” set) which is supremely hilarious. The other is the “drive-in” disc from Elite Entertainment which allows you to view the film as if you were at the drive-in, complete with trailers, concession stand ads, and cartoon shorts. The “surround sound” version of the DVD even recreates the drive-in experience by putting the film’s audio only in the front left speaker while the other speakers have the sounds of cars driving by, crickets chirping and annoying people talking. Ultra groovy!
Although this movie breaks the goof-o-meter at just about every point possible, it does provide some fairly good entertainment for a midnight movie or a “scary” family movie night (though perhaps not for very young children). Despite its extremely low budget and ridiculous plot, it actually provides a few decent chilling scenes, mainly when showing the blood drained victims being helplessly sucked dry (though kept just barely alive) or the shots of dead bodies floating to the surface of the swamp. And considering it’s only 62 minutes in length, you can watch it and not feel that you’ve sucked too much of your day away.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Mausoleum (1983)

Wikipedia, that treasure trove of valuable and semi-reliable internet information, defines “mausoleum” as: “an external free-standing building constructed as a monument enclosing the interment space or burial chamber of a deceased person or persons.” Killer Shrew, on the other hand, defines “Mausoleum” as “a near worthless, piece-of-shit early 80’s horror film with some good T&A, a paper thin plot, a few decent gore money shots, a pair of demonic boobs, and a former child evangelist as one of its stars.” I’m tempted to stop the review at this point as that sums up the movie pretty nicely, but I know that readers will want to know a little more since some of the elements in that description can be equal to a pretty damn good evening’s entertainment provided the right combination of them as well as copious amounts of alcoholic stimulants.

The film opens on a sunny day at a cemetery as a young girl, Susan, is shown at her mother’s gravesite alongside of her Aunt Cora, her now caretaker. When her aunt tells her it’s time to leave, Susan rebels and runs away, stopping in front of a large mausoleum which, for some reason, is shrouded in cheap special effects depicting smoke and rain. Susan becomes curious and walks up to the door only to discover that it is locked but after waiting a moment, the lock suddenly bursts open allowing her to gain entrance. Forgetting her grief over her mother’s death, curiosity gets the better of Susan and she walks into the monument eventually arriving at a crypt which is covered in rats and has a metal archway over it that says “Nomed.” [Note: For those who with an IQ below that of George W. Bush’s, Nomed spelled backwards is “Demon!”] Eventually the crypt opens up and a demonic hand menacingly emerges.

Jump 20 years into the future. Susan, played now by Bobbie Bresee*, is now a grown woman and married, but her aunt is concerned because she is starting to act like her mother just before she died. There’s good reason for this concern because this involves Susan frequently behaving like a nymphomaniac while having her eyes glow green. She also sometimes emits a sound like a katydid on meth and kills people for little apparent reason. It turns out that Susan is suffering from that ailment which affects so many women upon reaching the age of 30: PMS. Actually, she is possessed by a demon which, for a reason that is never quite fully explained, has been plaguing the Nomed family for centuries. It is now up to her husband, Oliver, her Aunt, and her psychiatrist, Simon, to rid her of this evil spiritual force before she kills again!

[* For those keeping score: acting = 5/10, face = 7/10, body = 9/10 ]

Here are a few points worth noting (Warning: Spoilers ahead):

  • The male lead of this film, Oliver, was played by none other than former 4-year old preacher/faith healer extraordinaire, Marjoe Gortner. Marjoe, who eventually became a fairly common face in 70’s and 80’s schlock films (including “Food of the Gods” and “Earthquake”) as well as T.V. shows such as “The A Team” and “T.J. Hooker,” had left the evangelism scene in his teens when he became disillusioned with the whole manipulative and deceptive nature of it. His bizarre first name (actually his second name) is a combination of Mary and Joseph.

  • The maid in the movie, who provided the “comic relief” in a film that was already pretty comical in its own right, was played by none other than LaWanda “I could stick your face in some dough and make gorilla cookies” Page of “Sanford and Son” fame (aka “Aunt Esther”). I was so wanting her to come face to face with the demon and say, “Watch it suckah!” but, alas, it was never meant to be.

  • While the special effects in this movie are somewhat shabby (including poorly constructed rubber masks, cheap levitation images, and cheesy glowing green eyes), the gore is sometimes noteworthy including a man impaled on a mall-sculpture spike, a woman's chest bursting open (while levitating! - see image below), and a man having his chest ripped open from the back.

  • Many movies have their one moment that people will never forget, moments that live on in people’s memories and become part of the fabric of cinematic history. In “The Shining” it was Jack Nicholson’s leering face yelling, “Heeeere’s Johnny!!” In “Rocky” it was the image of Sly Stallone running up the stairs of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and raising his arms in triumphant victory. In “Mausoleum” it’s puss-oozing, demon-faced rubber boobs. ‘Nuff said.

  • This film is loaded with numerous WTF moments, but none is more WTF-ish than the final shot showing the Farrells’ gardener, Ben, who was previously seduced and then butchered to death by Susan (I believe his corpse is even shown rotting in the dusty attic of the Farrell’s house, further confirming his demise). In the end, for some fuck-tarded reason that is supposed to be shocking or revealing (but is neither), he is shown sitting outside of the titular mausoleum dressed like either a monk or a Jawa, strewing flowers and acting as some sort of guard of the haunted monument to keep people out. The reason is never made clear, possibly because it would be impossible to do so (or because it would be so stupid as to cause your brain to leap from your skull, bifurcate in two, sprout legs from each half, and run off in separate directions). Just before the credits roll, the gardener-turned-guard looks at the audience and laughs, waving his hand malevolently as if to say, “And you think you’re going to get your money back on what you paid for this festering pile of monkey dung?”

So is “Mausoleum” worth watching? If you’re looking for a movie that provides answers to deep, probing questions about the nature of religion, spirituality, and man’s place in the universe, you’d be better off sticking to films like “Gandhi,” “Ordinary People” or perhaps even “Air Bud.” On the other hand, if a booze-influenced late night of gore, schlock and boobs (demonic or otherwise) is more your ticket, then this does a fairly decent job of filling the bill. Beyond that, though, you won’t get a whole hell of a lot out of it. So give it a look once, maybe twice, then move on to the next ultra-cheesy, sub-par 80’s horror schlock-fest.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

"Horrors Of Spider Island" Tweet-Show

The "Horrors of Spider Island" drinking game: Everytime someone says "Gary" you take a drink!

Instructions for the "Horrors of Spider Island" Tweet Show can be found here: