Blu-Ray/DVD Review: Satan’s Cheeerleaders

SC_VCI9032If you’re of a certain age (mine or slightly younger), you’re probably not watching Satan’s Cheeleaders for the acting (which is hammy bologna on white bread) or the old movie stars slumming for their paychecks. You’re very likely watching this slice of American cheese for the titular cheer squad and maybe to see where this Satan stuff goes with a cast partly made up of well-known actors close to the ends of their careers and partly made up of new to the business nubile tart types and a few unsexy dudes who pop up that are supposed to be on a college football team.

Well, friends – you get a proper dosage of tame 70’s nudity, but nothing at all indecently overexposed, a paper-thin plot that doesn’t hold up to a soft breeze and some muddling around with mysticism before a somewhat crummy finale that leaves a few things hanging. The sole notable things here are those slumming for paychecks stars (John Ireland, Yvonne DeCarlo, John Carradine) who have not much else to do except hit their marks and react to whatever they need to react to. That said, the film seems to aim for more of a campy feel that keeps things light and airy (or air-heady), and that’s fine with me.

Well, to a point.

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Blu-Ray Review: The Zodiac Killer

Zodiac Killer BR Ha. Way back in 1970 or so, someone should have told newbie director and pizza shop maven Tom Hanson that the Zodiac Killer has a far better chance to be caught alive during a screening of Dirty Harry than dead asleep at Hanson’s eyeball-rolling (yet pretty potent on occasion) The Zodiac Killer. While the film has some genuinely scary moments in replicating some of the more infamous murders, it’s also loaded with chuckle-worthy performances and a couple of hilarious made-up deaths that might have you choking on your popcorn.

Make no mistake, ladies and gents. This isn’t a “great” film by any means. But thanks to AGFA and Something Weird Video, we have a nice 4K restoration that still retains a certain grainy, grimy charm. Well, about as “charming” as you can get in a film explicitly meant to taunt and catch a notorious serial killer.

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READS: Star Wars Works Spectacularly As A Scrolling Infographic

SWANH_start

Many movie fans all know what follows this memorable opening image, but thanks to Zurich-based artist Martin Panchaud, we now have quite possibly the best illustrated retelling of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope to date. While not flawless (there are a few incorrectly translated lines), the scrolling infographic absolutely nails the storytelling beats, but from a top down perspective and using colored dots for human and alien characters. If you’re a big enough fan of the film, I’d bet you’ll be hearing that phenomenal John Williams score in your head at all the right moments. Go check it out (if this hasn’t been forwarded to your own inbox already today).

Also, someone call Guinness (no, not the ghost of Alec, silly!)- I think at 123 meters (or 403.543307 feet), it just may be the longest infographic you’ll see for a while. Anyway, go revisit a classic film from 1977 in a whole new way.

Blu-Ray Review: Eaten Alive

Eaten Alive AV015While The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was (and still is) a memorable horror film experience, Tobe Hooper’s follow up, 1976’s Eaten Alive (released in 1977) was and is memorable for entirely different reasons. While it’s got a compelling and frightening performance from Neville Brand and that bathed in red sound stage set makes the film even more frightening, there’s a “too many hands” feel to the production process that makes the film more of a “B” than it deserves to be. That said, it’s yet another excellently produced Arrow release that’s worth a buy for the solid 2K restoration job and copious special features as well as the chance to see a film you may not have heard of previously (or had forgotten entirely).

Then again, given the incredibly sleazy origins of the “allegedly based on actual incidents” story here, Eaten Alive also works quite well as a pure “B” flick. Running a tidy 87 minutes, no time is wasted here as Brand’s psychotic veteran motel keeper, Judd, kills off a local lady of the evening after a tryst gone wrong at a brothel nearby sends her scampering for the hills after the madam (Carolyn Jones) gives her the boot. Judd runs the Starlight Hotel (one of the film’s many alternate titles along with Death Trap, Legend of the Bayou, Starlight Slaughter and Horror Hotel) which also happens to have a live crocodile as an attraction living in a penned in “swamp” outside. You know that Judd and his “pet” are going to be pretty busy as the film progresses and the victims show up as if there’s a massive magnet yanking their cars in that general direction. Continue reading

Today’s Mystery: The Case of the One-Winged Chicken

Right Winger Right Winger (2)

One more reason to cut certain foods out of the diet, I suppose. But also a big little mystery that needs solving, so I’m (kind of) on the case. I defrosted a whole Purdue chicken and put it in a simple salt water brine overnight. As I tend to handle raw proteins as little as possible, I didn’t realize until this morning that the chicken ended up in the store sans one wing. Eek. From what I recall, chickens don’t fly very well at all, so this couldn’t be the result of the one I was about to cook being gimped because it wanted to go all Freebird from wherever it was raised.

“It’s a factory second!” was a guess tossed into the hat I wasn’t wearing. But that wasn’t the case, as it was a full price chicken with a clipped wing and someone out there walking around with it in a pocket as a good luck charm. Or something a lot less disgusting. Speaking of disgusting, as soon as I saw that missing wing, I had a serious Eraserhead flashback. You know the scene: “Just cut them up like regular chickens!”:


Yuck. Anyway, a coin was flipped and it was decided to not waste a good and already brine-soaked bird. So a bit of Madras Soul (TM!) spice blend and a good shake in a plastic bag later, into the oven it went. As it’s meant to be split with a friend going through some bumpy times of late, I decided to keep the wingless half for myself. There’s nothing like having to answer questions about what happened to that missing flapper on a gift half chicken. Some questions weren’t made to be answered without a legal team handy. Or at least the Scooby Gang. Anyway, it’s a sunny Sunday and too nice outside to dwell on a dead (now twice dead) piece of poultry. That said, guess who will be pickin’ chickens a lot more carefully from now on. Or a lot less carefully because I’ll have changed my dining options.

Then again, having tried faux poultry on a few occasions, I can very safely say that every one has had missing wings, legs, thighs and bones. That’s not a mystery at all other than why some of those ersatz birds sometimes end up in assorted poultry shapes. Then again, if it were a tofu bird with a missing wing? Well… THAT would be even more creepy.

Random Film of the Week: HOUSE (1977)

(thanks, tubesoda!) 

HOUSE MP JapanOne of the most unusual “mainstream” horror films you’ll ever see, Nobuhiko Obayashi’s 1977 film HOUSE is one of those inventively crazy movies that will stick in your head for a long while after those end credits roll.

Paradoxically, it’s tricky to talk about the film in detail and not give a lot away. But on the other hand, you could go in knowing the entire story and what happens to every character in the film before you see it and still have your mind completely blown by the bizarre visual effects and how the tone switches from comic to horror (and back and forth at that) at the drop of a hat.

Or drop of the head, in this case… Continue reading

Oops. One Tiny Mistake There, TCM. Otherwise, Both Thumbs Up!

 
While it’s wonderful to see William Friedkin’s 1977 film SORCERER getting some much needed love at TCM’s yearly film festival (held this year at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood), I’ll admit to my eyebrow shooting up at the word “The” in that video title.

(thanks again, robatsea2009!) 

Eek. Yeah, it’s a minor mistake that can easily be corrected with a few keystrokes, but I’d never heard of “the City Lights” “The Ben Hur”, “The Frankenstein”, or “The King Kong” in my film studies. So that sort of thing is a bit pesky to me. Anyway, perhaps the person who posted this video was thinking of the film Friedkin’s is based off of, Henri-Georges Clouzot’s brilliant 1953 action/drama The Wages of Fear. Hmmm… now I want to see both films pop up on TCM soon. Or even better, FINALLY see Friedkin’s film make a decent Blu-Ray appearance, as it’s one that’s LONG due.

Random Film of the Week(end): Rollercoaster

(Thanks, sideshowcarny!) 

Rollercoaster_MPIn some parts of America during the summer of 1977, you either got very lucky and saw Star Wars, or you got very unlucky because that flick was sold out when you wanted to go and had to settle for something like Rollercoaster. Now, on it’s own merits it’s a passable “disaster” flick that’s a wee bit too long and wastes the talents of a few major stars at the tail ends of their careers. On the other hand, it’s about a unnamed home-grown terrorist who decides to seriously vandalize amusement parks and kill people (at least in the first big accident in the film) in order to extort money from a mega corporation just because he can.

There’s no motive other than profit, he’s not some crazed maniac out for revenge whose daddy and mommy were killed in a freak amusement park accident, and the film relies on some dopey luck and dumber plot holes to speed things along as it hopes you won’t notice under all that Sensurround booming your eardrums into submission. But none of this will matter to some people who see this flick today and think it works on the level of a decent thriller. It sort of doesn’t in my old eyes because the film not only shows you the culprit right at the beginning, it tends to drag out scenes just to show off some fancy camerawork and some nice amusement park real estate instead of add depth to the characters it needs to… Continue reading

The Four Horsemen Have Been Busy @ The Movies For Ages. You Should Be Very Pleased About That.

Four_HorsemenSo, Nick Powell over at The Cinematic Katzenjammer asked for contributors this month to write up a post or do something creative using The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse as a starting point and any horror-themed movies that happened to fit one or more of their particular talents. I decided to have a bit of fun picking four films (one for each rider) and pointing to moments in each that to me, define the essence of their namesakes. They’re not all horror films, but if you’re in the right mood you’ll see the horror in parts of them.

Amusingly enough, the devil has gotten his due here as well. ALL of these were done up as Random Film of the Week entries at one point, but three were lost when I misplaced a USB thumb stick with a ton of other fresh content I’d done for the site a few years back when it was on Blogger. One good reason for me doing this post was to kick myself in the butt hard and get on to full rewrites soon of those three.

In addition, I’ll warn you now that the Fifth Horseman (Spoilage!) is on board. So if you haven’t seen any of the four flicks listed here… you’ve been warned in advance. Which is unusual in this day and age, as spoilers usually just spill out and all over you in the oddest of places. Hell, I heard the end of Gravity from you yakky lady babbling like a jerk on her cell phone in a grocery store a few days ago. I wanted to throw a large can of low-sodium black beans at her head, but I’d be typing this from a jail cell and it was the last can of that brand on the shelf and I needed it more than her head needed a two-pound can-sized impression in it.

Anyway, saddle up and get ready to ride (or duck behind something and hope you’re unseen)… we’re off! Continue reading

Audience Participation Time: Help Me Pick A Movie!

OK, I usually don’t do this, but I got the idea to try something new for fun. I’ve been seeing a load of deals on movies in assorted size collections and box sets and I’m considering picking up a bunch of them over time. However, for the purposes of this post, I’ll pick two and let you vote on them in the comments section. I’ll most likely get both (the prices are too stupidly low to pass up – as in under five dollars each), but you’ll be able to help me decide which one to spring for first.  And no, I don’t stream or torrent (I don’t do the eye patch stuff and my hard drives are packed to the gills with Steam/gog.com/Desura/assorted indie games anyway), so no need to tell me I can get all these for free somewhere.

Your (well, MY) choices are:

hitchcock flicks OR Superman DVD Set

Ready, FIGHT!

I’m thinking Hitch will win this one handily by sheer size alone (ba-dum-bum!), but you never know. And nope – you don’t win a prize for affecting my buying decision. However, I will give you a hearty Kane clap as thanks in advance:

kane clapHey…That’s got to count for SOMETHING these days, right?