Archive for the ‘Movie Review’ Category

Only Sin Deep is a classic tale, as Leah Thompson chooses beauty over longevity, but this time there is a twist, applying pawn shop guidelines.  This may be the least original episode in Season 1, but don’t let that detract from its quality.  It’s very good, mixing vanity and greed with murderous intent.

Director Howard Deutch may be the most displaced in Season 1, as his specialty was comedy’s, including Pretty in Pink and The Great Outdoors.  Still, he weaves this tale masterfully, moving the episode along at a quick enough pace that you don’t get bored.  As an added plus, the episode was written by none other than Fred Dekker, director of Monster Squad and Night of the Creeps.

Overall, this is my least favorite episode from Season 1, but it still isn’t a bad episode.  The horror elements are dialed way back, and this plays more like a Twilight Zone episode.  Other than a couple of gunshot wounds, this episode is devoid of the grue and guts you expect to see.  It’s a pretty tame episode all around, but still very worth watching.



Santa Clause as a killer. You have to admit, it’s an effective visual, although it’s been done before to varying degrees of effectiveness.  Larry Drake delivers one of the scariest looking of the bunch, making this entry another winner.  Mary Ellen Trainor does the majority of the heavy lifting when it comes to acting, and does it well.  A large portion of the success of Tales from the Crypt was due to the amazing talent that worked on each episode.

Speaking of talent, it blew my mind to see Robert Zemeckis directed this, until I took a closer look at his work.  Sure, he’s directed movies like Back to the Future, Forrest Gump and Cast Away, but he’s also directed What Lies Beneath and produced several horror movies from the Dark Castle production company.  He’s masterful here, which shouldn’t be a surprise.

This episode is a classic, and often one of the first recalled when the series is a topic of discussion.  Part of that is due to the iconic imagery of Santa as a killer, but the strength of the episode is also a major reason.  I often wonder what a similar approach would look like today, with our generation’s Masters of Horror working with A-list talent to produce an anthology.   The closest I’ve seen is the recent series American Horror Story, which has attracted some great talent, but I’d love to see something similar to Tales make a return.  Hell, bring back the Cryptkeeper!

Island of Death

Directed By: Nico Mastorakis

Starring: Robert Behling, Jane Lyle, Jessica Dublin, Gerard Gonalons, Jannice McConnell, Nikos Tsachiridis

Synopsis: A British couple terrorize a small Greek island, killing anyone they deem as sinful.

Thoughts: Yet another Video Nasty to mark off my list! This time around it is the Greek exploitation flick Island of Death, also titled A Craving for Lust or Devils in Mykonos. I’d heard quite a bit about this movie prior to seeing it, so I thought I knew what I was settling in for. I was wrong.

Island of Death isn’t afraid to go the extra mile to shock you. I don’t mean excessive gore. I mean it has your standard genre fare of violence and mayhem, but it also goes the extra mile with bestiality, incest and golden showers. There is also a rather bizarre scene where the couple is having sex in a phone booth and the guy decides to call his Mom and tell her what he is doing. It’s all to show just how insane the couple is, but Mastorakis really pushes the envelope. It’s not hard to see why this landed on the Video nasty list.

As you would expect, the acting is quite bad, but I can’t imagine that is why you would watch this movie. There aren’t really any redeeming characters, or actors to be found here. Mastorakis attempts to cover just how awful the acting is with the beauty of lead actress Jane Lyle, and finding every excuse to have her naked on the screen.

As awful as the acting is, this was a fairly enjoyable experience. I found myself laughing more than anything, which I don’t think was the initial intention, but it works. The Director admitted in an interview that his sole reason for making the movie was to make money. He was inspired by the financial success of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

Although this isn’t a movie I will be watching on a regular basis, it is something that I think fans of exploitation need to see. It is so over the top that you won’t believe what you’re seeing on screen. It’s also worth noting that the scenery is great. The island that this takes place on is really a place of beauty. It serves as a great contrast for the carnage happening around it.

Night Train Murders (1975)

Posted: September 29, 2015 in Movie Review
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Night Train Murders (1975)
{L’Ultimo treno della notte}


Directed By: Aldo Lado

Starring: Flavio Bucci, Gianfranco De Grassi, Irene Miracle, Laura D’Angelo, Macha Meril, Enrico Maria Salerno, Marina Berti, Franco Fabrizi

Synopsis: Two thugs, influenced by a demented matriarch, torture and kill two teenage girls heading home for Christmas, only to encounter the parents of one of the girls at the train station.

Thoughts: Ah, the Video Nasties; a veritable checklist of carnage that horror fiends often reference. As time goes on, there are fewer and fewer titles that I have yet to see. My latest foray into the list is Night Train Murder, which among many other names, is known as The New House on the Left, mostly because it is the exact same story as Wes Craven’s 1972 shocker. Two young girls, out on their own, encounter trouble, ending up sexually assaulted and killed and then the killers end up running into the parents of one of the girls. The parents find out, and then exact revenge upon the killers. My guess is that the studios in the US either didn’t know, or didn’t care about the “similarities” between the two movies, otherwise you would think that they could have blocked the release.

I’m admittedly not a huge fan of the rape/revenge genre. Watching movies like this is an uncomfortable experience, so when I do watch them, I want there to be some substance behind them. Movie like Last House and I Spit on Your Grave are really well made movies with a lot of context and messages to them. I don’t get that from Night Train Murders. There is a minor, ham-handed attempt at making this a social comment on violence in society, primarily driven by the father’s comment early in the movie, but this just seems like a blatant cash in on Wes Craven’s movie. On top of being a rather shallow movie, the pacing is off, the script is mostly awful and the moments that should be tense, tend to cut away. For being considered a brutal movie, not a lot happens outside of the knife scene that will make you flinch.

Fans of Italian cinema will likely pick up the familiar presence of Ennio Morricone, who supplies the score. Morricone’s score is far from his best, but even that is better than most movies. It’s one of the lone highlights here for me.

I can’t really recommend Night Train Murders other to the most ardent of fans of Italian horror. I imagine a lot of people will check it out if they are interested in the Video Nasty list, but it is one of the least entertaining entries on that list in my opinion. If you are interested in picking it up, 88 Films did a nice job with their release of it. It is the first title in the Italian Collection.

Cooties Poster

Directed By: Jonathan Milott & Cary Murnion

Starring: Elijah Wood, Rainn Wilson, Alison Pill, Morgan Lily, Jack McBrayer, Jorge Garcia, Peter Kwong, Nasim Pedrad, Ian Brennan, Leigh Whannell

Synopsis: A deadly virus infects grade school children, turning them into flesh eating maniacs.

Thoughts: It’s a safe bet to say the majority of horror fans are getting tired of the overwhelming amount of zombie, and zombie-like movies being released. For the record, I see “infected” movies as the third generation of zombies. If you look back to the 30s, zombies were the result of voodoo, turning people into mindless slaves. George Romero turned the genre on its head by introducing his version, flesh eating undead (although he didn’t originally call them zombies). In 2002, Danny Boyle unleashed 28 Days Later, one of the first infected movies, and likely considered one of the best.

Cooties throws its hat into the ring of infected movies, although with a comedic twist. This time around, a tainted chicken nugget unleashes a virus at Ft. Chicken Elementary, turning children who have not gone through puberty into vicious, flesh eating monsters.

There are plenty of gross out moments in Cooties, starting with the montage of the chicken nuggets journey and the principal getting drawn and quartered on the playground, but there isn’t a lot here that you haven’t seen before. It’s gory, but not to the point that it is difficult to watch for the average viewer. I’ve heard gorehounds say that they were left wanting more, but for me, it was spot on.

The strength of Cooties is, without a doubt, the cast and script. You start with very cliché characters, but they all end up a little differently than you would expect. Elijah Wood, Rainn Wilson, Jack McBrayer and Leigh Whannell are fantastic. Whannell’s character was one of my favorite in recent memory. I read in an interview that he played him as having just a little bit of that serial killer vibe in him, but not quite enough to act on it.

If I were to have one complaint about the movie, it would be the conclusion. It seemed rushed, and not quite as thought through as the rest of the movie, but it wasn’t enough to ruin the experience. Cooties isn’t revolutionary, but it is entertaining, which in a genre where we are being inundated with zombies, is refreshing. I recommend checking it out. It’s available now through various on demand services.

Society (1989)

Posted: September 13, 2015 in Movie Review
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Society Poster

Directed By: Brian Yuzna

Starring: Billy Warlock, Patrice Jennings, Connie Danase, Charles Lucia, Ben Slack, Evan Richards, Tim Bartell, Devin DeVasquez, Ben Meyerson

Synopsis: Bill Whitney just doesn’t seem to fit in to the Beverly Hills society, and he can’t figure out why.

Thoughts: I’ve long been a fan of Brian Yuzna. His work with Stuart Gordon put him on my radar, and seeing as how I love the Re-Animator series and From Beyond, it was no surprise that I jumped on the new Society release from Arrow. Prior to this latest release, I hadn’t seen this movie. It evaded me back in the VHS days and the DVD release was always too expensive to pick up.

I’m grateful that Arrow put out such a fantastic release. It is really a great time to be a horror movie collector. There are a multitude of companies out there releasing amazing editions of some great movies. It’s a constant struggle to decide what to order.

I imagine that Society delivered a powerful message when it was released, but I have to believe that it is even more poignant today. Society really criticizes the social classification that we see today and even creates an extremely overt example of the rich feeding off the poor.

On top of being a smart genre flick, Society also delivers some pretty gruesome scenes, which you would have to expect from Brian Yuzna based on his earlier work. In fact, the only bit of information I had about Society prior to watching it was the picture of the “butt-face.” Society is considered to be an entry into the “body horror” genre, but doesn’t quite push the boundaries that Cronenberg tends to. I see it very much in line with From Beyond, and I absolutely recommend checking it out if you haven’t.

This is a movie that belongs in your collection. I’m a bit surprised that it doesn’t get more attention, but it is fantastic. On top of being a great flick, the Arrow release is something else. Great packaging, tons of extras and a great transfer. While not a limited edition, I think that Arrow has already announced that this is out of print, so I highly suggest taking a look around and picking this up.


Slew Poster - V115 - Stockholm(1)A local rite goes frightfully wrong when a group of teenage boys encounters a sinister hunting party, a bloodthirsty tribe and a mythical beast in the backwoods of New Hampshire.

Midnight Releasing has announced that American Backwoods: Slew Hampshire – starring Dayo Okeniyi (The Hunger Games, Terminator: Genisys) – will be released via Video-On-Demand, streaming content providers and select Redbox kiosks throughout North America beginning in JUNE.  A brand-new full-length trailer and poster designs are now available for public consumption, while additional artwork AND exclusive clips will be released in the coming days and weeks leading up to the street date.


American Backwoods: Slew Hampshire – which was awarded “Goriest Scene of the Year” by Rue Morgue Magazine and nominated for Best Feature, Best Actor and Best Editing at the 8th Annual Shockfest Film Festival – will also be available on DVD on June 9th.  Bonus Features include 5.1 Surround Sound, Gag Reel and Audio Commentary by writer/director Flood Reed and seven cast members.  Pre-orders are currently available through

In addition to rising talent Okeniyi, the ensemble cast also boasts the likes of underground horror maverick Michael Todd Schneider (August Underground’s Mordum), Jeremy Isabella (Ghoul), French television actress Gaya Verneuil and a whole slew of majestically bearded actors.

American Backwoods: Slew Hampshire has not been rated, but is intended for mature audiences due to graphic violence, profanity, nudity and sexual content.

Twitter:  @SlewHampshire