Wednesday, November 9, 2016


Director: Umberto Lenzi
93 minutes
I rented this movie back in 1994 on VHS, but had to return it before I had the chance to watch it. Then I moved and couldn't find a copy in my local stores. Now, in 2016 I have a uncensored DVD via Grindhouse Releasing and I have to say, this movie lives up to its infamous reputation.
Our three main characters, Gloria, Pat, and Rudy, travel to the Amazon to find evidence that corroborates Gloria's P.H.D. thesis: that cannibalism is a myth concocted by white European imperialists to justify their annexations of foreign countries. She intends to prove this by seeking out a tribe known for their alleged practices and proving that said cannibalism is poppycock.
Whilst traveling deeper into the jungle, our "heroes" are made to abandon their vehicle after it becomes stuck in a deep puddle of mud. They continue on foot and come across two other Americans whom claim to have been attacked (and one wounded) by the cannibals. They join forces and come across the tribe's village.
Without spoiling the rest of the movie, I'll just say that things (and people) are not what they appear. What happens next is gory, and disturbing, to say the least. The film hosts a bevvy of genital mutilation, attempted rape, misogyny and animal mutilation. It rivals the mighty Cannibal Holocaust in these respects. Similarly to Cannibal Holocaust there are intercut scenes of a police investigation taking place in the United States, juxtaposing with and giving some respite to the jungle horror.
The cinematography is great, as is the soundtrack. The acting is on par with Italian films of that era, wherein you can ascertain the emotion, but the dubbed dialogue and script, translated from the Italian, are clunky at best. This is clearly evident in the film's somewhat confusing conclusion.
Overall, this film is not for the faint of heart and the grim nature will disturb many viewers, especially considering the aforementioned mutilation and animal deaths. Yet, for those who can stomach this type of material, the film is a rewarding exercise in utter depravity. I recommend it to those who regularly seek out such exercises.

Thursday, October 13, 2016


Director: David Hartman
85 minutes
United States

After 18 long years, the world finally has its next and final Phantasm film. Filming began in 2008, envisioned as a webseries tentatively titled "Reggie's Tales". Filming wrapped in 2014, and the installment was announced publicly, but due to post-production problems and distribution negotiations, it would not be released until 2 years later in October of 2016. In the interim, fans were clamoring for information, the hype became fever-pitched, and aggravations grew.

The Phantasm franchise has always had a special place in my heart. Though it is utterly perplexing at times, I've found it to be one of the most consistent horror franchises, due to its reoccurring cast and the solid direction of Don Coscarelli in parts 1 through 4. Part 5, however, is directed by David Hartman, a protégé of Coscarelli's, and announcement of this switch-up in 2014 had caused concern amongst the hardcore fans of the series.
This long awaited installment is likely to be highly divisive. Viewers are either going to love it or hate it, with very little middle ground. That was to be expected, given the same fan response to part 4. Reggie is the focus here, rather than Mike, and he is dimension-hopping through three different timelines. One follows the conclusion of part 4, one is in a post-apocalyptic future wherein the Tall Man has eradicated the Earth, and one in which Reggie is a resident of an old folk's home, dying of dementia. All three of these timelines begin to coalesce and poor Reggie, as well as the viewer, can't figure out which reality is real.

Having been filmed with almost no budget, the special effects take a big dip from previous installments. It is also abundantly apparent that the film was a patchwork of old footage, webisode footage and new material meant to pad the runtime. It is disjointed and schlocky and comes across like a Troma film without the humor. Despite these flaws the film, at least for me, it still works.
As for closure to the franchise, there is a lot of room for interpretation. The film requires the active participation of the viewer, as you have three endings to choose from. Yet it remains true to the spirit of the original and its themes of loss and mortality. It even makes sense of the rather nonsensical beginning of part 2. Overall, if you are a fan of the series, this film is like a bleak and somber love letter. If you haven't seen the first 4, watch them before you dig into Ravager or you will be utterly lost.

"Ice cream man. It's all in his head." - Phantasm 4


Wednesday, September 7, 2016


Dir. Michael Anderson
United States
When an ambitious fisherman, Captain Nolan (Richard Harris), has an encounter with an orca at sea, he becomes convinced he and his crew can capture one to sell. Against the protests of whale expert Rachel Bedford (Charlotte Rampling), Captain Nolan and his shipmates depart in search of their latest cash cow. Having tracked a pod of orcas, Nolan attempts his capture, but only succeeds in clipping the dorsal fin of a male orca, and fatally wounding its pregnant mate.
Dejected and horrified by his own behavior, Nolan and company return to port whilst defending against the male orca's grief-ridden attacks on his ship and crew. Meanwhile, the orca has followed their trek back to their small town, and begins to wreak havoc on the town's fishing economy, as not only does the orca drive away the fish, but begins destroying their infrastructure as well.
The townspeople are notably angry with Captain Nolan for the orca's attacks, and the Captain is struggling with his own depression and tragic past. With public pressure surmounting and with a bit of coaxing from the poorly-dubbed Umilak (Will Sampson), Nolan sets sail to finally confront the murderous whale.
Orca the Killer Whale has oft not been lumped in with the other Jaws knockoffs that began to appear in the latter half of the seventies. Unlike movies like Grizzly, however, Orca really isn't a Jaws retread, rather it is more of a modern retelling of Moby Dick. Nolan is very much an Ahab-type whose slow decline into madness is equaled only by the grieving whale he's hunting. Although much of the pseudoscience of the movie begs for nitpicking (orcas are not monogamous animals, for one), these minor flaws are outshined by the lush cinematography, the psychological narrative and an excellent performance by Richard Harris. It is by no means a perfect movie, and cannot compare with the almighty aquatic horror of Jaws, but it is an entertaining, and at times, a surprisingly grim watch. Oh, and Bo Derek is in this film for about five minutes.
I'd like to thank Wildman Willis for sending me this movie on DVD. Every 25th subscriber he gets to his Youtube channel wins a package full of DVDs and comic books and I won the first. You can be next! Check his Youtube channel out here:

Thursday, September 1, 2016


Dir. José Mojica Marins
80 mins.

This was my first introduction to the universe of Zé do Caixão, known to the English world as Coffin Joe, and it was a glorious introduction indeed. Gory, depraved, arty and exploitative, director and star José Mojica Marins not only pioneered Brazilian horror with his Coffin Joe series, but carried with it a post-modern philosophy and critique of society's morality and class.

This particular entry is an anthology of three tales demonstrating the triumph of instinct over reason, a thesis that Joe himself asserts in a narration over the opening credits. The first story is called O Fabricante de Bonecas, or The Dollmaker. The titular artisan works at home with his five daughters, all of whom look like they're in their thirties, wear vestial white gowns, each having their own creepy, oversized and eyeless doll.

A group of men conspire to rob the dollmaker in his home, believing him to be the owner of a substantial treasure. After beating him and brandishing a knife, the old man blacks out after suffering what appears to be a heart attack. One of the men discovers the dollmaker's daughters and the group turn their attention away from treasure and towards rape. The women have their own deadly secret, although, to which the men soon discover.

In "Kara" ("Obsession"), the second vignette, we are introduced to a homeless addict who holds balloons in the street and spies on a specific woman through her window, as she disrobes and bathes in her apartment. The creepy hobo becomes fixated on the woman and follows her around town as she obliviously lives her life, shopping, dating and even eventually becoming married. You might think you know where this story is going, but you don't. The twist midway is truly unexpected and allows for the real horror of the piece to unfold in its climax.  

The third entry, "Ideologie", constitutes the real meat of this film. Professor Oaxiac Odez (Zé do Caixão reversed, and a probable alter-ego of the character) is being interviewed on a TV show about his theory that love does not actually exist, and that instead we are creatures of instinct and convenience. One of the journalists strongly disagrees with the professor, and after the interview concludes,  Odez invites the the dissenting journalist and his wife to his home for a demonstration of his philosophy. When they arrive, Odez (in scenes foreshadowing Blood Sucking Freaks) conducts a prurient show of sadism, cannibalism, and debauchery to prove to the couple that survival trumps any and all notions of human love.

The anthology is well written, directed and acted. The jerky editing adds to the thick atmosphere of the film, and is reminiscent of early surrealist editing, like that found in Cocteau's The Blood of a Poet, or Bunuel's Un Chien Andalou. José Mojica Marins is a ferociously original filmmaker, and is criminally obscure. His name should be spoken in the same sentences that invoke Jodorowsky, Lynch, and Russell. Having now seen many more films in his oeuvre, I can attest Marins has perfectly grafted horror, arthouse and exploitation into a potent concoction and in doing so, created an aggressively unique body of work that challenges the viewer, deconstructs social mores and entertains like no other. Highly recommended!