Wednesday, August 23, 2017

HAMMER movie reviews

I've been addicted to a lot of Hammer horror lately; secretly wishing for a Gothic horror revival.

Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell – Someone is burning the midnight oils, following in the ghastly footsteps of the infamous Baron Victor Frankenstein.  Soon an English bobby man runs amok of his experimentation, discovering a jar full of eye balls in his care, the frightened police man promptly arrests him on charges of black magic when the man calmly explains he is trying to resurrect the dead.  Simon Helder is committed to an insane asylum for his crimes, something he seems to take in stride until arriving at the asylum and receiving his first fire hose shower.   Baron Victor Frankenstein, now under the assumed alias of Dr. Carl Victor, rescues the aspiring surgeon from being severely beaten and tormented by the guards, recruiting him to assist in his new creation; a monster created from the dead body parts of select patients around the asylum.   The good doctor begins scavenging the body parts he covets for his monster; the hands of a sculptor, the mind of a great mathematician, the body of a powerful Neolithic throwback of a man.  As the suspicious deaths start mounting so does Simon Helder’s conscious, soon enough he is questioning if the doctor has gone too far with his mad experiment, but he is too curious to stop him.  When they finally complete the monster he goes on a blood thirsty rampage, tearing people apart with his bare hands until the orderlies turn the asylum loose on him.  The creature is ripped apart piece by piece by a frenzied mob, although Victor doesn’t seem concerned.  He is already thinking about his next experiment, and who next to donate to the cause….

Frankenstien and the Monster from Hell has the distinction of being a bit more gory than its predecessors, focusing on body horrors such as dissection, and surgery on the eye.  It moves at a fairly brisk pace, Peter Cushing once again delivers a perfect performance as the cold and calculating Victor Von Frankenstein.  Besides the brightly colored blood additional eye candy comes in the form of a mute but busty and alluring assistant to Victor a girl named “Angel”.  She catches the creature’s eye a few times, able to woo him where the sight of others caused him to go into a ravenous fury.  The description of the creature enjoying cutting people’s faces with glass is a particularly gruesome addition.        

The Horror of Dracula – The Christopher Lee classic; this is the one that started it all.  It’s a relatively straight forward adaption of Bram Stroker’s work, with a few twists thrown in to keep things fresh.  This is another version of Dracula where Jonathan Harker is doomed and the action focuses more on Van Helsing; no complaints from me.  Peter Cushing plays a perfect foil to Christopher Lee’s blood dripping eyeballs.    

The Vampire Lovers – An ancient lesbian nympho vampire stalks old Europe spilling innocent nubile blood across the countryside.  Count me in; this is a movie that wrestles with horror and my crotch.  There is actually a lot more gore and horror than what I originally suspected; I thought this would be a softcore porn with zero plot, but that wasn’t the case.  The Vampire Lovers is loosely based on one of the first vampire stories ever found, Carmilla, and kicks off a trilogy of lesbian vampire movies (the Karlstein trilogy) from Hammer, all full of cleavage, decapitations, and gore.  In this entry Carnilla the ancient vampire charms her way into household after household, preying on the young women within.  Of course nobody suspects the innocuous Carmilla (who assumes many false identities) as being the cause of these young women’s listlessness, their night terrors and mysterious dual puncture wounds found on their breasts, but soon enough a vampire hunter searching for revenge puts it all together.  Somehow Peter Cushing is again called in to perform the coup de tat to the ravenous undead.  After decapitating Carmilla with little adieu her portrait slowly ages into a skeleton. 

The Fearless Vampire Killers – A Hammer inspired comedy directed by Roman Polansky; co-starring his future wife Sharon Tate.  The kooky Professor Abronsius and his bumbling assistant Alfred are on the hunt for the undead deep within the heart of Transylvania.  They shack up in a local lodge to escape the snow-swept tundra outside and discover the locals hanging garlic all over the lodge and with stern warnings against visiting the local castle.  This of course makes Professor Abronsius rather happy as it seems like a likely setup for vampires; Alfred however is more interested in the bathing beauty of the lodge, young Sarah.  Sarah is eventually taken by the vampire Count von Korlock while bathing at night.  The fearless vampire hunters track Sarah to the local castle where they are openly greeted by the Count, who exhumes a sense of charm and dignity that the Professor has a hard time wrapping his head around.  He seems rather impressed by the Count’s aristocratic ways and intelligence but is still determined to end his dastardly existence for the greater good or perhaps just to get proof to his intellectual peers that vampires really do exist.  The duo search the castle for the vampires but are split up when Alfred shimmies down a hole too small for the Professor to fit through.  Alfred finds the grave of the Count but is too cowardly to stick a stake through his heart, much to the chagrin of the nutty Professor who is stuck half frozen in a hole.    Alfred goes to rescue the Professor from his hole outside but runs into Sarah on the way, who reveals that the count is having a huge ball at midnight then disappears as if into thin air.  Alfred rescues the Professor, bringing him news of the ball, but the Counts foppish homosexual son attacks them, cornering them behind a locked door to freeze or starve to death.  Much to their horror they witness multiple vampires emerge from their tombs below, the Counts annual ball is in full swing.  The fearless vampire hunters escape their confines by cleverly blowing down the door with a cannon turret. They mingle and dance with the vampires at the ball by pilfering some old raggedy dust worn Victorian outfits, but their cover is blown when out of the entire ballroom of undead fiends they are the only ones to show up in a the grand mirror circling the ball room.  Quickly they snatch up Sarah and make way for the snowy mountains on a sleigh, but little do Alfred and the Professor realize Sarah is already infected with the vampire virus, and by escaping with her they really exposed the rest of Europe to the vampire disease.

The Fearless Vampire Killers is a beautifully shot film with a dreamlike quality that sticks with you after watching the film; like a living fairy tale full of vampires and busty bathing buxoms.  Alfred and the Professor stumble about each scene in a cartoonish fashion that isn’t as funny as it is endearing to fans of the cinematic absurd.  The movie was later followed around by the dark cloud of the real life murder of Sharon Tate by despicable scumbag hippies operating under the cult like influence of Charlie Manson, but in terms of Hammer-esque gothic horror productions it sits as one of my personal faves.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Tourist Trap shirt - Cavity Colors

Check out this rad Tourist Trap shirt from Cavity Colors!

Get it here: Cavity Colors

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

"Leatherface" RED band trailer

BD exclusive Leatherface red band trailer and pics

VHS slasher toys

From Bloody-Disgusting:


Brilliant.  Limited edition  hand made customized toys based on VHS box art.  These need to go into full scale production right now!  Are they buying?  SELL SELL!  Are they selling?  Then BUY BUY!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Maniac Cop 3 - review

By the early Nineties the slasher formula had become shop-worn and the rule of diminishing returns was in effect for any stalker sequel hitting the cinema.  Maniac Cop 3 was rated NC-17 and plopped right into HBO when it came out.  While it is the weakest entry of the series, with strange unexplained plot twists that come from nowhere and fizzle out quickly and bloody action scenes that feel like filler, there is still plenty of fun to have here.

Maniac Cop has some of the best continuity in slasherdom.  This movie picks up right after the last movie, with Cordell smashing his coffin lid and grabbing his badge.  Matt is back, but why?  Its not really clear, theres a voodoo priest guy that explains that he was the one to bring Matt back to life, that he really died in Sing-Sing, but he had unfinished business and that some souls leave echoes in this world that go on far after they are done living.  Okay, thanks for that, but why is this guy concerned with Cordell to begin with?  You expect some sort of reasoning, but he offers none, and things get sillier from there.

Detective McKinney is back, but this time he has a sidekick Katie Sullivan, a beat cop with a reputation for shooting first, asking questions later.  Sullivan is wrongly accused of using excessive force in a hostage situation; she is shot and left in a coma as corrupt news reporters dice her reputation to pieces and the department abandons her.  Its up to Detective McKinney to clear her name and find out what really happened during the hostage standoff.

Cordell hears a radio broadcast of what happened to Officer Sullivan and takes immediate interest in the case.  At first it is assumed that Matt just wants to clear the good officers name and seek revenge on those who wrongly persecuted her; but later through Sullivans dreams and coma induced visions it is apparent Cordell is really looking for a wife and partner in his doomed afterlife.  I guess even Maniac Cops can get horny.   He starts going after any doctor who might show any callousness to Sullivans precarious health, electrocuting one with shock paddles and X-raying another to death.

Detective McKinney discovers the video tape used to convict Sullivan of excessive force was heavily edited by scumbag ambulance chasers to depict Sullivan killing an innocent hostage when in reality the hostage was working an inside job with her schizoid junkie boyfriend (Jakcie Earle Haley of NOES reboot fame).  However by the time he puts the pieces together the junkie and several other convicts have escaped their hospital room confinement and start shooting up the place, leading to a harrowing gunfight between McKinney and the criminal element, the kind of 80s blood and sweat gun fight where people are riddled with hundreds of bullets and gun clips seem to hold an infinite amount of ammunition.  I wouldnt have been surprised to see a few slow motion doves fly by, John Woo style.

During the chaos of battle Cordell sweeps Sullivan from her hospital bed and takes her body down to the secret voodoo church below the hospital where he hopes the voodoo priest will join him and Sullivan in a kind of unholy union.  McKinney follows him down and tries to plea to Matts good nature to let Sullivan go, but he refuses, and the priest is shot dead.  The church catches on fire and the battle spills out into the streets where Matt chases McKinney by car while smothered in flames.  Cordell seems to be lit on fire for half an hour without melting or showing any signs of slowing down.  Eventually the chase is concluded when his car explodes, seemingly spelling the end of the Maniac Cop.  McKinney lights a cigarette with one of Cordells severed arms and walks off into the city night, satisfied the Maniac Cop has been laid to rest.   


Maniac Cop 3 is a fun movie if you dont think too hard.  They try to tie McKinney into a romantic sub plot but it just doesnt work.  I really couldnt imagine the blonde bombshell they couple him with would be interested in a chain smoking cop with bad acne scars, but the movie spends a lot of time trying to set that up.  They never explain why Cordell was so in need of a bride, especially since that wasnt his prerogative at all during the prior movies.  Its just kind of stapled on without any afterthought.  Why would the voodoo priest have any interest in what Cordell does at all?  Who knows?

Its a little sad that its the last entry in the series, but Maniac Cop will return in the form of a remake scheduled for NEXT YEAR.  Count me in.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Until Dawn - PS4

I have not played the slasher survivor horror game Until Dawn, but it looks like I will have my chance.  In the month of July Until Dawn will be available for free to PS Plus subscribers.  Cool beans, 3 stalk and slash titles in one summer (Friday the 13th, Dead by Daylight, Until Dawn), definitely the summer of digital stalk and slash.  I will have to review them all.

Maniac Cop 2 - review

I love Maniac Cop.  I know Matt Cordell is not a name that crops up as often as Jason Voorhees or Freddy Krueger, but it should.  This series offered a nice action/horror hybrid slasher alternative to teens getting diced at summer camp and you cant go wrong with a cast like Bruce Campbell and Tom Atkins all rolled up in one movie.  The first movie in the series is great and well worth checking out, but as much as I love it things tend to get bogged down in police procedure and laying out Matt Cordells origin story; its like the great mouthwatering salad and appetizer you get before the main course.  Plus Atkins dies in it and I dont know if I dig that.  Things dont really get rolling until the end of the flick.  So when I get into my Maniac Cop mode I usually skip the croutons and delve right into the main course; Maniac Cop 2.

Maniac Cop 2 is one of the best action/horror hybrid movies I can name off hand, probably the best of the stalk and slash golden era.  It begins by recounting the final moments of the last movie, which happen to be the best moments from the last movie so no complaints, and then there are some nice tracking shots of a junkyard full of smashed police patrol vehicles for ambiance.  Matt Cordell is back on the beat in no time, claiming revenge on Bruce Campbell for refusing to be the patsy from the first movie.  He kills him with his trademark bayonet/night stick combo; a blind newspaper salesman touches his hand and says it brings him right back to WWIII, hiding from Nazis under the bodies of the frozen dead.  I really dug that the old codger had more to say than youre all doomed; casting no shade on Crazy Ralph but it was a nice change.

Next Cordell targets Bruces girlfriend from the first film; Mallory, a fiery blonde who knows Matt is still alive but cant convince the newly appointed commissioner and police chief hes anything but a ghost (again).  When she hears of her boyfriends demise she wisely choses to get the hell out of town; but Matt somehow cuts the brakes on a taxi she is taking, which leads to a cool extended car chase.  Eventually the cars crash and come to a stop, and in the fray Mallory gets her hands on a chainsaw by raiding a local hardware store.  It proves ineffectual against Cordells deadly grip; he stops the chainsaw dead in its tracks by simply grabbing the chain and then casually snaps Mallorys neck.  The revenge is complete; the cult stars of the prior movie are left dead in the street. 

However Mallory had a passenger in her taxi, a police psychologist that miraculously survives when Matt hand cuffs her to a runaway car and now knows the truth of his existence, a fact the city officials would rather ignore.  She gets help from a hard-boiled detective named McKinney, who is also chasing a serial killer targeting strippers named Turkell.  I just realized Turkell was the same actor as Budd from Halloween 2, his acting was so spot on as a scummy serial killer with a Southern draw, I had trouble connecting the two.  When Cordell goes after the same victim as Turkell the two strike up an impromptu friendship with secret handshakes and inside jokes only maniac serial killers would get.   Then they have a slumber party and pillow fight.  These things happen.

Turkell is caught by Detective McKinney, and soon Cordell comes to his rescue, massacring an entire police station in the process.  Working his way back from the gun range the Maniac Cop brutally dispatches all police he sees, much like the T-800 in the original Terminator he seems unstoppable, impervious to bullets, full rage mode engaged.  Matt looks more zombified in this movie as well, suggesting that he truly is an undead being, a force that cannot be stopped, rather than a cop with bad acne and brain damage.

Turkell thinks Matt is looking for a full on revolution against the police, releasing prisoners and causing a riot; next stop Sing-Sing.  Cordell seems to be along for the ride until the commissioner admits to any wrong doing against him, confessing his part in the corruption that led to Matts death, promising him an honorable burial and for his name to be cleared once and for all.  Upon hearing this Cordell switches gears and goes after the prisoners who cut him up in the first place; even while engulfed in flames he shows no sign of stopping in his pursuit of revenge.  Turkell realizes he is not the key to the revolution he hoped for and stabs him in the back with his own bayonet.  Cordell grabs Turkell, and the two go careening through a cement wall into a bus that explodes on impact.

In the end Cordell is finally given an honorable funeral service and his name is cleared, but as the funeral winds down a white gloved hand smashes through his casket lid to grab his badge.  Cordell lives!  Maniac Cop 2 raises the stakes in every way a sequel should while maintaining solid continuity with the entry before it, a rare instance in slasherdom.  The action scenes are top notch, and the cast is pretty solid as well, great acting all around, another rarity for these kinds of deals.  Even the Maniac Cop is given a nice story arc of revenge and redemption and there is even a theme song at the end; so what are you waiting for lovejoy, add Maniac Cop 2 to your slasher collection today!