Tuesday, April 25, 2017

TROMA TUESDAY Returns, For Better or Worse, With YETI: A LOVE STORY (2006)

Have you ever wanted to see a yeti butt-fuck a man to death?

Ah, I'll bet that got your attention. But that isn't some ruse to get you to read further: it's a scene straight out of the 2006 Troma-tic bowel movement, YETI: A LOVE STORY.

The year is 1985. A group of college dipshits camping in New Hampshire stumble upon a cult dedicated to worshipping the yeti, whom they routinely offer sacrifices to. Emily (Lauren Glasscott) learns of a prophecy in which the yeti can be set free from the machinations of the cult via love from a sodomite. Adam (Adam Malamut) and the yeti fall in love – and just in time because Dick (Dave Paige) is about to be sacrificed by the cult (and I'm about to be sacrificed by myself for having put this much effort into describing this movie's story).

Reportedly shot for a mere $200, YETI: A LOVE STORY begins promisingly – even eliciting a chuckle or two – but soon devolves into a 70-minute borefest complete with overdone jokes, execrable attempts at humor, and no attempts at entertaining the viewer. Sure, this Troma-tic experience is accompanied by plenty of blood, guts, tits, ass and dicks (so your wives and gay friends will be happy); but given I can just see this stuff in any generic horror film which flies down the shit chute, I'd rather spend my time and money elsewhere.

YETI: A LOVE STORY is proof that some movies should never be made. I really thought this was gonna be a hidden gem in a shit-hill. Nope: 'tis but a shit clump disguised as fool's gold. As per usual, the folks at Troma show they'll distribute any festering piece of shit so long as it is tasteless. It really makes ya wonder if they even watch the crap they distribute.

Or, worse yet, maybe they DO! – Evan Romero

Evan Romero is a regular contributor to the pages of ER (including our mammoth 30th anniversary issue available from our website) and spends much of his time reading morally questionable books and watching movies no sane person would touch. He is the vocalist/bassist for the punk band Porno Holocaust (you can find them on Facebook and listen to some demos if you’re inclined). His short story “Touch” was recently published in REJECTED FOR CONTENT 5: SANITARIUM. You can read more of his reviews at ReelAtrocities.com or at PopHorror.com. He last wrote about MOST LIKELY TO DIE.

YETI: A LOVE STORY is available from Amazon.




Friday, February 17, 2017

SLASHER FRIDAY: Who Is MOST LIKELY TO DIE (2015)?

Combine desperation with boredom, mix in a Netflix account, and you're liable to make the same viewing mistakes I make on a nightly basis. Granted, not every film I watch is a flush-worthy turd, but more often than not a night on Netflix ends with me disappointed and annoyed with myself for not having better sense. Yes, a one-star film MIGHT just be a hidden gem. More often than not, however, they turn out to be like MOST LIKELY TO DIE.

It's been ten years since high school graduation and you know what that means: reunion time! Before heading to the reunion proper, a group of friends decide to meet up at Ray's (Jason Tobias) house for a little pre-reunion fun. Upon arriving, they discover Ray is missing and his ditzy blonde girlfriend, Ashley (Skylar Vallo) has been murdered – and the murderer is still on the loose! Could it be Ray himself, who's snapped after the Rangers kicked him off the hockey team? Or is it some guy whom the group used to torment back in high school?

Watching MOST LIKELY TO DIE, I couldn't help but wonder why this film was even made. Slasher films are supposed to be all about watching death fodder get offed, right? Yes. But MOST LIKELY TO DIE finds that boring. Instead, the bulk of the 80-minute runtime is comprised of characters we don't care about talking about problems we don't care about. Every so often the killer will pop up and off someone to keep viewers from falling asleep. It's like a John Hughes film crossed with FRIDAY THE 13TH. I'll give the film credit for at least fleshing out the death fodder, but let's be honest here: we watch slasher films to see idiots get killed, not because we're in the mood for drama and characterization that, ultimately, goes nowhere.

But all is not lost: we get Jake Busey, who buys the farm the minute the check clears, and is here to add name value and whose character adds absolutely nothing to the proceedings aside from a voyeuristic act which gives the audience a brief glimpse of ass and titties. And we get a slasher who utilizes a creative weapon: a mortarboard concealing a razor-sharp instrument – which he does little with except slit throats. But at least we get one brutal kill which I'll spoil for you so you don't have to watch the movie: he slits a girl's throat, then tears off her head. Fun.

MOST LIKELY TO DIE is most likely gonna remind you of your years in high school, assuming they were like mine: boring, depressing, uninspiring and a waste of time. If your high school years were better, the same descriptors still apply. Give MOST LIKELY TO DIE a wide berth. In fact, forget it exists. – Evan Romero

Evan Romero is a regular contributor to the pages of ER (including our mammoth 30th anniversary issue available from our website) and spends much of his time reading morally questionable books and watching movies no sane person would touch. He is the vocalist/bassist for the punk band Porno Holocaust (you can find them on Facebook and listen to some demos if you’re inclined). His short story “Touch” was recently published in REJECTED FOR CONTENT 5: SANITARIUM. You can read more of his reviews at ReelAtrocities.com or at PopHorror.com. He last wrote about NIGHTBEAST.

MOST LIKELY TO DIE is available from Amazon.




Tuesday, February 14, 2017

TROMA TUESDAY: Don Dohler's NIGHTBEAST (1982)

Time for another Troma Tuesday as Evan takes a look at the Maryland-lensed low-budget classic NIGHTBEAST from Don Dohler. I hadn't seen the flick since catching it at a local sci-fi and horror convention in the late 80s but Evan mentioned reviewing it for the blog so I went back for another look and concur that it's one of the finest pieces of trash ever released by Kaufman and Co. Look for MIDNIGHT MARQUEE publisher Gary Svhela and his father as locals who pull a dead girl from the back of their car.

When Troma distributes someone else's film, chances are it's a piece of shit that'll bore your dead grandmother to death. Thankfully though, this isn't always the case. Sometimes, Troma DOES hit pay dirt in their distribution acquisitions. Case in point: Don Dohler's NIGHTBEAST.

An alien craft crash lands near a small town and starts offing the clueless locals via ray gun, disembowelment and decapitation. Only Sheriff Cinder (Tom Griffith, who looks like the offspring of John Holmes and Mark Shannon) and his partner, Lisa (Karin Kardian) can stop the creature. Dohler regular Don Leifert appears in a small role as Drago, a biker who harasses the townsfolk.

NIGHTBEAST is a movie that knows its audience well. We ain't here for deep characterization or high drama: we wanna see the goony-lookin' alien get right down to business – business being disemboweling idiots and shooting them with a ray gun to make them vanish in a glorious flash of disco light (victims ain't "Stayin' Alive" here, folks). NIGHTBEAST moves along with zero fucks given, hardly stopping to take a breath other than when necessary. And it's one of the few movies to elicit some genuine tension from this viewer – something movies RARELY ever do. Bravo!

For a movie undoubtedly made on a budget of toe nail clippings and pocket lint, the special effects are about as good as it's gonna get. The optical effects look as though they were created using a disco lamp and the gore is what you'd expect from a low-budget film, i.e. cheap prosthetics and guts bought from Discount Butchers.

Whatever Troma was smoking when they picked up NIGHTBEAST for distribution they need to smoke more of it: of all the Troma-distributed films I've seen, NIGHTBEAST is definitely one of the best. No-bullshit entertainment is what NIGHTBEAST is all about, so do yourself a favor and take it up on the offer. – Evan Romero

Evan Romero is a regular contributor to the pages of ER (including our mammoth 30th anniversary issue available from our website) and spends much of his time reading morally questionable books and watching movies no sane person would touch. He is the vocalist/bassist for the punk band Porno Holocaust (you can find them on Facebook and listen to some demos if you’re inclined). His short story “Touch” was recently published in REJECTED FOR CONTENT 5: SANITARIUM. You can read more of his reviews at ReelAtrocities.com or at PopHorror.com. He last wrote about THE ORPHAN KILLER.

NIGHTBEAST is available from Amazon.



     

Monday, February 13, 2017

DOOMED: THE UNTOLD STORY OF ROGER CORMAN'S THE FANTASTIC FOUR (2015)

"It's the movie business... and life is not fair." – Oley Sassone, THE FANTASTIC FOUR Director 

I still remember where and when I first saw the Roger Corman-produced version of THE FANTASTIC FOUR that had been splashed across the cover of the slick, glossy version of Film Threat like it was a real, big-screen movie coming to one of the 327 screens that surrounded my suburban NJ home. It was the July 4th holiday in the summer of 1995 and I was in personal limbo. Relationships seemed to be hanging by tenuous threads, I hated my job, I hated my life, and I was teaching myself something called HTML so I could start a website. Whatever that was.

But on that summer afternoon I was content to kick back with some old friends, knock back some cheap beers, and watch, well, I'm not sure what. The flick – starring Jay Underwood from the cherished, hysterical afterschool special THE DAY MY KID WENT PUNK – had snuck onto the collector/grey market after the finished product had been shelved. As the story went, the film had never been intended for release and had only been rushed through production (a Corman specialty) in order to maintain the rights for a bigger payday with a major studio.

What's hard to remember – and, perhaps, harder to believe given their recent success – is that in the early 1990s when THE FANTASTIC FOUR went in front of the cameras with director Oley Sassone at the helm, is that live action Marvel adaptations were pretty much considered a joke. Oh, sure, I might have loved Rex Smith as Daredevil in the Incredible Hulk TV movie, but not everybody felt the same. And, yes, that's the dad from Disney's long-running 'Good Luck Charlie' as Thor (or some weird SoCal surfer approximation thereof) in a subsequent, and excruciating, Hulkflick.

THE FANTASTIC FOUR, on the surface, was a different story. There was a recognizable name or two behind the project (the aforementioned Corman, the Concorde/New Horizon video label) and even some familiar faces in front of the camera (Underwood [The Human Torch] plus Hollywood sons Joseph Culp [Dr. Doom] and Alex Hyde-White [Reed Richards]). Sure, it had one-thirty-fifth the budget of Tim Burton's BATMAN (1989), but wouldn't all involved have been happy with one-thirty-fifth of that flick's $250 million gross?

Directed by Marty Langford, DOOMED does an excellent job of tracking the story of the aborted/shelved THE FANTASTIC FOUR from its nascent days as a Marvel Comics adaptation straight through to the revelation that corporate entities have pretty much played everyone involved - including the sweet, grandfatherly Corman - for suckers. There's the initial sniffing around (when Troma honcho Lloyd Kauffman smells something fishy you're probably better off walking away, too), the rushed casting (that somehow lands a group of passionate actors), and the even more rushed shooting schedule (cast members contend they never rehearsed or met until the set).

Everyone involved with the film's production seems to genuinely believe in the flick, if not as a passion project, at least as a feather in their cap on the path to future Hollywood employment. Unfortunately, it appears more sinister forces are at work as the project gets delayed and, eventually, bought out and shelved. It's telling that neither Stan Lee nor Avi Arad agreed to be interviewed, despite what the filmmakers say were repeated attempts to get them on camera, not to mention footage of Marvel tastemaker Lee belittling the flick before a comic loving crowd of nerds.

Kudos to Langford and Co. for shedding more light onto one of Hollywood's urban legends, especially since the original THE FANTASTIC FOUR – myriad flaws aside – has way more comic book heart than the cold, corporate reboots that have followed in its wake. – Dan Taylor

Dan Taylor is the editor/publisher of Exploitation Retrospect: The Journal of Junk Culture and Fringe Media. Check out our 130-page 30th Anniversary Issue featuring horror anthologies, mens action novels, video store oddity THE JAR and much more, available at Amazon, CreateSpace, ebay and the ER website.

DOOMED is available from Amazon.


Friday, February 10, 2017

SLASHER FRIDAY: Reel Gore Releasing's THE ORPHAN KILLER (2011)

The last two films I caught from Reel Gore Releasing prompted me to dub the company Real BORE Releasing. So when THE ORPHAN KILLER arrived in the mail, I expected nothing more than to add the discs to my coaster collection. But something totally unexpected happened: I actually enjoyed the damn thing! So thanks Reel Gore for not fucking up again.

Audrey (Diane Foster) and her brother Marcus (David Backhaus) are orphaned as children after their parents were killed during a robbery. In the orphanage, Marcus kills a young boy which prompts the nuns to start treating him like a monster and force him to wear a horrifying mask. Soon, Audrey is adopted while Marcus is left to languish in the orphanage. Years later, Audrey is now working at the orphanage. But Marcus is still hiding in the orphanage. And he's determined to teach Audrey a little something about family...

First off, any film claiming it "defies classification" and "goes far beyond current trends in gore and breaks open a new suffering genre of horror" is full of shit. THE ORPHAN KILLER delivers the same stuff we've seen a thousand times before, but it does so with such aplomb that it's hard not to enjoy it. The film borrows a page from HALLOWEEN as it pits two siblings against each other in a bloody fight to the finish – and substantially ups the blood and body count. Then, swiping a page from films like HOSTEL and SAW, THE ORPHAN KILLER veers into "torture porn" territory as Audrey is strung up and tortured while Marcus babbles on about making her suffer. Like I said, we've seen this all before, though often done with less-deft hands.

The murders are deliciously brutal, delivering the goods as any slasher worth its weight should. Strangulation with barbed wire, hacked-off limbs and crushed heads are just a few of the murders on display. And kudos goes to the whole special effects team for utilizing moist and meaty practical effects.

Of course though, there's always a downside. While most of the effects are top notch, whoever decided to use CGI gunshots should be shot. Not only does it ALWAYS look terrible but it can bring down the integrity of a good production. And the Muscle- Head-Douche-Bag-Bro-Metal soundtrack provided by Bullet Tooth should have been jettisoned. Not only is it rubbish AND destroys any chance of suspense and atmosphere, but it's the kind of soundtrack that belongs in a lesser movie in an attempt to make it seem much better and much cooler.

Also, this may have just been my copy, but the Blu-ray disc is glitchy: quite often, the disc would spaz out and skip a couple seconds of film. I watched about ten minutes of it before switching to the DVD and encountering no problems.

Overall though, THE ORPHAN KILLER is a winner. No masterpiece, and the chances of it becoming an iconic franchise (which is so obviously aspires to) are little more than pipe dreams, but it'll deliver the goods and keep you entertained for a little while.

THE ORPHAN KILLER is available in a DVD/Blu-ray combo pack from Reel Gore Releasing. Special features include a trailer, a music video clip, a featurette, and more. – Evan Romero

Evan Romero is a regular contributor to the pages of ER (including our mammoth 30th anniversary issue available from our website) and spends much of his time reading morally questionable books and watching movies no sane person would touch. He is the vocalist/bassist for the punk band Porno Holocaust (you can find them on Facebook and listen to some demos if you’re inclined). His short story “Touch” was recently published in REJECTED FOR CONTENT 5: SANITARIUM. You can read more of his reviews at ReelAtrocities.com or at PopHorror.com. He last wrote about MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE.

THE ORPHAN KILLER is available from Amazon and Diabolik DVD.




Friday, February 03, 2017

BIGFOOT VS D.B COOPER (2014) directed by David DeCoteau

As a child of the 1970s, tales of Bigfoot and the search for D.B. Cooper were among my earliest pop culture memories, sparking lifelong interests in cryptozoology, urban legends and true crime tales. So, it would be only natural for me to zero in on the awesome-sounding BIGFOOT VS. D.B. COOPER while trawling for a quick watch while I made dinner. Plus, Eric Roberts!!

Set on the day before Thanksgiving in November of 1971, BIGFOOT VS... relates the tale of Bernie (Jordan Rodriguez), a young hunter who heads off into the woods to bag some turkeys for the family holiday feast. It must have been a hot November day as Bernie, decked out in shorts and little else, hikes through the Pacific Northwest, his chiseled features and tight abs glistening in the late autumn sun.

And he hikes... and hikes... and glistens... and hikes. As a hairy figure shadows his movements through the woods, Bernie eventually arrives at a "hunting lodge" he assumes will be abandoned, only to encounter a half-dozen or so shirtless dudes sitting around hoisting beers, toasting one pal's impending marriage. (Right.) And cue the "Directed by David DeCoteau" credit as Bernie gets invited in for a beer before they all head off for some shirtless turkey hunting.

It's at this point that you are more than welcome to fast forward through the next 45 minutes as the shirtless, shorts-clad dudes go to their respective rooms (complete with the flat screen TVs that were so popular in 1971), strip down to their boxer briefs and pose in front of the mirror with their guns, both the bicep and bang-bang variety.

Remembering that the name "D.B. Cooper" is in the title, DeCoteau occasionally weaves in details from Cooper's true tale of airline piracy, complete with the note to the stewardess (voiced by Linnea Quigley), a briefcase bomb and even the pilot informing the hijacker that the route from Seattle-Tacoma Airport toward Mexico City would require an additional fueling stop. (In other words, somebody read the Wikipedia page.) Alas, these dramatic retellings are but brief moments of exposition between more showering, hiking and talk of 'Nam from our barely-clad bachelors who appear to have traveled back in time from 2014 thanks to the "who gives a f**k?" attempts at wardrobe and, well, pretty much everything.

Eventually, our titular characters do collide, with DeCoteau and screenwriter Harvey Shaiman providing a wonderfully hysterical solution to both the riddle of Bigfoot and the mystery surrounding the disappearance of DB Cooper. If you like your exploitation flicks light on blood but heavy on boxer-clad hunks toting around rifles and doing sit-ups, well, head to Amazon posthaste. Personally, I demand a Jim Wynorski-lensed remake entitled HOT TUB BIGFOOT VS DOUBLE-D BEA COOPER.

As for the top-billed Roberts, his role is limited to narrating the tale as "Older Bernie", which I can only assume was done during catering breaks while filming DeCoteau's vastly superior MAGIC PUPPY (2012) aka THE GREAT HALLOWEEN PUPPY ADVENTURE. – Dan Taylor

Dan Taylor is the editor/publisher of Exploitation Retrospect: The Journal of Junk Culture and Fringe Media. Check out our 130-page 30th Anniversary Issue featuring horror anthologies, mens action novels, video store oddity THE JAR and much more. Available at Amazon, CreateSpace, ebay and the ER website.

BIGFOOT VS DB COOPER is available from Amazon.



Wednesday, February 01, 2017

VHS WEDNESDAY: James Toback's LOVE & MONEY (1982) with Ray Sharkey, Klaus Kinski, Armand Assante

Ray Sharkey is a low-level bank employee who gets lured into helping a global silver magnate (Klaus Kinski) deal with a Latin American strongman (Armand Assante) who wants to seize back his country's silver mines.

Did I mention Sharkey's character was the college roomie of Assante's el presidente? Did I mention Sharkey was seduced by Kinski's exotic wife who he may or may not have known before? (My wife and I couldn't agree on that one.) Did I mention Sharkey's idea of "sexy" is a Fila track suit jacket that makes him look like a high school crossing guard?

Definitely weird and sorta existential – not surprising considering LOVE AND MONEY comes from the mind of FINGERS writer/director James Toback – the flick also features a whole subplot including Sharkey's delusional grandfather (King Vidor) and live-in book dealer galpal. Alas, not nearly enough time is spent on this storyline, which was the best part of this oddball flick.

One wonders if the Warner Archive print runs any longer as the VHS box includes scenes not in the print we watched, though this wouldn't be the first time a VHS sleeve lied to me. Klaus does have a juicy scene at a dinner party for Assante's character and he gets to kill a double-crosser, plus there's lots of short, barked lines of dialogue ("Bring Mr. Levin white wine and a lobster salad!") that made me think he told Toback he'd take the role on the condition that he got the most money for the fewest lines.

Alas, it's for Klaus Kinski and Ray Sharkey completists only. – Dan Taylor

Dan Taylor is the editor/publisher of Exploitation Retrospect: The Journal of Junk Culture and Fringe Media. Check out our 130-page 30th Anniversary Issue featuring horror anthologies, mens action novels, video store oddity THE JAR and much more. Available at Amazon, CreateSpace, ebay and the ER website.

LOVE AND MONEY is available from Amazon.

I can't find a trailer for the flick so here's a clip of Klaus Kinski talking about money...