#1  
Old 08-25-2012, 05:23 PM
The Video Store - a review thread

That `80's Guy Who Misses Video Stores

Presents

The Video Store

Welcome. Come on in. This is my place. I've talked enough about missing video stores, haven't I? So, why not renovate that department area down the street and open one of my own? I mean, can today's crappy economy possibly get worse? You can rent or buy movies here, or get your movies online at my website if you prefer. There are new movies in my stock and I will cover each of them.

*Don't worry, That `80's Guy Who Misses Video Stores (TM ) is just a fun stage name. Nothing more, nothing less. Thought about using it earlier in the year.

Last edited by Duke Nukem; 08-25-2012 at 06:00 PM..
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  #2  
Old 08-25-2012, 05:55 PM
That `80's Guy Who Misses Video Stores

Presents

Movie #1: Mr. Hush (2012)

Brad Loree has not grown up from trick-or-treating. He first played Michael Myers in "Halloween: Resurrection." No matter the quality of the movie, he played a very good Boogeyman. He stood out more than some of the other stuntmen to play him. In "Mr. Hush," he plays a normal guy with a loving wife and child. Halloween is a strong family tradition, and he enjoys taking his daughter out trick-or-treating. He appears to have the perfect life. And you know when someone has the perfect life in the beginning of a movie, it won't be for much longer. And on Halloween, he loses his family to a lunatic.

Ten years later, he's living in a tent and working in a crappy restaurant job. He has lost all sense of purpose. And when he's finally ready to move on, the same lunatic returns. His name is Mr. Hush, and he is intent on keeping Loree's life a living hell.

This is not a big, fancy Hollywood movie. It is a low-budget film if there ever was one. And that is not necessarily the problem, although it is a minor one. The problem is that Mr. Hush is a lame villain and this so-called throwback to 1980's style horror films is a poor, uninspired effort. The best thing it has going for it is the character development in the first half. It is a good try and has some heart. As for Loree, his performance is the only other redeeming value. He is not a great actor, and has no mask to hide behind, but he does his best with a lousy script.

I met the the writer-director, David Lee Madison, at the convention where I picked up the movie. He seems like a nice guy, but what the hell was he thinking when he wrote this? This is not a good movie. It sucks. Serves me right for trying out a new movie from the 2000's. That is not to say that there are not any good movies or series being made nowadays. There are. This just isn't one of them. And if it inspires a series of its own, God help us. What a way to begin this marathon. With such a poor start, the other movies from 1960's to the `90's have more than a shot at measuring up.

* out of 4

If you must see this film, don't buy it. I will let you rent it from The Video Store for one dollar.

Movie #2: Torso (1973)

The Giallo film. An Italian slasher. This is such a film, and it looks like a sick puppy that means business. Its central theme is sexual exploration, and it does not shy away from female nudity and sexual situations. Its killer is the psychosexual kind, possibly a common villain seen in a number of slasher movies by now.

I cannot say that the killer doesn't shy away from making mincmeat out of the victims. Even in it's uncut form, the movie does not rival the work of Dario Argento and company. It has its moments, but leaves much of the killer's handiwork off-camera and to the imagination, even as the killer cuts away at three bodies with a hacksaw. It is never as visceral or explicit as it could be. Other than a fair amount of gore, the film also offers a fair amount of suspense. This cannot be denied, especially in the last half hour when the heroine is trapped in a house with the killer. This sequence is the highlight of the film.

It is likely that the filmmakers were more interested in honest suspense than creating a gorefest, and there is nothing with that. Director Sergio Martino was also more interested with its sexual - and sensual - thematic material and showcasing a number of lovely ladies not afraid to bare it all. In the end, "Torso" comes close to being something even better. It falls short and lacks the wow-factor of Argento, Bava and other established maestros at their best.

**1/2 out of 4

Recommended for rental or purchase. It is always possible that others will enjoy this more than I did. It does have the sexual angle going for it, something I felt there was more than enough of.

Last edited by Duke Nukem; 09-21-2012 at 09:46 PM..
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  #3  
Old 08-29-2012, 09:30 PM
That `80's Guy Who Misses Video Stores

Presents

Movie #3: Scream for Help (1986)

A teenage girl suspects that her stepfather is scheming to murder her wealthy mother. Sound a little bit familiar? In another movie called “The Stepfather,” a teenage girl saw right through her stepfather and who knew that he wasn’t Mr. Cheers and Smiles. Something was wrong with him. That film inspired two sequels and a remake. However…“Scream for Help” was released a year before “The Stepfather,” which is particularly striking. They are, without a doubt, similar. However, this earlier version ultimately follows a very different path. When it’s over, you will know you’ve seen something different. Something darker. And to confirm one more inevitable comparison, you will know you’ve seen the “Death Wish” version of “The Stepfather.”

The key is director Michael Winner. He is responsible for the first three “Death Wish” movies. The first film has a respectable reputation. The four sequels to follow don’t. Are they really that bad? I don’t think so, and certainly don’t have a problem with Winner’s direction in any of the first three entries. No doubt, subtlety and honest suspense is not one of his strengths. What he has proven to deliver as a director is brutal violence and savage nature. This especially showed in the first two “Death Wish” sequels, and it shows once again in “Scream for Help.” For better and worse, he does for “The Stepfather” what he did for “Death Wish.”

If you want a different or darker version of the stepfather idea, and can tolerate Michael Winner’s direction, you should find something to like here. It still proves to be different from “The Stepfather” in about every way. Once again, we have a young, clever heroine who sees through her stepfather and knows that he’s up to something. However, the heroine in this one is more grown up. She does use four-letter words occasionally and has premarital sex with a boy – the same one who has recently dated her best friend and gotten her pregnant. And unlike “the first time” as presented in other movies, it hurts. Nancy Drew finally grows up. There is something both natural and unnatural about how this development is handled. Some of it is sweet, some of it is believable, and some of it isn’t believable at all. And the heroine is supposed to represent “the girl next door” type. The movie breaks the rules in the horror/thriller handbook. It succeeds in doing so at a price, and I was glad to see something different for a change.

In terms of nudity and sexuality, this film doesn’t shy away. It is all there. And so is brutal violence along with the cruel and savage nature of man. Those elements have a place in the “Death Wish” films and Michael Winner found a place for them here, too. Unexpectedly, he does generate serious suspense. However, some of the suspense is undermined by his lack of subtlety. The way he presents the heroine and villain at times is not to be believed. “The Stepfather” has honest suspense and is understated compared to this. This film presents a similar story in a more down and dirty fashion. And that may be anyone’s reason for liking it or disliking it. For all its worth, it is well-acted and not directed by an amateur. Winner knew what he was doing. Perhaps he should have taken it more seriously and held back a little. But it wouldn’t be a Michael Winner film if he did, would it? “Scream for Help” is similar to and different from “The Stepfather.” And warts and all, it is undeniably effective.

**1/2 out of 4

Recommended as a rental or purchase.

Seriously, you can get this on DVD through - www.vhsps.com

Last edited by Duke Nukem; 09-11-2012 at 12:17 AM..
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  #4  
Old 09-02-2012, 06:50 PM
That `80's Guy Who Misses Video Stores

Presents

Movie #4: Death Ship (1980)

Drifting in the ocean is a forgotten German battleship. Since WW2, it has become a demonic ghost ship. When it senses a luxury liner close by, its engine runs on its own and sets a collision course. The small group of survivors from the sunken luxury liner find themselves drifting toward the ancient battleship, and they are unaware of the nightmare it has already begun and is hellbent on continuing.

This is a really cool and radically different horror film. A haunted and demonic ship! Not only that, a twisted and sick Nazi ship! When was the last time they made something like this? Since "Death Ship," there are have been similar movies such as "Deep Rising," "Virus" and probably countless other movies in the straight-to-video market and on the crappy Syfy channel. That's right. I have not forgotten about how low the once-great Syfy channel has sunk.

Among the survivors to board the battleship are George Kennedy, Richard Crenna, Nick Mancuso and Saul Rubinek. Kennedy should not fly airplanes and has no right operating a ship. Crenna gets to swap Vietnam stories with John Rambo for World War II stories with ghosts. As for Mancuso and Rubinek, this is an earlier project on both of their resumes. I can't imagine anybody not hearing Mancuso's name thrown around, but who is Rubinek? He is a character-actor you must have seen in a number of movies and don't know it. I know him well as the asshole director from "Sweet Liberty."

This film is no classic, but it delivers what it promises. First, a genuinely creepy ship. And after that, inventive enough death scenes and action. In particular, a shower that turns into a bloodbath. It may very well be the mother of shower scenes. The ship takes possession of Kennedy. And as the characters investigate the disturbing bowels of the ship, the true nature of this Nazi vessel gets to their heads. What they discover is not pretty. On top of that, there are a lot of shots of the engine's pistons running on their own, and I found them rather cool. This ship means business.

Is the movie great? No. But it is a fun ride and doesn't fall short in any department. For a movie about a demonic ship, it offers a little bit of everything and is an underrated gem.

*** out of 4

Recommended as a rental or purchase.

Seriously, you can get this on DVD through - www.vhsps.com

Last edited by Duke Nukem; 09-02-2012 at 07:05 PM..
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  #5  
Old 09-05-2012, 10:07 PM
That `80's Guy Who Misses Video Stores

Presents

Movie #5: Blood Cult (1985)

At a college campus is a killer hacking away at students with a meatcleaver. And in the process, taking spare parts such as arms, legs and even the head. It is believed to be the work of a ritualistic killer or cult. Already sound familiar? And already getting excited at the thought of another slasher film with something different to offer? Well, don't. It's not worth it.

This is not a real movie. It lacks the quality production of a theatrical motion picture, and was apparently the first movie made for the home video market in the 1980's. It falls right into the "made in our backyard with our friends, family and neighbors" subgenre. Apparently, there is an audience with an appreciation for these kinds of movies and that's a good thing. If there wasn't, it would be a complete waste of celluloid. My gosh, is it bad. Unlike "Mr. Hush," it is not offensively bad. Nor is it so-bad-its-good, allowing one to have fun at its expense. It is just plain bad.

The movie promises graphic and realistic death scenes. We see the killer's arm swinging the meatcleaver back and forth a lot with fake blood. The fake blood will splatter everywhere. And there is a severed arm and leg. But it is nothing to get excited about. Really, sit back down and put your keys away. With the exception of the severed arm, the hacking action is never on-screen. The stabbings in these kinds of movies are not always on-screen. But the better examples find creative ways to work around it. Here, the movie promises something that isn't really there. It is fairly graphic, but even then, what is the point of it all when it's in such a poorly produced package?

The only other redeeming value is the game effort by the cast. They are all non-actors and give it a fair try. For better and worse, they remained committed to the script and delivered okay performances at best.

When you find yourself occasionally glancing at the running time and realizing with dread that there is still __ minutes remaining, you're in for a bad time. Somehow, bad movies like this one feel longer and are a true test of one's patience and endurance. If not for a proper review and the full right to trash this movie, I wouldn't have bothered seeing it to the end. You're welcome. Furthermore, it is another reminder that the 1980's was not a 100% magical time period after all. Just as there are filmmakers in the 2000's guilty of producing atrocious movies, filmmakers were just as capable of such a crime back then.

* out of 4

Recommended as a rental at best. You know the dollar menu at McDonalds? This is another movie you can rent at The Video Store for just a dollar.

But if you really do want to see it for yourself, you can actually get it on DVD through - www.vhsps.com

Last edited by Duke Nukem; 09-05-2012 at 10:11 PM..
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  #6  
Old 09-11-2012, 05:21 PM
That `80's Guy Who Misses Video Stores

Presents

Movie #6: Absurd (1981)

A killer escapes from an asylum. Check. On his trail is a figure determined to stop him. Check. While in pursuit, the killer rips his stomach open when he climbs over a fence. A fatal injury to slow him down. That's new. Or maybe not. He is taken to the hospital and receives a treatment for his injury. What isn't clear is if he received a new drug to regenerate his condition. The DVD box says so, but this is a less than perfect transfer onto DVD. The audio is quite garbled. More on that later. What is clear is that the killer was already capable of regenerating on his own. Or something. That is according to this film's version of Dr. Loomis - a priest who reminded me of Dracula! - who claims that the killer cannot be killed. Or can, but when shot in the head. Inevitably, the killer recovers and is rejuvenated to continue his rampage. Whew!

At the center of this madness is a family. The only novelty to be found is a young, disabled daughter with a broken neck and spine. There is always a nurse on hand, essentially acting as a babysitter. She is there, so that the young, snotty son can ask her if there is a Boogeyman (after a brief encounter with the wounded killer, who passes out in their house earlier). That's right. The film dares to go down that path, too. Check.

My goodness, where do I begin with this? For starters, this is the yang to some of the previously covered yings. "Torso" looked like it meant business, but turned out to be less of a gorefest. This film is such a gorefest and doesn't hold back. In turn, it lacks the pretty production of "Torso." However, it has a half-decent production both "Mr. Hush" and "Blood Cult" fatally lacked. It falls into the middle of both comparisons. It is watchable but rough around the edges. It doesn't go down smoothly. What doesn't help is the poor transfer onto DVD. The audio is seriously off and makes some of the dialogue exchanges not very clear. It is clear enough to get the gist of the movie, but this is a price to pay for a hard-to-find import from Italy. With or without the poor transfer, it would still be rough around the edges. In the end, one cannot complain, because this movie is not even listed in movie review books in the United States. It is that unknown.

What first makes up for the rough quality are the death scenes. They are bloody and inventive. The bodycount is low, but four death scenes in particular speak for themselves. Would the death scenes save the movie from an average rating? No. I have seen plenty of these movies before. The one extra card up its sleeve is the unexpectedly effective finale. The movie is not particularly suspenseful or scary, but things pick up in the last half hour.

The comparisons cannot be disputed. An escaped killer on the loose. Check. A figure on the killer's trail who knows that he's a monster. Check. A snotty boy asking the nurse/babysitter about the Boogeyman. Check. Check, check and check. This has "Halloween" written all over it. The killer, played by a giant named George Eastman, may appear to be an ordinary man, but this is Italy's answer to "Halloween." Not that there's anything wrong with that. There are thirty to forty "Halloween/Friday The 13th" rip-offs, and most of them deliver and earn their worth. This one does, too. But barely. The plot is stale and you wait a while for the next big kill. It is the finale that ultimately redeems it.

As Italy's answer to "Halloween," this movie gets away with the kind of violence that would have been heavily censored in the United States. Only so many of the "Halloween/Friday The 13th" rip-offs get away with the visceral impact this movie has. That says something. If you have your own growing collection of slasher films and/or "Halloween/Friday The 13th" rip-offs, you might want to get your hands on this. But if not, there are better and far more novel slasher films to look out for.

**1/2 out of 4

Recommended as a rental or purchase.

Last edited by Duke Nukem; 09-15-2012 at 04:42 PM..
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  #7  
Old 09-14-2012, 10:14 AM
Good review pretty much akin to my own thoughts, I had no idea the film was so obscure in the US since "Anthrophogus" had a pretty decent release over europe at itīs time and "Absurd" I think as well. My favorite aspect in both films is George Eastman. The dude kicks butt.
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  #8  
Old 09-15-2012, 04:41 PM
I had remembered your review from last year and picked it up from the recent convention when I saw it there. Didn't remember what it was about or your rating, but why not? It is worth owning, just to add to my collection and because of how bloody it is. It gets away with a lot more than most of the rip-offs. Thank you for "recommending" it last year.
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  #9  
Old 09-16-2012, 07:51 PM
That `80's Guy Who Misses Video Stores

Presents

Movie #7: Bloodstalkers (1978)

Sometimes, you wind up with a movie that leaves you with a suspicious feeling. This was one such example and I wanted to get it out of the way. Just bite the bullet. It can be a matter of judging a book by its cover. You suspect it might be a stinker and don't know. One can always look up the given movie on IMDB, but it can be even riskier to find out that it does stink and not look forward watching it. Better off finding out the old-fashioned way. Just watching it and going in with low expectations. Thankfully, it was a relief to discover that is it not a turkey after all. It also isn't very good. But it is a decent effort that wasn't a total waste of my time.

Two couples are heading out to the Florida Everglades for a cabin in backwoods territory. Yes, it is that old tale. They stop at a rundown gas station, naturally run by a creepy gas attendant, to ask for directions. He warns them. Stay out of Bloodstalkers Country. Who are the Bloodstalkers? You don't want to know. They don't sound nice. Both couples ignore his warning and insist on going. It is the husband of the main couple who is so persistent in going. He has inherited this cabin and it has been many years since he's last stayed there.

They manage to find the cabin - out in the middle of nowhere - and enjoy themselves. There, it is revealed that they are not caricatures in another mindless horror film. They are good-natured folks from the city who simply don't know better and are perhaps looking for escape. We get to know them and it gets dramatic. That is in the first half.

In the second half, things get going when mysterious figures try getting into the cabin. However, it doesn't really go anywhere, at least not in any terribly interesting directions. It becomes fairly suspenseful, but is undermined by a low-budget production unable to deliver what is promised on its box. The carnage is after-the-fact and not on-screen. There is a payoff, but it is too little, too late.

If one ignores what the movie teases and accepts it for it is, there is something to take from it. There is a strong sense of effort to produce something different from familiar material. It has heart. When it really gets going, there is an urgency in its suspense. And at the end, there is even a 1970's grittiness in its favor. But even all that is only able to carry it so far. It is a nice try, and comes close to rising above a familiar premise, but falls short.

** out of 4

Recommended as a rental at best.

If you do actually want to see this for yourself, you can get it on DVD through - www.vhsps.com

Last edited by Duke Nukem; 09-16-2012 at 07:59 PM..
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  #10  
Old 09-18-2012, 01:52 PM
That `80's Guy Who Misses Video Stores

Presents

Movie #8: Eyes of Fire (1983)

In 1750, western pioneers in the American Frontier are moving onto new land. They are escaping from prosecutors accusing them of witchcraft and other crimes. Among them, Will Smithe was accused of living in a house with a family of multiple women. He sounds like the Jack Tripper of the 1700's. His only real crime was being involved with a married woman whose husband has been away for too long. Also among them is a strange girl with the titled eyes of fire. She was probably accused witchcraft. She has powers of her own and is more like an angel protecting the group.

Just as the pioneers find themselves on new land, the husband of the one woman catches up with the group. He will try to reconcile with his wife and have to deal with Will Smithe. Oh, that Will Smithe. Hehe. They decide to stay in this forested area. They find a rundown cabin previous settlers might have built and lived in. What they will experience in this forest is beyond the persecution they suffered in the village.

The pioneers think Indians might be giving them trouble, because they're trespassing. And they try to leave gifts for them and share the land. But it is not Indians trying to drive them away. It is the forest. It has a life of its own. It might have been torn down two centuries later and be responsible for the events in "Poltergeist" or "Pet Sematary." An evil force, possibly the Devil, inhabits it. Ghosts appear. There are creepy and disturbing images, as well as faces in the trees. And there is devilish figure who presents itself and haunts them.

This film is a change of pace. It has almost no conventions found in typical horror movies, and is all the better without them. It might be best described as a slow burn. Once the forest shows its true colors, and it doesn't take long, things get weirder and weirder. It builds up to a battle of good versus evil and a satisfying conclusion.

***1/2 out of 4

Recommended as a rental or purchase.

Seriously, you can get this on DVD through - www.vhsps.com

Last edited by Duke Nukem; 09-30-2012 at 06:35 PM..
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  #11  
Old 09-18-2012, 03:41 PM

Sounds amazing! Will try to find this asap.

Last edited by Dehydrator; 09-18-2012 at 03:58 PM..
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  #12  
Old 09-21-2012, 06:13 PM
Eyes of Fire is an excellent film. Truly original. The forest witch is creepy as fuck.

A couple of things about Blood Cult...it's definitely a real movie (I'm not sure what you mean by that; it's shot on video, but it's still a movie). Also, it's on legit DVD. I dig VHSPS, but in this case, you don't have to settle for a bootleg.

Hey, Duke.
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  #13  
Old 09-21-2012, 06:43 PM
Hi. Welcome to the boards.

By not being a real movie, "Blood Cult" lacks a serious production. It looks and feels cheap, despite an okay effort by the cast.

I get the impression that a lot of the movies at the vshps vendors (at the conventions) are harder to find than others. They are people who rescue old vhs movies. I don't get movies online, but it feels right to help others and point them in the right direction.

Last edited by Duke Nukem; 09-21-2012 at 09:16 PM..
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  #14  
Old 09-21-2012, 07:41 PM
It's cheap, but it's still a movie. It's a cheap movie.

I've shopped at VHSPS. It's a great site. Not all of his stuff is VHS-exclusive, though.
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  #15  
Old 09-27-2012, 06:56 PM
That `80's Guy Who Misses Video Stores

Presents

Movie #9: The Day the Earth Caught Fire (1961)

"2012," from 2009, was a big disaster movie depicting what might happen to our world very soon (yeah right!...but what if?). "Armageddon," "The Core" and "The Day After Tomorrow" all fall into a similar category, and this older film falls in line with them. They are all so large-scale, that they cannot be topped. However, "The Day the Earth Caught Fire" is unlike all these more recent examples, because it is never over-the-top in any way. It is played straight. There is a sense of humor and wit, but is taken as serious subject matter.

It is the 1960's. The world is in panic over the Cold War. Bombs were apparently dropped on the North and South Poles. And lately, there are many incidents of sun spots and flooding. This is just the beginning. There will later be extraordinarily thick fog, erratic weather, and also an unexpected lunar eclipse. The eclipse wasn't supposed to appear until ten days later. As it turns out, Earth's orbit has been rotated by eleven degrees. That is more than enough to throw the planet out of whack and send it hurtling too close to the sun. With temperatures rising, everyone on Earth will be cooked in a matter of time.

That is a pretty big and original problem. If only it was more interesting as a motion picture. Coming from the 1960's, it is more of a talkie than a large scale disaster film. The highlight might be the thick fog that covers London. Having enjoyed plenty of "Attack of the Monster" movies from the 1950's that were also talkies, I wanted to like this. Its subject matter was taken more seriously than the monster movies of the previous decade and made as humanly believable as possible. There is nothing wrong it being believable, but there is something wrong with an uninvolving human story that doesn't draw you in. In contrast to the praise of critics, I found it to be dated, dull and dry. There was too much back-and-forth talk for my taste.

As taken as serious subject matter, the film does have something to say and does deliver in some departments. Other than the already described spectacle, there are the empty city streets and chaos to follow, and also the shortage and rationing of water. As the movie concludes, it is practically warning the audience viewing it to stop fighting, start living in peace and respect the planet. That is something that might be impossible to achieve. There is always war, there is always conflict, and there is always evil surrounding us. Perhaps I got more out of the movie, or something different, than expected. But it is still a very talky affair with not enough excitement. It could be considered a time capsule, but it has a message that should still be heard. Especially right now.

**1/2 out of 4

Perhaps best recommended as a rental. However, it is always possible others will enjoy this more than I did. With much praise coming from professional critics, I appear to be in the minority.

Last edited by Duke Nukem; 09-30-2012 at 06:36 PM..
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  #16  
Old 09-30-2012, 07:04 PM
That `80's Guy Who Misses Video Stores

Presents

Movie #10: The Legend of Hell House (1973)

Several years before the Lutz family would supposedly exaggerate their stay at the Amityville house into a best-selling book and box-office film...a decade before the Ghostbusters would open their own business...and three decades before "Ghost Hunters" would begin their own real-life ghost business on televison...was Hell House. And never mind the countless "old dark house" movies to come before it. Obviously, this is not a film with a high-concept original idea. However, it is based on a novel and has a respectable reputation. It was time to finally see it.

Hell House is considered "the Mt. Everest of haunted houses." There have been investigations before resulting in disasterious consequences. Only one paranormal researcher has made it out of the house with his life and sanity, and he is returning twenty years later with three other researchers. They have a week to stay and get to the bottom of its haunting.

From the start, the four researchers do not get along. They have different ideas of what is wrong with the house. And they will only fight amongst themselves more as the forces in the house tries to tear them apart. Two of them are focused on the scientific aspects of the haunting, and the other two are mediums who can feel the power of the house. The returning member is one of the mediums and he took the gig for a paycheck. He's not even listening to the house. He is just taking a vacation. But he does take it more seriously as the house shows its darker colors and he warns the others. The returning member is played by Roddy McDowell, one of the apes from "Planet of The Apes." I did not recognize his face, but did recognize his voice. And he certainly was in this for more than a paycheck. As the movie goes on, he shows more and more conviction in his performance.

For another haunted house movie, it shows off some creepy sideshows. A spirit speaks through the female medium, torments her, and even messes around with her. Objects move on their own. There are creepy and suggestive images. There is also a church built into the house that is anything but holy. And on the outside, it is a large and gothic mansion with a fog bank always present. All the elements are there and yet I didn't quite feel its hyped power. It is creepy at times, but never suspenseful or scary. It definitely has its moments, but was a less memorable affair for me.

An interesting comparison is "Burnt Offerings" from 1976. That film has a less respectable reputation and was another forgotten movie to discover. It is not any more original than this film, but it has a good sense of build-up and a worthwhile payoff. At least I thought so, and got more out of it in the long run. In the matter of "The Legend of Hell House," it has an interesting payoff that almost redeems it. It is also well-acted and well-directed. It is the build-up that's inconsistent and not all there. On one hand, I have definitely seen too many movies. But on the other, I did see something special in "Burnt Offerings" recently. I really wanted to like this movie, but it just didn't do enough for me.

**1/2 out of 4

Recommended as a rental or purchase. It is always possible others will enjoy this more. It is certainly not a bad movie and does have a respectable reputation among professional critics. I just had higher expectations for it that weren't met.

Last edited by Duke Nukem; 09-30-2012 at 07:07 PM..
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  #17  
Old 10-04-2012, 06:16 PM
That `80's Guy Who Misses Video Stores

Presents

Movie #11: Shock Waves (1976)

This is a film I was looking forward to seeing for a while. You know why? Underwater zombies! And unexpectedly, underwater Nazi zombies! I was happy to find it when I did, and it was time to finally get around to it. In light of the recently covered "Death Ship," it looked like a serious contender. And this has more in common with "Death Ship" than expected. That was about a haunted and demonic Nazi ship preying on other ships in the ocean. This features a shipwreck of a German vessel still floating around and also playing a part in preying on other ships. It also features an island with a mansion built on it. And on the island is a German soldier in the form of Peter Cushing. Yes, Hammer's Peter Cushing.

Tourists are having a less than luxurious time on a so-called pleasure cruise. Another iconic star, John Carradine, plays the captain. They collide with a shipwreck and wind up on the island. They make their way to the mansion (who builds all these mansions on all these islands?) and are unwelcomed by Peter Cushing. But he poses no threat in this post-WW2 time. Since the end of the war, he's been trapped on the island. And unfortunately, the Nazi zombies are still present. They are dressed in full uniform. They come from the shipwreck and wait in the water. They are no ordinary zombies and require no weapons. They have no hunger for brains and similar entrees. They are calm and quiet when they attack. They just come out of the water and drown you if they can.

This film has an orginal premise. It has those pesky underwater zombies as promised, and they do have their moments. However, it is not as good as "Death Ship." It doesn't take long for the zombies to present themselves to the audience, but the movie takes its time getting to the action. The action does deliver, but the constant scurrying about on the island gets redundant at times. The movie has its fun. So do the actors and the zombies. And so might you if you're looking for something different.

**1/2 out of 4

Recommended as a rental or purchase.

Last edited by Duke Nukem; 10-04-2012 at 06:32 PM..
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  #18  
Old 10-08-2012, 07:26 PM
That `80's Guy Who Misses Video Stores

Presents

Movie #12: To All A Goodnight (1980)

Twas the night before Christmas...and all through the house...not a creature was stirring...except for the young adults screwing around and the mad killer dressed up in the Santa suit. That's right, folks, we have another Christmas slasher on our hands here. Finally, something to join the short list of "Black Christmas" from 1974, "Christmas Evil" from 1980, and the "Silent Night, Deadly Night" series started in 1984. But is it worthy of joining that list? And that is not to say that any of the "Silent Night, Deadly Night" films are great or brilliant by any means. Just the fact that the controversial 1984 original inspired a crazy, little series of its own is something.

The setting is a dorm house for a finishing school for girls. A prank goes wrong and a girl is accidentally killed. Yes, this old story again. It occurs during Christmas vacation. Two years later, five girls are planning on inviting boys over. It is Christmas vacation and there is a killer dressed in a Santa suit preying on them.

For starters, it beat "Silent Night, Deadly Night" to the punch. It was also released in the same year as Troma's "Christmas Evil," which features an obsessive lunatic in a Santa suit. But I wouldn't call that film's lunatic a killer. I recall him killing one person and the movie being more of a typically weird and campy Troma movie than a slasher film. It seems to have a poor reputation, and it is the only Troma film I enjoy. Troma is an acquired taste and most of their work isn't for me. So, "To All a Goodnight" wins as the first slasher film to feature a killer dressed in a Santa suit. But does it really win? Sadly, no.

It is another "Halloween" rip-off and I was hoping it would be a decent one. It is just average. It is directed by David Hess, who played one of the psycho's in 1972's "Last House on the Left." His direction is okay. It is just a shame that he didn't follow a more inspired script. There are a number of slasher films and "Halloween/Friday The 13th" rip-offs that show more spark and get away with more. The death scenes in this film are fair at best. A few of them are nicely done, but several others don't cut it. Most of the deaths are hardly graphic and cheaply executed. It isn't suspenseful or scary at all. This is a low-budget film that tries but falls short. It doesn't compare to the original "Silent Night, Deadly Night." That film was really exploitive and was very controversial, but it is stupid fun and more successful.

There are a few things that stand out. Among the characters is a nerd who knows everything about computers and machines, but knows squat about girls and sex. Well, that's why the slutty girl is there. To screw around with him and teach him about the real world. Where are those girls in reality? They only associate with the jocks and the popular crowd! What a cheat! She is also there to screw around with one of the rent-a-cops on the second night, when he should be protecting them and watching over the house. There is also a suit of armor in the living room. Yes, a suit of armor. While one couple is screwing around, the suit of armor steps forward and proceeds to take them out! I can't make this stuff up! I demand to see the deleted scene, in which the killer dresses into the suit of armor! Lastly, the killer buries several of the victims in the woods. Even if they are shallow graves, he or she must have worked up a sweat in the Santa suit. That is commitment right there.

So, the film is stupid fun on some level. It just isn't stupid enough or contain enough fun to recommend. This is not a slasher film that gets away with its novel killer or one of the better "Halloween" rip-offs. Instead, it is another film you're better off not including on your Christmas list, unless you have your own growing collection of slasher films and/or "Halloween/Friday The 13th" rip-offs.

** out of 4

Recommended as a rental at best.

Last edited by Duke Nukem; 10-09-2012 at 09:56 PM..
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  #19  
Old 10-13-2012, 07:01 PM
That `80's Guy Who Misses Video Stores

Presents

Movie #13: Night Warning (1982)

Poor Billy. He loses his parent when he's a child. He ends up living and growing up with his Aunt Cheryl. He is on the verge of turning seventeen, going to college and moving on with his life. He also has a lovely girlfriend. But not all his well. Oh, definitely not. Aunt Cheryl is very possessive of Billy. In fact, she's nuts. As in, nuts in the head. And she will do anything to ensure that Billy stays by her side.

This is a domestic horror film falling in line with the "Stepfather" series and the recently covered "Scream For Help." For that matter, it is the yang to the rough-around-the-edges "Scream For Help." It is more cleanly directed, but that doesn't make it any less creepy, uncomfortable or sick. It is all those things and more.

Coming off as another villain of sorts is Detective Carlson. He is on the case when the TV repair man is killed in the household. He doesn't believe that the TV repair man tried to have his way with Aunt Cheryl and that she was only defending herself. He thinks Billy is responsible. This detective is just one more person interfering in Billy's life, and he has ugly characteristics of his own. He is a homophobic and repellent creep. Just as Aunt Cheryl is creepy on her own, he is of all things unpleasant. This character is a rough patch that almost spoils the film.

As it turns out, this is the better-than-above-average movie I was looking for. It is different, has a fairly original premise and more importantly delivers. It is slow-going in the first two acts, but is never boring. There is a creepy vibe from the very beginning and it builds up to one hell of a climax. It has a low bodycount and the violence it does offer is more than thrilling enough to please. It is also well-acted and Susan Tyrell steals the show as the creepy aunt.

*** out of 4

Recommended as a rental or purchase.

Seriously, you can get it on DVD through - www.vhsps.com

Last edited by Duke Nukem; 10-13-2012 at 08:01 PM..
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  #20  
Old 10-14-2012, 06:51 PM
That `80's Guy Who Misses Video Stores

Presents

Movie #14: Pin (1989)

Leon and Ursula are siblings. They come from the kind of rich family that keeps the plastic covers on the furniture. Heaven forbid if they track any dirt into the house. Sound like the typical one percent of rich snobs who laugh at the ninety-nine percent struggling to get by? Guess again. Their father is a doctor who uses a a life-size medical dummy to entertain his patients. As children, they fail to figure out that he is a ventriloquist. They believe Pin, short for Pinocchio, is real. It is Pin who teaches them about the birds and the bees.

By their late teens, they are aware of their father's charade. Leon, in particular, certainly is. He has mastered ventriloquism and speaks to Pin. In his own growing pains, he was unable to make friends with other kids. Being told to remain neat and clean, and ultimately not participate in outside games, did not help Leon's nurturing mind. Worse yet, he has developed an unhealthy fixation with Pin. Pin is his only friend. Blaming the parents so far? Well, they are not completely at fault. Ursula winds up growing into a normal, young woman. She has problems of her own, but can separate fantasy from reality.

When their parentes are killed in a car accident, things get interesting. They are given full reign of their house. They can finally take the plastic covers off the couch! But as things play out, it is Leon whose given full reign of the house. It is now being occupied by him, Ursula and Pin.

This is a very engrossing film. It is one case where you can call it what it is - psychological horror - and not spoil a thing. Leon is schizophrenic. And no, Pin is not real. He, or it, is a dummy. But Pin's lifeless presence creates a creepy enough character when Leon converses with it. Pin does exist within Leon. And Leon's free reign to make Pin a member of the household, with no adult supervision, becomes a serious problem that can only get out of hand. Ursula is the only voice of reason. She cares for her brother and knows something is wrong with him. And in turn, Leon is very protective of his sister. Too protective.

This is a psychological horror film with hardly a bodycount. It is all about the acting. And unlike so many horror films with bodycounts, it is considerably suspenseful and creepy, and perhaps a little scary. Something is wrong with Leon, and that something has more weight to it than mediocre slasher films. I found myself completely involved in the story, and wanted to know where it would go and how it would end.

David Hewlett plays Leon and gives a committed, intense performance. He steals the show. Cyndy Preston delivers a strong performance as Ursula. And turning up in another genre role is the "stepfather" himself, Terry O'Quinn as the father. He gives an excellent performance. Psychological horror films can be tricky subject matter. In the best examples, the horror tends to be more believable and true-to-life. The only addition here is a dummy serving as Leon's alternate identity. And the film itself is a wonderfully crafted example of this sub-genre.

***1/2 out of 4

Recommended as a rental or purchase.

Seriously, you can get this on DVD through - www.vhsps.com
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  #21  
Old 10-17-2012, 07:41 PM
That `80's Guy Who Misses Video Stores

Presents

Movie #15: Highway to Hell (1992)

Charlie and Rachel are teenagers on the verge of eloping. They are already on their way to Las Vegas when they stop at a gas station. Guess what, this one isn't run by a creepy gas attendant! Nice for a change, isn't it? However, it is run by an old man who warns them about the backroad their taking. And he's right. If Charlie had listened to him, a cop from Hell wouldn't have taken Rachel. Now, Charlie has twenty-four hours to rescue Rachel from Hell. The old man is played by Richard Farnsworth, the first of many surprise guest stars. He helps prepare Charlie for a weird, crazy and humorous journey into Hell.

Hell is a desert land. There is a diner with what appears to be the souls of policemen sitting in booths. What is their personal hell? The donuts are sealed and chained up. Haha. Among the policemen is Jerry Stiller. And playing the cook is Ben Stiller. I told you this had surprise guest stars! There is also a strip club, where Gilbert Gottfried resides as Hitler, and other strange places. Charlie continually has run-ins with Hellcop and must rescue Rachel by the time she is taken to Hell City. There is much car chase action provided by Hellcop and biker thugs.

Although this was released in the 1990's, it was apparently filmed in 1989. That explains Ben Stiller's appearance in it. It also explains Patrick Bergen's appearance. Before he became the devil of a husband in "Sleeping With The Enemy," he first played the literal devil here. And he doesn't necessarily play a dark, sadistic version. He is cool, relaxed and perhaps a little charming. He relishes the role and has a fun time.

There is one more star whose presence cannot be understated. It requires a big-time announcer to utter his name. Playing the part of Hellcop, an imposing figure with a scarred and charred head, is someone with experience who could only be qualified for such a role. He is portrayed by C.J. Graham, the stuntman who portrayed Jason in "Friday The 13th Part VI: Jason Lives." He played an excellent Jason and here plays another resilient demon incredibly difficult to stop in his tracks.

Playing the leads are Chad Lowe and Kristy Swanson. They give good, believable enough performances. It is Lowe who carries the movie on his shoulders as he is in constant pursuit of Hellcop and Rachel. The movie is a fun, thrilling and somewhat funny ride. I found it more thrilling than funny, which was enough. It offers a different journey into Hell and a different take on the Devil. It's a fun ride.

*** out of 4

Recommened as a rental or purchase.

Last edited by Duke Nukem; 10-17-2012 at 07:45 PM..
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  #22  
Old 10-21-2012, 07:20 PM
That `80's Guy Who Misses Video Stores

Presents

Movie #16: Death Nurse (1987)

Welcome to the Shady Palms Clinic. Not feeling well? Terrified of hospitals? Still freaked out about what happened at Haddonfield Memorial Hospital years ago on Halloween? Well, don't worry. Shady Palms offers a warm, friendly environment where Dr. Gordon Mortley and his nurse Edith Mortley will take care of you. Edith, especially, has a friendly bedside manner you won't forget. The clinic is an ordinary house, but it is more capable than any cold and creepy hospital at returning you to full health. Should you feel ill, don't worry about insurance. Whatever little you have, is more than enough for us.

Do not believe the above ad for the Shady Palms Clinic. But you can believe what happened at Haddonfield. That's for real. My gosh, that was awful. Everything about that ad is false. Take it the opposite way around and that is the reality of this godforsaken clinic. I don't think Gordon Mortley has a medical license. He sure doesn't behave like a real doctor. But the bigger problem is his nurse. Edith is his sister and she runs the show. She is a sadistic monster. The only thing in the ad you can believe is their insurance policy. Whatever little you do have, take it elsewhere. Or else, they will bury you in a shallow grave and take your life savings.

Does the movie sound tempting? Time to return to reality. This is another shot-on-video film. It looks like a home video, feels disjointed and lacks a quality production. The death scenes are okay at best and are not believable at all. The acting? Forget about the acting! No real acting here! Except for Priscilla Alden, who plays the star nurse. Other than her, this is literally a lets-get-our-friends-and-family-together-and-make-a-movie-over-the-weekend venture. It is a cheap, independent film that somehow qualified for a VHS release in the 1980's. Back then, distributers would accept almost everything.

That was the bad and here is the good. Whereas the previously covered "Blood Cult" lacked a credible script to take it off the ground, this film has a half-decent script with a sense of wit. It is a campy affair and is fairly funny. That is the reason to see it. The script, if there was one, is still not believable. But there is some life to it. The cast makes the best of the material and makes it watchable. The one cast member to undoubtedly stick out is Priscilla Alden. She gives the best professional performance and has a presence to take seriously. She appeared in other independent films by the same director, Nick Millard.

The actor portraying her brother pales in comparison. He is wooden and unnatural in the part. Steven Seagal's picture doesn't deserve to be in the dictionary when you look up the word "wooden." This poor schmuck, who ever the hell he is, should be there instead. The rest of the cast is also wooden and unnatural in their individual parts. However, this untalented cast found a way to work with the material and make it humorous - intentionally and unintentionally. For example, the brother is eager to perform surgeries. Edith almost never lets him. When he gets a chance to perform heart surgery, there is no replacement heart. No problem. Their dog can provide one. And when we see him in surgery and asking for scalpels, Edith just hands him more and more knives to stab into the pacient. Haha.

It cannot be denied, there is some funny and stupid wit to take from it. That alone is what makes it better than the dead serious "Blood Cult." And one more thing that makes it even better is it knows its limits. It is only an hour long. It is an hour with padding, but an hour nonetheless. Just long enough. With the extra effort, it qualifies for an average rating. It does earn its stripes. For the life of me, I cannot picture any audience in mind for "Blood Cult." But it does apparently have one. Good thing some people see something in it. However, I can picture an audience for "Death Nurse." The best shot-on-video film I've seen is "Woodchipper Massacre" from 1989. That one is above-average and can actually be recommended. It manages its own sense of conviction, something that this film almost fulfills.

** out of 4

Recommended as a rental at best.

Last edited by Duke Nukem; 10-23-2012 at 11:35 PM..
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  #23  
Old 10-30-2012, 09:43 PM
That `80's Guy Who Misses Video Stores

Presents

Movie #17: One Dark Night (1983)

Julie is a high school student tired of being called a pansy and being regarded as nice. She wants to prove something to herself and The Sisters, a clique of bitchy girls. She is in the process of initiation and her last stage is to stay overnight at the local mausoleum. Sound familiar? Well, it is about to get a lot more interesting. A famous psychic with telekinetic abilities has just died. He was Raymar and he left behind a strange crime scene. People already thought he was a fake, and now he is suspected of criminal behavior.

Raymar's body is brought to the mausoleum on the same day Julie will spend the night there. Do you think he's really dead? If he was, what would be the point of watching this movie? He experimented in bio-energy and draining the life out of people. Even in death, there is still something left alive in him. Perhaps it is reserve energy. When he reappears, he is stiff and lifeless like a corpse. Regardless, he is alive and there are electrical charges surging from him. Naturally, The Sisters will return to the mausoleum to scare Julie. Oh, do they ever. And then, one can expect Raymar to deliver the real show. He releases coffins from their holes and frees the decayed corpses inside them. They are also stiff and lifeless, yet Raymar's telekinesis allows them to move on their own. They practically float from the ground.

What I just described is the big money scene. The payoff. And it is worth the price of admission alone. Perhaps the telekinesis aspect is only so original. In a way, "Phantasm" did this first. Was director Tom McLoughlin inspired by "Phantasm" when he wrote this? He might have or not might have, but it doesn't matter, because it is different enough on its own. He gets points for trying something this inventively entertaining with a familiar premise. And if the name Tom McLoughlin hasn't hit you like baseball yet, maybe it should. He would later direct "Friday The 13th Part VI: Jason Lives." This was his feature film directorial debut. But don't get too excited. The movie takes its time setting up the plot before The Sisters first get their chance to scare Julie. It's never boring. Within a half hour, Julie has the mausoleum all to herself, and there is a creepy quality within its white hallways. The same kind of creepy feeling found in a sanitarium.

There are three fairly familiar stars in the film. Playing Julie is Meg Tilly, who also starred "Psycho II" and "The Big Chill" in the same year. Where is she now? She hasn't done a feature film in years. I'm not terribly familiar with Elizabeth Daily, or rather E.G. Dailey, who plays one of The Sisters. She has appeared in some feature films and done voicework in animated films such as "Rugrats" and "Happy Feet." One film credit that sticks out is "Bad Dreams" from 1988. She may have done voicework on the "Rugrats" show, which I grew up with. The name E.G Dailey sounds familiar.

One more program I grew up with is the campy "Batman" show from the 1960's and you won't believe who also shows his face here. No, it is not Burt Ward. Really, it isn't. It is Adam West, Batman himself. He is third-billed on the DVD cover, but is given the "And Adam West as Allan" credit. And that is the extent of part. A supporting role with nothing significant to do. Too bad. it is nothing to get excited about. This was an easy paycheck for him before he would land the second-biggest role of a lifetime - the part of "Adam West" on the animated show "Family Guy," and what a role it is!

The plot is not all that original, but is given a fresh spin by the director responsible for one of the all-time favorite "Friday The 13th" films, as well as "Sometimes They Come Back." He does show the talent and money on the screen. It is a smaller horror film with not too many ambitions of its own, other than to have a little fun. In fact, it is PG. It doesn't have a major bodycount or much violence. What it does have is a creepy enough mausoleum, a good sense of build-up, and an amazing sequence when the dead are revived. It is both unoriginal and different, and more importantly stupid fun.

**1/2 out of 4

Recommended as a rental or purchase.

*Another long review. Wasn't expecting half of the reviews in this thread to be fairly long. I didn't feel like I had the mental energy go all the way again. Wanted to share all these new movies and stick to shorter reviews. Gives me purpose. To do separate threads with short reviews felt like a waste. But alas, doesn't much matter. From time to time, I have felt burned out lately, but I would watch another movie and feel differently. At the moment, there are less than ten movies left and I'm going to try stick it out to the very end in November.

Last edited by Duke Nukem; 10-30-2012 at 10:33 PM..
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  #24  
Old 10-31-2012, 05:04 PM
That `80's Guy Who Misses Video Stores

Presents

Movie #18: Manhattan Baby (1982)

It has been a while since last running into Lucio Fulci. The man, perhaps an acquired taste, knows how to direct an Italian splatter film. Whether it is a giallo or zombie film, he had a unique and sloppy style that couldn't be mistaken for another maestro's. While I haven't scratched the surface of his body of work, it is clear that he didn't make the same movie twice. Other than giallo and zombie films, he also embarked on this movie about a jewel with an Egyptian curse that possesses a child.

That child is the daughter of an archeologist. She recieves an ancient jewel from a spirit. And when the archeologist investigates a tomb, he is temporarily blinded. Filming the beginning of the movie in Egypt is a nice touch. He and his family return to the United States where things get weirder, stranger and make less and less sense as the running time ticks by. The daughter is possessed and has access to return to Egypt on "voyages." Her brother becomes another little minion. People who get too close are killed by mysterious forces or completely disappear. It has it all, elements from "The Exorcist," "Poltergeist" and other supernatural films.

This is a very different offering from Lucio Fulci. It was written by Dardano Sacchetti, who also worked on Fulci's "Zombie" and "City of the Living Dead." He wanted to write something different and Fulci let him. They both committed to a story with lots of cool ideas, events and images that don't make a lick of sense much of the time. It has too many ideas borrowed from other movies. There is definitely one scene that was placed out of order. And as a result of a very low budget, some of the special effects are not fully realized.

Here is the kicker. It didn't bother me one bit that the film is so sloppy and unorganized. From the beginning, Fulci invites the viewer into a world he himself hasn't explored before and it is fresh, entertaining ride. The one thing that remains is his stylish camerawork and visuals, as well as gruesome and bloody make-up effects when called for. And somehow, no matter how sloppy the story plays out, it is more focused than his previous zombie apocalypses with assorted groups of strangers. It is a tighter, more focused and engaging story, and the film itself is an underappreciated gem.

*** out of 4

Recommended as a rental or purchase.
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  #25  
Old 11-03-2012, 07:38 PM
I like this movie as well but Iīve only seen it once yet. Some of the shots are striking and the story itself I thought was cool. It has that surrealistic yet brutal vibe only Fulci can come up with. Iīd like to make a point: Nobody watches Fulciīs horror films for the plot - in fact I think if the stories wouldnīt be so "incoherent" ( I use that term loosely because most people confuse "incoherent" with "not according to story-telling cinema" ) the experience wouldnīt be the same. Itīs debateable that Fulci did all the incoherence on purpose as some of his best movies like "Perversion Story","Donīt torture a duckling" or "Beatrice Cenci" are very clear-cut and "coherent" indeed.

Btw Duke, I just got a copy of "Eyes on Fire" based on your review, gonna watch that soon!
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  #26  
Old 11-04-2012, 06:39 PM
True, these kinds of movies aren't known for their coherent plots, certainly the Fulci films I've seen by now. Some of his movies all over the place but still entertaining, while others are tight and coherent enough. Hope you enjoy "Eyes of Fire."
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  #27  
Old 11-04-2012, 06:59 PM
That `80's Guy Who Misses Video Stores

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Movie #19: Kill, Baby...Kill (1966)

When I ran into Lucio Fulci the other day, and was inspired by him to seek out the recently covered "Manhattan Baby," we stopped at an Italian restaurant. A real one with delicious, authentic food. The meal was marvelous. You won't believe which other horror maestro was there dining - Mario Bava, the man who inspired the giallo film. He, as well as Fulci, was a delight to dine with. And he persuaded me to seek out this film from the 1960's. There is no sense in keeping you waiting. Bava's "Kill, Baby...Kill" was worth seeing.

The setting is the late 1800's. A doctor arrives at a village to investigate, what will be, a series of murders. The townspeople are fearful of a curse at the local villa. A villa haunted by a ghost girl. The inspector doesn't believe in such things and is the one who calls in the doctor. The doctor doesn't believe in such things, either, and will have to re-think that belief as spooky events keep occurring as soon as he arrives. The townspeople are too terrified to warn outsiders of the curse. If they do, the ghost girl known as Melissa will get them.

Melissa has a similarly tragic origin story to Jason Voorhees'. She waits in the shadows. She appears at your window. She will put you in a spell and force you to rid yourself of your life. And she has a creepy presence of her own. She goes about her business the old-fashioned way, before telephones would be invented, inspiring ghosts to warn victims that they have seven days to live and vice versa. Ghosts today, in Asian films and their American remakes, have become dependent on technology and have lost their edge. They also need haircuts. Melissa, however, reminds the viewer how much more effective minimal, low-budget horror films can be, especially by experienced filmmakers who know their way around the camera.

This is a film from the 1960's. The death scenes naturally cut away or the violent actions are off-camera. It wasn't going to get away with anything visceral and it shouldn't matter. It didn't matter to me. What is suggested or implied is enough. What's important is the spooky atmosphere and how involving the story becomes. Once it gets going, it doesn't stop. It keeps going and going until until it's over. There is a nightmare sequence with crazy visuals. Rooms in the haunted villa keep going around in an unbroken loop. Mario Bava brought everything to the table. It is perhaps a little dated, but it brings the best of the 1960's to a ghostly horror story.

*** out of 4

Recommended as a rental or purchase.

Last edited by Duke Nukem; 11-04-2012 at 07:03 PM..
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  #28  
Old 11-08-2012, 12:49 PM
That `80's Guy Who Misses Video Stores

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Movie #20: Jack's Back (1988)

Who was Jack the Ripper? I have seen a TV special where researchers went through the records and seriously did their homework. They may have confirmed who he was, how he got away with the murders, and what happened to him. It remains officially unproven but is very plausible. There might be a handful of movies about the legendary serial killer, but "Jack's Back" is very different. It is set in the 1980's and concerns a copycat killer recreating the Jack-the-Ripper crimes a century later.

The film has a tricky and delicate plot. James Spader plays twin brothers. One is a doctor implicated in the murder investigation. The other is the "bad boy" of the two and launches his own investigation to prove that his brother is not responsible. There is a lot I cannot say and will not give away here. What can be said is that the plot also happens to be extremely clumsy in execution. It is less about recreating Jack the Ripper's crimes and playing off his mythology, and more about a loosely-connected wild goose chase in modern times. Too bad. Centering on the mystery of a copycat killer on the the one-hundredth anniversary sounded interesting.

For James Spader, this must have been a change of pace after playing an overgrown teenager in "Pretty in Pink" and making ass of himself in "Mannequin" (although I do happen to love that movie). He bravely takes on the dark and contrived material, and tries to carry it on his shoulders. To its benefit, there is a sense of urgency and intensity in its suspense. It also has a strong `80's vibe, so how can this soul from that beloved time period not enjoy it? Alas, I just didn't. It starts off promisingly but falls apart.

** out of 4

Recommended as a rental at best

If you do want to see it for yourself, you can get it on DVD through - www.vhsps.com

Last edited by Duke Nukem; 11-14-2012 at 03:40 PM..
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  #29  
Old 11-09-2012, 03:26 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Duke Nukem View Post
True, these kinds of movies aren't known for their coherent plots, certainly the Fulci films I've seen by now. Some of his movies all over the place but still entertaining, while others are tight and coherent enough. Hope you enjoy "Eyes of Fire."
Watched it the other night and liked it a lot. If the budget was really that low the guys who produced it did an amazing job as the period atmosphere and detail is incredible I thought. The only weak point is the ending, just doesnīt make sense to me and feels like a cheap way to go out. But otherwise this canīt be recommended enough.

I love "Kill Baby Kill aka Operatione Paura". Bavaīs knack for atmospheric horror is unmatched and that whole sequence which ends in the repeating room is pure evil genius. Sorta which theyīd release a decent version of it already.

Last edited by Dehydrator; 11-09-2012 at 03:30 PM..
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  #30  
Old 11-10-2012, 07:05 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dehydrator View Post
Watched it the other night and liked it a lot. If the budget was really that low the guys who produced it did an amazing job as the period atmosphere and detail is incredible I thought. The only weak point is the ending, just doesnīt make sense to me and feels like a cheap way to go out. But otherwise this canīt be recommended enough.

I love "Kill Baby Kill aka Operatione Paura". Bavaīs knack for atmospheric horror is unmatched and that whole sequence which ends in the repeating room is pure evil genius. Sorta which theyīd release a decent version of it already.
What mattered to me in "Eyes of Fire" was that...

Spoiler:
...the main story ended with on a good note of closure. Then, they escape onto a new frontier and the evil finds them (or they are still on the same terrotory)? Whatever. It would have better without the final shock and also perhaps the flashback plot device bookending it (the only convention to be found in it). Can't recall how it would affect the narration, but it doesn't matter. Like you said, it is hardly enough to ruin the movie...


..."Kill Baby Kill" was the last movie in a boxset with "Black Sunday," "The Girl Who Knew Too Much," "Black Sabbath" and "Knives of the Avenger." It is The Mario Bava Collection Volume 1 and they are supposedly remastered and cleaned up. From what I recall, they all looked good. "Kill Baby Kill" certainly did. Among them...

Black Sunday - **1/2 out of 4

The Girl Who Knew Too Much - *** - may have been the invention of the giallo film and is a good one.

Black Sabbath - **1/2

Knives of the Avenger - ***

Last edited by Duke Nukem; 11-10-2012 at 07:09 PM..
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  #31  
Old 11-10-2012, 07:36 PM
That `80's Guy Who Misses Video Stores

Presents

Movie #21: Happy Birthday to Me (1981)

Poor Melissa Sue Anderson. She and her mother wind up in a car accident. Only she survives. She stays in the hospital for a long time to recover. She can't personally remember the accident. And lately, days before her eighteenth birthday, she doesn't know if a part of her hasn't recovered at all and has went off the deep end. Her friends are either disappearing or being murdered around her. Is Ms. Anderson a lunatic killer or is she not?

Ms. Anderson is part of a clique in school known as the "Top Ten." They are the ten richest kids in their school and community. One guy is a pervert who sneaks into her house and steals her undies. Huh, so this is what Quagmire was doing before "Family Guy." Another guy is a joker. And another guy is a weirdo infatuated with Ms. Anderson. The girls are interchangeable. Thankfully, there is a nice, normal guy in the group. Some of them act uncharacteristically at times to look suspicious. And six them die in fairly graphic and inventive ways.

This is another rare example where you can call it what it is - psychological horror - and not spoil a thing. It is written right in the DVD's plot synopsis. Indeed, Ms. Anderson begins remembering more of the accident and her stay in the hospital, and believes she might be killing her friends. The plot is tricky and the movie is just as tricky to properly review. I found it frustrating in the way the story unfolds. If you're going to one way, then great. But if you're going to change the ending - which did actually happen - and go about it differently...Argh! How much of the movie was tinkered with in order to allow the new ending to make sense? And if not, was it overlooked and neglected when it was suddenly decided to change the resolution? It is hard to tell and looks suspicious. If you have seen the movie and read its behind-the-scenes trivia, you should know what I'm talking about. If you haven't seen it and are meaning to, beware of spoilerific sources. I wish they just stuck with the original ending and didn't allow this double-edged sword to spoil its outcome and possibly meddle with the story's natural progression.

As frustrating as I find the movie's execution to be, I do enjoy it and find it to be above-average. But it could have been better if the filmmakers committed to the one idea. That said, I do accept the existing ending and swallow its explanation. It is a little silly, but the movitavation behind it does make sense to me. It was up to Melissa Sue Anderson to carry this movie on her shoulders and she does. However, I do believe she has been better-directed on the televison show "Little House on The Prairie," especially by frequent director Michael Landon. She had seven years of that show to prepare her for this feature film deput and it does show in her performance. This was directed by J. Lee Thompson, who was responsible for the last two "Planet of the Apes" sequels and several Charles Bronson movies. He might not be the best actors' director, but he did inspire fine enough performances from the cast.

In light of the previously covered "Halloween/Friday The 13th" rip-offs, this is one that shows how to get the job done. It is far more novel than "Absurd" and better put-together than "To All a Good Night." It is more original and has the resources to back it up. It is a little bit suspenseful and gets intense at times. And no matter what, the climax does pack a punch. On the downside, there is something flawed in the execution and it is overlong. Characters are written to conveniently come off creepy and look suspicious. It is not subtle. It has its own baggage, but is the better quality "Halloween/Friday The 13th" rip-off in a while. On the long list of rip-offs, it falls somewhere from the middle to the top of the ladder.

**1/2 out of 4

Recommended as a rental or purchase.

This film is available on official DVD with an altered (and fugly) cover art and different music. I got this on unofficial DVD through these people - www.vshps.com - with its original cover art and music. The picture with that poor guy being fatally fed shish kebab is so much better and so perfect. Its quality is a little grainy, but it is very watchable. If you're interested in getting this movie, make of that what you will.

Last edited by Duke Nukem; 11-10-2012 at 08:10 PM..
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  #32  
Old 11-12-2012, 02:06 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Duke Nukem View Post
What mattered to me in "Eyes of Fire" was that..

..."Kill Baby Kill" was the last movie in a boxset with "Black Sunday," "The Girl Who Knew Too Much," "Black Sabbath" and "Knives of the Avenger." It is The Mario Bava Collection Volume 1 and they are supposedly remastered and cleaned up. From what I recall, they all looked good. "Kill Baby Kill" certainly did. Among them...

Black Sunday - **1/2 out of 4

The Girl Who Knew Too Much - *** - may have been the invention of the giallo film and is a good one.

Black Sabbath - **1/2

Knives of the Avenger - ***
Most versions of "Kill Baby Kill" get the format wrong, you can tell by the opening credits and parts of the frames missing. Iīm not familar with the particular version on the boxset through, I was toying witht the idea of optaining it but since I already own most of his films and a lot of them in great quality I deceided against it so far. The definite version should have the original italian track and the subtitles based on that since most of the dubbings take kinda large liberties in the final scenes. To emplify this: The german version was actually entiteld "The Dead Eyes of Dr. Dracula", you can kinda imagine the dubbing. The american version is much better but the final confrontation between Ruth and Mrs. Graps is completely bonkers.

Iīm kinda biased when it comes to Bava, Black Sabbath still freaks me out too much I canīt even get by one scene without getting my eyes and ears covered. Black Sunday is also one of my favorite fixes ever. I watch his major works at least once a year.

Happy Birthday to me is a good slasher from that era with all the drawbacks of these films and some suspense.
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  #33  
Old 11-12-2012, 03:05 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Duke Nukem View Post
That `80's Guy Who Misses Video Stores

Presents

Movie #20: Jack's Back (1988)

Who was Jack the Ripper? I have seen a TV special where researchers went through the records and seriously did their homework. They may have confirmed who he was, how he got away with the murders, and what happened to him. It remains officially unproven but is very plausible. There might be a handful of movies about the legendary serial killer, but "Jacks' Back" is very different. It is set in the 1980's and concerns a copycat killer recreating the Jack-the-Ripper crimes a century later.

The film has a tricky and delicate plot. James Spader plays twin brothers. One is a doctor implicated in the murder investigation. The other is the "bad boy" of the two and launches his own investigation to prove that his brother is not responsible. There is a lot I cannot say and will not give away here. What can be said is that the plot also happens to be extremely clumsy in execution. It is less about recreating Jack the Ripper's crimes and playing off his mythology, and more about a loosely-connected wild goose chase in modern times. Too bad. Centering on the mystery of a copycat killer on the the one-hundredth anniversary sounded interesting.

For James Spader, this must have been a change of pace after playing an overgrown teenager in "Pretty in Pink" and making ass of himself in "Mannequin" (although I do happen to love that movie). He bravely takes on the dark and contrived material, and tries to carry it on his shoulders. To its benefit, there is a sense of urgency and intensity in its suspense. It also has a strong `80's vibe, so how can this soul from that beloved time period not enjoy it? Alas, I just didn't. It starts off promisingly but falls apart.

** out of 4

Recommended as a rental at best

If you do want to see it for yourself, you can get it on DVD through - www.vhsps.com
You're telling me James Spader was in a serial killer thriller based on Jack the Ripper... and I've yet to see it? There's something wrong with this picture. I might just snag this from VHSPS. I get 25% off my next purchace so it may as well be that.
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  #34  
Old 11-14-2012, 02:58 PM
Dehydrator, I believe the boxset is the real deal. The first four movies feature the original Italian scores and sound tracks, and/or the original uncut presentations. They came with subtitles, some with the option of dubbing, and I always opted for the subtitles. The widescreen formats did look good. According to the "Kill, Baby, Kill" cover, its presentation has been remastered from all-new elements to create the highest quality version seen in the United States (after being plagued for decades by inferior public domain transfers). Sounds like they did their best to fix the problem and I did like I what I saw. It looked good. The catch is, "Kill, Baby, Kill" ought to be available properly remastered as its own DVD as well, but it being an older movie and Bava passed away, it's not so simple.

HannibalGuy, you might like "Jack's Back." I wanted to like it, but found myself siding with Leonard Maltin, who especially found it to be contrived. Roger Ebert, on the other hand, accepted its contrived premise and quite liked it. Another professional reviewer, Videohound's Golden Movie Retriever (a movie review book), also liked it.

Last edited by Duke Nukem; 11-14-2012 at 03:01 PM..
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  #35  
Old 11-14-2012, 03:34 PM
That `80's Guy Who Misses Video Stores

Presents

Movie #22: The Paperboy (1994)

Like the Sci-fi channel, or now Syfy (RIP ), channel USA used to be really good to us. Summer of 1998 stands out. "Buried Alive" from 1990 and its straight-to-video sequel. "Trucks," a retread of Stephen King's "Maximum Overdrive." And also, "The Paperboy." Yes, "The Paperboy." There is a horror movie about a disturbed boy who delivers a paper route of terror. It might sound silly, but is an original idea after all the other used-up slasher conventions. And in the end, it is best described as an update of "The Bad Seed." It is just that, and is a considerably reasonable treatment of an absurd idea.

Alexandra Paul from "Christine" plays Melissa. She returns to her hometown with her young daughter Cammie after her mother passes away. They end up staying at her mother's house for the summer. They meet Johnny, the neighborhood paperboy, and he immediately becomes attached to the mother and daughter. He is always there playing with Cammie and appears to have a crush on Melissa. Sound like normal behavior from a preteen boy? It gets better. He invades their privacy and always knows what they're up to, and they have no idea. When he doesn't get his way, he throws a tantrum and explodes. And not in the normal adolescent way. He is a brat that actually deserves to be spanked. There is something obviously wrong with him. Melissa inititally mistakes his behavior as that of an immature boy with a crush. Perhaps that explains her excusing his behavior after his first tantrum.

Only a handlful of neighbors seem to know something is wrong with Johnny. This includes the local babysitter who is supposed to watch over Cammie and Johnny (how embarrassing!), when Melissa unexpectedly goes out with an old high school friend. That high school friend is Brian, played by William Katt from "House." He becomes a threat to Johnny. So does an elderly lady who who refers to him as "the mark of Cain."

When threatened, Johnny targets his enemies and is sensible about it. He makes their fates look like accidents or natural causes. And when he does threaten and scare his enemies, he means it. Mark Marut plays Johnny and delivers a committed performance as a disturbed hell-raiser. He may not be a great actor, but is certainly believable enough. However, he must have been a teenager playing a twelve-year-old. And when he is driven over the edge, he raises his voice to a grating degree. He may not be a singer, but one wishes to tell him to project from his chest and not his throat. Was this intended by the filmmakers?

The film is more dramatic and understated than you might suspect. The killer is a child, not an over-the-top serial killer, so it has less spectacle. But that doesn't make it less effective as an update of "The Bad Seed." It does have a creepy edge. It is not always subtle in execution, but there is something more believable about Johnny the paperboy than the countless killers in disguises weilding big weapons. Johnny is immature and temperamental, but he is also crafty and clever. All killers start somewhere, and I can see a character like him becoming more needy and deranged like a real-life serial killer. The movie is well-directed and well-acted. It has a simple premise and delivers what it promises - a decent and almost believable take on a silly idea.

**1/2 out of 4

Recommended as a rental or purchase.

Seriously, you can get this on DVD through - www.vhsps.com

Last edited by Duke Nukem; 05-04-2013 at 02:09 PM..
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  #36  
Old 11-21-2012, 07:13 PM
That `80's Guy Who Misses Video Stores

...is feeling burned out after all. This will be the last review for a while. It was a good run. There are three remaining movies. The inside-out bear from 1979's "Prophecy" has a fairly well-known reputation. "Horror Hospital," from 1973, is British horror with Michael Gough. And "Savage Weekend," from 1981, looks to be one more "Halloween" rip-off and not a remarkable one from what I've read.

Movie #23: Homicidal (1961)

Following every innovative horror film is a string of rip-offs and parodies. "Halloween," along with its equally established partner "Friday The 13th," inspired an impressive number of such films. "Scream" inspired a dozen knock-offs of its own. Now, what about "Psycho," the innovative Alfred Hitchcock film from 1960? It also must have inspired its own string of rip-offs. How could filmmakers not take advantage of such an opportunity? And how could William Castle, director of 1958's "House on Haunted Hill" and 1960's "13 Ghosts," also not take advantage of it? He did here with "Homicidal," featuring the unofficial and anything-but-subtle subtitle "The story of a psychotic killer!"

Meet Emily. She is a nurse taking care of Helga, who is mute and confined to a wheelchair after suffering a stroke. Warren is Helga's son and is step-siblings with Mariam. Oh, yeah, and also, Emily is homicidal. She is a lunatic. She's nuts in the head. The movie begins with an unusual setup and proposition by Emily, and it leads to a sudden outburst of violence. Yes, a woman is revealed to be the psychotic killer in this rip-off, or homage, as suggested by film historians, of "Psycho." A gender reversal is fitting for a different stab at Hitchcock's classic.

This is one more film with a tricky plot. There is a lot that is best not revealed here. The movie gives away one surprise in the beginning and has more surprises toward the end. What can be said is that Helga is terrified of Emily. She cannot speak and warn others, nor can she get up and run away. She is trapped, and the actress portraying her shows more range of emotion on her face than some of the other actors with written dialogue. Was Emily clever and cruel enough to not leave any notepads and pens around in the house? Mariam is suspicious of Emily's behavior and finds out for herself the disturbing truth.

"Homicidal" is a clever rip-off/homage, but is no "Psycho." Its killer is uniquely different from Norman Bates, but is still no Norman Bates. But it is an inspired enough take-off with a decent story and execution that hits the mark. Having directed the campy "House on Haunted Hill," William Castle was a good choice to contrast Alfred Hitchcock's serious craftmanship. This cannot be taken as seriously as "Psycho," but does generate some honest suspense. By following "Psycho," it had a responsibility to create its own compelling mystery and it does just that.

**1/2 out of 4

Recommended as a rental or purchase.
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  #37  
Old 12-01-2012, 08:56 PM
That `80's Guy Who Misses Video Stores

Presents

Three Honorable Mentions

Got around to watching the last three movies and they should be acknowledged.

"Horror Hospital" from 1973 is British horror with Michael Gough, who appeared in a number of Hammer films and would go on to play Alfred the butler in the first "Batman" series. It features a place for relaxation for those who feel stressed out, but it is really - get this - a hospital run by a sadistic doctor. Surprised? He brainwashes the guests into an army zombies he can control. It is supposed to be a dark comedy or something, but much of that went over my head and I felt indifferent towards it. It has some cool ideas and scenes, but it isn't all that. Barely above average.

**1/2 out of 4

"Savage Weekend" from 1981 is one more "Halloween" rip-off. Did not expect much from it. I read up on it a little and didn't get a good impression. Well, it turned out to be the rip-off to surprise me the most. It is a modest slasher that keeps you waiting for the killer to start his/her business and instead hang around with the oddball characters. When it's time for the violent stuff, it has a rewarding payoff. It is inventive and bloody enough. It's one of those movies that makes up for a low-budget production with oddball characters to invest into. For those that care, it has a ton of sex scenes in it to also help you forgive the low budget. But this positive word of mouth only comes from me and apparently a handful of other fans. It's not for everyone. There's an audience for these countless slashers, with their differing quality of the productions, and there are audiences for shot-on-video films as I've learned from this past fall's selection of movies. There is an audience for every subgenre.

Most surprising is that it was filmed in 1976 and not released until 1981. Its killer wears a similar mask to the one in "Halloween." Half-man, half-monster and with crazy hair. A killer targeting a group of people at a vacation spot, or any location, is nothing original, but being filmed before "Halloween" makes it extra special. It is still a "Halloween/Friday The 13th" rip-off to me, because it is similar and was eventually released at the time of the other rip-offs, but the fact that it really isn't is a nice touch. It goes on the same shelf with the 34 other rip-offs. And there are still others I'm looking for, such as 1982's "Alone in the Dark" with Donald Pleasance and Jack Palance, and 1989's "Cutting Class" with Jill Schoelen and Brad Pitt.

**1/2 out of 4

It is available on DVD through - www.vhsps.com

Everyone has either seen or heard of 1979's "Prophecy." The inside-out bear as a result of polution in the wilderness. Has a less than steller reputation. I've seen it on TV before and found it decent. But unexpectedly, I found myself finding a lot more to like in it on DVD. It has a dramatic human story with a message to stop cutting down trees and save the environment. As a result of human interaction, mercury poisoning has affected the environment in a woods. The fish are not healthy for humans or animals to eat, there are oversized tadpoles and part of the bear population is being born inside-out.

The big bear in this is larger than ever and looks like salami, as noted by Leonard Maltin. From him, that is an attack on the unbelievable monster we are supposed to find scary. But hell, it looked real enough to me. If the bear is inside-out, wouldn't it look red and slimy like salami? There is an inside-out baby bear the humans find, and it broke my heart to see it struggling and crying. Is it a terrific special effect? It doesn't matter. The animal lover in me forgave any such shortcomings, and the hippie deep inside of me was totally invested in the human environmental "stop cutting down trees/stop polluting" message. It's very likely that I enjoyed this for the very reasons others dislike it.

*** out of 4

Last edited by Duke Nukem; 05-04-2013 at 02:06 PM..
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  #38  
Old 05-03-2013, 01:28 AM
RE horror movies

I was so happy after review this forum. I like every types movies. but horror and romantic movies is my favorite movies. I watch any movie in Saturday night. Thanks for share this information.

http://www.treecare.tv
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