Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Nightmare Castle (1965)

Dr. Stephen Arrowsmith (Paul Muller) is a greedy and sadistic man who spends his time on crazy experiments and wants nothing more than to inherit his wife's family fortune. After discovering his wife cheating he tortures her and her lover until their death but not before she informs him she has re-written her will to leave everything to her sister who is institutionalized. Shortly after their murders he marries the sister in a plot to drive her totally insane and inherit complete control of the estate to share with his true lover Solange, the housemaid. The ghosts of his dead wife and her lover aren't too thrilled with the idea and haunt the castle until they exact their revenge in a fiery finale.

Mario Caiano directs this moody piece of gothic horror that is brimming with thick atmosphere from the beautiful black and white photography. Caiano's direction is like that of someone with a much larger name associated with gothic horror. Mario Bava comes to mind right away. Getting the most out of his shots and actors, NIGHTMARE CASTLE is classic 1960s horror. The lovely and legendary Barbara Steele stars in a duel role, playing both the Dr.'s wife Muriel and her sister Jenny. Steele does a nice job in the very different roles and embodies gothic horror as always. The film is scored by Ennio Morricone and is his first horror soundtrack. It is a key element to the film. His use of the organ is overbearing to put it lightly, but in the best possible way. It creates a feeling of tension and unrest, almost as if you aren't comfortable in whatever familiar place you're watching NIGHTMARE CASTLE.

NIGHTMARE CASTLE has seen a slew of cheapy releases over the years with almost as many different alternate titles. The film was recently restored in its complete uncut form by Severin and it is definitely how the film should be watched. If you are interested in gothic horror or horror that relies heavily on its atmosphere you definitely need to see NIGHTMARE CASTLE.


Sunday, May 15, 2011

Killer Yacht Party dvd review

Lacy is a Los Angeles party girl and her best friend Jane is a shy girl who has just moved to the area for a fresh start and to try to get her songwriting career off the ground. After a night of partying at an exclusive club they get an invitation to attend a private yacht party the next night. After some coaxing by Lacy, Jane agrees to be her "wing man". After hearing some murmurs about the boat's tragic past there is a slight buzz amongst the crowd but it quickly fades as the booze starts to flow. Everything seems to be going okay until some of the self centered party goers make decisions they wish they could take back and it quickly becomes apparent that there is a killer on the loose. Is the killer someone on the boat or is it a former owner from beyond?

KILLER YACHT PARTY was filmed in 2006 by director Piotr Uzarowicz and is his feature film debut. While the movie is a simple slasher, with a foreseeable twist, it is pretty decent fare for the genre. It has most of the staples you'd expect from a Friday The 13th or any 80s slasher that rose to prominence twenty years ago. It has the creepy old man who prophesies blood shed, the killer with an array of weapons and gratuitous nudity. There is surprisingly decent acting performances from top to bottom. The direction gets the job done, though during most of the kills they edit in black frames. Imagine a slow strobe light effect. That was a bit annoying when you are trying to watch the meat and potatoes of a slasher film. Even if it isn't as fun as watching Jason Voorhees stalk through the woods or Freddy haunt your dreams KILLER YACHT PARTY was a surprisingly entertaining movie. I think the fact that there are so few likable characters that watching everybody die is a pleasure.

Troma has released KILLER YACHT PARTY in a 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen print which has a nice clean picture throughout with only a few scenes being overly hazy looking. A Dolby Digital stereo handles the audio side of things and aside from being quiet (you'll have to jack up the volume) it is clear and mixed well. The A/V quality won't win any awards but there isn't anything that will take you out of the movie because of frustration. The extra features side of things bring us a commentary track from the director and writer which is informative and doesn't have much down time at all. Some information is repeated but the majority of the time they are giving us solid insight into the cast/crew and the production of the movie. Troma also gives us a trailer, a slideshow which is just filler and the same set of "Tromatic Extras" that was on the previously reviewed Eyes Of The Chameleon. The only problem I have with the disc itself is that is nearly impossible to see which option you have chosen on any menu. The lettering is an off white color that is very close to white and whatever option you have chosen highlights to white. It is a real pain in the ass to try and figure out which you're on. Literally any other color would have worked fine.

This isn't typical Troma fare, but it isn't a red-headed step child either. I'll recommend this one for Troma enthusiasts and slasher fans.

Director - Piotr Uzarowicz (2006)
Writer- Alex Silver
DVD Release Date - May 10, 2011

Film - 5/10
DVD Presentation- 6/10

Friday, May 13, 2011

Eyes Of The Chameleon dvd review

Sara is a bartender living in Las Vegas who is unhappy with the way her life is going. She and a friend visit a psychic for a card reading but the visit goes sour after an unsettling encounter with the psychic and her assistant. Soon after the ordeal Sara's life begins to spiral out of control and a series of brutal and bizarre murders surround the people closest to Sara. Can Sara find out what is the cause of her sudden madness and who is behind the murders before it is too late to save herself?

Ron Atkins directs this schizophrenic horror film that doesn't know which direction to go in. There are a couple moments in EYES OF THE CHAMELEON that have a giallo flare to them which are quickly followed by moments so over the top silly that they couldn't be an accident. The short comings of low budget horror films are ever present here though they are forgivable during the bright spots of the film such as the disturbing opening and hallway stalk sequence. Other than those two moments EYES OF THE CHAMELEON is a sloppily edited mess that unfortunately falls into the territory of Rob Zombie-esque disaster more often than not.

Filmed on location in Las Vegas using what seem to be mini DV cameras, EYES OF THE CHAMELEON comes to us in a 1.33:1 aspect ratio from Troma. The aspect ratio does seem to be the original. The picture seems to come from a clean print with minimal spotting and dirt. The audio is a Dolby Digital 2.0 track that while a bit quiet at times is serviceable and usually easy to understand. Extra features include a pair of deleted scenes and a trailer along with a lineup of Troma shorts. A commentary track by the director is listed however it is nowhere to be found on the disc or in a separate audio track. Overall this would be competent package for a very underwhelming film if the commentary track was present. Recommended for Troma completists only.

Director - Ron Atkins (2005)
Writer - Ann Green
DVD Release Date - May 10, 2011

Film 1.5/10
DVD Presentation 4/10

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

General Update May '11

This entry is to update everyone on a few things going on and some plans for the not too distant future.

First off- I recently did a DVD review for Infini-Tropolis. I will be doing more reviews for them in the future. Infini is a great site dedicated to all things cult film/TV/comics etc.. It has the least douchey community of any internet movie site I've been around. I suggest visiting the site and looking around. There is a ton of great stuff going on. Then, sign up and contribute. We are in the middle of a creating a list Cult Films Bucket List ie: cult films to see before you kick the bucket. The more minds working with that one, the better. Support that site which can be found HERE

I've gotten in with a couple of companies to start regularly receiving screener discs of their new releases. I won't reveal any names until I actually get packages and can review them. That will bring a steady flow of new DVDs and Blu Rays to review, that will hopefully be able to inform of you what to spend or don't spend those hard earned bucks on.

There is a plan to turn Celluloid Terror into a magazine, along with increasing the web presence. The magazine will cover all things from horror, midnight movies to all forms of exploitation and sexploitation. We will have film reviews, product reviews (dvd, blu ray, collectibles, etc...), mid-Atlantic convention coverage, short stories, fan art, and everything you can imagine. Much of what is happening in the magazine will be from the readers. If you have a short story or a short comic, send it! You have a drawing of Pinhead having sex with a werewolf? You're weird, but send it! The fan section will play a big role in the magazine, along with the articles from regular and guest contributors. I also want to spotlight a collection and its owner in each issue. There are a lot of us out there who have spent a ton of time and money putting together a collection we're proud of and we need the world to see it! I'm hoping to have the first issue out around Halloween. It will be mail order or perhaps I'll be around at different conventions with them.

If you have any interest in being a contributor to the magazine or have something you'd like to submit to show the world comment on here or the Facebook page (which will also be overhauled soon I hope) with your email address and what it is you're interested in doing.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Cursed - A Short Film

A buddy of mine asked me to review a short film he worked on and in and who am I to say no? If anyone has any movies they've worked on or acted in and want it reviewed let me know.

CURSED was written, produced and directed by Ryan Callaway, who has written a few novels as well. It follows a young woman (Mary Lelina) as she investigates a series of crimes that are believed to be Satanic rituals. As the police and criminal profilers (Greg Pantaleo) aren't coming up with any leads she experiences a series of strange phenomenons until they get too close for comfort.

Clocking in at just over 18 minutes the story is nicely paced, getting in enough information on the background so that we can have a complete story. The actors are usually competent and do a decent job. I've seen worse in other low budget horror films. The directing is serviceable, never striking you with awe, and never making you shake your head. There is one scene I particularly liked, involving a home intruder which is creepy in it's simplicity. The music was one of the high points for me, it set the mood of the film from the start and never lets you feel at ease. While you are aware that you are watching an independent film done entirely by those who are still in the learning stages, there is no shortage of passion, and this is a good early step.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Django Unchained Script - Reaction

So Quentin Tarantino's new script has leaked. DJANGO UNCHAINED is his homage to spaghetti westerns. It is as much a slave revenge tale as much (probably more) than a spaghetti western.

The script is 164 pages long, and in a few cases I can already see the areas that should be cut. I won't spoil anything (it is out there if you want to read it) but there are some areas where Tarantino strokes his own ego a bit too much and the story suffers from it. To be fair the story seems well paced other than a couple of instances of QT being QT. The action, even if I could tell which movies he is lifting it from already (which he's infamous for doing) is exciting. The characters are decently interesting, with none of them really soaring to Hans Landa levels. The dialogue flows as always. And aside from the typical downfalls of Tarantino films, that being that the majority of his movies were already made in the 60s and 70s, it is a good script. Hell, he name drops Leone and Corbucci in the script. I have no doubt it will be an entertaining movie that is successful. I just hope that while praise for Quentin roles in people go back and discover the films that... inspired.... him on this one. Because until he makes a movie that is truly his own, the great films that he loves so much to remake deserve praise as well.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

If You Meet Sartana Pray for Your Death (1968)

Sartana is one of the biggest names in spaghetti westerns. He ranks up there with Django, Ringo and Sabata. Like the others there were a plethora of unrelated films that had characters using his name or his name in the title with no such character to be found. IF YOU MEET SARTANA PRAY FOR YOUR DEATH is the first of five official Sartana films (Though some argue there are six official films).

The film opens as a stagecoach is attacked by Morgan(Klaus Kinski) and his gang of bandits who shoot down the passengers. Sartana (Gianni Garko) arrives on the scene and kills everyone except for Morgan who gets away. Shortly after another stagecoach is attacked by General Mendoza's men and they are ambushed by Lasky (William Berger) and his men. The chest is taken from the back of the wagon but Lasky murders his gang with a Gatling gun. After opening the box to find it contains rocks instead of the intended gold, Lasky heads to town to a local banker and crooked politician to collect his payment. Sartana meets Lasky in a card game and beats him out of thousands of dollars. The other men in the game confront Sartana outside and meet their deaths. Lasky is a bit more patient in the situation.

Lasky sends his partner Morgan after Sartana but Morgan's arrogance with his throwing knives costs him his life. Meanwhile, Lasky is blackmailing the two men bankrolling his crimes while in search of the missing gold. The men inform Mendoza that it is Lasky who killed his gang. Mendoza captures Lasky who tells him that only Sartana knows of the location of the treasure. Our crooked businessman and politician are busy trying to out think the other to get all of the gold for themselves. Eventually the grand finale of gun play between occurs in the funeral parlor between Sartana and Lasky. And we all know IF YOU MEET SARTANA PRAY FOR YOUR DEATH.

IF YOU MEET SARTANA... is a very entertaining, if a bit confusing Italian western from director Gianfranco Parolini (SABATA trilogy). The story is a bit all over the place with the multiple subplots. There are enough turncoat moments that if this was a WWE event I'd be hoarse from yelling "Heel turn!". That said the action never stops and once the story hits its stride it is a fun ride to see it play out. Parolini doesn't stray too far from the path of classic western direction but there are some playful moments with the camera. Garko is perfect in the title role and his gun play and antics are beyond fun. And hell, we even get the crazy comedic coffin maker old man character. I would have liked more out of Kinski's role, who has minimal screen time though. But how bad can a movie be when the lead character's first line is "I am your pallbearer"?

When all is said and done this is a great first step in to a series I'd been putting off for way too long. I cannot wait for I AM SARTANA YOUR ANGEL OF DEATH.


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A Nightmare On Elm St. (2010)

I'm going to keep the first entry of May short because I'm working with one good hand right now. I'm not upset over that either because I'd probably get pissed off if I had to write anything of substantial length about this movie.

In 1984 Wes Craven introduced us to Freddy Krueger the child murderer who has since become one of horror's biggest icons. Last year we got the inevitable remake and from the early stages it seemed doomed for failure. Robert Englund who had embodied Freddy in every ELM ST. movie up to this point had been replaced by Jackie Earle Haley (Bad News Bears, Watchmen), the early makeup tests looked awful and the teasers didn't do any better. After an awful word of mouth I decided to wait it out, no amount of morbid curiosity would get me in to a theater for it.

We all know the plot, Fred Krueger worked at the preschool of the main characters and got a little to close with more than a few of them. The parents wanting to to save their kids from the lifelong memories decide to handle it themselves and burn down the building Krueger is hiding in. Flash forward several years and the kids are in high school now, and Krueger is ready to get his own revenge. Krueger haunts and attacks in their dreams, so no sleep for these kiddies or they're dead like Fred.

Who did the world piss off for us to deserve this movie? Simply put this movie is fucking terrible. The writing sucks, instead of making a dark film like the original it simply comes off as a late sequel to I Know What You Did Last Summer through the majority of the film. Its corny, it is filled with sad attempts at the one liners used in the sequels of the original franchise, Jackie Earle Haley's makeup looks like he was hit in the face with a frying pan a few hundred times and every cliche is there including an attempt at most fake jump scares (and real ones) in a single movie. None of them being effective. The majority of Krueger's lines sounds like they were added in post production and no one bothered to mix them properly, they stand out like a sore thumb.

The movie does have an upside though. It made me realize how good the original truly is. It is everything the remake isn't and never could be. If I'm your last bastion of hope from getting you to not watch this movie then heed my warning.