Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Barber (Blu-ray Review) - Arc Entertainment

Directed By: Basel Owies
Written By: Max Enscoe
Starring: Scott Glenn, Chris Coy, Stephen Tobolowsky
Color/90 Minutes/R
Region A
Release Date: April 28, 2015

The Film
A small town barber is hiding the secret that twenty years earlier he was charged with several murders but was released due to insufficient evidence. The detective in charge of the case committed suicide at the result of having to let the killer walk free. Now a man knowing the barber's true identity has come to him asking him to teach him his ways which begins a twisted game of cat and mouse and the true intentions and identities of those involved will be revealed.

Top to bottom, THE BARBER is a solid crime thriller. The performances from Scott Glenn and Chris Coy are excellent and they do a nice job playing off of each other. There's just enough sex appeal to add that flair to the mix which makes the murders all the nastier and more gruesome. Without an excess in action the film relies on its script to be engaging and carry the viewer to the end without losing their attention. It does that. The script is tight, maybe too tight as I was left wanting more out of the barber and his new found "friend".

The finale is worth sitting through the rest of the movie for alone even if it wasn't a quality production but it makes me want even more out of the interactions. I would have loved to see it drawn out a bit more. I can't complain too much as THE BARBER is a good film even if its a case of leaving the viewer wanting more maybe not being for the best. Or am I being selfish?

The Audio & Video
Arc Entertainment gives the film a beautiful HD 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer with great clarity and sharpness. Detail in textures and skin tone is strong and natural with no signs of DNR or edge enhancement. The English 5.1 DTS-HD master audio track is crisp and stable with no damage or background noise. The mix is excellent and really sums up the overall A/V quality of the disc.

The Extras
Special features include an alternate ending and a selection of extended and deleted scenes which do satisfy my desire to see more between the two men a little bit. There's also a trailer included.

The Bottom Line
If you're a fan of crime films you should absolutely check out THE BARBER as it is one of the tighter examples of the genre I've seen lately.

THE BARBER is available HERE

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

JONAH LIVES (DVD Review) - Wild Eye Releasing

Directed By: Luis Carvalho
Written By: Luis Carvalho
Starring: Jocelyn Padilla,  Ryan Boudreau, Nicole Lasala
Color/94 Minutes/Not Rated
Region FREE
Release Date: April 21, 2015

The Film
A group of teens spend a bored night in the basement while their parents have a party and drink the night away. They turn their attention to a Ouija board to entertain themselves and contact a spirit named Jonah who informs them he died by being poisoned by his wife. The group thinks it is all fun and games except for one of them who believes that the power of the Ouija board. The group tries to summon Jonah and unfortunately for them, they succeed. Rising from the dead, Jonah quickly makes his way to the teens and begins dispatching of them violently.

JONAH LIVES is an independent production from 2012 and feels as such. The film is largely confined to the basement party setting, with a few moments in the rest of the house. The film suffers a bit from not being able to move around a bit as the basement gets a bit stale by the end of the movie but it doesn't hurt the film too bad. In fact, the movie is pretty solid overall. Jonah's monster design is very good and reminiscent of Dr. Fraudstein from Lucio Fulci's House By The Cemetery. It is nice to see a zombie film where there's a main zombie that has a distinct look and design instead of being a generic looking pale faced walking corpse. The acting, including a supporting role from 80s scream queen Brinke Stevens, is serviceable, but uneven at times.

The film does feature an eery atmosphere at times but it is fleeting depending on the scene. It also features a score that reminded me of Italian horror films of the 1980s. I dug that quite a bit. I don't understand the random rap song that hits as soon as the closing credits start to roll though. It is totally unnecessary and felt completely forced. Did the director owe someone a favor and included their song? It makes no real difference to the film as it is over at that point but it struck me as weird.

JONAH LIVES manages to succeed within its own confines but had the film included the adult's house party into the actual narrative and horror aspect of the film beyond a minor mention in the dialogue and a fade-to-black off screen scene to end the film it would have ramped up the energy and made it feel like a bigger production without needing extra set pieces.

The Audio & Video
Wild Eye Releasing delivers JONAH LIVES on DVD for its home video debut. The anamorphic widescreen transfer looks as good as the digital photography can look. There's a decent sharpness and only particularly dark scenes suffer from some blocking issues. Otherwise the PQ is good. The English audio is clear and has a nice mix between the score and dialogue. There's no background noise or damage.

The Extras
-Behind the scenes teaser
-Behind the scenes featurette with Brinke Stevens
-Fall River Celebrates The Arts Screening
-Teaser trailer
-Full trailer

The Bottom Line
Indie horror fans have a new movie to check out in JONAH LIVES.

JONAH LIVES is available HERE

Monday, April 27, 2015

Exploitation/B-Movie Challenge 2015 - Days 23, 24, 25, and 26

Day 23 had only one movie, THE TOXIC AVENGER PART 2. I just recently reviewed the new Blu-ray from Troma so I'll just link that here for ya.

I'd been waiting to break into my Pinky Violence Collection DVD set for a while and finally did on day 24 with TERRIFYING GIRLS HIGH SCHOOL: LYNCH LAW CLASSROOM from Norifumi Suzuki. A wonderfully sleazy, violent and gruesome movie about a reform school for girls where the students are abused, tortured and fight each other until they come together to take control of the school.

Day 25 started with another Pinku film from Suzuki, GIRL BOSS GUERILLA. I liked this one just a tad bit more than the previous film. Heavy on girl fights, motorcycle riding, nudity, and awesome directing and photography this one was excellent and is equally sleazy and violent and features a very good score.

Afterwards I decided to check out the new Blu-ray from Scream Factory of ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK. I love the movie, always have. The new Blu-ray is a disappointment in terms of PQ though. There's a nice selection of extras to make up for it however. A great score and cast make this one a classic from Carpenter's filmography.

Finally a re-watch of THE WARRIORS was in order. It was sort of a weird feeling watching this one with the current rioting going on in my home city of Baltimore just 30 minutes away from me. This particular time gave the movie an eery realness that was strange. I love this movie as well and if you've never seen it for some reason you're doing yourself an injustice.

Today's Rundown
Toxic Avenger Part 2 - 7/10
Lynch Law Classroom - 7.5/10
Girl Boss Guerilla - 8/10
Escape From New York - 8/10
The Warriors - 8/10

Friday, April 24, 2015

THE TOXIC AVENGER PART II (Blu-ray Review) - Troma

Directed By: Lloyd Kaufman, Michael Herz
Written By:
Color/108 Minutes/Not Rated
Region FREE
Release Date: April 14, 2015

The Film
In the follow up to Troma's break out hit from 1984, Toxie is living with his girlfriend and helping out around the Tromaville Center For The Blind until Apocalypse Inc. comes in and slaughters damn near everyone to set up shop for their toxic chemical dump. Knowing that Toxie will fight them every step of the way they devise a plan to get the hideously deformed creature of superhuman size and strength to travel to Japan to find his long lost father where they have a chemical waiting that will strip Toxie of his powers.

THE TOXIC AVENGER PART II is more of what we came to love five years earlier but with more ridiculous writing and comedy. While Toxie isn't busy fighting ninjas and kabukimen he's eating plastic noodles (because that's what the Japanese eat!) and using fish as weapons. When he finds out his dad is smuggling cocaine inside of fish one of the big fight scenes, which there are plenty of, breaks out and Toxie must make his bitter reunion with his father a short one. The Japanese scenes were filmed in Japan where Toxie damn near hit rock star status and it lends an air of credibility to the picture making it's small budget look far bigger than it really was.

The acting is what you'd expect from any Troma production. Overacting runs rampant and is encouraged, dubbed fart jokes are plentiful and most of the story is hokey as hell. It's all lovable but I feel like it lost a little bit of the mean spiritedness that the first film had that really allowed the comedy to shine as an equalizer to the sleazier side of things. I still love this film for all of its faults and victories. It is a mighty fun ride through Tromaville and Japan filled with fights, farts and tits. Oh yeah, there's a good bit of gore in one particular scene that is hilarious!

I must add that this cut is substantially longer than the previous DVD so there's plenty of added footage here that makes this release worth checking out on its own!

The Audio & Video
Troma gives THE TOXIC AVENGER PART II its North American Blu-ray debut with very mixed results. Early reports I had read tore this disc apart, and I can see why. It is far from a home run but to call this disc a total disaster really isn't fair. It is a decisive upgrade from the DVD, which admittedly isn't saying much. The HD presentation isn't particularly sharp and detail levels fluctuate greatly. However there are some quite nice looking shots. Unfortunately they're usually stuck between a lot of mediocre looking scenes. There's a bit of damage remaining on the source material inlcuding scratches and speckling that would have been nice to have seen cleaned up and restored. The 16x9 anamorphic transfer leaves a lot to be desired but it isn't a Rabid Grannies level travesty.

The English audio sounds fine. It's a clean and clear mix with no background noise or damage that I noticed. The mix between dialogue, including voice overs, and the soundtrack is great and there's never a moment where dialogue gets lost in the mix. The A/V job is a serviceable upgrade to the DVD.

Please note: Screengrabs have been taken from the DVD and DO NOT reflect the quality of the Blu-ray.

The Extras
-Audio commentary with the directors
-New introduction by Lloyd Kaufman
-"At Home With Toxie" featurette
-"A Word From Villainess Lisa Gaye"
-"Toxie On Japanese TV"
-Radiation March
-Original DVD intro
-The American Cinematheque Honors 40 Years Of Troma
-Troma Trailers
-DVD version of the film

The Bottom Line
While this is far from what I'd call a "definitive" release it is an upgrade both in terms of additional footage and slightly with the A/V. While a bit light on the extras as none of them are anything substantial aside from the commentary track I still recommend the release.


Thursday, April 23, 2015

Exploitation/B-Movie Challenge 2015 - Days 20, 21, 22

A day late but that just means an extra day's worth of viewing for you lovely people...

Day 20 had one lone movie, the disappointing STEEL DAWN. This Mad Max rip off starring Patrick Swayze was a movie I had long wanted to see. I was interested in seeing Swayze in one of my favorite types of film, trashy post apocalyptic action/sci-fi. Well nothing in STEEL DAWN really wowed me. Swayze didn't have the charisma to carry this movie and nobody else really seemed to be giving it their all. There wasn't nearly enough action and the set pieces were generic and plain. This movie seemed totally fine with being sub par.

LISZTOMANIA was the next movie on tap. This bizarre mash up of ideas and genres from director Ken Russell and starring Roger Daltrey, singer of The Who, was one of most "oddball" oddball movies I've ever seen. Part musical, part historical drama, with a bit of exploitation and arthouse thrown in there's so much going on here. I sort of loved it. I also found it to be a bit of a mess. LISZTOMANIA definitely needs multiple viewings to pick up on all of the weirdness going on. It's not a particularly hard movie to follow from a narrative standpoint but I know there's so many things that I missed that will certainly make it even more out there.

I needed something a bit more straight forward and stupid so I went with SAVAGE BEACH from director Andy Sidaris who is known for making shitty action movies based around hot women who run around in bikinis (and often less). Tits, explosions, an island of children that presumably died, hidden treasure and gold bars, samurai leftover from WWII and plane crashes just begins to sum up the sighs you'll see in this one. It's not good but it's definitely entertaining to the Nth degree. Unfortunately it loses a couple of points because it drags on way too long. This movie should be 75-80 minutes and clocks in at almost 100. I have no problem with long movies but shit like SAVAGE BEACH has no need to be a long film, especially when it's full of filler and padding.

And the last film for day 22 is one of if not the best example of Nazisploitation that I've seen. GESTAPO'S LAST ORGY is technically sound, full of solid acting and has a decent story to boot. Don't let that fool you as it is also stands toe to toe with the nastiest films the genre has to offer. Plenty of nude women being used for nothing more than to rejuvenate soldiers to get them back onto the front lines, cannibalism, unborn fetus stew, murder and sexual humiliation. What else can you ask for? How about interesting and eye catching set pieces to hold the whole thing? Yeah, I really liked this despicable film.

Today's Rundown
Steel Dawn - 4/10
Lisztomania - 6.5/10
Savage Beach - 6/10
Gestapo's Last Orgy - 8/10

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

THE WALKING DECEASED (DVD Review) - Arc Entertainment

Directed By: Scott Dow
Written By: Tim Ogletree
Starring: Tim Ogletree, Dave Sheridan, Troy Ogletree
Color/88 Minutes/R
Region 1
Release Date: April 21, 2015

The Film
We reviewed this movie just over a month ago so not much has changed as far as how I feel about the movie. Check out that review here for a more in depth review.

The Audio & Video
Arc Entertainment's DVD release of THE WALKING DECEASED features a solid A/V presentation. The 16x9 anamorphic widescreen transfer features good detail level and a nice sharpness to the overall picture. The Dolby Digital 5.1 English audio track sounds great with excellent clarity and a superb mix between channels. The dialogue and soundtrack are complimentary and there's really nothing to complain about as far as the technical side of the disc goes.

The Extras
-Behind the scenes with the cast and crew featurette
-Behind the scenes with the zombies featurette
-Deleted scenes

The Bottom Line
Fans of horror spoofs and zombie pop culture will find a lot to like about THE WALKING DECEASED. If you're not a fan of spoof cinema you can take a pass.


Monday, April 20, 2015

Exploitation/B-Movie Challenge 2015 - Days 18 and 19

Day 18 had a pair of spaghetti westerns lead off by A REASON TO LIVE, A REASON TO DIE. Which is packed with talent both in front of and behind the camera. Perhaps the best thing the film has going for it was its photography that makes your feel the dry, sweltering heat. You can almost feel the dust clogging your lungs. There's a few moments in the film that hurt he pacing and stop this from being a great western but as it is it's still an entertaining 2 hours and a well made production. 

Then there was FEDRA WEST, based on old Greek tragedies and playing out more like a soap opera than a good piece of western cinema. The entire production is lackluster and feels half-assed. It is quite obvious that nobody was giving it their all from the director on down. The movie is coherent and comes together in the end and even manages to have one or 2 interesting scenes before the end but it's simply not worth trudging through 70 minutes of shit. FEDRA WEST is quite possibly my least favorite spaghetti western I've seen.

The lone film for day 19 was THE SCREAMING SKULL, a low budget, piece of drive-in horror fare. I found the film more entertaining than perhaps I should have but the simplistic story and psychologically driven horror elements all worked for me for the most part. I can easily see how someone wouldn't find the ability to appreciate this one but I'm glad I gave it a fair shot . 

Today's Rundown
A Reason To Live A Reason To Die - 6.5/10
Fedra West - 3/10
The Screaming Skull - 6/10

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Exploitation/B-Movie Challenge 2015 - Days 16 and 17

Day 16 featured a couple of films and day 17 had none as I spent the day on a small road trip to West Virginia to check out a couple of mom and pop video stores that I found were still open. While the trip was fun, and my friend Shawn and I were able to find some cool stuff there was no major finds unfortunately. Let's talk about day 16...

I decided to finish out the double feature disc that Amuck! was part of and watch the oddball film it was paired with - SUPER STOOGES VS THE WONDER WOMEN. This is a bizarre mix of low rent action, attractive women, and cheap everything set in random empty fields for large parts of the film. The story goes something like a few heroes dressed up like luchadores who got their costumes from the underwear drawer, protect a village from the violent attacks of The Amazons. It's goofy, it's bad and it's sort of fun.

The only other film for this update would be ANGELS FROM HELL, a 1968 biker film centered around a man returning from a 2nd enlistment and a tour of duty in Vietnam. He becomes president of his motorcycle club and trouble quickly escalates with the local law and within the club. This one was okay. I was hoping for a violent piece of biker exploitation from a time when outlaw motorcycle clubs were really becoming a big part of the American landscape but it wasn't overly violent and was a bit too talky all things considered. ANGELS FROM HELL did end up being a neat look into the struggle many veterans of the Vietnam War had in coming home and not quite knowing how to adapt to a life without having to be on alert at all times so they joined a biker club that gave them a similar adrenaline rush and the clash with law enforcement that has been an ongoing problem ever since.

Today's Rundown
Super Stooges vs The Wonder Women - 6/10
Angels From Hell - 5/10

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Exploitation/B-Movie Challenge 2015 - Days 14 and 15

Apparently I've seen very little of the Trancers franchise as far as full films go and have really only seen clips from various movies. TRANCERS 2 was rather unfamiliar to me except for recognizing Jeffrey Combs character in the movie. This is an entertaining follow up to the first movie which is surprisingly well made. Charles Band surprises again as this sequel is pretty well made too even if the cheese factor is upped even more. Drunken bum baseball was a highlight of the movie and the idea of a "trancer farm", while not really original , worked well. Thankfully thin aluminum carriages can stop assault rifle bullets or our heroes would be in big trouble!

Next up was BOSS NIGGER, a blaxploitation western written and produced by the film's star Fred Williamson and directed by Jack Arnold. This is a sequel (of sorts) to fellow blaxploitation westerns The Legend and The Soul Of Nigger Charley. I've never seen the Charley films but after viewing this one I want to even more. Those films need a release! Anyways, Fred Williamson plays the badass bounty hunter who rides into town and appoints himself sheriff and his friend his deputy. They create a series of laws banning any sort of disrespect to lawmen or the use of the N word. Hefty fines or immediate jail time don't stop the locals from having a problem with them, almost to the point of supporting the gang that has plagued their home in the past. BOSS NIGGER is fun, and features a funky and catchy theme song. The film really empowers Boss and Amos as they have to fight damn near everyone one way or another. The action scenes are fun and mostly well executed but I found it to be surprisingly light in terms of violence and overall excitement.

I had just received the brand new Blu-ray from Synapse in the mail the day before so I figured I'd waited long enough and popped in LONG WEEKEND, the nature's revenge film from Australia. I have to say while I did enjoy the movie, it was a disappointment. I really expected to love this movie but found myself wanting more. More of what you ask? Well, everything. Everything except marital problems. This fighting couple takes a trip to a secluded beach and fight the whole fucking time. While there they show no regard for their natural surroundings as they litter, shoot wildlife, use chemical bug sprays and act like general assholes that you'd find in Cancun on Spring Break. Tired of the disrespect, nature fights back with attacks from various creatures that threaten the lives of the couple we've come to hate. This tale ripe with social commentary is well made and features a really cold vibe towards the real antagonists of the film, people. I was hoping for a more explicit film with more on screen horror and violence as there's not a ton in the way of that.

Finally, my first giallo of the challenge, was AMUCK!. This movie was recently released on DVD by Code Red in an edited version, but it doesn't seem to missing too much in the way of story at least. Of course I want an uncut version, but being able to own this at all is good for now. This film starring Farley Granger, Rosalba Neri and Barbara Bouchet follows a young American woman who gets hired as a secretary for a writer. Little does the writer know that his new secretary took the job to investigate the disappearance of his last secretary but quickly she falls victim to his suave ways and gets involved in his games of drugs, torture and orgies and her life may be in danger. AMUCK! definitely focuses more on sex than violence but it does have a few moments of horror that are really good. I loved the hunting scene in the marsh and the focus on sex to sell the picture will get no complaints from me. These are gorgeous women on display! I'm not sure if the full uncut version will add anything to the film or not but I did enjoy what I saw.

Today's Rundown
Trancers 2 - 7/10
Boss Nigger - 6/10
Long Weekend 6/10
Amuck! - 7/10

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

JOHN DOE: VIGILANTE (DVD Review) - Arc Entertainment

Directed By: Kelly Dolen
Written By: Kelly Dolen, Steven M. Coates
Starring: Jamie Bamber, Lachy Hulme, Sam Parsonson
Color/93 Minutes/R
Region 1
Release Date: April 14, 2015

The Film
The legal system is failing, letting known criminals walk free on violent and disturbing charges. Unwilling to live in a society where crime is essentially rewarded, John Doe begins to take the law in to his own hands by killing criminals. The media latches on to his story and soon John Doe's actions have spawned a nationwide movement of copycats and those looking to take back control of their country.

Told through a series of interview segments and flashbacks, JOHN DOE: VIGILANTE tells the story of this character who is a hero to his countrymen, a headache to law enforcement, and the cause of concern for free criminals everywhere. The method in which the story is told holds the film back as it is too much start and stop which kills the flow of the narrative. There's some really great scenes, my favorite of which when a group of copycats come out of the shadows to hand out justice to a known pedophile.

The acting is good throughout and the direction is competent. Unfortunately every time I settled in with the movie and started to really get into it the movie switches gears again back to an interview segment or coming out of one. It simply happens too often and gives the entire film a jerky feel. The other let down to JOHN DOE: VIGILANTE is that I felt like the film was talking at me. No, I don't mean talking TO me, I mean talking AT me. I feel like it was yelling at me with a preachy vibe that I couldn't get passed. This all comes to a head when John Doe looks directly into the camera and starts talking about taking action and this and that. I'm fine with social commentary and using film as a means of creating change but don't have your film talk at me like a school teacher scolding a child for not doing his fucking homework.

The Audio & Video
JOHN DOE: VIGILANTE lands on region 1 DVD with an attractive and effective presentation. The anamorphic widescreen transfer has good sharpness and detail and handles black levels well. The color palette is a bit cold intentionally and the disc represents that naturally. The English audio is handled through a 5.1 Dolby Digital mix that sounds great. The mix is bold and boisterous when it needs be but handles subtle dialogue moments with grace as well.

The Extras
This DVD is loaded with feautres including:

-Audio commentary with Kelly Dolen and Steven M. Coates
-Audio commentary with Jamie Bamber
-Behind the scenes: Courthouse Explosion
-Behind the scenes: Gang Fight
-Behind the scenes: "I'm Not John Doe"
-Interview with the director
-Interview with Jamie Bamber
-Filmmakers featurette

The Bottom Line
The movie may be hit or miss but the DVD is a winner with a nice A/V presentation and great special features. This one is worth checking out for that fact alone.


Exploitation/B-Movie Challenge 2015 - Days 12 and 13

The pace has slowed down as real life has taken over some of my time along with the Orioles being on TV which has taken time away from movies. Luckily for the movies (not so much for my fandom of the O's) their pitching has been lackluster so I need to take a couple days break from actually watching the games before I get into angry fan mode way too early in the season. The last 2 days saw three films watched and none were particularly special, though all had their moments.

First was ROLLING VENGEANCE, a late 80s rape/revenge romp that is neither as raw or satisfying as films such as Last House On The Left or I Spit On Your Grave. The drunk asshole rednecks that run a local scummy bar kill the family members of the truck drivers that deliver to them and then rape the girlfriend of the younger driver. After being acquitted of the crimes enough is enough and a giant fire spewing monster truck with implements of death such as giant rotating spikes is built and revenge is had by running over just about anything that gets in the way. ROLLING VENGEANCE is a fun little piece of cheese but for crimes as cold blooded and nasty as the ones perpetrated against the innocent the payback is a bit light in tone, even if it results in the death of those responsible.

Nazisploitation made its first appearance of the challenge with RED NIGHTS OF THE GESTAPO and I was quickly reminded of just how long and drawn out much of this genre feels. In this film a group of German industrialists seek to go behind Hitler's back and sign a peace treaty with England but when the SS gets wind of it they enact a plan to stop them by sending in various women to exploit their sexual desires and weaknesses. Most of the movie is spent watching some attractive women strut around half dressed (or less) and various Nazi officials talk. There's a bit of action here and there but nothing much and though there were some really attractive set pieces (and ladies, duh!) RED NIGHTS is pretty boring.

And finally came THE MAN WITH THE IRON FISTS 2. Yes, the sequel. The sequel to a movie I never saw. I wanted to see it, I just haven't gotten around to it. I don't think I missed out on anything in this movie having not seen the first. I'll be doing a full review of the Blu-ray so I will leave my feelings on the film to that review which should be posted tomorrow.

Today's Rundown
Rolling Vengeance - 5.5/10
Red Night Of The Gestapo - 4/10
The Man With The Irons Fists 2 - 5/10

Monday, April 13, 2015

Exploitation/B-Movie Challenge 2015 - Days 10 and 11

First up was ROADSIDE, a horror thriller that is being released on DVD on April 14. I just did a review of that disc so I'll let that post speak for itself. You can check it out here.

Next up was a double feature from the fine folks at Vinegar Syndrome - LITTLE MISS INNOCENCE and TEENAGE SEDUCTRESS. LMI featured a pair of teenage hitchhikers who made their way to Hollywood and shack up with a rich older man. They party the night away and end up screwing. When he asks them to leave, being nice enough to provide cab fare and hotel money, they blackmail the man and we find out their sexually driven evil intentions- to see if it's possible to fuck a man to death! LITTLE MISS INNOCENCE is a fun piece of sexploitation that gets a bit raunchy and even a bit comical at times. It moves quick enough and has enough of the goods to keep viewers entertained and engaged.

TEENAGE SEDUCTRESS features a young woman who moves to a small town to track down her estranged father who is a famed writer. When she finds him she keeps her identity a secret and becomes friends with him, even being hired to be his secretary. Their relationship grows closer until she gets him to sleep with her and drops the bombshell that we waited the entire movie for. TEENAGE SEDUCTRESS has pretty good acting and all things considered is a good piece of sexploitation, and a fine partner to LMI (both films were directed by Chris Warfield) but its pacing hurts the film. It runs 14 minutes longer than LMI and I feel like a run time closer to 75 or even 80 minutes would have made it a more streamlined and tight affair.

Finally the days closed with INVADERS FROM MARS, the 1986 Tobe Hooper sci-fi/horror cheese fest. I love this movie and seeing the new Blu-ray from Scream Factory may have me appreciating a bit more. The sets, costumes and effects are all gorgeous. I had forgotten how much of this movie takes place on the spaceship which has a fantastic design. I also forgot how big of a role James Karen plays which is a great decision in movies such as this as he hams it up the perfect amount. Fun fun fun!

Today's Rundown
Roadside - 4.5/10
Little Miss Innocence - 6/10
Teenage Seductress - 6/10
Invaders From Mars - 8/10

ROADSIDE (DVD Review) - Image/RLJ

Directed By: Eric England
Written By: Eric England
Starring: Ace Marrero, Katie Stegeman, Jack E. Curenton
Color/81 Minutes/Not Rated
Region 1
Release Date: April 14, 2015

The Film
Bickering couple Dan and Mindy are on a road trip to visit family when they're nearly run off the road by a mud covered truck. A few miles down the road Dan has an uncomfortable encounter with the driver of that truck at a gas station but the clerk and the sheriff tell him he's nobody to fear. After fueling up the new challenge is to stay ahead of the oncoming winter storm until they reach a fallen tree limb which Dan tries to clear until a voice from the woods startles him and fires a rifle in his direction. Thus begins the night of terror the couple will have to endure as the man hides behind the tree line with his rifle fixed to Dan and Mindy whenever either one of them tries to make a move.

ROADSIDE  manages to be a minimalist affair and remain effective enough throughout. With freezing temperatures and a madman hiding out of sight that you know will kill you if he wants to the waiting game is one of tension and suspense. Unfortunately his voice is far from intimidating. I found it to be distractingly over produced. It also helps to have sympathetic characters in these types of films, someone for the audience to root for. Both of our victims in this situation are running around behind the others back with other lovers, bicker about stupid shit the entire car ride and just don't seem like people that would end up together. The only good thing about them is their dog, he seems like a cool dude.

As far as the production goes, there's only a couple of locations from the car and abandoned highway to the gas station. It keeps the isolation feeling in our minds at all times. ROADSIDE is competent and from a young director is a solid foundation. There's nothing here to set it apart from dozens upon dozens of other similar films and the twist seems to be thrown in just for the hell of it but it's okay overall.

The Audio & Video
The DVD from Image Entertainment is pretty standard but there's nothing wrong with that. The video looks fine, with dark levels being handled okay and a reasonably sharp picture on the anamorphic widescreen transfer. There's a 5.1 Dolby Digital mix that sounds like a typical surround mix but there's nothing in the way of damage or distractions.

The Extras
Bare bones.

The Bottom Line
Standard horror thriller fare that feels fine just getting by but doesn't take the initiative to make the honor roll.

ROADSIDE is available HERE

Friday, April 10, 2015

Exploitation/B-Movie Challenge 2015 - Days 8 and 9

A bit of classic sci-fi seemed like a good idea to start the 8th day of the challenge so THE BRAIN THAT WOULDN'T DIE was called to duty. This is a classic example of 1950s sci-fi with a doctor obsessed with developing new transplant techniques. While driving to his secret mountainside lab he wrecks his car and his wife in the process. Finding her severed head, he quickly wraps it up and brings it to the lab and hooks it up to all sorts of wires and machines to keep it alive in hopes of transplanting it to a new body. While the man searches for the perfect body his wife's head plots revenge as she doesn't want to be kept alive in this manner.

THE BRAIN THAT WOULDN'T DIE plays out conventionally and there isn't a ton of surprises going on but there's a nice surprise when the monster that's kept in the closet is released. Otherwise there's nothing too special but nothing to complain about either.

The next few movies are a trilogy that I've put off for quite a while since buying the boxset a few years back. I figured it was way passed time that I finally checked out the HANZO THE RAZOR trilogy. This mix of samurai action and drama along with the exploitative nature of pinky violence comes together in this rock solid series of films featuring Itami Hanzo played by Shintaro Katsu (Zatoichi) as a rebellious samurai officer who has great disdain for the corruption within his own comrades and the government.

Each film takes Hanzo on a journey to track down a major criminal and along the way he uncovers and takes down some corrupt officials. Each movie is filled with violent sword fights, usually leaving Hanzo at a great disadvantage. Hanzo's skills leave bodies strewn across the floor and blood splattered across the walls. Hanzo's home is full of traps such as spike pits, secret arrows shooting from the walls, spears falling from the ceiling and secret caches of weapons hidden in the walls by his bath tub.

Oh and did I mention that Hanzo has a giant dick? Yeah, he does. And he works at keeping its strength up because it is a major tool (pun fun) in his arsenal to get women to confess or tell him what he wants to know. There's quite a bit of sexual torture going on in the series and though it all feels a little silly when you really think about it, it still manages to really make these pictures dirty. On top of the sexual torture there's plenty of nudity (duh) and arterial blood sprays that are always fun to see. Add a touch of surrealism and horror in very small doses and HANZO THE RAZOR is a damn fun trilogy.

Last up was SUPERSOUL BROTHER, or the title on screen THE SIX THOUSAND DOLLAR NIGGER. I do love that alternate title as it perfectly sums up what this is- a cheap blaxploitation take on The Six Million Dollar Man. Starring Wildman Steve, Peter Conrad who was the midget in Tobe Hooper's The Funhouse along with roles in both Porky's and Porky's 2, and a whole slew of others who never appeared in another movie, this piece of exploitation sees a homeless man get selected to get picked up, cleaned up, laid and eventually injected with a super power serum all to steal the safe from a jewelry store. The plan goes bad for the doctor and his henchmen when they find out Steve is now bulletproof! SUPERSOUL BROTHER is a lot of fucking fun. It has awful dialogue but the acting actually isn't as bad as you may suspect... yeah it's not good but I've certainly seen worse. This is just a movie to sit back and enjoy for how ridiculous it is. It's funny, trashy and damn fine blaxploitation, and Wildman STeve is so awesome in it. The DVD from Vinegar Syndrome will be out on April 14!

Today's Rundown 
The Brain That Wouldn't Die - 5/10
Sword Of Justice - 7.5/10
The Snare - 8/10
Who's Got The Gold - 7.5/10
Supersoul Brother - 6.5/10