HOUSE ON THE BEACH
THE LEGEND OF THE HONEY ISLAND SWAMP MONSTER
2007 – NR – 66 Min.
D: Dana Holyfield
S: Many Louisiana locals.
DVD courtesy of Retroflicks
Fullscreen / Dolby Digital 2.0
Extras: An enhanced examination of Harlen E. Ford’s reel of film.
You might be wondering to yourself… “What in the name of Charles B. Pierce is the Honey Island Swamp Monster?” Fair question. This documentary sets out to provide an in-depth answer. Some 40 years back, Dana Holyfield’s grandfather (Harlen E. Ford) allegedly had a run-in with an unknown creature deep in the Louisiana swamplands. Since then, the legend has continued to grow and Miss Holyfield decided to make a movie about it. Mostly made up of interviews with people who claim to have encountered the being in one form or another, there are also a few man-in-hairy-suit clips thrown in to keep things lively. A couple of stand-out moments… Sounds of the whatever-it-is are caught during an evening exploration that results in the hurried evacuation of some freaked-out teens partying nearby. Plaster track-casts (found while filming) are provided to an excited crypto zoologist for examination. You’ll be treated to several such moments and that’s a good thing. The locals have interesting and varied takes on all of this, but the general consensus seems to be that everybody should just leave them/it alone. An unexpectedly entertaining project that culminates in the discovery (thanks to Holyfield’s grandmother) of the fascinating reel of film shot all those years ago that appears to capture the Swamp Monster walking through the brush. The Legend of the Honey Island Swamp Monster is exactly the kind of thing you’d excitedly rush off to catch at the drive-in back in the good old days. Fans of The Legend of Boggy Creek and its like should absolutely not hesitate. Available exclusively (for now) from www.retroflicks.com. – Michael Mackie
THE LAST SUPPER aka Saigo No Bansan
2005 – NR – 92 Min.
D: Osamu Fukutani
S: Masaya Kato – Katsuya Kobayashi – Fumina Hara – Zuki Lee
DVD Provided by MTI Home Video
Preview disc – Edition details N/A
Grisly and mildly pretentious Japanese tale concerns a renowned plastic surgeon with insatiable appetite for young girls. An outcast in his school days, it wasn’t until he first consumed stolen body fat that he felt complete and satisfied. A changed and confident man, Yuji Kotorida (Kato) rises to notable fame in his field. Constantly feeling the desire to feed on human flesh drives him to distraction so new avenues must be explored. The predatory doctor’s refrigerator is soon filled to bursting with leftover human heads and the sensual and spiritual fulfillment gained from consuming numerous victims provides strength enough to overcome the daily grind. An obsessed stalker (“You are a God to me!”) who has clearly left reality behind and some suspicious cops are always close at hand to make things complicated. And perhaps that online diary wasn’t such a wise decision after all. Shot on video strangeness offers a fair amount of style but is so lacking in depth that nothing registers emotionally. This often translates into disconnected boredom because there simply isn’t anything to hold onto. Scenes featuring a Hong Kong cannibal club and the special woman he meets there are interesting, as is the bizarre pro-cannibal stance Last Supper embraces, but as a whole it just lays limp while enticing religious and mystical references hover in the background and go nowhere. Gore is plentiful enough with F/X ranging from good to totally unconvincing. Conceptually disgusting, occasionally disturbing, but mostly disappointing and unoriginal, The Last Supper is worth a look for Japanese horror hounds and curious cannibal completists. – Michael Mackie
THE LAST SENTINEL
2007 – R – 94 Min.
D: Jesse Johnson
S: Don “The Dragon” Wilson – Katee Sackhoff – Keith David – Dawnn Lewis – Bokeem Woodbine
DVD Courtesy of Echo Bridge Home Entertainment
Preview disc – Edition details N/A
Wilson portrays Tallis, the last survivor of the most elite fighting force on the planet. He’s been trained since birth, altered, enhanced, and has a talking rifle named Angel. During the course of the big war between humans and robotic drones, the rest of Tallis’s outfit, as well as a large part of the human race, were wiped out. A resistance fighter (Sackhoff) is saved and nursed back to health by Tallis after her group is massacred. They join forces and plan to seek out the main network center controlling the androids, bring it all down, and hopefully save what’s left of the world. You’ll be reminded of a lot of things while watching this violent sci-fi-actioner, but Sentinel is definitely an entity unto itself. Some ambitious battles, a cool soundtrack conveying an epic nature, and the occasional exploding head all contribute to an uncomplicated good time if you are into this kind of thing. Wilson has walked down similar paths before with titles such as Future Kick and Cyber Tracker, but this time we get some decent atmosphere with the ass kicking. Style and technique help the project rise above budgetary restrictions, though there is the occasional CG F/X display that is difficult not to think of as… obvious. This is better than expected entertainment, and not just for dedicated Wilson fans either. Misleading cover attempts to ride Galactica gravy train by prominently displaying an image of Sackhoff with the tagline… “The future is riding on one woman”. Wilson, though alone during climactic battles in the movie, is nowhere to be seen. Nice. All too common marketing garbage aside, The Last Sentinel is worth looking into. – Michael Mackie
TREASURE OF THE GRAND CANYON
OF THE WITCHES
In the late 60's, Britain did their best to compete in the exploitation market. Finding a need to flash as much flesh as possible, many directors tried to legitimize or make a case for showing such nudity. That's pretty much what documentary filmmaker Malcolm Leigh did with LEGEND OF THE WITCHES. At least on the surface. By today's standards, if you watch this look into the history of British witchcraft, you might not believe it (oh, there's tons of nudity), but the original prints of this education of Wicca circulated mostly in sex grindhouse theaters and touted in sex magazines of the time to have more nudity than most nudie cutie flicks being banned. Only I can imagine that perverts and the over coat and cloak crowd would be disappointed overall. This is a well made documentary that is actually seems to play accurately while showing an artistic eye behind the camera. We go from the birth of Diane and Lucifer (the sun or dawn) up through Christianity's devouring of Wicca's places of worship and holidays and into the present of current covens and how they work taking in a new member. This becomes the central part of the movie as we see a naked guy being lead around by an attractive naked girl through water, air, fire, etc. until he is bound by the entire coven and brought into the fold. These are obviously actors of some sort (most likely local theater, or maybe even hired down the street at the local pub). The Narration is very informative, not being a professional on the matter myself, I can't say how accurate it was, but it definitely kept my interest. My only complaint was that there was way too much in the tally-whacker department bouncing around like Harry Potter wands at a convention. If you can get past that, enjoy the subject matter or documentaries that are like a R rated episode of IN SEARCH OF... Definitely check it out. - Mark Engle