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Italy/2005 - NR - 92 Min.
D: Tinto Brass
S: Anna Jimskaia - Max Parodi - Nela Lucic - Riccardo Marino
Anamorphic Widescreen/Dolby Digital 5.1
DVD Provided by http://www.cultepics.com Cult Epics
Extras: Making of Featurette - Trailers

Marta (Anna Jimskaia) is the recently wed wife of Dario (Max Parodi). Dario is attending an international book fair and his career as a publisher depends on it. Although they have only been married a short time, the fire has gone out of their lovemaking. Sylvia (Nela Lucic) tells Marta that she should take a lover as long as she sets down strict ground rules. The lover is only allowed access to her nether regions. She must keep the rest of her for her husband to make the sex with Dario satisfying as well. It isn’t long before Marta meets Leon (Riccardo Marino), a French designer-photographer that is more than agreeable with the arrangement. Monamour is Tinto Brass’ most recent film and it brings with it everything we come to expect from Tinto. As Jess Franco is enamored with a woman’s pubic regions, Tinto Brass shows the same affection for a woman’s backside. Lead actress, Anna Jimskaia, is a delight to watch as she shakes, shimmies and moans her way through the film. Her former training as a circus acrobat and gymnast make for a delightful form. The movie starts a little sad as you can see the frustration she has with the poor sex she experiences with her husband. When she finally succumbs to Leon’s charms she realizes that she is in charge and can satiate her sexual heat without breaking the rules laid down by her friend Sylvia. Unfortunately, this isn’t new ground for Tinto. A lot of his recent films like The Key and Fallo deal with similar storylines. I think it’s safe to say that Tinto has mined this one for all its worth and the only reason to watch them anymore is for what new delightful actress he will put in front of his lens. Hopefully, his new film, Caligula, will be more of the old Tinto Brass that we have all come to know and love. As for Monamour…at least the lead actress is pretty. - Douglas A. Waltz

2006 – NR - 89 minutes
D: Gregory Hatanaka
S: Sarah Lassez – James Duval – Walter Koenig – Katie Weaver
DVD Provided by Cinema Epoch
Widescreen/ 5.1 Dolby Digital
Extras: Deleted Scenes – Stills Gallery – Behind the Scenes – Trailers

Like a drug pusher that is strung out on his own product, Los Angeles health inspector Theresa (Sarah Lassez) eats too much red meat. Given the recent Mad Cow Disease scare, that's not a good idea. But tempting fate by being a steak addict isn't her only hang up. Theresa's boyfriend (James Duval) is breaking health codes with his meat-packing business, while at the same time her ex-boyfriend stalks her and her older lover (Walter Koenig), a discontent televangelist, dumps her. The DVD cover jacket makes this project appear as if it's a mad-girl-gone-slasher flick. That's not the case at all. While it's appears as if Theresa's sanity is grating away, we can't be sure. Is she going crazy or is she infected with Mad Cow Disease? It doesn't matter. Despite a brave acting attempt by lead actress Sarah Lassez, the movie ends up being the “Sybil” of the SOV world. Is it a psychological drama, or an offbeat horror flick, or a satirical commentary, or a mostly aimless mess that bites off more beef than it can chew? There are some decent shots and talent here, but director Hatanaka provides too much of a scattershot stylish approach to what is actually a bite-size bit of content. Add to the recipe some redundant imagery and slow pacing and the end result is, well, rather indigestible for the viewer. – Craig Hamann

2006 – N/R – 59 Minutes
D: Dario Argento
S: Meat Loaf Aday – John Saxon
DVD Provided by Anchor Bay Entertainment
Anamorphic Widescreen/Dolby Surround 5.1/Digital 2.0
Extras: 2 Featurettes – Commentary – 2 Galleries – Screenplay – Argento Bio

The world of furs gets a righteous kick in the ass with Argento’s foray into the fantastic. Fantastic being the key if you can buy an ancient powerful civilization of creatures living on earth as raccoons. Believe me, it reads a lot better as a short story from F. Paul Wilson, but if you can swallow the premise, the rest is a lot of fun. Saxon plays a washed up trapper who kills the raccoons, but soon his bloody death is covered up when furrier Meat Loaf discovers how beautiful the specimens are. Soon his obsession for a local stripper goes beyond the usual lap dance and people are either getting skinned alive or skinning themselves (won’t say more as it would spoil too much grisly madness). Argento’s direction works well with the setting, the F/X scenes are top notch and disgusting, but when all is said and done, you may want to take a shower to wash the griminess off. Saxon is a real stand out here and his scenes are worthy of checking out this episode alone. While just revenge is an obvious outcome, animal lovers and rights activists may still want to give this one a miss. Fans of the series and gorehounds will definitely want to give it a shot. – Mark Engle

2006 – N/R – 58 Minutes
D: John Landis
S: George Wendt – Meredith Monroe – Matt Keeslar
DVD Provided by Anchor Bay Entertainment
Widescreen/Dolby Digital 5.1/Surround 2.0
Extras: 2 Featurettes – Writer Commentary – Storyboards – Still Gallery – Screenplay - Trailers

Harold (George Wendt) owns a nice house out in the suburbs. He likes it quiet and peaceful, a sort of Leave It To Beaver setting. Unfortunately, for a single guy to have that, he has to have a family. Well, Harold is one bent guy. He found his family by kidnapping people from other towns, brings them home, kills them, strips their bodies of all their flesh and dresses up the skeletons. He talks to them and they talk back and all is right in the world. That is until a young couple moves in next door. Harold has the hots for Meredith Monroe and all of the sudden his skeleton wife is jealous. Now to get rid of his soon to be ex and Monroe’s husband so they can live happily ever after, large flesh next to no flesh! Landis brings about a nice comic tone thanks to Wendt’s great performance, which is part creepy and part sad. Monroe and Keeslar also stand out. Problem with this episode is it never gets as creepy comical or macabre as it should have. The whole episode plays out in a sort of safe mode despite some great gore sequences and performances. The dark humor just isn’t black enough, but it’s still entertaining, just too light for Masters Of Horror. – Mark Engle

2006 – N/R – 60 Minutes
D: Stuart Gordon
S: Jeffrey Combs – Elyse Levesque – Aron Tager
DVD Provided by Anchor Bay Entertainment
Anamorphic Widescreen/Dolby Surround 5.1/Digital 2.0
Extras: Two Featurettes – Commentary – Photo Gallery – Screenplay – Trailers

Part Bio part faithful adaptation, both director Gordon and actor Combs bring about an intelligent tale of a tormented soul. This is an exquisite version of Poe’s morbid telling of obsession. While never downright scary, The Black Cat is probably one of the most captivating chapters of the Masters Of Horror series. Poe (Jeffrey Combs) has trouble writing while battling alcoholism and watching his very young cousin/wife die from tuberculosis. He turns his problems onto an obsession of their black cat. From there things go from worse to out and out disturbing as Poe’s mind and world begins to fail around him. This is probably one of the most lavish productions from the series thus far featuring incredible sets, some excellent and gory FX work, direction and acting. Jeffrey Combs is not only perfect as Poe he uncannily looks just like the poet. Elyse Levesque as his wife also does an excellent job and is quite beautiful. Veteran actor Aron Tager also does an impressive job as George Graham, Poe’s greedy and seedy magazine editor. The cinematography by David Pelletier is pitch perfect and Rich Ragsdale’s musical score has a sense of fun found in much of Gordon’s feature films while still standing well enough on its own. Very recommended. – Mark Engle

2006 – NR – 60 Minutes
D: Mick Garriss
S: Christopher Lloyd – Tony Todd

Based on Clive Barker’ short story, a young writer moves into an apartment building for poor unpublished authors. The rent’s free but so are the ghosts and eccentric attitudes of the residents. On his first night Valerie shows up unclothed and begging for help, but when he tries to save her from a demonic specter, she and her captor disappear into the wall. The rest of the tenants claim they know nothing, but in fact, their reality has been taken over by a continuing story that they all take part in. Christopher Lloyd explains as they go and ends up paying the price. While done quite differently, this little tale is very much like John Carpenter’s In The Mouth Of Madness. And that is part of the problem. There’s too much for such a television episode that’s less than an hour and Valerie On The Stairs would have benefited with a much longer running time. It also doesn’t help that Tony Todd’s make up as the demon looks terrible, despite how menacing he tries to be. Some good atmosphere, decent acting, excellent looking gore and dead corpses just can’t save the over all frustration by this decent attempt at a good story. Valerie manages to keep Barker’s mature storyline and feel, but in the end you feel like you just watched a teaser of what could have been. Either way, it’s worth a look compared to some of the other episodes. – Mark Engle

2006 – NR – 57 Minutes
D: Tom Holland
S: William Forsythe – Lee Tergeson
DVD Courtesy of Starz Home Entertainment
Widescreen/Dolby Surround 5.1/Digital 2.0
Extras: 2 Featurettes – Commentary – Photo Gallery – Screenplay – Trailers

Holland, who brought us Child’s Play and Fright Night takes a turn in the Master Of Horrors series with mixed results. A silly premise is handled with excellent direction and a great performance from William Forsythe. A group of kids way back tormented a mentally handicapped ice cream vendor who dressed as a clown and entertained the children with magic tricks. When the kids take things too far, they cause Buster The Clown to get run over by his own ice cream truck. Years later, Buster is back using the gang’s own children to get revenge. By selling the kids voodoo doll ice cream cones of their parents, he kills the adults when the little tykes bite the heads off the frozen bars. The adults melt into a gross goo of guts and ice cream. Yeah, it sounds goofy and it is. There’s some great gore effects, but even those get ruined when the melting finale is done via poor CGI. Some good atmospheric shots can’t quite save the premise. As an adult horror series, this just doesn’t quite work, but then again, I’m not one scared by clowns, even Stephen King’s IT did nothing for me. If big feet, a red nose and rainbow hair is your phobia, it might just work thanks to Forsythe’s endearing performance that turns nasty. – Mark Engle

1966 – NR – 86 Minutes
D: Joe Sarno
S: Tammy Latour, Joe Santos, Jan Nash
DVD Provided by Retro Seduction Cinema
Extras: Liner notes, Joe Sarno interview, Trailers

Retro cinema releases are cropping up all over the indie market these days. Here is an entry from Seduction Cinema that happens to be Joe Sarno's first color film. Despite being a Sarno film, there isn't any nudity but don't let that get to you. It's still a highly exploitive movie that is campy as all get out, though it does try to have somewhat of a message. This Sarno flick even delves into character study territory as it explores a prostitution ring made up of financially strapped suburban housewives. What's interesting is that the lust in this story isn't as much for the women as it is for money and power. By the way, although there is no nudity, there are some sexy scenes with women in mid-60's style undies, particularly a hot little slinky dance by Jan Nash (aka Gretchen Rudolph). Seriously, it made me weak in my knees to watch it. Anyway, this is a great curiosity piece and should be viewed by every genre fan at least once. – Craig Hamann

005 – R – 91 Min.
D: Eric Chambers
S: Marquita Terry, Layla Alexander
DVD Provided by MTI Home Video
Anamorphic Widescreen / Dolby Digital 2.0
Preview Disc – Edition details N/A

Two girls, strangers at the start, are traveling cross-country to California when one is almost raped by a cop. After narrowly escaping his clutches, they are stalked and tormented by an unseen psychopath in a high-powered police cruiser. The plot is as simple as that and will probably seem familiar to many viewers. However, the approach is fresh and the end result is a surreal thriller that’s equal parts road movie, slasher film, exploitation flick, and drive-in throwback. As the story progresses you’ll find yourself completely immersed in Chambers’ vision of terror in the desert. You get to know the characters through their actions just as they get to know each other. You are imperceptibly absorbed into their ordeal and though there are some instances of so-called ‘slasher film logic’, chances are you won’t care. Terry and Alexander bring across their fiery desire to survive at any cost with believability and skill; this translates into several intense confrontations and a number of powerful images. Chambers was an accomplished stuntman before moving into directing and uses his trained eye to deliver some impressive car action as well. As much as other recent releases have tried to capture that raw 70’s spirit and failed miserably, Movin’ Too Fast succeeds magnificently. Don’t let this one slip under your radar. – Michael Mackie

2005 – NR – 89 Min.
D: Tripp Reed
S: Robert Beltran – Heather Donahue – Chase Masterson – Jeff Fahey
Image Entertainment DVD – Released as part of the Sci-Fi Essentials collection.
Anamorphic Widescreen / Dolby Digital 5.1
Extras: Trailers

In war ravaged Iraq (it was filmed in Bulgaria) a GNN reporter (Masterson) and her cameraman go missing so it’s up to a group of American soldiers to face the dangers of the desert, find them, and bring them back safely. A difficult task indeed since some crazy, bald, cave-dwelling, madman just resurrected a mythical beast in order to cleanse the land and become king. Finding the news crew proves problematic enough, but escaping death at the claws of an angry monster is definitely no walk in the park either. Also, the would-be king is hiding amongst the innocent villagers biding his time until he can recover a medallion that will give him control over the blood-lusting Manticore he has brought back to life. The acting from Beltran and Donahue as tired soldiers doing their best is fine; Fahey and the rest of the cast also deliver passably believable performances. It’s the ridiculously cliché-ridden script that makes Manticore an absolute chore to endure. Couple that with the horrible CGI rendering of the creature and what you end up with is a giant sandy booger stuck to your screen for an hour and a half. Most of the time the dialogue is just awful and nothing shows up on your screen that you haven’t already come across in dozens of other SyFy Channel premiers. Manticore is a massive bore, forget about it.- Michael Mackie

1987 – NR – 76 Min.
D: Tim Kincaid
S: Rick Gianasi – Mary Fahey – Stormy Spill – Bill Peterson
Wizard Video VHS through Lightning Video

Evil scientist Z (Peterson) has found a way to turn otherwise well-behaved cyborgs into bloodthirsty killing machines. A popular narcotic, Euphoron, is introduced into the ‘fluid stream’ of the Delta 7 line and they, in turn, develop a kill-for-thrills attitude that could potentially bring about the wholesale slaughter of all mankind. Z intends to sell his modified supply to different terrorist organizations around the world. A good-guy fellow scientist discovers the plan, is quickly captured, and is used as bait to catch his sister Darla (Fahey), the only other threat to Z’s nefarious plans. Until Matt Riker (Gianasi) enters the picture, that is. Darla contacts Riker and since he and Darla’s brother are friends from way back, Riker decides to help out. He gathers his team of highly trained operatives (all two of them) and goes after a couple of rouge “jelly heads” rampaging about the city, but rescuing his buddy and taking down Z are the ultimate goal. An extra complication; Z’s ex-partner Domina (Spill), has developed the Delta 8, a new super-borg that she hopes will wipe out all her opposition in one shot leaving all the riches up for grabs. Light research indicates that Kincaid is quite the accomplished provider of gay porn. In the 80’s, though, he cranked out a number of B-level exploitation films; several of those were made for Wizard Video and this was the last of them. Also, it’s arguably the best, but it’s all about perspective. There are a handful of passable fight scenes, some blink-and-you’ll-miss-it nudity, plenty of impressive F/X (thanks to the talents of Ed French, Tom Lauten, and others), and enough wooden acting to make you think you’re staring into a forest. Troma fans will also recognize a familiar Mohawk amongst the cast. Yeah, it’s ambitious, but most people don’t like this film and there’s definitely good reason for that. However, if you can be counted among the few Robot Holocaust or Breeders (both also from Kincaid) enthusiasts, then Mutant Hunt is a movie you can’t afford to miss. - Michael Mackie

1992 – NR – 79 Minutes
D: Norith Soth
C: Jim Hendren, Jeannie Franzblau, Klara Ganda, Dick Valentine, Ian Warwick
DVD Provided by Pathfinder Home Video
Extras: TELEPHONE short film, deleted scenes, trailer

I’m hoping that most genre fans have read “The Metamorphosis,” a short story by German author Franz Kafka. Not only is it a story that’s simply worth reading, but it’s also the foundation for Norith Soth’s BEYOND THE SCREEN DOOR. Personally, I find this particular film version, which is definitely not the only retelling of Kafka’s story (despite being advertised as such on the DVD box cover), to be similar to Kafka in thematic oddness but not in quality. Thomas Gregor, a wimp of a man who takes daily verbal abuse from his boss and his family, wakes up one morning and discovers that he has…well…changed. Unable to leave his room, this presents a problem since he can’t go to work or continue to support his parents and sexually permissive sister. I’d rather not go into the story any further, as I don’t want to provide any spoilers. The film can be interpreted in a number of ways and I like that, but what I don’t care for is filmmaker Soth’s execution. It’s not the purposely amateurish shots, which I understand, or the starkness of the atmosphere, which I actually like, nor the constant ADR dialogue, nor the jumping from present to past back to present story structure that bothers me. What bugs me is that the film is boring. Kafka loyalists might enjoy the unsatisfying ending and even the over-the-top but trite characterizations, but I’ll bet they’ll have problems with the filler scenes and spiritless lead character. Also included on the DVD is a short film called TELEPHONE, which should and could have been better than it is. – Craig Hamann

1984 - R - 99 Minutes
D: John "Bud" Cardos replacing Mark Rosman
S: Wings Hauser - Lee Montgomery - Bo Hopkins - Joday Medford
DVD Provided by Liberation Entertainment
Fullscreen/Dolby Digital Stereo
Extras: Double Feature with THE UNINVITED

Two brothers take a break from the big city and head off into the open road for peace of mind. Instead, they get run off the road, down an embankment and into a river by a group of hicks in a pickup truck. Walking into town, they run into more trouble when the younger brother (Montgomery) finds a dead body in an alley. Things go from bad to worse as they enter the local bar and have a run in with the same hicks that trashed their car. Alcoholic tough guy sheriff Bo Hopkins doesn't buy their story until more people turn up missing and/or dead. Soon, thanks to some dumped toxic waste, zombies are running amuck and when Montgomery goes missing, it's up to old bro Wings Hauser to save the day. This is one of those eighties genre flicks that was pretty trashed on back in the day, even now, but undeservedly so in my opinion. MUTANT has a lot of energy and an inspired ending with lots of action, some gore (great bladder effects) and good characters. Hauser fans should especially check it out to see him turn in a good guy performance for a change. Atmosphere, a decent story, 80's effects and all on a very low budget. Why the hate? Well, this new disc does create some hate. The print looks great, the sound is more than adequate, but why in the name of all that is horror, is it presented FULLSCREEN!? For those fans that didn't pick up the ELITE disc (properly WIDESCREEN and anamorphic), this may be the only way to get it soon. Either way, I have no problem recommending MUTANT to fans of 70 and 80's horror (you know who you are!). But the FULLSCREEN transfer is definitely a problem. - Mark Engle

2007 – NR – 63 Min.
D: Hiroshi Nagai
S: Megu Fujiura – Kyoko Sato – Ryoma Baba
DVD courtesy of Switchblade Pictures (Section23 Films)
Anamorphic Widescreen / Dobly Digital 2.0
Japanese with English subtitles
Extras: Trailers – Available on double feature DVD with Battler Sienna Matra

More Anime styled fantasies brought to low budget life as Switchblade Pictures blesses fans with yet another direct-to-video treat from Japan. In this, Komaki (Fujiura) is a sweet girl whose academic pursuits are taking a sideline to her blossoming love for would-be school basketball star Shindo (Baba). Her mentor/teacher sees this and tries his best to gum up the works, sabotaging the ‘almost there’ relationship by framing Shindo and leading him to believe Komaki is the cause. Sounds like your typical Anime high school love story, yes? Not quite… There’s a murderous monster on the loose and a mysterious hunter (Kyoko Sato) has come to track it down before more souls are swallowed into the abyss. This beast bashing babe has a personal agenda; she’s trying to eliminate and collect the souls of 99 creatures so that… Well, you’ll just have to see it to find out. Besides, it’s fun watching her break out with that cool transforming sword while trying to keep the talkative, whiny, and decidedly rubbery, demon puppet on her shoulder as quiet as possible. By now, most know what to expect from these releases and on that scale Makiriko is a winner. Low rent, of course, but at about an hour long it never overstays its welcome and, as always, is a surefire good time for the right audience. There’s no graphic violence or nudity present, though Megu Fujiura has found her fame in Japan as an actress in many an adult film. Perhaps surprisingly then, she does a fantastic job as the shy wide-eyed innocent who’s fallen hopelessly in love with resident bad boy Shindo. It should be pointed out that when the big beastie is finally revealed, it turns out to be little more than a bunch of rubber arms and tentacles stuck to a board or something. Even so, Makiriko is still entertaining and therefore a solid addition to any Switchblade Pictures collection. - Michael Mackie

2008 – NR – 114 Minutes
D: Craig Baldwin
S: Stoney Burke, Jeri Lynn Cohen, David Cox, Ed Holmes, Damon Packard
DVD Provided by Other Cinema
Extras: Trailers - Behind The Scenes Clip - Commentary

I don’t know where to begin with this one, folks. Let me just say this is a bizarre film. Filmmaker Craig Baldwin basically dumps a puzzle on the floor and then puts it all together. However, here Baldwin doesn’t worry about what pieces fit or don’t fit, as he uses a scissors to shape the parts into a different but still relevant picture of, well, the world. Okay, so the story has to do with L. Ron Hubbard, who has managed to remain alive in the year 2019, founding the Empire of Mu on the moon. He enlists Agent C to seduce Lockheed Martin and… I’m sorry, I can’t go on. This entire film is an attack on the brain. It’s part cinema history, part science fiction, part satirical commentary, and part conspiracy theory. Does it all work? Yeah, pretty much. I guess it depends on whether or not one doesn’t mind watching a film that spans 114 minutes and plays like a psychotic newsreel. This is mostly out of synch ADR work over a frightful compilation of film footage, and it can all become mind-numbingly distracting if the viewer isn’t in the mood for it. Bottom line, filmmaker Baldwin does have something to say, and it’s worth hearing, but you just might have to be on shrooms to take it all in. – Craig Hamann

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