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2009 – NR - 90 Minutes
D: Pete Jacelone
S: Raine Brown - Misty Mundae - Dustin Kerns - Alan Rowe Kelly
DVD Provided by Alternative Cinema
Anamorphic Widescreen/Stereo
Extras: Trailers - Featurettes - Interviews - Deleted Scenes

So, little Ashley Steele (Raine Brown) is a big city famous artist. After her parents have been murdered she decides to go back to her small town to work on a sculpture. The problem with going back to small towns is that everything is there waiting for you. And sometimes it has gotten worse in your absence. SCULPTURE is one woman’s descent into madness. The problem with this is that we could really care less. Having seen Raine Brown in much better work, like Chris Seaver’s new, as yet unreleased film, GEEK WAR, I know what she is capable of as an actress. With SCULPTURE she comes across as so wooden. As do a lot of the male actors who are here for nothing more than eye candy and sculpting materials. Pete Jacelone, who usually produces and acts finds himself with a unique concept that could have been handled so much better than this. In the end there are two reasons to see this. Misty Mundae having simulated sex with a man instead of a woman. Something she probably picked up from her new Cinemax series Lingerie and the cat fight between Raine and Misty was done magnificently. A mean spirited, bloody, nasty fight that inspires zero titillation, this is the highlight of this film. Both actresses have done better work and there are many places to find them. Do that instead of wasting your time staring at this SCULPTURE. - Douglas A. Waltz

2009 - NR - 6 Min.
D: Charlie Ruckus
S: Mike Kureth
DVD Courtesy ofRuckus Productions
Extras: None (Screener)

From the folks who brought us TRILOGY OF BLOOD comes this satirical serial killer short. It basically plays like a one man video set up for an online dating service. One where someone sits there and talks about themselves and gives their likes and dislikes hoping to meet that perfect someone. With a play on words, Mike Kureth, as our Sadist, talks about looking for a long term relationship and how much he enjoyed his last date and loves camping. Meanwhile the camera cuts to flashbacks of him killing several women and some men one at a time in a decrepit building. It's obviously meant to be tongue in cheek with loving the outdoors while flashing back to him burying a guy alive out in the woods, etc. However, since Kureth comes across very charismatic in his role, it becomes all the more disturbing and violent, which makes SADIST a short sweet success. The running time may just run under six minutes, but with imaginative editing, an excellent dark tone running in the background as the soundtrack, Kureth's performance and some abrupt violent death sequences, you have something that will stick with horror fans. The whole thing plays like a long theatrical trailer (red band of course!), which makes one think that director Charlie Ruckus might be using this to try and get funding for a full length feature. If he can keep the lead, the same dark tone and editing style and sustain it for a good 78 minutes or more, he may just have a winner on his hands. If that's the case, then I hope that is what Ruckus Productions is shooting for. If not, it's still one hell of a short film. - Mark Engle

"What The Heart Must Thereby..."
1975 - NR - 93 Min.
D: Ernst Hofbauer
S: Elke Deuringer - Puppa Armbruster - Margot Mahler - Ulrike Butz
DVD Courtesy of Impulse Pictures (Synapse Films)
Anamorphic Widescreen/Dolby Digital Mono
Extras: None

This is the seventh out of, I believe, at least 12 in a series of soft core German movies dealing with the sexual liaisons of young girls aka underage roles played by women in their early 20's. This time around, a brothel owner is under arrest along with several teen prostitutes because the owner's sister came snooping around and got mistaken as one of "the girls." This leads to a fight and the police are called. Now it is up to each teenager to explain to the court what brought them to the brink of this kind of work. Of course this is just a wraparound excuse to show several key vignettes of younger women having sex with older men. Since there isn't enough tail, err, I mean tales to go around, the parents and other adults in the corridor outside the courtroom also tell stories they've heard about young girl depravity. Like previously Reports, some are funny, some are not. We've got an ice cream shop vender and his ugly mean wife who discovers he's getting some on the side via three girls in exchange for free ice cream. This leads to a comedic nudie chase inside a motel. We get a Crime short when a young girl seduces old men back to a cabin only to have them robbed by her boyfriend and fellow thugs. When one of the old men dies and the murder is witnessed by a local priest things go south. In another, a young girl falls in love with her teacher only to discover through a series of events that he has started dating her mother. An awkward bookworm girl propositions her father's business associate in order to learn about sex beyond what the text books can teach and so on. Some of the comedy does work thanks to some goofy innuendo dialogue. I really liked the Crime piece, but some of the other stories run with the usual nothing new under the sun adage. A couple of the girls are attractive, the rest of the average variety. Basically, if you are fan of the first six titles, then you probably will be picking this one up and the rest as they get released over time. The print has some drop outs and print damage, but most of the images are clear. The music soundtrack is a lot of fun and the language is in German with optional but pretty accurate English subtitles. Like others in the series, there isn't much to turn you on, but you get a sort of Benny Hill attitude with some more serious tones mixed in. If this is your first venture in the series, there's enough entertainment and nudity. Fans of the series need to check it out (but of course, you already knew that). - Mark Engle

2010 - NR - 99 Min.
D: Jason Stephenson
S: Joel D. Wynkoop - Scarlet Salem - Elske McCain - Rachel Grubb - Lindy Starr - Leah Avery
DVD Courtesy of NFTS Productions
Anamorphic Widescreen/Stereo
Extras: Extended Opening - Bloopers - Photo Gallery - Trailers

A desperate stripper takes a hundred bucks for her rent and goes off to orally pleasure a guy she meets in the parking lot outside of work. He can't finish his end of the bargain so he kills her and then takes care of business. The rest of the girls decide to hang out and party at one of the stripper's homes to "be safe" and "celebrate" their friend's life. After leaving directions on another stripper's car (since the lesbian couple didn't answer their door due to being killed by our slasher), our killer now knows where they all are! One by one they get naked, have lesbian sex or try to and get picked off one by one. This is your typical low budget indie slasher and pretty much nothing is new here, which is good news for some fans. There's tons of nudity, some gory bits and a masked killer. You even know which girl is going to make it to the end (she's studying college courses and doesn't get stoned with the rest of them). The killer's mask, he picks up at the first couple's home, is interesting and silly at the same time. There's a druggie boyfriend that comes along to the party and a police officer who has a personal vendetta to catch the killer (his sister was a "good girl" stripper who was murdered years ago). The acting is pretty rough and nudity ranges all over the map in terms of quality. The special effects are of the low budget variety but effective with a beheading, a mouth sewn up, stripper pole through lesbian couple ala BAY OF BLOOD/FRIDAY THE 13th Part 2 and another girl running around with her intestines falling all over the ground as she tries to pick them up and put them back in before she's strangled with her own entrails. The soundtrack boasts some decent metal tunes and for a rarity, fits the tone of the movie. Overall, fans of indie SOV projects may find a lot to like here if they don't mind the stiff acting and budget problems (the whole thing needs a tighter edit to pick up the pace). Everyone else will find the gore so-so, the killer lacking, the nudity abundant but not stimulating and the acting sometimes hysterically awful and overplayed. Low Budget to No Budget Slasher fans should definitely check it out. - Mark Engle

1985 - NR - 92 Minutes
D: Gabriele Lavia
S: Monica Guerritore - Gabriele Lavia - Pina Cei - Jasmine Maimone
DVD Courtesy of One 7 Movies/CAV Distribution
Anamorphic Widescreen/Dolby Digital 2.0
Extras: None

Monica Guerritore plays the Scandalous Gilda in Gabriele Lavia's attempt to make a boring version of a Tinto Brass movie. Timid Gilda catches her husband with another woman (a television news reporter) and decides to run off and have an adventure of her own. She hooks up with our director casting himself as a down and out cartoonist/animator who wants to make a movie about a town full of penis people who are excited when a famous pair of legs and vagina rolls into town on the train (only he has no ending). Together they begin to play cat and mouse sex and emotional mind games. She turns cold at the flip of the switch while he calls her a whore and tries to stuff money down her panties. They have violent sex, toilet sex, motel sex, truck driver sex and eventually she urinates all over his face. It's all in the name of Italian erotica, only it isn't sexy, it's just sleazy. Unfortunately, the dramatic story is so dull, making all the sleaze unappealing and what little plot there is tedious rather than thrilling. Guerritore, who apparently is considered very attractive, isn't here and she's the selling point. To be honest, there are only two women that appear nude in its entirety (the husband's mistress being the other) and neither come across as even remotely good looking. Both Gabriele Lavia and Guerritore would do much better the same year with EVIL SENSES, which actually throws in some more interesting story twists since it's more in the sexy erotica thriller/gialli vein. The best thing I can say about SCANDALOUS GILDA is the excellent cinematography by Mario Vulpiani, who had an illustrious career in genre Italian filmmaking including many westerns, crime and gialli titles throughout the 60's up to year 2004. The sweeping camera work is heightened by Giorgio Carnini's score that works for several scenes but is unforgettable in others. Basically, if you like sleaze and don't discriminate in the story department, it delivers the nasty, but all else will be frustrated. You know it isn't hot stuff when cartoon dicks wearing hats and walking around town playing musical instruments is the highlight. - Mark Engle

1980 – R – 85 Min.
D: Robert Houston
S: Tomisaburo Wakayama (Actor) – Akihiro Tomikawa (Actor) – Kayo Matsuo (Actor) – Lamont Johnson (Voice) – Gibran Evans (Voice) – Marshall Efron (Voice) – Sandra Bernhard (Voice)
Blu-Ray courtesy of AnimEigo
1080P 2.35:1 Letterbox / English PCM 2.0
Extras: Two Commentaries – Restoration Demonstration – Interview with
Mega-Fan Samuel L. Jackson – Program Notes – Trailer

The legendary Shogun Assassin. The film that threw wide the gates and opened up a whole new world of cinema for many fans, and, if you believe the informative commentaries, contributed to the popularizing of Japanese culture in America. Although I’d be the last one to endorse altering an original film in any way there is always an exception to the rule; Shogun Assassin is that exception. An important release then and now, it tells the tale of the samurai killer who travels the countryside with his infant son collecting gold for the occasional hit job while always fending off the predatory ninja sent by the insane Shogun who fears him too much to let him live. Reconstructed from the first two movies in the series proper (mostly part 2, Baby Cart At The River Styx), dubbed over, and blessed with a fantastic synthesizer soundtrack partly created by Mark Lindsay (of Paul Revere & The Raiders fame), Shogun Assassin does everything right. It creates a brand new entity from a pre-existing one without cheapening or disrespecting the original in any way. If you are a fan of the Lone Wolf series and have been hesitant to check this out, don’t be. More than likely it’ll be a welcome addition to your collection. The narration from young Daigoro is priceless, amusing, and tragic all at the same time. It’s absolutely one of the biggest pluses of this version listening to the toddler assassin in training contemplate his life while trying to keep an up to date body count so he knows how many souls to pray for. AnimEigo’s release is very solid. There’s print damage evident throughout (scratches, scuffs, white spots), but even so I have no problem complimenting the work that’s been done here. Clarity and color are impressive and there’s no sign of any digital tampering that I could pick up on. The sound is clean and steady from beginning to end. The only real complaint is the decision not to use the original poster art for the cover but it’s a minor quibble. Here’s hoping we’ll soon see the original six movies released and with the same amount of care. Splatter royalty for a reason, Shogun Assassin gets the highest possible recommendation. - Michael Mackie

2007 – NR – 89 Min.
D: Sabrina Mansfield
S: Nalita Murray – Paul Collett – Elizabeth O’Brick – Jennifer Boarini – Lainnie Felan – Vaz Andreas
DVD Provided by Victory of the Pe
ople Productions
Screener Disc: All details NA

Five people get shipwrecked and make their way to an old lighthouse while trying to figure out their next move. Cold, injured, and trapped on this small island, things seem bleak enough, but they get worse. They find a girl hiding there who warns of strange shadows that want to take people away and if they take you, you never come back. They do indeed come… In the form of blind demonic ghost pirates with swords! Nice. As the night rolls on the siege becomes more unrelenting and if anyone's going to survive they'll have to figure out the real reason they've ended up where they have. Okay, this is truly something; a well-blended direct to video cocktail that aspires to be equal parts Bergman, De Ossorio, and Carpenter which is then poured by Rod Serling after being garnished with Jacob's Ladder. I know. Heavy. It's merely a matter of minutes before some serious relationship angst is on display and that's only the beginning. There's anger, jealousy, unrequited love, betrayal, and so forth. Lest we not forget what we're watching the phantoms step out of the fog every now and then attempting to claim their latest victim and if they get frustrated enough, possession is NOT out of the question. If this all sounds pretty damn interesting, it is. Keep in mind that this is a very low budget production. The creative forces behind The Shadows countered this with an attractive and generally talented cast (especially Malita Murray), a strongly realized concept, and a hell of a lot of atmosphere. You might have gathered from the numerous references that you won't see be seeing anything that reinvents the wheel here and that's true enough. What Mansfield and company do they manage to do very well and the successful hybridization of lots of ideas (and a couple of genres) pulls you right into the world they've created. It's refreshing to watch something like this and care so much about what happens next. It may not be altogether surprising but it still matters and that's an accomplishment. The Shadows is smart, creepy, involving, and recommended. - Michael Mackie

2010 - NR - 160 Pages
A: Howard Hughes
E: Hannah Patterson
Book Provided by Kamera Books
Slightly Oversized Paperback/English
Extras: 13 Glossy Pictures

The Italian Western became one of the most beloved genres in the sixties and seventies. With over 800 titles counting co-productions and knock offs, there's definitely a need for a book covering most or all of them. For now, we have Howard Hughes (no not the famous guy), who covers an overview of important titles divided into four sections; 1964-65. 1966, 1967-69 and 1970-76 respectively. Each section shows a change in the genre and shares his thoughts on each movie covered into three sections. The first being a simple plot synopsis with distinct ending spoilers (buyer beware!), and overall background on the movie including history, scene examples, etc. and finally an overall verdict. Besides the spoilers (which is normal for books like this, so it isn't necessarily a negative viewpoint), the reviews are pretty insightful and interesting to read. Obviously a fan, Hughes is also pretty honest in naming a film's shortcomings and problems as well as pointing out why the movie worked. Over thirty titles are covered with some extra pages dedicated to THE GOOD, THE BAD & THE UGLY and ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST. There's a few surprises, but the majority of reviews are what should be expected from Spaghetti aficionados. Good insights into directors and the actors is also a plus to read, making this book more than just a personal view of Italian Westerns. It's a quick read, but well worth picking up until you can get your hands on some sort of 800 page book covering the genre entirely. - Mark Engle

SHOGUN ASSASSIN 2: Lightning Swords of Death
Also Known As
Kozure Ôkami: Shinikazeni mukau ubaguruma
Baby Cart
Baby Cart in Hades
Baby Cart: Dans la terre de l'ombre
Japango…and many others…
1972 – R – 89 Minutes
D: Kenji Misumi
S: Tomisaburo Wakayama, Go Kato, Yuko Hamada
DVD Courtesy of http://www.animeigo.com AnimEigo
Extras: Image gallery, production notes, theatrical trailers

Samurai extraordinaire Ogami Itto is back and better than ever. Here Ogami rescues a prostitute, even taking her place to absorb severe punishment for her crimes. Once that’s done, Ogami is hired by a Chamberlain to assassinate a ruthless and power mad Governor. To Ogami’s surprise the Governor tries to hire him for a job as well. Ogami refuses the Governor’s offer but carries on with his assignment to assassinate the corrupt man. However, in order to do this, Ogami and his son in the baby cart must face an entire army, not to mention another master samurai swordsman. It’s all great fun and extremely well executed by director Kenji Misumi and the entire cast and crew. The battles are typically fast and furious, with buckets of blood and moments of extreme violence. Tomisaburo Wakayama is typically impeccable in the lead role, providing a character that is immersed in honor and philosophy but also instantly deadly when the occasion calls for action. Yuko Hamada needs to be mentioned here not only for her performance as a woman with legal authority but also because she is drop-dead gorgeous. The cinematography is first rate, even taking a few cues from Italian Spaghetti Westerns, while the backdrops and scenery are beautiful. Filmmaker Misumi completely understands the genre that he’s working in and does a superb job keeping the story moving forward. There is not one dull or superfluous scene in the entire film. I count this title as an absolute “must see” for all genre fans. – Craig Hamann

2007 – PG-13 – 90 Minutes
D: Adam Green and Joel Moore
S: Joel Moore, Amber Tamblyn, Zachary Levi, Tricia Helfer, David Muller, Annie Neal
DVD Provided by Anchor Bay Entertainment
Extras: Making-of featurette, commentary track

Mason is a socially dysfunctional telemarketer who also happens to be a decent artist. He has one friend in Berkeley, a misogynistic but somehow likable manager at work. And now he might have something else – a girlfriend. A cutie named Amber, who works at the same firm he does, seems to truly like Mason. One small thing, though, Mason is not only an asthmatic loner, he also might be a serial killer. SPIRAL is basically a way for Joel Moore to feature himself as a writer, director, producer, and actor. While this may sound egomaniacal, the fact is he’s pretty darn good at all the above. This isn’t a bad movie, though it seems as if it wants to be one until the final act. The main problem is the lead character Mason, who is so deliberately geeked out and annoying that he’s utterly…well…geeked out and annoying. For example, when anyone asks Mason a question, half the time he won’t even offer an answer, which might seem a little weird to some people but it’s also going to play as downright rude to others. When Amber begins paying attention to Mason, one has to ask what her freakin’ problem is. She’s cute, smart and engaging, so why is she focusing her attention on a creepozoid like Mason? Anyway, all that aside, I must admit there is a payoff like nobody’s business in the third act that completely caught me off guard and is superbly executed. It basically ties up the loose ends leading up to that point and throws a whole different light on nerdy Mason. While he probably indicates the geekiness a bit too much, Joel Moore does well in the lead role. Also worth mentioning are the two very good performances by Amber Tamblyn as Amber and Zachary Levi as Berkeley. I’m giving SPIRAL a recommendation, but be forewarned, this is one of those movies that you absolutely must stick with until the final credits roll. – Craig Hamann

Japan/2010 - NR - 65 Minutes
D: Hisaaki Nagaoka
S: Yuka Rikuna - Serina Ogawa - Toru Amamiya - Noriko Ikemi
DVD Provided by Cinema Epoch
Widescreen/Dolby Digital Stereo
Extras: Behind The Scenes Featurette - Still Gallery - Trailer

Ten teens head off for some fun and sun and end up on the cursed isle known as SLAUGHTER ISLAND. Five females in bikinis and five males trying to get into them end up getting picked off one by one slasher style and discover they have no way to leave. They get drunk, they panic, one even attempts a rape on another only to get ripped in half! They spend most of their time half up to their wastes pretending (and I mean that in the blandest acting way) to frolic in the water by jumping up and down and splashing each other with their hands. As for the mystery behind the "slaughter", it all really wraps of kind or conveniently, but by that point the tedium has sunk this beachcomber horror into obscurity. Most of the actual mayhem is off screen showing very limited and simple effects of the aftermath. Much of the partying and sexual innuendo doesn't add up in that end of the exploitation game either. Basically, there isn't much SLAUGHTER ISLAND has to offer that we haven't seen before and actually shot on film and with better quality effects, acting and atmosphere, of which this has none. We've seen worse on the SOV market, so I can't say this is a total waste of time (at least it was filmed on an actual beach!). If you like young Japanese girls giggling or screaming while in bikinis and the occasional gore shot, you undiscriminating fans may find some entertainment out of this imported movie. The rest of us would probably find Gilligan, The Skipper and gang much more threatening and entertaining. - Mark Engle

Australia/1974 – R – 99 Minutes
D: Sandy Harbutt
S: Ken Shorter, Sandy Harbutt, Helen Morse, Hugh Keys-Byrne, Vincent Gil, Bindi Williams
DVD Provided By Severin Films
Extras: Making-of featurettes, cast and crew interviews, make-up test, slide show

Let me say right here and now that it took me a good 20 minutes to get used to seeing a biker gang riding Kawasaki motorcycles instead of American Harleys. But that’s what you get with this film about an Australian outlaw biker club called The Grave Diggers. Not that I don’t like Kawasakis, because I’ve ridden them and enjoy their speed and handling. It’s just that I’m into American culture so much that I was shocked to see the way these bikers or bikies (as their called here) looked. But that amazement went away quickly and from that point on it was easy to enjoy what certainly is a darn good biker flick. Stone is the name of an uncover policeman who poses as one of The Grave Diggers in an effort to find out who has been systematically killing members of the club. There are fights, drugs, drinking, nice looking ladies, and frequent meditations about the freedom and loyalty the bikies share with each other. For the most part, it’s a lot of fun and even has some social commentary thrown into the story. Special credit has to be given to Sandy Harbutt for writing, directing, and producing this project on a meager budget. He also stars as Undertaker, the club leader, and does a good job at it. Ken Shorter, who looks like a cross between David Duchovny and Peter Tork, is quite believable playing Stone. The rest of the cast attributes themselves well. This is a two-disc set, with the second disc containing some entertaining making-of featurettes. If you like biker…umm…bikie flicks, then check this one out. – Craig Hamann

2010 - NR - 96 Minutes
D: Sawa Suicide
S: Amina Munster, One Dozen Suicide Girls
DVD Provided by First Look Studios
Widescreen/5.1 Digital Surround
Extras: Trailers - Confession Outtakes - Photo Gallery

A dozen Suicide Girls are given video cameras and sent to an island for a mysterious photo shoot. All they are told is that fans will be watching their progress through cameras set up throughout their cabin, another in a confessional room and their own shots they take as they play amongst themselves while enjoying their stay. Once they arrive, their cell phones are confiscated, different personalities clash, they discover an old graveyard, a local transient, and one by one, the girls begin to disappear. It sounds unoriginal, and it is, but the twist is that fans and voyeurs of the Suicide Girls get to watch the individual photo shoots featuring full frontal nudity while tensions raise the fear meter. The whole set up is that the girls are not aware of the game ahead of them, and while some scenes feel scripted despite its claims (multiple camera angles during chase scenes that look somewhat professionally edited together), it's believable when some of the girls start getting pissed off or freaked out. It plays out genuine, which is either factual fear or damn good acting. Somehow great acting from that many cast members without prior experience seems unlikely. So, is it a successful foray into reality cinema? Sort of. If you are a huge fan of SG, then there's lots of goodies to stare at and the producers made sure to pick out a wide range of model styles. From Full Figured to bone thin, tall and short, blonde to redhead, we get a variety. All come packed with piercings and tattoos for those that like that sort of thing. If you are not a fan or just an admirer of underground punk/gothic models, it does get a tad boring during the first half, which feels like an R rated version of America's Next Top Model. The final third does have some fun going for it, but it will be up to the individual's tastes in nekkidness whether or not it's worth the ride. - Mark Engle

Also Known As:
Mag Wheels
1978 – R – 81 Min.
D: Bethel Buckalew
S: John Laughlin – Shelly Horner
DVD provided by VCI Entertainment
Widescreen / Mono
Extras: Original trailer

SUMMER SCHOOL aka MAG WHEELS stars a no-name cast (unless you count John Laughlin and I don’t) and was directed by a director that was mostly known for a laughably awful stream of “nudie movies” from the early 70’s (Bethel Buckalew). It has almost no storyline to speak of (the best I could tell it had something to do with lesbionic girls with trucks vs. douche bags with vans?), the acting is amateurish at best, the dialogue is unintentionally hilarious (“I’m Rachel, fly me!”), and you know what? I really enjoyed it. For the life of me I could not help myself at being totally enthralled by a movie that really went nowhere from the first frame to the last and had an ending that summed up a whole lot of nuthin’. But beyond being an amateurish, teensploitation, mess of a film, I found it fun and a really cool time capsule of the late 70’s. SUMMER SCHOOL (which with the exception of one scene does not take place in a school at all) is all about 70’s atmosphere and if you don’t dig that scene, this film is definitely not for you. As a comedy, it’s not all that funny and for a teen exploitation flick it is quite tame, with only a spattering of nudity, sex, and violence. The film is fairly lighthearted as well, with the exception of an attempted rape scene that comes completely out of left field. SUMMER SCHOOL: the vans and trucks are cool, the soundtrack’s rockin’, and the chicks are borderline jailbait hotties; with those ingredients I say, storyline schmoryline, and just pass the bong already. - Fred McKennon

1990 – R – 90 Min.
D: Brian Yuzna
S: Neith Hunter – Maud Adams – Clint Howard – Allyce Beasley – Tommy Hinkley
Lionsgate Home Entertainment DVD (Silent Night Deadly Night triple feature set containing also Silent Night Deadly 3: Better Watch Out and Silent Night Deadly Night 5: The Toymaker)
Fullscreen / Dolby Digital Stereo
Extras: Nope.

Kim (Hunter) is trying to prove herself as a reporter on a paper where nobody takes her seriously. She decides to investigate the death of a woman who spontaneously combusted and fell off a building, though not necessarily in that order. While digging around she meets Fima (Adams), a bookstore owner who also happens to moonlight as the leader of a coven of feminist witches. Kim catches Fima’s eye and the initiation begins. Next comes kidnapping, ritual rape, unnervingly large and carnivorous maggot creatures, luggage-sized cockroaches, Clint Howard wearing a penis shaped mask while being oiled up by old women, you know, the usual. Kim resists the murderous group every step of the way, but Fima has chosen her as an offspring replacement, so the fight for our heroine’s soul begins. It’s difficult to know what to make of any of this. There aren’t a lot of explanations for the increasingly violent and/or slimy shenanigans, but there are plenty of interesting special effects by Screaming Mad George that will try to keep you from noticing. Initiation wants to be sleazy and disquieting; Yuzna has succeeded in achieving this. However, he also appears to have been trying for some sort of disturbing, surrealist, horror movie; he doesn’t get there. Silent Night Deadly Night 4 is a nonsensical, confusing, flat, frustrating patchwork of a film. Watch for Reggie Bannister as the news editor. - Michael Mackie

1972 – PG – 107 Min.
D: William Grefe
S: Chris Robinson – Alex Rocco – Susan Carroll
BCI DVD (uncut release)
Anamorphic Widescreen / Dolby Digital Mono
Extras: A surprisingly full package of supplemental material is on hand.

Robinson is Tim, a Seminole Indian living alone in the Everglades. His tour of duty in Vietnam left him emotionally scarred and, upon returning, he essentially dropped out of the world. Saving a rattlesnake is how he rediscovered beauty and purpose in life once again. Yeah, he remains quite disturbed. That first snake is Stanley, and there are many, many, more snakes to follow. He talks to them, sleeps with them, and survives because of them by selling venom to a local doctor. There are those who mean to do our unbalanced hero and his new family (that term is far from an exaggeration) great harm. Finding out his father was murdered by his old boss (Rocco) via unsavory henchmen does not push Tim over the edge, but when they begin harming the snakes, that’s when fanged vengeance comes swiftly. Bearing more than a passing resemblance to 1971’s Willard, Stanley is an interesting film to watch simply because of how deadly serious it takes itself. It’s hard to imagine an audience that wasn’t giggling by the time the infamous pool scene hit. The first half of the film builds nicely and paints an interesting portrait of a man who finds solace in snakedom; the second half becomes more disappointing as it slithers towards its expectedly tragic climax. There’s a vibe with Stanley that’s difficult to completely dismiss so if you’re a die-hard fan of 70’s drive-in fare you should definitely have a look. Everyone else? Approach with caution. Note: Snake lovers troubled by scenes of authentic animal cruelty should avoid this release like the plague. - Michael Mackie

1989 – Rated R – 96 Minutes
D: Don Coscarelli
S: Lance Henriksen – Mark Rolston – Steve Antin – Dermot Mulroney – Traci Lind
DVD courtesy of Anchor Bay
Anamorphic Widescreen / Dolby Digital 5.1
Extras: Behind The Scenes Featurette – Trailers

Very underrated backwoods adventure/thriller from Phantasm director Don Coscarelli. Two very different survivalists run their own camps for city slickers. Lance Henriksen runs the respectful to nature camp while Mark Rolston leads the Military style extremist survivalist camp. Obviously at odds, one of the extremists takes things too far and shoots both leaders during a private confrontation. He frames Henriksen as the killer and talks his buddies into hunting down the other camp members as some sort of revenge. What he doesn’t know is that Lance is still alive! His group doesn’t know it either and they must learn to work as a team if they want to survive. Lots of high adventure keeps the pace going at a fast rate as they go against the odds of nature and a madman. Don’t go in expecting a Coscarelli horror flick, because this isn’t one, although there are a few minimal gore scenes including a decent throat cut. Definitely worth seeking out for those who like backwood thrillers and of course Lance Henriksen fans since he is excellent throughout the entire picture. Part family film, part thriller, somehow it all comes together and works well. Recommended. – Mark Engle

2007 – R – 75 Min.
D: Justin Wingenfeld
S: Debbie Rochon – Julian Wells – Kevin Shinnick
DVD Provided by Shock-O-Rama Cinema
Fullscreen / 2.0 Stereo
Extras: Making of / Interviews – Commentary – Trailers

Centuries ago three peace loving witch sisters (Debbie Rochon among them) suffer the torments of the local township. Their children are held hostage while they are regularly terrorized, gang raped, and beaten. When the youngest of the trio is killed the remaining sisters decide to use powerful black magic to claim their revenge. Thing is, this magic is everlasting on down the family line. Cut to present times where Margaret (also Rochon) is suffering breakdown levels of emotional stress due to a failing marriage. Margaret’s husband is no longer interested in her (!?) and has begun an affair behind her back. The home-wrecking hussy in question (Wells) is prowling for blackmail money, but things escalate and Margaret finds herself the victim of a murder conspiracy. The rest is likely what you’re expecting; Skin Crawl’s script offers no real surprises. Aside from the prologue and the final few moments there really isn’t much ‘horror film’ here. There is, however, LOTS of sex. Regular sex, oral sex (thanks to a Misty Mundae cameo as a hooker) anal sex, and schoolgirl-outfit sex dominate the running time. Some interesting, if not original, techniques are used to tell the relatively thin story and the acting is, comparatively speaking, tolerable enough. Characters feature names such as Nalder, Krueger, Franco, etc. Sparse gore is summoned for the climax. Debbie Rochon’s presence is definitely a good thing, but it will be Wells devotees that find the most to cherish here. The print is a real letdown so consider yourself warned ‘cause it’s fugly. Light on horror and heavy on softcore dramatics, Skin Crawl is a below average disappointment. Give it a rent… if you have to. – Michael Mackie

1986 – NR – 78 Min.
D: Peter Rowe
S: Lots of sexy amazons and hideous mutants.
North American Home Video Entertainment VHS

False documentary from the mid-eighties details the making of a post-apocalyptic gore fest about the ongoing battle for supremacy between surviving bands of amazons and mutants. Things play out as follows… First, the splattery set pieces from the pretend movie. Second, explanations about how the special effects are achieved take place while deformed production assistant Fang prowls the set bothering crew and providing comedy relief. Lastly, the scenes are shown again one effect at a time. Low-budget shot-on-video Canadian oddity lives up to its name admirably and delivers all of the following (and more) with celebratory glee –Throats are cut, scalps are ripped, entrails are yanked/eaten, limbs are severed, bodies are completely dismembered and heads explode. In between all of the carnage comes a surprising amount of explicit nudity. Splatter essentially exploits exploitation and it does this very well. The behind-the-scenes presentation keeps things interesting and if the creative forces responsible had instead released another bottom of the barrel post-nuke time killer the world would be lacking a truly entertaining guilty pleasure. Some will find the gory onslaught dated and ineffective. Many will despise the pulsing synth soundtrack because it’s pure 80’s. Most will cringe at the cheddarfied dialogue that takes place during the ‘story’. For the rest of us, it’s all the above that makes Splatter: Architects of Fear an absolute necessity. Sound like you? Then by all means, seek this out (no easy task). If some rascally DVD company ever unleashes a Splatter platter I’ll be at the front of the line. – Michael Mackie

2006 – NR – 91 Min.
D: The Mallachi Brothers
S: Julia Ruiz – Alby Castro – Shannon Gayle
The Asylum Home Entertainment DVD
Anamorphic Widescreen / Dolby Digital 5.1
Extras: Making of Featurette – Blooper Reel – Commentary

Low budget movie companies cashing in on the success or notoriety of a major Hollywood film is nothing new, but producing one that turns out to be entertaining and worthwhile is a significantly rarer occurrence to be sure. A young woman decides against marrying the rich man her parents have selected for her and is punished with the curse of the devil snakes. She becomes sickly and all the important parts of her internal anatomy are turning into snakes that are constantly vomited forth amidst a flurry of blood and green glop. The young lady’s true love knows enough magic to hold the snakes at bay and, hopefully, get her to his uncle (the only one powerful enough to cure her) in Los Angeles before she is lost. They board a train under cover of night, hide in an unused car and are on their way. The snakes eventually escape to overtake the train and havoc ensues. Numerous gore scenes and special effects throughout as snakes of all sizes crawl into skin, eat children, are pulled from ripped-out hearts, etc. The shocker climax is a real jaw-dropper; you’ll have to see it to believe it. Decent enough production values mix with acting that ranges from engaging to truly sketchy to create a flawed but rousing entertainment. Plot recalls weird Indonesian and Hong Kong horror films of the past and that’s okay. Produced by an increasingly difficult-to-ignore company of B-Movie renegades known as The Asylum. Dumb? Sure. Fun? Absolutely. – Michael Mackie

2007 – N/R – 103 Minutes
D: Michael Winnick
S: Jolene Blalock – James Marsters – Tony Todd
DVD Provided by Starz Home Entertainment
Anamorphic Widescreen/Dolby Surround 5.1/Digital 2.0
Extras: 2 Featurettes – Commentary – Trailers

Eight people wake up in individual cells in what seems like a mental institution. After a monstrous noise bellows through the halls and a short power outage their cell doors open. What seems like a low rent version of The Cube turns into a stereotypical horror film where each person gets knocked off by a CGI Shadow monster sporting a cartoon-like bull face (snarls and all). A somewhat well known cast tries and fails, but most likely due to the flaccid script. Gore is at a minimum while suspense is laughable. Shadow Puppets tries to put some oomph into itself by throwing a twist in the final act, but you will either see it coming a mile away or just won’t care. More insulting are the reasons why or how the creature comes about to begin with. It’s a sort of “just because” scenario (this isn’t a really a spoiler, but face it, a machine that wipes away memory is tough enough to believe, but using it on a patient that is brain dead just doesn’t make it plausible to turn one’s cranium into an outward smoky demon that craves life by killing and devouring it). Fans of the cast may want to give it a shot since one could look at it as a reasonable time-waster. All others may want to give it a miss or rent any of the Cube films instead. – Mark Engle

2007 – N/R – 75 Minutes
D: The Polonia Brothers
S: Erin Brown (Misty Mundae), Erika Smith, Dave Fife, Brice Kennedy
DVD Courtesy of Camp Motion Pictures
Extras: Commentary, Profiles, Behind The Scenes Featurette, Music Video, Trailers, Soundtrack, Bonus Feature “Hallucinations”, Interviews

The Polonia Brothers are back with another so bad, it’s bad Splatter movie. This time we get a definitely rip off of Humanoids From The Deep with a ton of old movie references to other beach horror flicks. Three friends head off to Splatter Beach, two of them for sex, drugs and surf rock-n-roll, and the other to gather info on the disappearances of the local townies and sea life. Tons of rubber suited seaweed monsters crash the surf party as our geek reporter teams up with Misty Mundae to save the day. The jokes are bad, the acting is worse and the story so derivative that only Z grade movie loves might find something to enjoy. The special effects are of the fake blood laying on skin effect and one CGI beheading while the monsters look kind of cool in the 50’s sort of way. In all fairness, the editing and other fields of filmmaking have improved since the days of Splatter Farm, but not enough to make me enjoy this old bucket of chum. The soundtrack is even sub par and I’m a huge fan of surf music. My one hope of finding enjoyment in this schlockfest. The worst yet was the wigger character doing his best urban rap dude shtick saying things like, “This is whacked,” while making goofy faces and hand gestures and wearing his hat sideways. Someone shoot him. NEXT!- Mark Engle

2006 – R – 90 Min.
D: David Winning
S: Kevin Sorbo, Natalie Brown, Peter MacNeill
DVD provided by RHI Entertainment
Preview disc – Edition details N/A

Fairly engrossing pro-environmental horror movie that details the events taking place at a newly opened hotel/conference center. During construction, a dark slime began surfacing. Black gold? Texas tea? No such luck. It’s a sentient entity that, when touched, causes vicious hallucinations externalizing the victims’ worst fears. This often results in their deaths. Father Douglas (Sorbo) and events manager Khali (Brown) are among the few that become aware of the problem and try to discover the reason for the attacks before anyone else dies. The visions themselves are often atmospheric and creepy; the rest of the movie has an air of light camp. Whether that was intentional or not is unclear. Fortunately, it all comes together nicely and makes for a satisfying 90 minutes of entertainment. The F/X work is solid and there’s eventually more to see than simple piles of crud. The resolution might cause some eyes to roll, but this can still be counted among the more successful Sci-Fi Pictures efforts in recent memory. Worth investigating. – Michael Mackie
2007 – N/R – 90 Minutes
D: Darla Enlow
S: Scott Gaffen, Carmen Garrison, Justin Boyd, Laurel Williamson, Heather Surdukan
DVD Provided by VCI Entertainment
Widescreen/Dolby 5.1
Extras: Photo Gallery, Commentary, Music Videos, Featurette, Digital Comic, Blooper Reel

A beautiful girl inherits a house just outside of a small hick town. All her beautiful friends join her for a celebration party only to be knocked off one by one by a huge mutant dude covered in buttons. Yes, you read that right. Seems when he was a child, his deranged mother sewed buttons onto his body when he was bad and now he continues the tradition by stealing the buttons off his victims. There’s tons of hick jokes, one dope smoker with a large green bong as comic relief and a very dumb blond all here to round out the humor that falls flat. The gore is there, but mostly aftermath shots of people covered in blood, so don’t expect much, but it works for the budget level. Speaking of which, the acting isn’t great but also better than your standard SOV fair and director Enlow does keep everything moving pretty fast. Unfortunately, none of it is played straight and the forced campiness gets in the way. Looks like they had a lot of fun making it, but none of that makes it a good movie, just another slasher that sort of falls flat. It has a decent twist towards the end, but not enough to save it. Next! -Mark Engle
D: Bo Zenga
S: Steve Howey - Diora Baird - Kenan Thompson - Desi Lydic
DVD Provide by Anchor Bay Entertainment
Anamorphic Widescreen/Dolby Surround 5.1
Extras: Commentary - Deleted Scenes - Outtakes - Trailer - Galleries

From the producers of SCARY MOVIE and SOUL PLANE, so you should already know what you are getting into. Either you love these of you don't. Spoofs are hit and miss depending on the individual's taste. This definitely has more in common with the SCARY franchise than say AIRPLANE. We get tons of innuendo, bad taste, fart gags, crap gags, cockroach gags, hooker gags, sex gags, etc. Krueger is dressed like a rapper, Meyers sort of looks like Meyers and Pinhead has suckers and darts in his head instead of nails. Stan, the title character is related to Van, yet doesn't want to stand up to the responsibility. Instead, he works in a video store recommending porn to his grandmother and forced to deliver videos for his boss via detour after work on his way to a Halloween party. Tagging along is his best friend, his date and Stan's ex-girlfriend. When they arrive to deliver the videos, it turns out to be a ghost town filled with monsters and a horrifying Leslie Neilson in drag. Will they get out alive? Will you make it through to the end without groaning? It all depends. Love the SCARY MOVIES, you will probably enjoy this. If you don't be very wary of venturing in. This is bottom of the barrel stuff, but in its own defense, it was meant to be. Take that as a recommendation or a warning. It's meant as both. - Mark Engle

2009 - NR - 89 Min.
D: Cameron Romero
S: Kathy Lamkin - Kiko Ellsworth - Cristen Coppen
DVD Provided by Anchor Bay Entertainment
Widescreen/Dolby Surround 5.1
Extras: Trailers

Here's an example of what I would actually re-title THE TEXAS BARNYARD MASSACRE and it's also the best way to describe this unoriginal foray into horror. If you didn't notice the director's name, make sure and check it out now. Yup, that's George Romero's son and he's taking up the director's chair (this is his second full length outing). I've got to give him some credit as he, thus far, has stayed away from making a zombie film. Unfortunately, he's picked the #2 most copied U.S. horror genre in the last decade, the white trashed, inbred, backwoods horror. During the late sixties, four friends head off to New York to partake in some political rallies. While hitchhiking, they are picked up by a local in a pickup truck, which breaks down outside a farm...in the middle of nowhere. Large mom, skinny grandma in wheelchair and man-child retard of a son start picking them off one by one in order to get skin grafts for the other son, who is a failed medical student. The direction is okay, the acting varies, but the gore effects are nasty and quite good. Basically, if you are not tired of all the TEXAS and HILLS knock-offs as of yet, you may just want to give this one a watch. Otherwise, the gore is all this crop has to offer, and in my personal opinion the farmland dried up and died a long time ago. - Mark Engle

1965 – NR – 61 Minutes
D: Al Ruban
S: Jackie Miller, Gigi Darlene, Terri Steele
DVD Courtesy of Retro Seduction Cinema
Extras: Cinematographer commentary, booklet, trailers

Bored housewives and sleazy girls looking for a fast buck! It’s just another day in the life of the “agency”, a modeling company that specializes in 60’s burlesque titillation and prostitution. Not much with a plot, just a series of vignettes designed to set up the next chance to ogle some 60’s nudie cutie or tramp (the movie has both, trust me). There’s some humor thrown in, and even a scene that starts out like a “roughie” that was to permeate the grindhouse theaters before actual porn took over. Some of the girls are mediocre, some downright ugly. The cutest girl is a hoot as she sits nude for a sleazy photographer while deep-throating an ice cream pop! The best part of this disc is the very informative and friendly commentary with cinematographer C. Davis Smith (known very well in the sexploitation world as Doris Wishman’s cameraman). His output on how these were made, meeting Doris, distribution, pay and so on is incredibly interesting. Definitely recommended to those of you out there who love the old grindhouse sexploitation and nudie loops. Those looking for more action or plot will need to look elsewhere. – Mark Engl
Japan/2005 – NR – 63 Minutes
D: Takuaki Hashiguchi
S: May Asada, Minami Aoyama, Lemon Hanazawa, Mikiya Sanada
DVD Provided by Sacrament/Salvation Films
Extras: Still Gallery, Short Film, Trailers

The Asian Pink genre meets J-Horror. This time around, the original legend of The Slit-Mouthed Woman is changed into a tale of revenge for those that have sex in her hospital room. A reporter for a weekly magazine is sent to cover their horror section (she usually covers beauty and sex) only to find her own sister soon becomes victim to the legend when the Slit-Mouthed Woman kills her boyfriend while they were having sex. During the investigation, she discovers a terrible secret inside a cosmetic surgery hospital that has been shut down for three years after most of the patients and staff disappeared. Will she be able to help the evil be excised before her sister loses her mind or will she fall prey to lots of sex and possession herself? It’s a Pink film, so you can probably figure it out. At barely over an hour, the sex scenes are decent, the deaths are not being mostly off screen. It does manage some spookiness, but not enough to deliver the goods. Entertaining for fans of both genres, the rest of us don’t really need to watch when others are much better. Seek out Carved for a better version of the legend instead -Mark Engle

Japan/1998 – NR – 86 Minutes
D: Hisashi Saito
S: Shinya Tsukamoto, Maiko Tadano, Makiko Ono, Takumi Tanchi, Takuji Suzuki
DVD Provided by Pathfinder Pictures
Extras: Trailer, Film Gallery, Film Notes

Shinji and Yui are a young Japanese couple living together and working at the same video rental establishment. Things are going well for them until one day Yui finds her boyfriend lying on the floor in a pool of his own blood inside the store. Yui ends up running off with her older store manager Okamoto, who has had his eye on the young lady for quite some time. Together they experience a series of events that not only defines their strange relationship but also answers what really happened to Shinji. This is a SOV movie about how people lie and deceive, regardless their relationships with each other, and how this makes them incapable of being trusted. While the content is sincerely valid, the execution leaves much to be desired. Shot in mostly master scenes, possibly for budgetary reasons but also because of creative choices, the movie has too many pregnant pauses, utilizing weird blocking for the actors, and is so slow-paced that it feels as if one is watching a series of clumsy scenes from an acting school. While Hisashi Saito’s movie has its moments, they are too few and far between for me to recommend this title to genre fans. – Craig Hamann

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