Friday, September 22, 2017

Chas. Balun's DEEP RED Mag is Back and In Excellent Hands!

I'm not big on endorsing Kickstarter campaigns but knowing the folks involved with this one makes it a no brainer.

If you're like me, the work of Chas. Balun and his books and mags were highly influential in terms of what I watched as well as my expectations of what genre books and mags could be (or, at least, aspire to be).

Well, Balun's sorely missed DEEP RED magazine is back and in good hands (and authorized by the Balun estate).

XEROX FEROX author John Szpunar is at the editorial helm and he's being joined by DEEP RED vets like Kris Gilpin (who recently wrote for Exploitation Retrospect 53), Greg Goodsell and Steve Bissette as well as such new blood as good pal and fellow 24 Horrorthoner Bruce Holecheck of Cinema Arcana, ER contributors David Zuzelo and Chris Poggiali, Nick Cato (an old friend from the 80s zine trenches), ULTRA VIOLENT's Art Ettinger and more.

And, with the inclusion of a recently announced interview with PSYCHOTRONIC author/publisher Michael Weldon this one is a must have for your genre bookshelf.

The publication has almost reached its Kickstarter goal and has a few weeks to go. Help get this welcome relaunch – scheduled for January 2018 – back into the hands of genre fans everywhere.

Click here to back the project. – Dan Taylor

Friday, September 08, 2017

1984's THE MASTER – Yes, That THE MASTER – Is Coming to Blu-Ray

From the "Never Thought I'd See The Day" Department comes the announcement that Kino Lorber will be releasing the 1984 martial arts action series THE MASTER on Blu-Ray.

Lasting a whopping 13 episodes from January to August during my senior year of high school, THE MASTER was must see TV in my household thanks to the presence of Lee Van Cleef and "Salami" from THE WHITE SHADOW. I'd watch on the big TV in our family room and chortle while my Dad read his paper and occasionally peered over the top to shake his head. Pretty sure he felt THE MASTER was no ROCKFORD FILES.

The 13 episodes are chock full of martial arts nonsense, ninja shtick and appearances from the likes of Demi Moore, Sho Kosugi, George Lazenby, Crystal Bernard, Doug McClure, Claude Akins, Clu Gulager, Edd Byrnes and George Maharis!

Check Out Italian Horror Week at DocTerror.com


Tired of Hurricane Irma coverage? Need something to do while you wait for IT to open at your local multiplex?

Pop on over to DocTerror.com for Doc Terror's Italian Horror Week (there's also a Facebook page for the event).

Created in honor of Jimmy "Doc Terror" Harris who passed away earlier this year after a courageous battle against cancer, Italian Horror Week continues the grand tradition that Doc ran on his website over the years. His friends and horror colleagues have put together giveaways, fresh content and some cool surprises that celebrate and keep his legacy of horror love and appreciation going so go check it out.

In the meantime, please note that I didn't mean to take the last four months off from blogging, it just sorta happened. Burnout after publishing the last issue (still available from Amazon and our website), the end of the school year (in which May has become as busy for people with kids as December), work, overseas travel, swim team and some lazy hazy summer days by the pool and ocean all conspired to keep me away from watching, reading and writing about trash as much as at any point over the last 30 years.

Hopefully, the falling temps and more structured schedule will get me back in the saddle soon!

Monday, May 01, 2017

"Filth is My Politics! Filth is My Life!" Or, A Wrap-Up of exFest 2017

John Waters introduces 1972's PINK FLAMINGOS at exFest.
So, I can check "seeing PINK FLAMINGOS on the big screen with an introduction by John Waters" off my cinematic bucket list.

Spent Saturday up in Philadelphia hanging out with pals and catching the annual Exhumed Films exFest, a 12-hour celebration of all things exploitation.

While I still refer to their 24 Hour Horrorthon each October as "my Christmas", exFest is always a highlight of the spring thanks to its complete anything goes grab bag of chop sockey, spaghetti western, bikers, sexploitation and whatever else they foist upon attendees.

After a quick trip to the city from Maryland we gathered provisions and settled into the steamy theater (temperatures were pushing 90 outside making for a sweltering viewing experience) for seven slices of sinema:

  • DYNASTY (period martial arts mayhem with lots of gratuitous 3D action);
  • DEATH RIDES A HORSE (quality revenge-driven Spaghetti western with Van Cleef and John Philip Law);
  • NEW BARBARIANS (aka Enzo Castellari's WARRIORS OF THE WASTELAND with Fred Williamson and "Timothy Brent" as they take on a band of gay post-apoc marauders led by George Eastman);
  • COMBAT COPS (aka ZEBRA KILLER which was like an odd DIRTY HARRY rip-off via blaxploitation with Austin Stoker from ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13 as a no fucks given detective on the trail of a deranged killer);
  • Gregory Dark's STREET ASYLUM (a disappointing late 80s blend of action and sci-fi with Wings Hauser, G Gordon Liddy, Alex Cord and Sy Richardson that should have been MUCH better);
  • 1972's LOVE ME DEADLY (slow moving but sorta intriguing movie about necrophilia from 1972 starring Mary Wilcox and Lyle Waggoner!); 
  • and, finally, PINK FLAMINGOS with a surprise live intro from director John Waters. 
Alas, the whole experience was a tad bittersweet as it was the first Exhumed event after the tragic, way-too-soon loss of our friend James "Doc Terror" Harris. Seeing James' smiling face in line always brightened my mood at these events and we'd catch up as we browsed the offerings from Diabolik or poured over the mysterious lineup (Exhumed doesn't share the titles for the exFest or Horrothon in advance). Between flicks we'd share quick opinions on what we just saw (often accompanied by friendly debate) and guesses about what we'd see next. I'd like to think that just some of Doc's enthusiasm and love for sinema rubbed off on me over the years and made me a more forgiving cinephile and a better person.

RIP, Doc and oh, yeah, Fuck Cancer.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

TROMA TUESDAY Returns, For Better or Worse, With YETI: A LOVE STORY (2006)

Have you ever wanted to see a yeti butt-fuck a man to death?

Ah, I'll bet that got your attention. But that isn't some ruse to get you to read further: it's a scene straight out of the 2006 Troma-tic bowel movement, YETI: A LOVE STORY.

The year is 1985. A group of college dipshits camping in New Hampshire stumble upon a cult dedicated to worshipping the yeti, whom they routinely offer sacrifices to. Emily (Lauren Glasscott) learns of a prophecy in which the yeti can be set free from the machinations of the cult via love from a sodomite. Adam (Adam Malamut) and the yeti fall in love – and just in time because Dick (Dave Paige) is about to be sacrificed by the cult (and I'm about to be sacrificed by myself for having put this much effort into describing this movie's story).

Reportedly shot for a mere $200, YETI: A LOVE STORY begins promisingly – even eliciting a chuckle or two – but soon devolves into a 70-minute borefest complete with overdone jokes, execrable attempts at humor, and no attempts at entertaining the viewer. Sure, this Troma-tic experience is accompanied by plenty of blood, guts, tits, ass and dicks (so your wives and gay friends will be happy); but given I can just see this stuff in any generic horror film which flies down the shit chute, I'd rather spend my time and money elsewhere.

YETI: A LOVE STORY is proof that some movies should never be made. I really thought this was gonna be a hidden gem in a shit-hill. Nope: 'tis but a shit clump disguised as fool's gold. As per usual, the folks at Troma show they'll distribute any festering piece of shit so long as it is tasteless. It really makes ya wonder if they even watch the crap they distribute.

Or, worse yet, maybe they DO! – Evan Romero

Evan Romero is a regular contributor to the pages of ER (including our mammoth 30th anniversary issue available from our website) and spends much of his time reading morally questionable books and watching movies no sane person would touch. He is the vocalist/bassist for the punk band Porno Holocaust (you can find them on Facebook and listen to some demos if you’re inclined). His short story “Touch” was recently published in REJECTED FOR CONTENT 5: SANITARIUM. You can read more of his reviews at ReelAtrocities.com or at PopHorror.com. He last wrote about MOST LIKELY TO DIE.

YETI: A LOVE STORY is available from Amazon.




Friday, February 17, 2017

SLASHER FRIDAY: Who Is MOST LIKELY TO DIE (2015)?

Combine desperation with boredom, mix in a Netflix account, and you're liable to make the same viewing mistakes I make on a nightly basis. Granted, not every film I watch is a flush-worthy turd, but more often than not a night on Netflix ends with me disappointed and annoyed with myself for not having better sense. Yes, a one-star film MIGHT just be a hidden gem. More often than not, however, they turn out to be like MOST LIKELY TO DIE.

It's been ten years since high school graduation and you know what that means: reunion time! Before heading to the reunion proper, a group of friends decide to meet up at Ray's (Jason Tobias) house for a little pre-reunion fun. Upon arriving, they discover Ray is missing and his ditzy blonde girlfriend, Ashley (Skylar Vallo) has been murdered – and the murderer is still on the loose! Could it be Ray himself, who's snapped after the Rangers kicked him off the hockey team? Or is it some guy whom the group used to torment back in high school?

Watching MOST LIKELY TO DIE, I couldn't help but wonder why this film was even made. Slasher films are supposed to be all about watching death fodder get offed, right? Yes. But MOST LIKELY TO DIE finds that boring. Instead, the bulk of the 80-minute runtime is comprised of characters we don't care about talking about problems we don't care about. Every so often the killer will pop up and off someone to keep viewers from falling asleep. It's like a John Hughes film crossed with FRIDAY THE 13TH. I'll give the film credit for at least fleshing out the death fodder, but let's be honest here: we watch slasher films to see idiots get killed, not because we're in the mood for drama and characterization that, ultimately, goes nowhere.

But all is not lost: we get Jake Busey, who buys the farm the minute the check clears, and is here to add name value and whose character adds absolutely nothing to the proceedings aside from a voyeuristic act which gives the audience a brief glimpse of ass and titties. And we get a slasher who utilizes a creative weapon: a mortarboard concealing a razor-sharp instrument – which he does little with except slit throats. But at least we get one brutal kill which I'll spoil for you so you don't have to watch the movie: he slits a girl's throat, then tears off her head. Fun.

MOST LIKELY TO DIE is most likely gonna remind you of your years in high school, assuming they were like mine: boring, depressing, uninspiring and a waste of time. If your high school years were better, the same descriptors still apply. Give MOST LIKELY TO DIE a wide berth. In fact, forget it exists. – Evan Romero

Evan Romero is a regular contributor to the pages of ER (including our mammoth 30th anniversary issue available from our website) and spends much of his time reading morally questionable books and watching movies no sane person would touch. He is the vocalist/bassist for the punk band Porno Holocaust (you can find them on Facebook and listen to some demos if you’re inclined). His short story “Touch” was recently published in REJECTED FOR CONTENT 5: SANITARIUM. You can read more of his reviews at ReelAtrocities.com or at PopHorror.com. He last wrote about NIGHTBEAST.

MOST LIKELY TO DIE is available from Amazon.




Tuesday, February 14, 2017

TROMA TUESDAY: Don Dohler's NIGHTBEAST (1982)

Time for another Troma Tuesday as Evan takes a look at the Maryland-lensed low-budget classic NIGHTBEAST from Don Dohler. I hadn't seen the flick since catching it at a local sci-fi and horror convention in the late 80s but Evan mentioned reviewing it for the blog so I went back for another look and concur that it's one of the finest pieces of trash ever released by Kaufman and Co. Look for MIDNIGHT MARQUEE publisher Gary Svhela and his father as locals who pull a dead girl from the back of their car.

When Troma distributes someone else's film, chances are it's a piece of shit that'll bore your dead grandmother to death. Thankfully though, this isn't always the case. Sometimes, Troma DOES hit pay dirt in their distribution acquisitions. Case in point: Don Dohler's NIGHTBEAST.

An alien craft crash lands near a small town and starts offing the clueless locals via ray gun, disembowelment and decapitation. Only Sheriff Cinder (Tom Griffith, who looks like the offspring of John Holmes and Mark Shannon) and his partner, Lisa (Karin Kardian) can stop the creature. Dohler regular Don Leifert appears in a small role as Drago, a biker who harasses the townsfolk.

NIGHTBEAST is a movie that knows its audience well. We ain't here for deep characterization or high drama: we wanna see the goony-lookin' alien get right down to business – business being disemboweling idiots and shooting them with a ray gun to make them vanish in a glorious flash of disco light (victims ain't "Stayin' Alive" here, folks). NIGHTBEAST moves along with zero fucks given, hardly stopping to take a breath other than when necessary. And it's one of the few movies to elicit some genuine tension from this viewer – something movies RARELY ever do. Bravo!

For a movie undoubtedly made on a budget of toe nail clippings and pocket lint, the special effects are about as good as it's gonna get. The optical effects look as though they were created using a disco lamp and the gore is what you'd expect from a low-budget film, i.e. cheap prosthetics and guts bought from Discount Butchers.

Whatever Troma was smoking when they picked up NIGHTBEAST for distribution they need to smoke more of it: of all the Troma-distributed films I've seen, NIGHTBEAST is definitely one of the best. No-bullshit entertainment is what NIGHTBEAST is all about, so do yourself a favor and take it up on the offer. – Evan Romero

Evan Romero is a regular contributor to the pages of ER (including our mammoth 30th anniversary issue available from our website) and spends much of his time reading morally questionable books and watching movies no sane person would touch. He is the vocalist/bassist for the punk band Porno Holocaust (you can find them on Facebook and listen to some demos if you’re inclined). His short story “Touch” was recently published in REJECTED FOR CONTENT 5: SANITARIUM. You can read more of his reviews at ReelAtrocities.com or at PopHorror.com. He last wrote about THE ORPHAN KILLER.

NIGHTBEAST is available from Amazon.



     

Monday, February 13, 2017

DOOMED: THE UNTOLD STORY OF ROGER CORMAN'S THE FANTASTIC FOUR (2015)

"It's the movie business... and life is not fair." – Oley Sassone, THE FANTASTIC FOUR Director 

I still remember where and when I first saw the Roger Corman-produced version of THE FANTASTIC FOUR that had been splashed across the cover of the slick, glossy version of Film Threat like it was a real, big-screen movie coming to one of the 327 screens that surrounded my suburban NJ home. It was the July 4th holiday in the summer of 1995 and I was in personal limbo. Relationships seemed to be hanging by tenuous threads, I hated my job, I hated my life, and I was teaching myself something called HTML so I could start a website. Whatever that was.

But on that summer afternoon I was content to kick back with some old friends, knock back some cheap beers, and watch, well, I'm not sure what. The flick – starring Jay Underwood from the cherished, hysterical afterschool special THE DAY MY KID WENT PUNK – had snuck onto the collector/grey market after the finished product had been shelved. As the story went, the film had never been intended for release and had only been rushed through production (a Corman specialty) in order to maintain the rights for a bigger payday with a major studio.

What's hard to remember – and, perhaps, harder to believe given their recent success – is that in the early 1990s when THE FANTASTIC FOUR went in front of the cameras with director Oley Sassone at the helm, is that live action Marvel adaptations were pretty much considered a joke. Oh, sure, I might have loved Rex Smith as Daredevil in the Incredible Hulk TV movie, but not everybody felt the same. And, yes, that's the dad from Disney's long-running 'Good Luck Charlie' as Thor (or some weird SoCal surfer approximation thereof) in a subsequent, and excruciating, Hulkflick.

THE FANTASTIC FOUR, on the surface, was a different story. There was a recognizable name or two behind the project (the aforementioned Corman, the Concorde/New Horizon video label) and even some familiar faces in front of the camera (Underwood [The Human Torch] plus Hollywood sons Joseph Culp [Dr. Doom] and Alex Hyde-White [Reed Richards]). Sure, it had one-thirty-fifth the budget of Tim Burton's BATMAN (1989), but wouldn't all involved have been happy with one-thirty-fifth of that flick's $250 million gross?

Directed by Marty Langford, DOOMED does an excellent job of tracking the story of the aborted/shelved THE FANTASTIC FOUR from its nascent days as a Marvel Comics adaptation straight through to the revelation that corporate entities have pretty much played everyone involved - including the sweet, grandfatherly Corman - for suckers. There's the initial sniffing around (when Troma honcho Lloyd Kauffman smells something fishy you're probably better off walking away, too), the rushed casting (that somehow lands a group of passionate actors), and the even more rushed shooting schedule (cast members contend they never rehearsed or met until the set).

Everyone involved with the film's production seems to genuinely believe in the flick, if not as a passion project, at least as a feather in their cap on the path to future Hollywood employment. Unfortunately, it appears more sinister forces are at work as the project gets delayed and, eventually, bought out and shelved. It's telling that neither Stan Lee nor Avi Arad agreed to be interviewed, despite what the filmmakers say were repeated attempts to get them on camera, not to mention footage of Marvel tastemaker Lee belittling the flick before a comic loving crowd of nerds.

Kudos to Langford and Co. for shedding more light onto one of Hollywood's urban legends, especially since the original THE FANTASTIC FOUR – myriad flaws aside – has way more comic book heart than the cold, corporate reboots that have followed in its wake. – Dan Taylor

Dan Taylor is the editor/publisher of Exploitation Retrospect: The Journal of Junk Culture and Fringe Media. Check out our 130-page 30th Anniversary Issue featuring horror anthologies, mens action novels, video store oddity THE JAR and much more, available at Amazon, CreateSpace, ebay and the ER website.

DOOMED is available from Amazon.