Thursday, July 21, 2016

#TBT: Take a Ride on Larry Cohen's THE AMBULANCE (1990) starring Eric Roberts from ER 39

If it's Thursday it must be time for another review ripped screaming from the pages of Exploitation Retrospect: The Original 43. This week's review was inspired by a recent viewing of the film in question by ER contributor Devin Kelly. The ensuing on-line chatter about Larry Cohen's THE AMBULANCE sent me digging for issue number 39 and my original thoughts on this underrated thriller from the mind behind such classics as PERFECT STRANGERS, Q and the IT'S ALIVE films.

Like much of the work in his checkered cinematic career, Larry Cohen's THE AMBULANCE played to few (if any) theatrical audiences before making its way to video shelves. And again, like much of his recent output (THE STUFF, RETURN TO SALEM'S LOT, ISLAND OF THE ALIVE), the inattention seems unwarranted. Not that THE AMBULANCE belongs in the upper strata of Cohen flicks occupied by BLACK CAESAR, Q and IT'S ALIVE!, but it does show the same spirited junky fun that marks all of the writer / director / producer's eclectic work.

Eric Roberts – fast becoming an ER fav – stars as a Marvel Comics cartoonist who has a chance meeting with a young woman on her way to a doctor's appointment (Jeanine Turner in a chubby-faced, pre- NORTHERN EXPOSURE role). When she collapses on the street and is whisked away by a vintage ambulance, the cartoonist goes on a mission to find her. With only her first name at his disposal, Roberts continually runs into roadblocks thrown up by hospital staff, the NYPD, and his own employer (woodenly portrayed by real-life Marvel honcho Stan Lee).

Despite initial thoughts to the contrary, the story has something to do with a nefarious scheme involving the use of diabetics as guinea pigs for a scientific/white slavery ring... but it isn't really that important. In fact, the sinister plot is visibly lacking in creepiness, one of the few knocks I can make against THE AMBULANCE. Like all of Cohen's work, the flick's strength lies in the characterization, set-ups and scenes... he continually places characters that we've grown to like to seemingly inescapable, life-ending situations.

With a strong lead turn from Roberts (also great in the dreadful FINAL ANALYSIS and the loud, brilliant BEST OF THE BEST 2) and clever supporting bits from James Earl Jones and Red Buttons, THE AMBULANCE is more fun that it has any right to be. A great beer and Macanudo fick. – Dan Taylor

Dan Taylor is the editor/publisher of Exploitation Retrospect and a contributor to the recently published book, KLAUS KINSKI, BEAST OF CINEMA: Critical Essays and Fellow Filmmaker Interviews (McFarland). He last wrote about MARTIAL OUTLAW for VHS Wednesday.

THE AMBULANCE is available from Amazon.




Wednesday, July 20, 2016

VHS WEDNESDAY: Sibling Rivalry and Spin Kicks in MARTIAL OUTLAW (1993) starring Jeff Wincott

A week ago a fellow thrifter sent me photos of a local store packed to the brim with men's action novels featuring The Executioner, The Death Merchant, The Destroyer, Able Team, Phoenix Force and more. When I got there the next day I scooped up a few dozen titles but not before almost passing out at the sheer volume of low-budget VHS action that had also been dropped on the shelves. After breaking out in a cold sweat and initially filling my cart with about 30 tapes I collected myself and whittled the pile down to a half-dozen. Surviving the cut was this week's VHS Wednesday outing, the Kung-Fu Kane and Abel tale MARTIAL OUTLAW from director Kurt Anderson. Oh, by the way, that Troegs Nimble Giant pictured at right with the counter card that came with the VHS tape is awesome.

"We're not ever gonna be even!"

Do you have a brother? Does he bust your chops about your job? Your clothes? The gifts you buy his wife? Do you ever feel like sucker punching him in the nuts and/or doing a spinning kick that lands on his stupid face?

Then 1993's MARTIAL OUTLAW is the movie for you!

Jeff Wincott (the superb DEADLY BET, WHEN THE BULLET HITS THE BONE) stars as DEA agent Kevin White, an ass-kicking, by-the-book Fed who is set to crack a drug ring run by Rachenko (Vladimir Skomarovsky), a former KGB agent hiding his operations behind an import/export business. White plants an informant on the inside by offering him his own grocery store (!) and follows the trail down to Los Angeles.

Unfortunately, his trek to the City of Angels brings about an awkward family reunion with his older brother Jack (Gary Hudson), his alcoholic father (Richard Jaeckel), and Jack's wife Lori (Krista Errickson) who may or may not be harboring a flame for her brother-in-law.

Complicating matters is Jack's preponderance for operating on both sides of the law and it isn't long before he sees a payday from the Russians as his ticket out of town. (Yes, Jack is a complete dick who can't wait to leave his boozy pop and perky wife behind, screwing up his brother's big case in the process.)

It might come as a bit of a surprise that it required five writers to come up with MARTIAL OUTLAW'S story, especially since the last half of the flick can basically be summarized as "battling brothers kick Russian mob ass". Wincott is perfectly serviceable as the spin-kicking good guy while Hudson's smarmy bad boy demeanor (also on display in the great ROAD HOUSE) makes you simultaneously root for him and against him.

Most of the fights (courtesy of choreographer Jeff Pruitt) are nothing you haven't seen before, though the "Russian Circle" segment in which Kevin beats the shit out of about 30 guys using barbells, free weights, sticks and more is certainly the flick's action highlight.

Bonus points for Al (Endo) Leong, giant cell phones, a beefy Russian henchman who looks like Martin Kove, car wash subterfuge, Kevin's ugly shooting range sweater and lines like "Who am I? I'm the guy that's gonna nail your ass!" delivered with stone-faced sincerity.

The Republic video VHS includes trailers for INFESTED (aka TICKS) with Seth Green and Clint Howard and the jaw-dropping TERMINATOR rip-off APEX which immediately went on my radar. – Dan Taylor

Dan Taylor is the editor/publisher of Exploitation Retrospect and has a healthy relationship with his two older brothers. He last wrote about the excruciating NUMBER ONE WITH A BULLET for Throwback Thursday.

MARTIAL OUTLAW is available at Amazon and finer thrift stores everywhere.






Tuesday, July 19, 2016

TROMA TUESDAY: SGT. KABUKIMAN N.Y.P.D. (1990) directed by Michael Herz and Lloyd Kaufman

We're back with another installment of Troma Tuesday here at the ER blog! And lest anybody think that Evan Romero has a thing about murdering Troma flicks with his reviews, here's his take on – gasp! – a PG-13 Troma flick that works? Yeah, I don't believe it either but since the flick in question is currently free with my Amazon Prime membership I might just take a look.

A PG-13 Troma flick. Let that sink in for a minute. Yes, I'm certain your mind is filled with visions of the apocalypse, of civilizations falling, of the sun going supernova and eviscerating our galaxy. Well, calm your tits 'cause it's nowhere near as bad as it sounds. Come now, let us go fight some crime (and shitty movies) with SGT. KABUKIMAN N.Y.P.D.

Detective Harry Griswold (Rick Gianiasi) is investigating the murder of two kabuki performers by a goon employed by Reginald Stuart (Bill Weedon). While watching the show the murdered performers were supposed to star in, a shoot-out occurs – during which Griswold is selected to become Kabukiman, the man who will harness the spirit of kabuki and defend the world against evil. Griswold must now learn to harness his new powers while bringing Stuart and his goons to justice - as well as preparing for a battle with The Evil One, who is set to return to Earth! Will justice prevail? Or will evil reign throughout the land?

Okay, so you're probably wondering just how funny a PG-13 Troma flick can be. The answer: pretty damn funny. Unlike some Troma movies where the comedy – comedy that's usually anarchic and not funny – overshadows the plot, SGT. KABUKIMAN N.Y.P.D. achieves a perfect balance: the slapstick/goofy humor is here, but not at the expense of plot / story. You can actually get invested in it.

About the only thing the PG-13 rating affects is the level of gore. Sure, it's here, but it is toned down drastically in comparison to Troma's usual unhinged and over-the-top fare. But the fact that a Troma film can be enjoyed without the characteristic gore is a testament to how much attention the filmmakers put into other aspects of the production. And it pays off.

What helps the production achieve the level it does is in large part due the performances of the actors and actresses. Sure, we're not gonna get award-winning material here, but the characters are interesting and fleshed out enough and the performers invest their roles with energy and charm. Much of the comedy would have fallen flat were it not for them. The standout performances come from Rick Gianiasi and Nobel Lee Lester, who plays "Capt. Bender." Those two have great chemistry and generate many laughs when they appear on screen together. The scene when Bender confronts Griswold, who is dressed in full clown regalia, about his behavior is pure comedic gold.

Oh, and for those fans wondering where the footage of Troma's famous "car crash" came from, SGT. KABUKIMAN N.Y.P.D. is the answer.

Overall, SGT. KABUKIMAN N.Y.P.D. ranks as one of Troma's best productions. It's too bad the Kabukiman character couldn't have gotten his own series like Toxie because seeing his further adventures would have been a treat. Regardless, we'll always have this one movie to throw in anytime we wanna see a man in kabuki dress fighting crime with heat-seeking chopsticks, fatal sushi, and pyro parasols. Go watch it now before The Evil One returns...

SGT. KABUKIMAN N.Y.P.D. is available on Blu-ray and DVD. Features include an interview with Rick Gianiasi, a full episode of KABUKIMAN'S COCKTAIL CORNER, audio commentary and much more. – Evan Romero

Evan Romero is a regular contributor to the pages of ER 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). You can read more of his reviews at ReelAtrocities.com or at PopHorror.com. He last wrote about THE BIBLE BELT SLASHER PT. II: THE HOLY TERROR for Slasher Friday.

SGT. KABUKIMAN NYPD is available from Amazon.




Friday, July 15, 2016

SLASHER FRIDAY: Bradley Creanzo's THE BIBLE BELT SLASHER PT. II: THE HOLY TERROR (2013)

Happy Slasher Friday! Evan Romero returns to the ER trenches with a look at a recent horror convention acquisition, THE BIBLE BELT SLASHER PT. II: THE HOLY TERROR. 

Two dollars won't get you much these days: a pack of gum, a bottle of water, a candy bar. And a brand new DVD copy of THE BIBLE BELT SLASHER PT. II: THE HOLY TERROR. "Huh!?!" Yes, you read that right: I bought this flick at a horror convention straight from Brain Damage Films. I guess that shows how much faith they have in their stock. And how much respect I have for myself. "Two bucks!? Sold!" So, is this slasher flick truly a "holy terror"?

It's 1989, one year after Jason Fry (Larry Baumer, who resembles a bargain basement Meat Loaf), a religious fanatic, murders a bunch of people. Fry is put in an asylum. But, guess what? He escapes! And he has his sights set on the relatives of the people he murdered. Only Dr. Ray Landers (writer / producer / director Bradley Creanzo, who looks like a missing member of Kingdom Come) and Rebecca (Taylor Raftree) can stop him. Will Dr. Landers and Rebecca succeed in stopping Fry's reign of holy terror? Or will Fry put the fear of God into them?

First off, a side rant: what is it with Brain Damage Films not indicating ANYWHERE on their DVDs that a film is a sequel? This is the third film from them I've encountered that are sequels to previous flicks that aren't labeled as such. I didn't know it was a sequel until the title appeared, which has PT. II in it. (They are at least kind enough to include the first installment – a short – on the disc.) Brain Damage Films, get your act together! It really isn't hard to indicate sequel-hood! Shit, write it on the cover with a permanent marker for all I care.  Just let me know!

Okay, end rant.

Anyways, THE BIBLE BELT SLASHER turned out to be more fun than I expected. But don't take this as a proclamation that the film is good in the traditional sense. Objectively, it's rubbish. However, that's what makes it good. It's one of those films you just watch and make fun of. Was that what Creanzo was going for? Maybe, maybe not. Either way, bravo and thanks for the laughs.

Now, I know complaining about the acting in a low-budget flick is a bit like complaining about contracting an STD after paying a visit to a Tijuana hooker, but the acting here is stiffer than grandpappy on Viagra. They should have just slapped drawings of the actor's faces on wooden boards, moved them around the set and saved some money. I often found myself saying, "I don't believe you" when actors attempted to sound emotional. However, this delivers plenty of opportunities for laughter - such as when Dr. Landers tells a hospital employee to calm down, but the hospital employee is talking with all the animation and urgency of a person buying an off-brand pair of socks after popping some Valium.

However, Baumer turns the overacting knob to eleven. He spends the entire flick snarling, drooling, spouting one-liners – "It's a bird, it's a plane, it's a dead bitch" being my favorite, said after throwing a woman out a window – and looking constipated as he goes about his work. While it's stupid at first, it eventually grows on you and you'll find yourself enjoying his overacting and his antics.

The film's late-80's aesthetic is most likely where the bulk of the film's Andy Gump-level budget went. They do a decent job at nailing it with RATT t-shirts, VHS tapes and a rental store, the televisions, and so on. But when Rebecca is cruising about in a Camaro from the 2000's - and when other cars from the same era are littering the background - one cannot help but laugh. And those 80's style wigs look absolutely terrible. The one Raftree sports looks like a raccoon climbed up on her head and committed suicide!

And no 80's throwback is complete without 80's music - recorded by Creanzo himself! It's awful. And he thinks a lot of his music because there's a 3-minute music video of his song "Demons of the Night" in the middle of the movie! (That and another Creanzo music video, "Enemies," are also included on the disc as bonus features. I can barely contain myself.) Did we really need that? No. But this IS Creanzo's ego masturbation trip, so we just have to bear with it. However, there's something endearing about it that prevents me from dismissing it completely. Hearing him attempt to sing "Demons of the Night" completely off key is enough to put a smile of amusement on your face and give you the courage to attempt Whitesnake's "Here I Go Again" at your local karaoke bar.

But at the end of the day, what TRULY matters in a slasher flick are the kills. Forget the music, the budget, the acting, the bad wigs: just deliver on some crazy kills. THE BIBLE BELT SLASHER, sadly, doesn't deliver a whole lot in this department as most of the kills are fairly generic. However, the make-up effects aren't half-bad and they give you some stuff to laugh at - like when the wound on a woman's face wiggles, or when blood from a neck wound is obviously spurting from a tube tucked inside the victim's shirt. Special effect high point: when Fry goes Bob Villa on a guy with a circular saw, you get a severed mannequin's arm!

THE BIBLE BELT SLASHER PT. II: THE HOLY TERROR succeeds for all the wrong reasons. Bad acting, tacky music, aesthetic failures, and make-up goofs make this the perfect flick for your next bad movie night. "Not even God can save you now," goes the tagline. True, but He CAN make you laugh. And He does. – Evan Romero

Evan Romero is a regular contributor to the pages of ER 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). You can read more of his reviews at ReelAtrocities.com or at PopHorror.com. He last wrote about John Waters' MULTIPLE MANIACS for VHS Wednesday.

THE BIBLE BELT SLASHER PT. II: HOLY TERROR is available from Amazon.




Thursday, July 07, 2016

#TBT: Cannon's NUMBER ONE WITH A BULLET (1987) from ER 11

It was thirty years ago this summer that my buddy Lou and I decided that we needed an outlet for our voluminous opinions about the hundreds of movies that we were seeing each year. The next thing I knew we were out on the tennis courts, batting about names that smacked of both pretension and our love of trash cinema. And that, boys and girls, is how Exploitation Retrospect got its name. Though many of those early issues make me cringe with in-jokes, of-the-time references and attempts at aping better writers (like Joe Bob Briggs), there's still a nugget of a readable review here and there. In this new ER blog feature, I'll be going all Throwback Thursday on you (hashtag TBT!) as I dig through the photocopied pages of the original run of the zine (43 issues published between 1986 and 1995) and yank out something I'm not completely embarrassed to share. So, without further ado and inspired by Valerie Bertinelli's appearances on seemingly every Food Network show my kid watches, here's my look at Cannon's NUMBER ONE WITH A BULLET from November 1987's ER #11...

How many times do we have to see the same tired plot thrown in our faces before it's finally put out to pasture? A crazy cop and a stable cop are partners on the brink of destruction. Their zany antics get them in trouble with the superiors, but they get the job done. One of them is divorced / separated / widowed, etc., but his work gets him through. Oh, did I mention the higher-up in the department who is leaking information to the bad guys? And just in case, throw in a little racial tension by making one cop black and the other white. (Or one Chinese and one white... or one Indian and one black... and so on.)

Ho hum... NUMBER ONE WITH A BULLET is another in a countlessly long line of Oreo Cop retreads with plots more suited to the television screen than the silver screen. Okay, so the opening paragraph could also be used to describe the action hit LETHAL WEAPON, but at least that flick kept the action fast and furious enough that you didn't think about how idiotic, repetitive and familiar the plot really was. That flick also had credible actors like Mel Gibson, Danny Glover and Gary Busey to carry it off. NUMBER ONE has to rely on the questionable talents of Robert Carradine, Billy Dee Williams, Doris Roberts, Valerie Bertinelli and Peter Graves! No wonder this thing disappeared in a week!!!

The story concerns the exploits of Berzak (Carradine) and his partner Frank (Billy Dee). Oh, Berzak is divorced from Bertinelli and Frank plays the trumpet at night in jazz clubs. Ho boy! It seems that ol' Berzak has been watching some guy for years because he's convinced the guy is up to no good. It eventually... LED TO HIS DIVORCE (surprise, surprise)! Finally, after letting a witness they were extraditing get killed, the two partners begin to get close to the drug ring, only to be outwitted each time when the criminal seems to have... INSIDE INFORMATION!!! This is so original!!!

The story jerks along from point A to point Z, barely connecting all the dots in between, and barely keeping me awake as well. The few action sequences are as exciting as watching bread mildew, and it doesn't help that Carradine couldn't act his height let alone convincingly portray and over-the-edge cop!!! (I noticed I'm using the triple exclamation point a lot in this review... this is rarely a good sign!) Billy Dee is no great shakes either and you keep waiting for him to start talking about all the great women he gets when he's plowed out of his skull on Colt 45. I even felt bad for Peter Graves, who still looks like he's embarrassed for appearing in AIRPLANE!

NUMBER ONE ranks right up there with some of the most unwatchable dreck Golan and Globus have ever dumped on us. There are the same guys that have given us AMERICAN NINJA 2, AVENGING FORCE and UNDER COVER? I find this hard to believe. One star. It could have been one and a half if Bertinelli had gone nude, but it was negatory on the celebrity skin so points had to be deducted. – Dan Taylor

Post Mortem: The credits for NUMBER ONE WITH A BULLET reveal some interesting names. The screenplay is credited to a number of scribes including Gail Morgan Hickman, who wrote the story for the mediocre Dirty Harry flick THE ENFORCER as well as the Bronson vehicles MURPHY'S LAW and DEATH WISH 4: THE CRACKDOWN. Unfortunately, other screenplay credits go to SNL writer Rob Riley, Andrew Kurtzman (who also contributed to such delights as CAMP NOWHERE and DOWN PERISCOPE) and James "Don't Call Me Jim" Belushi. Given that pedigree it's a wonder veteran director Jack Smight (HARPER, NO WAY TO TREAT A LADY, AIRPORT 1975, MIDWAY, FAST BREAK and countless television shows) was able to make anything that resembled a coherent film. Future SIMPSONS composer Alf Clausen provides the music and in West Germany the flick was known by the more colorful title of DER BERSERKER, which sounds like an Olaf Ittenbach movie.

NUMBER ONE WITH A BULLET is available from Amazon.

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

VHS WEDNESDAY: John Waters' MULTIPLE MANIACS (1970)

Welcome to another new feature here at the ER Blog... VHS Wednesday! Since we're all so spoiled with Blu-Ray releases of everything from the latest mega-hit and neo-trash to lovingly restored versions of such dubious classics as DR. BUTCHER, MD, I felt like a regular feature such as this would give contributors and myself a chance to dip into our dusty VHS shelves – and justify plunking down a couple bucks on something at the thrift store. Fittingly, the debut column features a film from the director interviewed for the debut issue of ER some 30 years ago. Read on as Evan Romero dishes up John Waters' MULTIPLE MANIACS...

So let me set the scene for you: I'm in the movie section of Amoeba Music – specifically, the director's section. Passing John Waters' name I decide to take a gander. Lo and behold, what do I find? MULTIPLE MANIACS! Ten bucks! Not on DVD! Ho ho ho! You bet your sweet ass I'm gonna snatch it up – partly because I wanted to make a friend of mine, who's a huge John Waters fan, green with envy (I succeeded); partly because I enjoy Waters' early work like FEMALE TROUBLE and, especially, PINK FLAMINGOS. Once home, and with the proper amount of pomp and circumstance, I shove it into my VCR, adjust the tracking, and hit PLAY.

Come one, come all – to Lady Divine's Cavalcade of Perversions where "sluts, fags, dykes, and pimps" run amok! See a pornographer go about his trade! See two men kissing! See a heroin addict go through withdrawals! See Lady Divine (Divine, of course) herself rob your ass of money, valuables, and narcotics! Wait, Lady Divine's boyfriend, Mr. David (David Lochary) is sneaking around with Bonnie (Mary Vivian Pierce), an auto-erotic coprophagiac and gerontrophiliac!? Lady Divine will have Mr. David's head on a stick. Unless Mr. David and Bonnie are able to off Lady Divine first!

Those expecting the Waters' usual shtick are going to sprout wood: we've got the psychotic characters, the swingin' music, the atrocities and grotesqueries, the absurdity, the celebration of outsiderdom – all in glorious black-and-white. And on VHS no less! And while we don't get the level of sickness and absurdity that Waters would achieve in PINK FLAMINGOS, there's enough on display here to keep his fans happy and watching the screen. I mean, where else are you gonna see two women getting it on in a church in the presence of a heroin addict? Where else are you gonna see Divine get a rosary shoved up her ass? Where else are you gonna see a woman get raped by a transvestite AND a giant lobster? Nowhere else but this sick little film.

However, between these and other scenes of perversions, MULTIPLE MANIACS does hit a few lulls as some scenes go on for way longer than they should, resulting in sighs and thoughts of mowing the lawn. I mean, seriously, how long does a scene detailing Jesus' betrayal and crucifixion need to be? We all know the story, so please get on with the good stuff. Or, why does it need to drag out Divine's breakdown? It would be fine if it were actually comprised of interesting scenes, but just showing Divine wander about the streets and take a hammer to a car isn't anywhere near exciting. Or, how long does it take for two people to profess their love for one another and decide to kill someone? One line will suffice: "I love you, let's kill her, then fuck upon her corpse." (However, that last bit DOES have the best line of dialogue in the movie: "I love you so fucking much I could SHIT." Priceless. I'm gonna have to keep that one in mind.) If 20-30 minutes were chopped from this flick, we'd be looking at a classic. But at 90 minutes, the whole affair doesn't have quite enough momentum to keep viewers from getting a little bored.

At the end of the day though, MULTIPLE MANIACS is still sick and twisted enough to delight fans of Waters, or lovers of off-kilter cinema. Worth checking out at least once, especially those who think Waters only does rubbish like CRY BABY. – Evan Romero

Evan Romero is a regular contributor to the pages of ER 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). You can read more of his reviews at ReelAtrocities.com or at PopHorror.com. He last wrote about TROMA'S WAR for the ER blog's Troma Tuesday feature.


Friday, July 01, 2016

SLASHER FRIDAY: Richard Griffin's MURDER UNIVERSITY (2012)

It's Slasher Friday here at ER and today finds Jay Kulpa taking a look at MURDER UNIVERSITY from prolific filmmaker Richard Griffin (CREATURE FROM THE HILLBILLY LAGOON, DISCO EXORCIST, FRANKENSTEIN'S HUNGRY DEAD, FLESH FOR THE INFERNO, etc.).

Setting a movie in the past hinges on little details working. Frosted glass staircases and colorful boxer briefs are but a few of the things that can take a person right out of the 1983 setting Richard Griffin's MURDER UNIVERSITY is aiming for. Here you'll find yourself forgiving such flaws. (That said, the thirtysomethings cast as co-eds here don't seem to have the same effect. Maybe people just looked older then?)

College freshman Josh (Jamie Dufault) is having a rough go of it starting college, which culminates in surviving an attack by a trio of mask-wearing ax murderers. He teams up with the foul-mouthed Detective Forrester (Michael Thurber) to figure out why he's been targeted. With the help of Forrester's daughter (Samantha Acampora) they'll discover a connection to Josh's recently deceased father and the "Greensboro Devil" massacre of twenty years prior.

In short, he may as well be named "Josh Finalgirl."

MURDER UNIVERSITY pays light-hearted homage to early 80's campus-set slasher films. It's deceptively flabby at 93 minutes, and frequently threatens to wander off course. However, while Griffin likes his humor, the digressions into subjects like quality coffee in a gay strip club, Josh's cougar mom, and a music number about Pinko Commies (during a very bloated flashback) add a stamp of storyteller's style rather than detract. Griffin likes his gore, too. Especially chopping off heads, which make up for almost half of a satisfyingly large body count. (Were the titles "Graduation by Decapitation" and "Death by Reaganomics" taken?)

But "deceptively" was used with a reason. Featuring a twisty opening and dovetailing conclusion worthy of the SCREAM series, at the end you'll sit back and marvel that the overstuffed plot works so well. There's at least one death that actually surprises, and the story's revelations work. The ending, especially, steps up Griffin's game as the low budget doesn't get in the way of some truly artful shots.

I greatly enjoyed Richard Griffin's SPLATTER DISCO and DISCO EXORCIST, and this is a strong follow-up. He's got talent, knows his audience, and serves up gory delights on a platter. A satisfying slasher, MURDER UNIVERSITY is good to the last chop.

(One final question though: How do people run barefoot in the woods? I can't even cross my paved driveway in socks.) – Jay Kulpa

MURDER UNIVERSITY is available from Amazon.