June 2016 Part 1
Holy cats, look at the hallowed haunted halls of ol’ FM! If ya took all the face lifts performed in L.A. and put ’em in a room… a rather large room, mind you… they still wouldn’t equal the nip and tuck this site just got!
- RELEASE DATE: Available June 7th on DVD and Digital Video
- WRITTEN BY: Kaspar Ainelo, Jan Andresson, Jack Fields, Kate Fitzpatrick, Erik Gardner, Cody Goodfellow, Dick Grunert, Patrick Longstreth, Sander Maran, Peter McCoubrey
- DIRECTED BY: McCoubrey Brothers, Jack Fields, Erik Gardner, Andrew Kasch, Josh LaCasse, Patrick Longstreth, Sander Maran, Cory Norman, John Skipp
- STARRING: A lot of people… like, so many my normal journalistic awesomeness short circuited just trying to name them all (or IMDB didn’t list any so I couldn’t copy paste that s—t; either or)
What’s this? An anthology all about my favoritest thing in the whole wicked world, namely monsters?! This has just got to be good… right? C’mon you bastard, be good…
MONSTERLAND begins as a monster apocalypse is raging, trapping a man in a movie theater. He does what anyone would do when faced with impending doom at the hands of blood crazed creatures: he grabs a popcorn, plants his ass in a seat, and sets out on a movie marathon featuring terror tales peppered with various vicious bad ass beasts. As far as wraparounds go, it makes about as much sense as anything else you could use to frame something like this.
Anyway, story one… A group of teens get naked and go for a moonlight dip in a secluded lake. Something under the water begins absolutely destroying them. Huh. This one was mediocre, but I give it credit for not being a slasher homage as it originally appeared to be.
In our next yarn, a man wakes up on a city street with a rather large hole in the back of his head. Of course, a smart ass worm monster is residing in said hole. Quirky, funny, and reminiscent of Henenlotter’s BRAIN DAMAGE, this one was pretty damn entertaining!
Moving on, we are presented with the story of a junior science whiz who creates a formula that turns his pet mouse into a non-stop murderous mayhem machine. Possessing a cool retro look with some slick editing to boot, this is another gem… damn, things are looking good so far…
We are now treated to a simple tale of a husband whose wife may, in fact, be a violence crazed ghoul if his nightmares are reality. This too was an effective lil’ number, with some great creepy atmosphere and decent enough creature design.
Next is a brief animated tale of some hunters menaced by a large creature. This one was kind of a pile of dog s—t.
The next story features a man held at gunpoint in his own home by an assailant that demands his hostage remove two of his teeth (the gunman’s teeth, that is). This has the adverse side effect of turning our antagonist into a blood crazed vampire. I really enjoyed this one; it was well acted and had some fun with the time-worn vamp clichés. It’s what I’d call “a good ‘un”.
We return briefly to the wraparound to see “our hero” kill a tentacle thing in the projection booth. Sure, why not?
Onward we fly with our next ditty, the tale of… of… I really don’t know. I simply can’t describe what this is about. There are puppets… I… I… I really f—king loved this, whatever it was!
Next up things return to normal with the tale of a stay at home dad who is able to breastfeed the baby because he undergoes a procedure to grow giant breasts. Oh, did I say “normal”? I meant “what the f—k”. There’s also more than a touch of the ol’ Lovecraft involved. Really loved the s—t out of this one too!
Finally we end up (well minus the wraparounds’ climax) with a yarn involving the search for an undetonated bomb from the Cold War, which in turn results in the creation of murderous mutated jellyfish. This was, as you may surmise, is a fun lil’ throwback to the fright flicks of the fabulous Fifties.
Let’s give this the terror tally and see how we did: one “meh” wraparound followed by a boring entry, leading to seven great segments and one lousy cartoon. That’s pretty damn solid in my book, so I’m going to give this one my spectral stamp of arcane approval. There’s plenty of frightful fun to be had, with a lil’ somethin’ for monster maniacs of every taste!
- RELEASE DATE: Available May 31st on Blu-ray
- WRITTEN BY: Jack Hill, Stephanie Rothman (kinda)
- DIRECTED BY: Jack Hill, Stephanie Rothman (sorta… look, it’s complicated… ’kay?)
- STARRING: William Campbell, Marissa Mathes, Lori Saunders, Sid Haig
Usually I start these intros off with a bit of pre-game color commentary, but BLOOD BATH isn’t going to make my life easy. Ya see, ol’ double B is going to require a freakin’ history lesson as I tell you what it’s about and my thoughts on the damn thing!
OK, here’s a lil’ BLOOD BATH 101: mega prolific schlock maestro Roger Corman got his mitts on a European suspense flick way back in ’63 and basically took over production, brought in English speaking stars, had some hack named Francis Ford Coppola be a script supervisor… the whole nine yards. The resulting film, OPERATION: TITIAN, a crime/mystery thriller with overtones of “the old, dark house” genre involving a crazed artist, murders, and a legendary painting, ended up being the cinematic equivalent of a pile of dog squeeze bakin’ in the noonday sun (and about as exciting as one too). So he shelved it (although it did see the light of day in its espionage incarnation as a re-edited film named PORTRAIT IN TERROR which aired on the good ol’ boob tube and is a bit brisker in pace than OT, but it still ain’t great).
Anyway, fast forward to the fantastic future year of 1964, Corman turned to the awesome Jack Hill (SPIDER BABY, baby!) to recut the film, turning it into a fright flick about a psycho artist (aren’t we all) who kills his models and makes sculptures out of their corpses. Now that is a way better premise already, right fiends? Well, it basically is. It’s definitely off-kilter and loaded with weird tangents and wacky-ass characters such as those far-out beatniks, daddy-o; but in the scheme of things it isn’t the best of Hill’s oeuvre (and really, how could it be when it was a Frankenstein-esque bit of film making), and comes off as more than a bit disjointed… but for fans of Hill it’s a fascinating, fun curio. Oh, I almost forgot to mention; Corman wasn’t particularly fond of this version either, so no release for you!
But like a pit-bull clamped on your nuts, ol’ Cormy-baby wasn’t about to let go of this thing anytime soon. So, that brings us to 1966, and Corman handing the reigns to Stephanie Rothman, who was advised to retain much of Hill’s footage; ‘cuz ya know, this was the third g-damned attempt to make this thing and all. So basically she kept the whole murderous artist angle (not to mention the BLOOD BATH title) and added a vampire element to his character. How was this added into the mix? Well, unable to get William Campbell (who had starred in the last two versions) for re-shoots, she simply had the vampire killer possess the ability to change shape. Yup, it’s kinda bulls—t. But it adds to the insanity of the finished product. The C-man must have felt so too, because this version finally made its way to theaters!
But just you wait, because there was a TV version of BLOOD BATH called TRACK OF THE VAMPIRE… for F’s sake. Anyway, this cut features more padding than a bra on prom night (think preposterously long and uninterrupted free-form dance numbers, an s-ton of running, a bald dude looking around, and tons of underwater footage). And that’s that… I guess; who knows, there may be six or seven more versions lying around the Cormantime Mansion.
Before I get to my feelings on this release I should state that every single one of those versions mentioned above is included in this release from Arrow Video. Yup, you get the snooze-inducing action of OPERATION: TITIAN, the slightly less drowsy PORTRAIT IN TERROR, the murderous fang-bangin’ fun of BLOOD BATH, and the long ass dance shots of TRACK OF THE VAMPIRE. And that is why this release is so damn much fun! The ability to watch a failed film become something completely different than what was intended (and finally be released to the public) through multiple iterations is, in a word, fascinating! It’s like seeing the pencil sketch of an artist become a finished painting… except the painting features vampires and beatniks… you know something; the more I say, the more awesome this seems!
To that end, this release also features a feature length video essay by Video Watchdog’s Tim Lucas that gives an engaging, informative, and ultra-in-depth exploration of the entire hot mess detailed above. In my opinion, this is worth the price of admission alone, and is perhaps even more fascinating than the “finished” film it examines!
While we are jawin’ about extras, I should also mention this package also includes brief interviews with BLOOD BATH actor (and living legend) Sid Haig and die-rector Jack Hill, and a small still gallery.
To sum it all up, Arrow’s release of BLOOD BATH is a must for those among us that are fascinated by how a failed film can be salvaged into a releasable product, Jack Hill completists, and those that love scenes of aged shirtless bald dudes roaming around a beach looking around… and doesn’t that just sum us all up, my fiends?
MICHALE GRAVES – BEDLAM (MUSIC REVIEW)
- RELEASE DATE: Available Now on CD
While everyone is going a bit Misfits crazy these days, you may have set your mind to wondering just what former lead singer Michale Graves is up to these days (and if you follow this column, you already damn well know the answer to that!). Well, let me lay it on you… he has been recording and touring non-stop for many a year, and he is at the absolute top of his creative game.
Don’t believe me? Take a listen to his latest release Bedlam, an acoustic reworking of his superlative album When Worlds Collide (minus one track… but more on that soon) which itself was a spiritual successor to his 2013 offering The Lost Skeleton Returns (a collection of re-recorded versions of songs he wrote while in the ‘Fits as well as new horror-punk material). When Worlds Collide displayed some of the strongest songwriting and performance Michale had delivered to date (head here to read my full thoughts on the release), but Bedlam reveals just how strong this material truly is. Stripped of its electric bombast, the tracks become more than just hard rocking horror anthems; they display a heart and soul that may surprise those of you that are unfamiliar with the more intimate style of some of Graves’ catalog. With only his voice, acoustic guitars, and occasionally a piano, Michale soars through 11 tracks of monsters and madmen, but it’s all delivered with such emotional punch that you will forget that he is ostensibly singing about a gorilla in a diving helmet (Robot Monster) or giant locusts (The Beginning of the End, one of my favorite tracks from both releases)… not that there is anything wrong with that subject matter; hell, I’ve made a career out of it as well… it’s just refreshing to hear our beloved horror biz treated with such thoughtfulness and artistic fortitude.
Besides the aforementioned The Beginning of the End I would point out Three Days ‘Til Dawn (arguably my favorite song in Graves’ entire catalog), a powerful battle anthem akin to the early recordings of U2, and the new track (replacing When Worlds Collide’s Dying on a Sunday Morning as a reworking of the original track) Feels Like I’m Dying, an emotional and somber piano infused number that recalls two of my favorite Graves tracks, Return to Earth and The Best of Me as the highlights of the collection.
Raw, powerful, and loaded with just the right amount of horror trimmings, Bedlam is simply an amazing album, and one I’ll be listening to for years to come. Michale may have begun his legacy in the shadow of a legendary band, but Bedlam proves once and for all that the future is his to shape as a fiercely unique and infinitely talented creative force.
And if you want to give the release a chance too, the fine folks over at Hydraulic-Entertainment are giving all of you fine fiends one hell of a great deal! Just enter the code FMOF in at checkout when you purchase Bedlam, and receive 40% off the album’s price! And while you are there check out some of the other great releases from Michale such as the When Worlds Collide Demos Limited Edition CD!
Now for a guest review from Shane from The Cathode Ray Mission!
KILLER DAMES: TWO GOTHIC CHILLERS BY EMILIO P. MIRAGLIA
- RELEASE DATE: Available Now on Blu-ray + DVD
- WRITTEN BY: Massimo Felisatti , Fabio Pittorru, Emilio Miraglia (EVELYN); Fabio Pittorru, Emilio Miraglia (RED QUEEN)
- DIRECTED BY: Emilio Miraglia
- STARRING: Anthony Steffen, Marina Malfatti, Enzo Tarascio (EVELYN); Barbara Bouchet, Ugo Pagliai, Marina Malfatti (RED QUEEN)
The world of the giallo is filled with gorgeous Euro babes, perverts with weird hang ups, killers with fetishes for black gloves, terrible fashion choices, thick bright red blood, J&B bottles, and most of all groovy music. I’ve seen so many of these films now I’ve lost count. They’re a comfort food, like Kung Fu movies. You watch enough of these and you even start to recognize the voices of the people doing the dubbing (they become like old friends on a lonely day). It’s hard to believe that years ago I only had a handful on VHS and DVD. Now years later, I have a few shelves crammed full of these Italian treats! When I was just getting into Euro-horror, you either went with what was available at your local video store or, if you were daring, you went the bootleg route. As much as I’m a retro kind of dude, I love that these days we get to see some many rare films get the Blu-ray treatment.
What we have here today are two gialli directed by Emilio Miraglia. The only two, in fact (looking up his credits on IMDB, Mr. Miraglia has only directed six films; a Spaghetti Western and a hand full of crime films). So how do Emilio Miraglia’s only forays into the giallo genre stack up? Let’s examine Arrow Video’s new release titled KILLER DAMES: TWO GOTHIC CHILLERS BY EMILIO P. MIRAGLIA and find the F out!
First up we have THE NIGHT EVELYN CAME OUT OF THE GRAVE. Alan Cunningham is the Lord of a crumbling English estate… he’s also newly released from an asylum following the death of his wife during childbirth, Evelyn. Seems Alan caught his ol’ lady cheating on him and went all Pat Jr. from SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK, and it goes without saying that Lord Cunningham still has some issues he’s dealing with. So to compensate, Alan lures hot babes that look like his dead wife home to his pad, which has its own torture chamber. Here Alan may or may not kill them. Our hero, everyone! It’s an interesting twist making nutty old Alan our protagonist. At a swinging party Alan meets Gladys (giallo regular and hottie Marina Malfatti). And they get married like the next day! Ahhh the ’70s. Alan thinks this marriage is the key to you know, getting sane and what not; but this being a horror film, we know that ain’t going to happen. Soon people start getting offed by a mysterious killer, and a zombified Evelyn shows up to strain Alan’s already fragile mental state.
THE NIGHT EVELYN CAME OUT OF THE GRAVE goes to great lengths to play with viewers expectations, from Alan’s mental state, to whether his wife is truly dead or not, to if there is truly something supernatural afoot; you’re never quite sure what’s happening (and by the end of the film there’s still a few things left unanswered). EVELYN is a nice blending of giallo and gothic horror, and Miraglia creates some great surreal imagery at times here. The kills are nicely done, they’re stylish but not over the top. The score by Bruno Nicolai is a thing of beauty as well; all groovy and haunting at the same time. Bottom line; the plot doesn’t always add up but he film is always fun to watch.
Up next is THE RED QUEEN KILLS SEVEN TIMES. Sisters Kitty and Eveline Wildenbrück don’t exactly get along growing up. Their grandfather, Tobias, worries the girls will enact the curse of the Red Queen; where one sister will end up killing the other as well as six other victims (which in a brilliant stroke ol’ Gramps tells the sisters which in no way would put ideas into their twisted lil’ skulls). Fourteen years later, Tobias dies of a heart attack when a mysterious figure visits his bedroom one night. Everyone gathers at the estate for the will reading, save for Eveline who’s run off to America (or Kitty killed her… guess which one is true). Good thing T-man laid down the ground work for that deviltry. Anyway, soon a cackling madwoman in a red cloak is killing those in Kitty’s close proximity. Is the curse real? Or is it some greedy bastard out to make the Benjamins?
RED QUEEN is a more straight-up giallo then EVELYN; there’s blackmail, greedy relatives, inept cops, and plenty of red herrings. Of the two films, RED QUEEN is my favorite; as it’s colorful, the story never drags, the killings are brutal (death by VW!), and last but not least The Red Queen herself is a visually striking killer, laughing madly and running around full tilt with a cape trailing behind her. There’s another top notch score by Bruno Nicolai, and a large amount of gorgeous actresses (man that Sybil Danning. Hubba hubba).
There’s the flicks themselves, but what of the special features? Well, each Blu has brand new goodies as well as archive features containing the “NoShame” extras from the old DVD box set. Each film has brand new commentary tracks, new interviews, and a tribute to each film by writer/critic Stephen Thrower. You also get DVDs of each film, reversible sleeves for the combo cases, and an all-new 60-page booklet.
If you’re a fan of the giallo genre or Italian cinema in general, this set is highly recommended.
One last terror tidbit… have you heard of the upcomin’ fright flick CLOWN? Seems like everyone is anticipatin’ this creepy lil’ number… Well, slap yer eerie eyeballs on this clip to see what all the excitement is about!