Friday, December 31, 2010

'Killjoy 3': Best Band production in a decade

Killjoy 3 (2010)
Starring: Trent Haaga, Spiral Jackson, Jessica Whitaker, Darrow Igus, Victoria De Mare, Al Burke, Olivia Dawn York, and Michael Rupnow
Director: John Lechago
Producers: Charles Band, Henry Luk, and Tai Chan Ngo
Rating: Six of Ten Stars

Four college students (Jackson, Rupnow, Whitaker, and York) become the latest victims of the demonic clown Killjoy (Haaga) when they inadvertently place themselves in his clutches. Killjoy, together with his newly created clown posse that includes Punchy (Burke) and Batty Boop (De Mare), is seeking revenge on their professor (Igus), who is in turn seeking to control Killjoy for his own mysterious reasons.

Finally, a film that is a solid reversal of the ten-year downward-trend that's been evident in the vast majority of Charles Band production. Not only is this a really fun movie, but it's what the original "Killjoy" film SHOULD have been!

As 2010 has wore on, I have been growing increasingly depressed in regards to the future outlook of my favorite source of movie madness--the Charles Band Film Factory. After two less-than-impressive sequels to films from his glory days--Demonic Toys 2 and Puppet Master: Axis of Evil--and a dearth of decent finds as I turned to Band's more obscure efforts in collaboration with producer JR Bookwalter, I was getting ready to call this blog "good enough" and turn it into an archive.

But then the good people at Full Moon Features sent me a little care package, which included "Killjoy 3", their final release of 2010... and my hope for more Full Moon viewing in the future has been restored!

"Killjoy 3" is not only the movie that the original "Killjoy" should have been--a weird and colorful romp of evil clown-driven supernatural murder and mayhem--but it also captures the darkly humorous mood of classic Full Moon films like "Demonic Toys", and "The Creeps". It's a fast-moving, sharply focused story that doesn't waste a second of screen time and which keeps accelerating and growing more intense and insane until it reaches its gory climax. And writer/director John Lechago even manages to throw in some bits of characterization for both the demons and the victims without slowing the film, making this one of the best scripts for a Full Moon feature in a while. Heck, it even features a denouement that is dramatically appropriate and not just a half-assed sequel set-up.

A large portion of the credit for this film's success rests with Trent Haaga and Victoria De Mare, half of the demonic clown act that kills its way through the the college kids who get caught between Killjoy and the professor that is the object of his wrath. Although Haaga didn't originate the role of Killjoy, he makes a vastly superior killer clown to Angel Vargas from the first film. Vargas was one of the best things about "Killjoy", but he his performance was unfunny and more annoying than scary... he only looked as good as he did, because everything else was completely awful. Haaga on the other is both hilarious and scary, often both at the same time. He has some nice lines and he delivers them with great gusto. The same is true of De Mare, who plays a succubus in clown make-up; writer/director Lechago praises her as "fearless" in the behind-the-scenes material included on the DVD, and she would have to be as her costume consists of hooker boots, a feather boa, and full-body make-up. But in addition to being courageous, she is also able to deliver a performance as crazy and scary as the one given by Haaga. De Mare's best moments as Boop comes during a sequence scene where she is trying to seduce straight-arrow football quarterback Michael Rupnow and him him betray his fidelity to his good-girl girlfriend Jessica Whitacker, while Whitacker is trying to trick Killjoy by pretending to seduce him. De Mare, like Haaga, is both scary and funny during these scenes.

Other nice performances come from Spiral Jackson (as shy football player Zilla) and Al Burke as Punchy the Clown, especially during the scene where Zilla tries to convince Punchy that it's time for him to throw of the yoke of servitude to Killjoy and fight for the emancipation of demonic clowns everywhere.

Finally, Darrow Igus turns in another excellent performance for Full Moon as the enigmatic Professor. The plot twist and tie-back to the first "Killjoy" film wouldn't have been nearly as effective is a lesser actor had been cast in that part

However, as fun and enjoyable as this film is, it's not perfect.

Although demonic realm of Killjoy is far better realized in this film, it still feels cramped due to the film's small sets and budget. Also budget is the one truly weak spot in the film--the demonic clown known as Freakshow (and played by producer Tai Chan Ngo). The character is supposed to be a conjoined twin, but the person supposedly growing out of his side is a virtually unaltered, off-the-shelf baby doll. The film would have been much stronger if this character had been cut, since it add anything significant to the story and there wasn't money to do it right.

On the flip-side of this, I felt like the film would have benefited from a little more set-up of the main characters. While Lechago took more time to do this than in any other Full Moon film in recent memory, there were still some elements that could have done with a little more development. For example, one of the girls (played by Olivia Dawn York) is presented as the "slutty one" by inference in some of Killjoy's comments, yet there is no actual evidence of this in the film. Everything surrounding this character would have been so much stronger if it had been her caught with a guy in the closet during the film's opening scenes, even more-so if she was being "eaten" by the guy. Everything surrounding her would make more sense and be more dramatically appropriate.

Despite these flaws, however, this is a film I feel great about recommending to all fans of classic Full Moon efforts. This final film of 2010 gives me hope for Charles Band and his co-horts for 2011 and beyond.

Click here to check out the "Saturday Scream Queen" profile for Victoria De Mare at the Terror Titans blog.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

'Kiss Daddy Goodnight' is a movie to sleep through

Kiss Daddy Goodnight (1987)
Starring: Uma Thurman, Paul Dillon, and Paul Richards
Director: Peter Ily Huemer
Rating: Three of Ten Stars

Laura (Thurman) is a teenaged model who augments her meager earnings by picking up wealthy men at gigs and art galleries, drugging them, and then stealing and selling valuable art objects from their homes. It's a nice living until she becomes the love object of a crazy old man (Richards) who will stop at nothing to make her his and his alone.

"Kiss Daddy Goodnight" is one of the dullest movies I've ever sat through. While the characters and acting are appropriate for the film-noir movie the filmmakers were trying to make, the glacial pace and unfocused story is not. It's not until about the halway point that any sort of menace or threat to Laura starts to develope, but what little tension and excietment this generates in the film quickly evaporates when the attention is shifted to the go-nowhere storyline of Laura's small-time thief, wanna-be musician friend's efforts to start a new band. The film would have been slow-moving enough without that pointless, plot, amd it becomes downright glacial in pace when it gets added to the mix.

By the time the film gets focused and gets interesting--in the last 15 or so minutes--most viewers will already have noddded off.

"Kiss Daddy Goodnight" is a film that can safely be ignored by everyone but Uma Thurman fans on the magnitude of the stalker who persues her character in the film; it marks Thurman's first film appearance. I promise you, watching the shadows creep across the sidewalk as the sun moves in the sky is more interesting than this film. It's obscurity is well deserved.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

'Sabbath' is full of good concepts but still fails

While straightening up my office, I found some movies I'd misfiled. For who-knows-what-reason, I'd put about half a dozen DVDs in my "Watched" drawer when I had done nothing of the sort!

I'll be trying to get to those movies as soon as possible, but by way of setting the stage for one of those upcoming reviews, here's an Oldie But a Goodie that originally appeared at

Sabbath (2008)
Starring: Ashley Gallo, Bobby Williams, David Crawford, Rob Holmes, Cory Wisberger, and Cheyenne Stewart
Director: William Victor Schotten
Rating: Three of Ten Stars

Geller (Gallo), Mack, (Williams), and a trio of oddball misfits (Crawford, Holmes, and Wisberger) struggle to join forces and stay alive as the dead rise from their graves. They are, literally, the last five living beings on Earth, as it is Judgement Day and angelic beings and shadowy demons are prowling around them, waiting and watching for one final event to occur.

"Sabbath" is a low-budget zombie picture that shows every indication of being made with dedication and heart. The best part is that there was a fair degree of talent at work in the cinematography department. It even has a number of appealing aspects as far as the story goes. Unfortunately, it's simply not very good. It is a tie between this film and "Revolt of the Zombies" for the Dullest Zombie Movie I've Ever Seen Award.

Basically, the film suffers from all the usual flaws that are often found in horror movies at this level. Establishing shots go on forever. Lots of scenes of characters running, walking, or standing in forests with nothing else really going on. Lame fight scenes that might have been less lame if a) the director had attempted less of them, and b) more rehearsal time had gone into staging them--the climactic battle in the churchyard wold have been so much better if it had been concentrated into about half or one-third of the time it takes in the existing film. The actors mostly seem lethargic, as if they are at a rehearsal instead of actually making the movie. Almost every scene continues well past the point where it should have ended. There's also the sloppiness and shortcuts taken where just a little extra effort or investment would have improved things immensely--like giving the Angel of Death a scythe that looked like it might actually cut something, and dressing the demons in black tights instead of black jeans and sneakers.

In fact, "Sabbath" would have been far less boring if the director had recognized that he was stretching about 45 minutes of movie to nearly twice that length. It also would have been less boring if the script had seen a couple more revisions and if it had ended up with a little more sound logic to underpin the fact that the five main characters in the film aren't the
final five living beings on Earth by accident.

Late in the film (VERY late) we learn that all five characters had some part to play in the accidental death of Geller's daughter. The Angel of Death and some other angel (the Angel of Mercy? Archangel Michael? It's never named, but it's played by Cheyenne Stewart) are waiting to judge let just one of them into Heaven as the last soul before the gates close forever. However, the timing of the little girl's death as given in the film makes no sense, as she supposedly died two full weeks prior to the events of the film. We are to believe that on the ENTIRE planet Earth, no other events of that nature occurred for two weeks? The film would have been far stronger if the death of the little girl had occurred the day before the Judgement Day instead of weeks prior, as the notion of these five people needing to be judged "after the fact" would have made more sense.

I really wish I could like this movie more, because it has some aspects to it I really enjoyed.

I liked mystery of the grim reaper, the angel, and the evil spirits (or demons, whatever they were) creeping about or even assisting the film's main characters unseen by them; that's something I've never seen in a zombie picture before. One of the film's best moments happens when the Grim Reaper smites a zombie just as it was about to attack Bobby Williams, and he is then left trying to figure out why the zombie just keeled over. I also liked the way the film overtly got into the the mystical Judgement Day aspects of mass-zombie attacks instead of presenting it as one character's superstition and then dismissing it with a scientific explanation. I also liked the very end of the movie, even if I 'm a bit unsure of what exactly the director was trying to convey.

The best thing I can say about "Sabbath" is that it kept me watching. The bit with the angels, demons, and a mystical Judgement Day unfolding around the characters gave this zombie flick an unusual dimension. In fact, that whole aspect of the film may make it worth checking out for experienced watchers of the zombie genre.

'The Lost Books of Eve' is Great Biblical Fantasy

The Lost Books of Eve, Vol. 1 (Viper Comics, 2008)
Story and Art: Josh Howard
Rating: Nine of Ten Stars

At the very beginning of Existence, the Garden of Eden stands at its center, as a place of peace and tranquility and home to God's favorite creations--the first humans, Adam and Eve--while all manner of beasts and supernatural beings in between roam everywhere else. But when Adam is abducted from the Garden, Eve leaves the safety of her Paradise to find and rescue him. Her quest to reunite with her beloved Adam brings pits her against fallen angels, demons, and even worse creatures... and her search for Adam soon becomes a search for knowledge that will eventually put humanity in its proper place in God's Creation.

Art by Josh Howard
This slim graphic novel collects all for issues of Josh Howard's mini-series of the same title. As of this writing, it is out of print and it is the only collected series from this fine talent that has not been given a new edition, unlike his signature series "Dead@17" and his alien conspiracy tale "Black Harvest".

And this is a shame, because "The Lost Books of Eve" is not only the most intelligent work Howard has produced yet, but it is also the best showcase so far of a central feature of his fluid, cartoony artwork: Howard has a great gift for drawing female characters that seem frail and vulnerable while at the same time you have a feeling they can kick your ass if they put their minds to it. He has a talent for drawing and writing strong female characters without making them hyper-sexualized or somehow masculine... he captures the ideal feminine image in his work.

And is characterization of Eve, Mother of All Humanity, is the perfect example of a Howard female. She is beautiful without being sexualized--despite the fact she, naturally, spends the book in little or no clothing--and she possesses an innocent and vulnerable quality even while showing herself to be a ferocious fighter and possessed with an iron will when challenged. Driven first by love, then by a need for knowledge and a desire to understand, Eve is a perfect fantasy heroine.

But as great a character as Eve is, what makes this book truly excellent is that Howard spins his tale between verses in the Old Testament's "Book of Genesis" without attacking the Scriptures that so many people hold sacred. It's makes for a far more interesting read, and is a far more creative endeavor, than the approaches that have been standard fare in recent decades: Comics creators tend to either crap all over the stories of the Bible, or they adhere so slavishly to them that there's no point in reading their stuff, because King James already commissioned something far better than they could ever come up with.

In "The Lost Books of Eve", Howard tells a completely original story without violating the Bible in any way; it is the foundation upon which his stories are built and he wisely does not try to undermine it. The creativity with which he places Eve (and the hapless and slightly dim-witted Adam) in a fantasy universe that feels like a natural extension of the Old Testament, as well as the mythologies of other cultures from which he incorporates bits and pieces, is something that deserved far more recognition and commercial success than the project apparently received.

I wish there would be a "Lost Books of Eve" Vol. 2, because I would love to see the end of the beginning of Eve's story--since we all know how it ultimately ends. Unfortunately, I doubt that Howard will be returning to the Dawn of Creation any time soon, as he Howard described a recent installment of his "Dead@17" series as an "unofficial sequel" to this book.

Picture Perfect Wednesday: Eve

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

'The Elongated Man' is good in small doses

DC Showcase Presents: The Elongated Man (DC Comics, 2006)
Writers: Gardner Fox and John Broome
Artists: Carmine Infantino, Sid Green, Joe Giella, Murphy Anderson, Gil Kane, et. al.
Rating: Seven of Ten Stars

"DC Showcase Presents: The Elongated Man" is another huge (500+ pages) low-cost reprint book presenting classic DC Comics stories in black-and-white. This one features the early appearances of the Elongated Man, collection stories from issues of "The Flash" (where the character debuted as a curious superhero competitor to the Fastest Man Alive) and "Detective Comics" were he headlined his own back-up strip.

The Elongated Man is a chemist and amateur detective named Ralph Dibny who gains the power to stretch his body in impossible ways by drinking his own hyper-concentrated variant of a substance sideshow contortionists use to stay limber, Gingold juice. Always hungry for attention, Ralph swiftly gave up on the notion of keeping his identity secret, and one interesting point about the series is that this was the first superhero in the DC stable to dispense with the double-identity mainstay of the genre. He was also the first DC superhero to marry his love interest, Sue.

Aside from a few team-ups with Flash and Kid Flash, the book focuses on Ralph and Sue traveling around the world, enjoying the care-free status of the independently wealthy and solving bizarre mysteries where-ever they go. Not only does Ralph have a bizarre superpower which he uses in bizarre ways--such as elongating his kneecap to smack a thug in the face--but he appears to be a weirdness magnet. Sue, serving as a sort of reader surrogate at times, observes on more than one occasion on how they can't go anywhere without Ralph's mystery-sniffing nose starting to twitch (literally).

Aside from the Flash (and his associated supporting cast), the Elongated Man stories have no recurring characters aside from Ralph and Sue. While that's partly because these are stories that focus far more on gimmicks than character--more on that below--the relationship between the two is about as ideal a marriage that I think has been presented anywhere else in American comics, free of the usual soap operatic twists and turns that haunted Reed & Sue Richards and Barry & Iris Allen over the years. Discounting odd occurrences like Sue's mind being transplanted into the body of a French con-artist and visa-versa, the Dibny never marriage suffered any challenges or stresses more severe than the usual arguments any couple will get into now and then. It's an aspect I believe mature readers--as in adults--will find appealing.

But there are many more aspects of the book that adults will have a far harder time appreciating, as the stories within its pages are definitely written for children,or those very young at heart. The mysteries that the Elongated Man investigates usually have solutions so bizarre that they're the sort of thing I believe only a kid can fully appreciate; if you've ever listened to kids make up stories while playing with their Legos or action figures or dolls, you know exactly what I mean. In fact, the most impressive thing about this collection of stories is the ability that writers Fox and Broome have to get in touch with their inner children. Most writers--including myself, I fear--would say "Nah, that's too silly... I can't possibly write that."

The silliness Elongated Man's adventures were of course part-and-parcel with many of the Julie Schwartz-helmed titles from the 1960s--be they ones featuring Batman or the Flash--but it is extra-concentrated here. So much so that it becomes too much if you read more than two or three of them in a row, or so it was for the 40+ year-old me. I think adults can better appreciate the material here in small doses, even if I am certain that a kid could probably devour the entire book in one or two sittings.

What I never got enough of, however, was the fantastic Carmine Infantino art that graces the first 450 pages of the book without interruption. Infantino's highly stylized artwork is perfect for showcasing the odd nature of Ralph Dibny's powers, as well as for capturing the lighthearted feel of the adventures he has with wife Sue. In fact, the 100 or so pages where readers get the rare treat of seeing Infantino ink his own pencils should be counted among the best work he did during the 1960s.

By way of contrast, stories illustrated in a more naturalistic fashion late in the book, by Neal Adams and Irv Novick fall flat, because they lack that surrealistic feel that Infantino brings to the tales; it's an interesting dichotomy that an artist noted for a knack for giving even round objects sharp edges would be the absolutely right person to illustrate a series about a man who is infinitely fluid.

Trivia: Editor Julie Schwartz, co-creator of the Elongated Man, stated that if he had been aware that DC Comics acquired the rights to Golden Age character Plastic Man in the mid-1950s, he never would have bothered with inventing a new character.

Sandra Bullock: Most Desirable Neighbor

In a season of silly Top Whatever lists, the survey determining what famous person Americans would most like to live next to has got to be the silliest. (Of course, it's intended to be silly; it's undertaken every year as a promotional effort by a Seattle-based real estate firm.)

Sandra Bullock was the most popular wanna-have-as-a-neighbor celebrity with over 25% of all Americans wanting the actress next door... although more than 25% also responded that they didn't want any of the choices in their neighborhood! The full survey results are linked below.

Sandra Bullock Named Most Desirable Celebrity Neighbor for 2010, While Cast of Jersey Shore Voted Least Desirable

Sandra Bullock is welcome to move in next to me any time she wants. I'll even buy the morning mochas every so often.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Picture Perfect: Princesses of Mars, Part One

If you want to know why Santa Claus really wanted to conquer the Martians, all you have to do is look at these portraits of Martian beauties Dejah Thoris and Thuvia. (This is the first of a series of posts that spotlight the most attractive aspects of Edgar Rice Burroughs' classic sci-fi/fantasy tales of adventures on the dying planet of Mars, as seen through the eyes of various artists. Where applicable, click on the linked names for more of the particular artist's work.)

By Chris Samnee

By William Stout
By M.W. Kaluta
By Adam Hughes

Saturday Scream Queen: Joan Collins

Born in 1933, British actress Joan Collins gained imfamy during the 1950s and 1960s for leading a wild and "liberated" life style, a reputation she enhanced by starring in soft core porn films based on the steamy romance novels penned by her sister Jackie Collins during the 1970s.

During the early 1970s, Joan also starred in half a dozen horror films and thrillers, such as "Dark Places", "Tales That Witness Madness", and the classics "Fear in the Night" and "Tales from the Crypt".

As the '70s decade gave way to the 1980s, Collins' career shifted increasingly toward television, and she eventually joined the cast of night-time soap opera "Dynasty", the role she most famous for today.

No need to be bugged by 'Empire of the Ants'

Empire of the Ants (1977)
Starring: John David Carson, Joan Collins, Pamela Susan Shoop, and Robert Lansing
Director: Bert I. Gordon
Rating: Three of Ten Stars

A group of would-be investors and a con artist (Collins) trying to sell worthless swamp land become intended prey for giants ants.

"Empire of the Ants" is perhaps one of the more ridiculous "giant animals on a rampage" movies. If you're a ten-year-old who likes monster movies, you're probably going to find this film exciting and scary. However, if you're any older than that, you're going to be annoyed at the bad creature effects, even worse trick photography, and the stupendous degree to which every cast member over-acts. Either that, or you're going to be so amused at how awful everything about this movie is that you're going to so amused that you'll want to gather some friends together and make the movie the centerpiece of a Bad Movie Night.

The special effects are so sloppily made that it's plain to see that the actors supposedly fighting the giant ants during trick photography sequences are just poking at thin air... and the ants are just being ants. Similarly, there are several scenes of giant ants climbing buildings that are plainly regular-sized ants crawling across photographs of buildings. This is not something little kids are likely to catch, but adults will notice fairly quickly. It's amazing that this film is so ineptly made, given that its director had about half a dozen other creature features focused around giant creatures or people shrunk to tiny sizes where he used tricks similar to the ones he used here. Perhaps there simply wasn't enough time or money to do this right, or maybe he was starting to lose his touch.

The only thing that saves this movie from a Two Rating and being fodder for the Movies You Should (Die Before You) See blog is the fact that it's paced fairly well and the abundance of unintentional hilarity makes it even more watchable if you have a taste for movies so bad they are good.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas to all my readers!

I hope everyone out there is having a great holiday weekend with family and friends. (And if you're one of those people who don't like being wished a Merry Christmas, please accept the alternative well-wishes at my Multi-cultural, Ultra-hip Holiday Page!)

And here are some Christmas tunes and videos for you to enjoy!

(In case you can't tell, "Little Drummer Boy" is one of my favorite Christmas tunes.)

The Christmas Gargoyle that appears outside a friend's house every December!

Fear-filled Phantasms: Christmas Horror

I'm not a big fan of Christmas-oriented horror, even the well-done movies and stories. I like the whole good will, happy-sappy, ho-ho-ho'ing Santa Claus aspect of it all. And the decorated trees and pretty lights. I especially like visiting with friends.

Some feel differently, and that's where the following images of Christmas horror comes in.

Your guess is as good as mine. But it's pretty awful!
Joan Collins pays for being naughty in "Tales from the Crypt"
Perhaps the most iconic Christmas horror image of them all
from "Silent Night, Deadly Night"

But the real Santa were to mix it up with monsters and killers, he'd kick their asses.
Assuming he couldn't fill them with Christmas cheer and get them to change their wicked ways.
(From "Paul Dini's Santa Claus vs. Frankenstein")

'Tales from the Crypt' is a classy, classic anthology film

Tales from the Crypt (1972)
Starring: Joan Collins, Peter Cushing, Nigel Patrick, and Ralph Richardson
Director: Freddie Francis
Rating: Eight of Ten Stars

This anthology film from British horror company Amicus is the original screen adaptation of the "Tales from the Crypt" comic book. And it's a fabulous one--with a fine cast of actors, great camera work, and mostly tight scripting.

From the framing sequence--which features a group of tourists that find themselves stranded inside an ancient tomb where they encounter a mysterious crypt keeper (Richardson)--we know we're in for a treat. The crypt keeper's interaction with the lost tourists is the conceit that brings us into the stories.

The first tale in the film is "All Through the House", in which an evil, scheming wife (Collins) murders her husband on Christmas Eve... only to discover what Father Christmas does to those who have been naughty. There are some great visuals and fabulous contrasts of colors here, not to mention great acting by all featured (even the child actor, which is a rare occurance!)

Next up is "Reflection of Death", perhaps the weakest tale of the bunch, because it feels like it's been padded. It's the tale of a man who gets in a horrible car-wreck but finds that no-one will help him or his mistress after he's crawled from the wreckage. There's a nice, chilling twist in this one, but it takes entirely too long getting there.

The third story, "Poetic Justice", is my favorite of the bunch, and it features horror great Peter Cushing in his most touching (and probably deeply emotional) performance ever. He portrays a lonely widower who is driven to suicide after a pair of cruel businessmen cause him to believe that the neighborhood children, who have been his only joy since the death of his wife, have come to hate him. The poor old man gets his revenge, however, in a way that's fitting of "Tales from the Crypt". (In real life, Cushing himself lost his wife shortly before working on this film. I'm of the opinion that Cushing largely plays himself in this sequence.)

The fourth tale, "Wish You Were Here", is a pretty straight-forward spin on the classic "The Monkey's Paw" story. It is based around the standard of a string of badly worded wishes that backfire tragically and horrifically, but the climax of the story is so terrifying and skin-crawling that it literally had me squirming in my chair. Both as a kid and as an adult, the finale of this story is the one that hits me hardest.

Finally (aside from the creepy wrap-up to the framing sequence), we have "Blind Alley", the tale of a vicious administrator of a home for the blind, who is given a fitting punishment by his charges when they've finally had enough. This one also feels a bit padded and it drags a bit, but there are enough chills and scary moments--not to mention fine acting by Nigel Patrick as the hateful, gluttonous administrator.

"Tales from the Crypt" is a little-seen gem, and I recommend it highly to anyone who thinks fondly of British horror films from the Sixties and Seventies.

Brandi bryant

Bailey black

Ava milano

Ashley lowe

Angelina leigh

Amber jay

Amanda barbara

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

'Trailer Park of Terror' is trashy, gory fun

Trailer Park of Terror (2008)
Starring: Nichole Hiltz, Jeanette Brox, Brock Chuchna, Stefanie Black, Matthew Del Negro, and Trace Adkins
Director: Steven Goldman
Rating: Six of Ten Stars

When a bus-load of troubled teens on a church retreat crash during a rain-storm, the passengers and their chaparone (Del Negro) take refuge at a nearby trailer park. Unfortunately for them, the trailer park is merely the ghostly reflection of a murderous den of hillbilly criminals that died in a gory, revenge-fueled massacre decades earlier. They now re-inact their brutal ways on hapless travelers, under the command of Norma (Hiltz), one of their victims who has turned victimizer thanks to a deal with the devil (Adkins).

"Trailer Park of Terror" has something for just about every horror fan. It takes nearly every disgusting thing you've seen in a Killer Hicks movie from the 1970s forward and combines them with a sadistic sense of humor that will put you in mind films like "Spider Baby" and "Re-Animator", as well as slightly more modern off-kilter horror features like "From Dusk 'Til Dawn". Further, the ghosts mostly manifest themselves as disgusting walking corpses, so lovers of zombie films will have something to sink their metaphorical teeth into, while admirers of Torture Porn flicks will get to watch one victim get her arm sawed off while tripping so high she doesn't notice until after the fact, and another victim is turned into jerky meat while still alive. And then there's the horny teens that are forced to be the stars of a snuff flick.

I'm not a big fan of mean-spirited and sadistic horror films, so there was quite a bit about "Trailer Park of Terror" I didn't care for. I also like my gory ghost movies and slasher flicks to have a "morality tale" aspect to them, and when they don't--or it's a weak part of the film, as it is here--the film invariably loses me, so that was another reason for me not to like this flick.

However, this thing is so well-written and so finely acted by everyone involved that I couldn't help but like it. Virtually all the characters are so purely one-note and cliched with the hillbilly ghosts  that combining them all in one place manages to breath a form of demented freshness into the film--the writers didn't even try to expand the victims beyond horny teen, asshole teen, druggie teen, and so on; nor to give the ghosts more definition than rapist redneck, robber redneck, cannibal redneck, and so on.

The only character with even the slightest depth to her is Norma, who in life was the only non-psychotic inhabitant of the trailer park... at least until she decided she had enough of them and gunned them all down and killed herself. But the facets to the Norma character never manifests itself quite in the way one expects as the film unfolds, something which becomes which is highlighted and becomes even more interesting due to the plethora of one-note stereotypes that otherwise inhabit the film. It also helps, of course, that Hiltz is a better actress than her repeated casting as a white-trash bimbo (here, and in the television series "The Riches" and "In Plain Sight") warrants. I'd like to see in more horror movies, and in different roles than what she seems to be playing over and over.

The only real down-side that I saw to this film is its somewhat disorganized structure. It starts with an extended sequence in the past and then interrupts the present with a couple of extended flashbacks that both fill in back story but also stand alone to some extent, giving the film the fell of a half-baked anthology. Given the film is based on the anthology comic book series "Trailer Park of Terror", I understand why the filmmakers wanted to make a nod in the direction of their source, but I just wish they had done it in a less choppy fashion.

In the final analysis, though, "Trailer Park of Terror" is well worth watching.

Picture Perfect Wednesday: Christmas Visitor for Naughty Kids

In 1925, a young Joan Crawford posed for this Christmas-themed publicity photo. It doesn't have the playful air these things usually have. I can't quite decide whether she looks unhappy, stern, or angry. I imagine they were going for seductive, but Crawford didn't manage to project that.

So, what is going on in the photo?

For me, this picture portrays the elf who visits really naughty kids on Christmas Eve and takes gifts they got from people other than Santa and either leaves coal or broken toys in their place.

(What? You thought I was going somewhere else?)