Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Short Film: Red Nightmare (USA, 1962)

Original entitled Freedom and You, Red Nightmare is vintage US propaganda ala the Twilight Zone — only instead of Rod Serling, you get Jack Webb.
Made for the US government by Warner Bros, Red Nightmare stars a then-cast of TV Who's Who (most now unknown to the average millennial) and was directed by George Waggner (7 Sept 1894 – 11 Dec 1984), an early actor (his film debut was alongside some guy named Rudolph Valentino in The Sheik [1921 / full film]) who ended his years as a TV director; somewhere in between, he also directed such movies as Man Made Monster (1941 / trailer / full movie), Horror Island (1941 / trailer / full film), the classic The Wolf Man (1941 / trailer) and, The Climax (1944 / trailer), a Karloff film featuring Turhan Bey.
The plot, as given by Through the ShatteredLens:  "Jerry Donavon (Jack Kelly of Cult of the Cobra [1955 / trailer], Forbidden Planet [1956 / trailer], She Devil [1957 / full film]) and The Human Tornado [1976 / trailer) takes his freedom for granted.  So, Jack Webb shows up and casts a magic spell, which causes Jerry to have a dream about what it would be like to live in a communist society.  In fact, you could even say that Jack Webb gives Jerry a red nightmare! [...] A histrionic but sincere time capsule of what was going on in the psyche of 1962 America."
Scriptwriter Vincent Fotre (14 Feb 1901 – 20 Dec 1975), who had previously conscripted the classic non-classic Missile to the Moon (1958 / trailer), went on to write to the stories cult favs Baron Blood (1972 / trailer) and Night of the Witches (1970 / trailer).
Red Nightmare:
One can't help but wonder what the Russian-fearing conservatives of yesterday would think about having a Conservative president helped into the White House by Russia. (They'd probably tweet "Sad!" — or maybe, like our Dad, leave the Republican Party after over 60 years.)
For your reading pleasure —
not from the movie:

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Nemesis (USA, 1992)




OK, we admit it: we have a weak spot for Albert Pyun movies ever since we caught his directorial debut, The Sword and the Sorcerer (1982 / trailer), in a double feature with Beim Jodeln juckt die Lederhose (1974 / full movie), complete with Spanish subtitles, at some long-gone grindhouse down the street from Langer's Deli on Alvarado. Then and there we knew that we had found a contemporary B-movie master, a director with enough talent to both write an entertainingly trashy script and direct with enough visual flair that the obvious low budget becomes only an added cheesy seasoning. (It also didn't hurt that the move featured both Richard Lynch [12 Feb 1940 – 19 June 2012] and the once-hunkadelic George Maharis, seen below not from the movie, two of our favorite "unknown" actors.)
 
Since then, we've seen a number of Pyun's movies, and while they might feature less breast and fewer cult names and has-beens than, say, Fred Olen Ray, they are indubitably far better directed and way more entertaining, even when the script is as equally lax, acting just as shoddy, and the budget almost as low. (Dollman [1991 / trailer], anyone?)

For a while, Pyun was an extremely active man, churning out as many as five films in one year — in 1992, however, he only released two features: the less-than-commendable experiment, Deceit (final scene), and Nemesis, which has proven to be one of his most enduringly popular and well-received films. Easy to see why, for this flick is definitely one craptastically entertaining cyberpunk flick, even if it does lose its theme somewhere amidst all the action.

Taking a sizable amount of Blade Runner (1982 / trailer) and a liberal dose of Terminator (1984 / trailer), Nemesis is a good ol' fashioned man versus machine action flick set in a dystopian future, one where most of the landscape is either lush or burnt and everyone — including little old grannies — has a gun. Now and then Nemesis poses existential questions about what makes a human "human" and when is one just a machine, but while this theme does raise its hand every so often to let the viewer know it's still there, for the most part this and other themes generally get lost in what is probably some of the most non-stop action ever found in a movie not made in Hong Kong.

OK, we'll admit that our DVD was pretty fucked: hazy and boxed, it looked as if it were copied from some ten-year-old VHS, but even the low-grade quality couldn't take the edge off of some truly great action sequences, explosions, and shootouts — the last all the more ballistic since, in the future that is that of Nemesis, weapons never have to be reloaded and one has to shoot a hundred rounds to hit anything further away than two yards.

Though set somewhere in 2027 — ten years hence, by now — everyone wears 1990s high style. And you know what? It doesn't really look all that bad anymore, especially on the babes: no way would we tell Rosaria (Jennifer Gatti) not to sit at our table, much less would we shoot her dead, even if she did insist that we were nothing but an android. (Women have said worse to us.)

True, she did try to kill our intrepid hero earlier in the movie, but hell: he'd just wiped out her entire team. But at that point in the tale, Alex (the beefcakey Olivier Gruner, of Soft Target aka Crooked [2006]) was a cop on the job and 86.5% human, fully convinced he was doing good for mankind. Only later, after he becomes even less human and suffers an intense case of burnout, does he begin to question his life and work — at which point his old boss Commissioner Farnsworth (the eternally underrated character actor Tim Thomerson, of Fade to Black [1980 / trailer], Cherry 2000 [1987 / trailer], and way, way more) — implants a bomb on his heart and forces him to find his former android handler and lover, Jared (Marjorie Monaghan), who seems to have joined the underground.

In all truth, for all the talk about how "Alex is the best", he sure seems to get shot a lot, and with so many bad guys always so close on his tail and hidden around every corner, it seems odd that anyone would need him to find anyone. But the plethora of non-characters — familiar faces that come and go in the movie include genre faves Brion James and Cary Hiroyuki-Tagawa — does allow for a lot of chase scenes, shootouts, stunts, and deaths.

One dispensable non-character who shows up for all of five minutes is Billy, played by a young "Tom Janes" (aka Thomas "Hung" Jane), whom we never see dressed and who spends most of the time displaying his pre-Nautilus butt to the viewer. He disappointed us greatly by not asking, unlike Dolly Sharp aka Helen Wood in a somewhat similar situation in an earlier, more-famous movie, "Do you mind if I smoke while you're eating?"

Needless to say, Jared went rouge because though an android, she found something human within herself. But even as she found her humanity, she lost her form — it is more her "presence", her "soul" you might say, that ends up helping Alex rediscover his humanity, even as her presence raises yet another existential question: to what extent are we ourselves simply due to our memories, and if they are copied, is that copy us? (A question handled with far greater intelligence and restraint in the excellent German sci-fi flick Transfer [2010 / German trailer].)

Nemesis suffers somewhat from its elliptical plot development, which tends to jump about like a frog on a hotplate, and the plethoria characters that come and go. For that, it has hot babes, great locations, and yitloads of well-staged, over-the-top action and explosions, if perhaps one too many chase scenes and shootouts that last too long. Gruner only kicks butt about once or twice — not much for a guy known for kickboxing — but for that he shoots up half the world, which also shoots back. How he ever manages to keep his face and chest as cleanly shaven as he does is beyond us, for he never seems to have a moment's peace anywhere in the movie. Former TV sex symbol Deborah Shelton (of Blood Tide [1982 / trailer]) shows up for a short time as the android Julian to drive the plot forward before going down in a hail of bullets; she has a nude scene and, interestingly enough, her obvious breast implants even serve to emphasize her character, as she plays an artificial human, if one that (like Jared) has discovered her humanity.
Towards the end of Nemesis, director/scriptwriter Pyun* seems to become indecisive about resolution of the flick, for he sticks in a few too many false ones. Nevertheless, Nemesis is great B-movie fodder which, as good B-movie fodder should, goes well with a six pack and chips.
Filmed with alternative endings, the Nemesis we saw infers that the battle against the cybernetic world Alex is now undertaking is still open; another ending, which is tacked on the versions lacking the final Terminator-inspired fight in an airplane cargo hold, infers that Alex won't live long after the final credits. Regardless of the ending seen, the "official" sequels that followed — Nemesis 2: Nebula (1995 / trailer), Nemesis III: Prey Harder (1996 / trailer) and Nemesis 4: Death Angel (1997 / trailer) — occur in a timeline in which Alex (and humans) loses the battle.
Pyun (and another director, Michael Schroeder) also explored the world of Nemisis in other "semi"-sequels, namely: Knights aka Cyborg Warriors (1993 / trailer) and Omega Doom (1996 / trailer), not to mention in the alternative cyborg world of Cyborg (1989 / trailer), Cyborg 2 (1993 / trailer), Cyborg 3 (1994 / trailer) and the yet-to-be-released Cyborg Nemesis: The Dark Rift (20?? / trailer).
* "Rebecca Charles", the credited screenwriter, is merely a pseudonym.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Organ (Japan, 1996)

Thank our non-existent god for Wikipedia. If you really don't know what the fuck the film you just saw was about, Wikipedia is normally there to tell you at least the basics. So, after we finished screening our murky DVD of this obscure Japanese "biopunk classic", off to the computer we went to find out that Organ (more or less) tells the tale of "Two undercover detectives, Numata and Tosaka, [who] infiltrate a plastic-covered den where they discover a gang of organ thieves led by the teacher Saeki and his one-eyed sister Yoko (Kei Fujiwara), who are cutting open a victim who is still alive. After a gun battle ensues, Tosaka is captured and Numata escapes. Saeki works at a girls' school where he offers private lessons to teens whom he later harvests for organs. We learn later that Saeki's mother bit off his genitals when he was young and, like his victims, Saeki is now rotting away."
Wow. Sounds intriguing. But it isn't.
Why? Well, assuming that it wasn't the DVD transfer that sucked — after all, it came with a slipcase and "Four Collector's Cards" so it wasn't bootleg or illegal — then the cinematography sure did: often, it was so murky it was like watching a film through a very dirty car windshield on foggy night. And then the acting: when it wasn't stiff, it was silent-film level. Particularly the guy who played Numata would often glare into the camera and pull faces — whether of terror or of constipation we know not, nor for what reason. Indeed, often one is left with the feeling that he was simply following the off-camera orders of someone who decided that something, anything, had to happen at that moment, reason be damned. (That, we imagine, would be director Kei Fujiwara, who does a half-way decent if one-dimensional and occasionally beady-eyed job as the one-eyed villainess Yoko and who, seven years before Organ, directed the indefinitely better B&W sci-fi horror classic Tetsuo: The Iron Man [1989 / trailer below].)
Other problems with Organ are that it truly has too many storylines and too many characters. If the basic thread is that of a policeman searching for his partner, that narrative gets lost often within the tale of the brother and sister — or rather, "tales", as their past is also revealed — and tangents involving corrupt cops, disharmonious family life (do the Japanese really just piss on newspaper in their apartments?), the school situation of the organ-harvesting bio-teacher brother who has a penchant for killing the girls he has sex with (considering his mother bit off his dick as a kid, one wonders how he fucks), a poorly identified twin brother (of the missing cop, who spends most of the time armless and legless and half bio-mass in a box), the various bio-infections and skin conditions suffered by this and that person, and the organ-dealing yakuza. Perhaps if one were to watch the movie two or three times, the various plot lines would tie together in a bow of sorts, however loosely, but the movie is hardly interesting enough to watch once, let alone multiple times.
Like Tetsuo, Organ is more art film than anything else, but whereas Tetsuo has an energy and drive and visual and technical creativity that engages the viewer, Organ lacks everything but for an occasional shocking idea and some bizarre imagery. Suspense is non-existence, as is any form of character identification. As a viewer, you can do little but let the movie wash over you, but even then there is a good chance that the dirge might put you to sleep. (Of the group of five that watched this movie when we did, Organ did exactly that with two of us.) And by dirge, we mean the movie: the music of the music is actually pretty good.
One could, were one feeling forgiving, say that the movie is ever-so-slightly reminiscent of a David Lynch film, but one would also have to add "on a very bad day." There is an obvious penchant for the perverse and the unnerving interlaced throughout Organ, only its presentation is extremely poor and uninvolving. For all its cheap attempts to shock and awe, little remains remembered a few hours later. Organ is, so to speak, an exceedingly unmemorable for a movie that so obviously wants to stick in your mind.
"Biopunk", maybe; "classic", definitely not.
Trailer to a Real Classic —
Tetsuo: The Iron Man:

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Herschell Gordon Lewis – Godfather Of Gore, Part VIII: 2009–2010



15 June 1926 — 26 September 2016

"He seen somethin' different. And he done it."

A seminal force in the world of trash filmmaking, he is considered the inventor of the modern gore film. (In theory, a position he holds with David F. Friedman, but when the partnership ended Friedman's true interest proved to be sexploitation.) To use his own, favorite words: "I've often compared Blood Feast (1963) to a Walt Whitman poem; it's no good, but it was the first of its kind." And a truly fun gore film, too — which makes it "good" in our view.
Unlike Blood Feast and his "better movies", many of the projects he worked on are unbearable cinematic experiences; but more than enough of the others are sublime, otherworldly, like the best of Ed Wood, Juan Piquer Simón or John Waters. Were it not for innovators like him, A Wasted Life probably wouldn't be.
One of the truly great has left the building.
The films below are not necessarily presented in the order they were made and/or released.

Go here for Part I: 1953-60.
Go here for Part II: 1961-63.
Go here for Part III: 1964-66.
Go here for Part IV: 1967-68.
Go here for Part V: 1969-72.
Go here for Part VI: 1973-98.
Go here for Part VII: 2002-08.



The Uh-Oh Show
(2009, writ. & dir. H.G. Lewis)
 
German title: The Splatter Show. Shot in beautiful St. Petersburg, Florida, USA where our parental units once built a beach-front house in the days of JFK, but sold it way before we ourselves even had peach fuzz. But we remember the liking it as wee child.
Over at Punk Globe, the millionaire senior himself explains the movie: "The Uh-Oh Show (originally Grim Fairy Tale) is a blend of off-the wall gore and off-the-wall humor. My intention is to bridge the gap between the usual splatter-film and conventional movies. The plot centers around the ultimate reality show, 'Uh-Oh!' When the network asks for a second show, the wily producer's idea is dramatization of fairy tales … with the endings dramatically changed." HGL even makes a not-to-be-overlooked if uncredited appearance in the movie.
Trailer to
The Uh-Oh Show:
On their HG Lewis page, Worldwide Celluloid Massacre rates the movie as "Of Some Interest", claiming: "This has got to be the only splatter movie made by an 80 year old. Not only that, but it's great fun. [...] For the first 20-30 minutes, this may be his best work, but then it becomes the usual Lewis campy so-bad-its-good stuff. This is a silly satire on TV by way of a game show that dismembers its contestants when they get an answer wrong. A spin of the wheel decides what organ will be chainsawed off by Radial Saw Rex (Broward 'Eclipse' Holsey), and it's time for the audience to cover themselves with plastic. Uh-oh! Don't worry though, they will get their body parts re-attached later, or will they? When the executives decide to take it to the next level, the weary host of the show (Brooke McCarter), and a reporter (Nevada Caldwel) who got her boyfriend's head chopped off in the show, fight back. Think Network (1976 / trailer) by way of Wizard of Gore (1970 / see Part V) and Running Man (1987 / trailer). [...] Kaufman makes an amusing appearance as a pushy pimp with tips for his hookers, Lewis himself appears as a man who tells gory stories to children, and the splatter is over-the-top and all in the name of silly, bad, cheaply provocative fun. We wouldn't want it any other way from you Herschell."
Brooke McCarter (22 April 1963 — 22 December 2015), some of you might remember — but probably not — was the former Ford Agency model who had a sizable part as one of the teen vamps in the "classic" vamp flick The Lost Boys (1987 / trailer) and then sort of disappeared. We imagine Nevada Caldwel is a housewife by now. Broward 'Eclipse' Holsey has a day job; one wonders if his father was a boxer. The production of the movie is credited to both Film Ranch International, which went on the make gore-heavy Brainjacked (2009 / trailer), and Lion's Kill Productions, which made the documentary Herschell Gordon Lewis and the Making of the Uh-Oh Show (2011).
Trailer to
Herschell Gordon Lewis & the Making of the Uh-Oh Show:
To say that The Uh-Oh Show got limited distribution would be an understatement, and while it has yet to garner a broader DVD audience, most of the few who saw it and wrote about it seemed to have liked it. One vocal exception, however, is Nick Cato at Cinema Knife Fight, who called the movie a "celluloid atrocity". His cohort of the evening, L.L. Soares, was just as unimpressed, and points out something we tend to agree with but would hardly let bother us: "[The] plot twist makes absolutely NO SENSE. They've got a hit game show. So they go on another network and instead of doing another violent game show, which is what people obviously want, they do a fairy-tale show where that annoying corporate slimebag, Fred Finagler, with his sidekick Coco (Lauren Schmier), reads from a book while horror versions of fairy tales are reenacted. What do fairy tales have to do with a game show? Looks to me like Herschell might have started making Grim Fairy Tales, stopped half-way through, and then combined that story with The Uh-Uh Show for some bizarre reason. The two plots have absolutely nothing in common except for Fred and Coco. And if there was a real  Uh-Uh Show, and I was a fan (which I probably would be), I’d be pretty annoyed if my show went off the air and was replaced by a lame fairy tale show!"


Capitalism: A Love Story
(2009, writ. & dir. Michael Moore) 


"I sincerely believe... that banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies."
Thomas Jefferson
(Deist, Slave Owner & Founding Father)

Considering all the people who have given "Special Thanks" to HGL somewhere amidst the credits of their film projects, is it really all that surprising that one of America's most intelligent, entertaining and divisive documentary filmmakers does likewise? Well, actually, yeah — unless, of course, you consider the fact that as one of the leading experts of "direct advertising", HGL is linked to capitalism far beyond his exploitation movies. In any event, HGL does not appear as a talking head.
Trailer to
Capitalism – A Love Story:



Super Undead Doctor Roach
(2009, writ. & dir. Chad Clinton Freeman)

We watched about half of this short — a bit beyond the green love pillows (Laura Moore) — and almost decided to skip including it here since HGL is but one of many pop, low-culture names given special "inspirational" thanks, but we then we figured, "What the fuck." The star of the short, the director's nephew Derek Houck, who's losing his hair nowadays, went on to play a zombie in Silent Night, Zombie Night (2009).
Full Snore:
Over at Vimeo, they say: "Edited, written, produced and directed by Chad Clinton Freeman, Super Undead Doctor Roach is the story of a scientist obsessed with bugs, becoming an accidental super hero. It was originally a seven-minute 48 Hour Film Project produced in April of 2009. The project, edited by Michael Su, was a runner up for the Las Vegas 48 Hour Film Project Audience Award. Doctor Roach was then expanded to its 13-minute length and went on to screen at the Arizona Underground Film Festival in November 2009 and played at the bondage convention Xanadu Las Vegas 2010. [...]"
Chad Clinton Freeman, by the way, went on to be an "executive producer" of Gingerdead Man 3: Saturday Night Cleaver (2011 / trailer).


Smash Cut
(2009, dir. Lee Demarbre)

We gave this movie a precursory look a few years ago in our R.I.P. career review of the always memorable cult actor David Hess, who plays the lead in this HGL homage. Other names of note include Michael Berryman and HGL (over)actor Ray Sager appearing as the familiarly named Reverend Boone. Our terse entry way back then was as follows: "Another intentional cult film by the intentional cult-film maker Demarbre, who also made the less professional cult film Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter (2001 / trailer).* Hess stars as film director Able Whitman, who will do anything to complete his latest film. Smash Cut also features the eternally hot Sasha Grey but not enough of her, going by what Dr Gore has to say in his review of the film found here."
Trailer to
Smash Cut:
HGL, in any event, is there: he graces the film as a radio announcer, "Fred Sandy". The movie is also "dedicated to the life and art of" the old guy. Over at good ol' Worldwide Celluloid Massacre, which rates the film as "Of Some Interest", they say: "A pretty good homage to Herschell Gordon Lewis featuring the man himself as the presenter. The story is about a b-movie, gore and horror director (Hess) that breaks after being harshly put down by his audience, and starts creating more realistic gore movies in the only way he can imagine: By creating his own real dead bodies and body parts out of the people he knows and dislikes. The campy, cheap, silly but entertaining feel of the movie is almost just right, the gore at first is surprisingly lacking, but delivers some cheap and over-the-top scenes in the second-half featuring dismembering and eye-gouging."
* As of April 2016, we can never refer to Jesus in any of our texts without drawing your attention to our intensely enjoyable Short Film of the Month, Fist of Jesus (2012). Watch it, now.


Psycho Holocaust
(2009, writ. & dir. Kristopher "Krist" Rufty)

Featuring Raine Brown, the star of the 2013 non-masterpiece, Kung Fu and Titties (trailer), and filmed in Wisconsin, famous for being the home of cheese and a cultural icon, and not much else. Big Falls, Clintonville, Green Bay, and Marion — but not one scene in Plainfield? All locations used, in any event, are less than two hours away from Plainfield as the crow flies. Considering how much the influence of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974 / trailer) on Psycho Holocaust is visible, it's surprising they didn't make a nod to the flick's distant inspiration. (If you don't know who we're talking about, you're a loser. Stay after school and watch the following two movies: Ed Gein [2000] and Deranged [1974], the latter starring Roberts Blossom.)
What Psycho Holocaust might offer is obvious by its title, which is a clear reference to one of the all-time classics of exploitation, Ruggero Deodato's masterpiece Cannibal Holocaust (1980). Deodato, however, had a much bigger budget: Psycho Holocaust's estimated budget was a lowly $20,000 less than the average amount Trump stole from the students of his supposed "Trump University". (Yep, the Prez you voted in: a thief, a shyster, and he's gonna fuck you over too.)
HGL has but a small function in this film by independent horror author and director Krist Rufty, the second of four movies Rufty has written and directed so far: HGL's voice pops up as a radio news broadcaster so, in other words: if you didn't know in advance, you probably wouldn't notice.
Women In Prison, which deigns to say "an interesting, if shaky, effort to retread well-worn territory," has the plot: "When six happy-go-lucky youngsters in their late-30s take the mini-van out for a quiet weekend getaway in the sticks they happen upon a trio of Iraq War vets who are, say, creatively dealing with their PTSD. Hijinx (mutilation, torture, rape, dismemberment, near-miss wire hanger abortions, political commentary, necrotic folk art) ensue…"
Trailer to
Psycho Holocaust:


7 Deadly Sins: Inside the Ecomm Cult
(2009, dirs. Michelle Bolvox & Kay Kayos)

A mockumentary produced and starring Alexia Anastasio. Written by Kevin Sean Michaels, director of the documentary Vampira: The Movie (2006 / clip). As far as we can tell, neither director — assuming the names are real — have done anything else since.
The trailer to 7 Deadly Sins: Inside the Ecomm Cult is out there, but not much more. Herschell Gordon Lewis plays a "retired detective" who, going by the trailer, narrates the tail. And how did he get involved in this project? Over at Media Mikes, Mike Gencarelli asked HGL about 7 Deadly Sins and this is what he had to say: "This is a strange one. The folks producing this project whom I hadn't known before negotiated a deal with me to appear on-camera, reading pre-written lines. We shot my sequence in about half an hour, in a field next to the building in which I live. I was the only actor for that scene and had no notion that a campaign would be built around my strange appearance. I have to salute the ingenuity of the filmmakers."
Trailer to
7 Deadly Sins: Inside the Ecomm Cult:
HGL's scenes were the only ones shot in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA; the rest were done in Santa Monica, California, USA. According to imdb's credit list, the great auteur Ted V. Mikels also appears in the movie somewhere. (Ted V. Mikels, by the way, died slightly less than a month after HGL on 16 Oct 2016. Mikels's death slipped under our radar, or we probably would've begun a career review for him as well.)


Nightmare Alley
(2010, writ. & dir. Laurence Holloway & Scarlet Fry [aka Walther Reuther])

HGL is given "Special Thanks" somewhere in the credits, who knows why. This movie is not based on William Lindsay Gresham's 1946 eponymously named classic shock noir novel that was filmed a year later with Tyron Powell in the lead (trailer). Naw, this is a piece of low budget regional trash from Arizona featuring seven short segments and a bunch of local bands and music. Over at Horror Society, Walther Reuther nee Scarlet Fry gushes, "It's like Blood Feast meets Pink Flamingos. It provides a debut for a lot of young new talent in very funny roles. [...] If you're looking for meaning, look elsewhere!"
Over at imdb, Woody Anders reveals that "A ghoulish host relates seven macabre stories. Zombie cowboys rampage across the prairie in 'A Fistful of Innards'. An evil satanic rat forces a man to do its murderous bidding in 'Rebellion'. A scummy loser inadvertently sets himself up on a date over the Internet with a vengeful ax-wielding ghost in 'Death Chat'. A slim gal bumps off her jerky husband and feeds him to a gross fat slob in 'Meat'. A homophobic punk dude butchers a gay guy in 'Closet Case'. A fey and pompous artist bumps off his shrewish spouse and uses her corpse for his artwork in 'The Great Damone'. A Jack the Ripper-style killer embarks on a lethal spree in 'Slash of the Blade'."
Trailer to
Nightmare Alley:
Movies Made Me Do It was not impressed: "Yes, with its series of awards and praise from the godfather of the American-made splatter-film, Herschell Gordon Lewis, pasted excitingly on the cover, I was expecting some amazing work with no budget to fill my face with sweet, horror-god love. This was not what I got. Instead, I got what appeared to be a series of near-goreless horror-comedy shorts someone kept from posting on YouTube, in hopes of making a movie with them, reaching feature-length and plugging a few unknown local-bands in the mix. In between, we have a fellow doing his best TV series Crypt Keeper impression with interlocking jokes and all, 'telling' us these ham-handed tales of bore. Fuck you, HGL."
Over at Hayes Hudson's House of Horror, Zombie Hayes would probably say "Fuck you, MMMDI!" Zombie liked the direct-to-video anthology, claiming, "I didn't know what to expect when I put this DVD in... the box art and screenshots on the back of the DVD case let me know that this was going to be a very low budget horror film. Sometimes that can be a good thing, but more often than not you end up with a horror film that falls flat. Luckily with Nightmare Alley, we get a low budget horror film that is just as entertaining if not more so than many other bigger budget features."


Crank Up
(2010, writ. & dir. In-chun Oh)

Shot in Seoul, Korea, Crank Up gives "special thanks" to H.G. Lewis — as they do to George A. Romero, John Woo, David Cronenberg, and Clive Barker. According to Korean Film Biz Zone, "During his time at the Korea National University of Arts, Oh In-chun was a prolific short-film maker focusing on genre cinema, including horror, sci-fi and action films. Some of his early credits include A Moment (2010), Crank Up (2010) and particularly Metamorphoses (2011), a 25-minute action film that demonstrated his knack for combining tight action choreography and technique with a droll sense of humor. Soon after, OH got his chance to take a stab at a feature-length project with the comedy horror, Mourning Grave, released in the summer of 2014 (trailer).
In regard to the plot of this short here, over at imdb, they say: "In this film, the victim who is dragged, beaten with a bat, and then beheaded by the killer is played by the director." The short can be watched here at imdb.


The Chainsaw Sally Show
(2010, writ. & dir. Jimmy Burril, aka JimmyO)

In HGL RIP Part VII, we took a look at the Chainsaw Sally (2004) movie, in which HGL had a small part; here, he's merely an "executive producer". In any event, if you wanna know about the movie and its maker, go there. The Chainsaw Sally Show is a DVD of the cult killerette's first season, 11 episodes in all. (It was followed by The Chainsaw Sally Show Season 2 two years later in 2012.)
McBastard's Mausoleum has the essentials: "Are you fed up with the philistine who takes a full shopping cart through the express checkout lane? What about the one who parks in handicapped spaces? Sally (April Monique Burril) is and she's not going to stay quiet! With the hum of her trusty chainsaw to announce her return, she is picking up where the movie of the same name left off, repurposing the use of power tools for every disgruntled member of society!"
The Worldwide Cinema Massacre says the compilation DVD is "Of Some Interest", explaining: "[…] the executive producer is none other than H.G. Lewis and he definitely makes his mark, especially in the beginning of the series. Somehow he always makes his gore into very fun dumb camp and exploitation that doesn't feel stupid, and he takes the mean sadism out of bloodthirstiness no matter how gratuitous it is. Chainsaw Sally is a serial killer with a goth brother who assists her, and who also cooks her victims, or at least the nutritious ones. She works in a library because she likes books, but had to get rid of the previous librarian to get there. […] Features creative torture and messy killings of people that 'deserve it', with the occasional splatter over-the-top aftermath of intestines and brains, but it's not as gory as you'd expect. […] Altogether, a fun idea with the right people at the helm, although of course limited by its low level of wit."


2001 Maniacs: Field of Screams
(2010, dir. Tim Sullivan)

In 2005, forty-one years after the release of HG Lewis's classic 2000 Maniacs (1964; see Part III), the film was remade without the involvement of HG Lewis as 2001 Maniacs (see PartVII). Five years after that, the direct-to-DVD sequel of the remake, in turn already (partially) existent in comic book form, finally got made with the same director and writer, a few of the same actors, and HG Lewis as the "executive producer". One person noticeably missing this time around is Robert Englund, who played Mayor Buckman in the remake: absent due to "scheduling conflicts", he was replaced by the less costly cult actor Bill Moseley (of The Convent [2000], House of 1000 Corpses [2003], The Haunted World of El Superbeasto [2009], and more, more, more). It was shot over a 12-day period on location in the not very Southern state of Iowa.
Trailer to
2001 Maniacs – Field of Screams:
The Last Thing I See  explains the plot: "Mayor George W. Buckman […] he has a problem. No Yankee scum are showing up to this year's Guts N' Glory Jamboree, and the folks are disappointed because there is no one to kill. So Buckman does what any good revenge-minded public servant does when his constituency becomes restless, he improvises. If no Northerners will come to the South then they will take the South to them. The Maniacs (in reality there are only eleven, not 2001) pile into a school bus and hit the road. In Iowa they encounter the cast of a reality show called 'Road Rascals' […]. The cast is full of vapid LA socialites who are famous simply for being famous, not from actually doing anything, and their hangers on who want to be famous for their proximity to famous people. As you can imagine, carnage and mayhem ensues."
Curiosity of a Social Misfit says, "2001 Maniacs starring Robert Englund was a great slice of completely over the top and politically incorrect fun.  In fact, it was a great throwback to the 1970s and 1980s slasher movies. Fast forward to 2010, and there's a sequel that was written and directed by the same folks. Personally, I didn't know that this one even existed yet I was excited to check this one out despite the knowledge that Englund himself hadn't returned. After watching this one, I have to admit that I kind of wish I hadn't discovered it existed.  I'm pretty easy going with my horror movies but this one has got to honestly be one of the worst ones that I have seen in a very long time."
In general, the social misfit's opinion is shared by the masses: during our quick search, we couldn't find one website that said anything nice about the movie. So it must be good.


The Gainesville Ripper
(2010, writ. & dir. Josh Townsend)

HG Lewis appears somewhere in this movie that almost no one has seen. It purports to tell the true story of Daniel Harold Rolling (26 May 1954 25 Oct 2006), better known as the Gainesville Ripper. A US serial killer, Rolling murdered five students in Gainesville, Florida, as well as three others in Shreveport, Louisiana. Rolling was executed by lethal injection in 2006, and confessed to killing a total of eight people. As we mentioned in Part IV of our RIP career review of Wes Craven, screenwriter Kevin Williamson's script to the 1996 hit slasher Scream (trailer) was inspired by Rolling's murders.
Trailer to
The Gainesville Ripper:
On September 24, 2010, Drew Harwell of the Tampa Bay Times wrote "Josh Townsend, a Gainesville High School student during the murders, spent $200,000 producing a schlocky horror film he called The Gainesville Ripper. Rolling is played by the star of local barbecue commercials. Townsend feverishly advertised last month's premiere at Gator Cinemas, posting hundreds of fliers downtown and on University Avenue. 'When I went around that weekend promoting it, 98 percent of people I talked to had no idea who Danny Rolling was,' Townsend said. 'I talked to 400 or 500 people.' The premiere was attended by 120 people, half of whom were on the guest list. There was no second showing."
The name of the "star of local barbecue commercials" is Zachary Memos; the name of HG Lewis's part we do not know.
Over at Irate Films, one of the few people we could find that saw the movie, wrote: "[…] I'm afraid that not even a brief cameo from Herschell Gordon Lewis (best known for creating the 'splatter film' subgenre of horror) could save this flick — in the end, it ended up stinking like a rotting corpse."


All About Evil
(2010, writ. & dir. Joshua Grannell)

W.&D. Jushua Grannel "is a popular drag performer in the San Francisco bay area" named Peaches Christ, and also a filmmaker. This feature-length splatter flick is supposedly based on an earlier short film of hers entitled Grindhouse (2003). According to imdb, somewhere amidst the credits of All About Evil "the producers wish to thank HGL" — indeed, the first murder of this movie transpires during a screening of Blood Feast (1963) and not, as one might imagine by the title, at a screening of All About Eve (1950 / trailer).
Horror Honeys has "The Story": "Deb Tennis (Natasha Lyonne of Freeway II: Confessions of a Trickbaby [1999 / trailer], Die, Mommy, Die! [2003 / trailer] and Madhouse [2004 / trailer]) has grown up watching her father (Robin Calvert) run his beloved movie theater, The Victoria, all while maintaining the dream that she might one day become a star on the big screen. Instead, the introverted Deborah works in a library and spends her days living in fear of her evil stepmother (Julie Caitlin Brown). But when Deb's father dies, she quickly discovers there is only one way to get the old theater back on the map: with her very own special brand of short horror film that features the most convincing murders you'll ever see on screen. Because if there is one thing Deborah Tennis is good at, it's murder!"
Trailer to
All about Evil:
In general, the film has been well received, but over at Daily Film Dose, some guy named Greg Klymkiw was not amused and says, "There are some movies you want to love — especially if you're a lover of movies, and most notably, a lover of genre movies. However, it ultimately matters very little how well-intentioned, how securely the movie's heart is in the right place, how much its filmmaker shares your love for all the same things, the bottom line is always a heartbreaker — if the movie stinks, the movie stinks, and there's not too much else to be said. All About Evil is such a picture."


Herschell Gordon Lewis: The Godfather of Gore
(2010, dirs. Frank Henenlotter & Jimmy Maslon)
HGL gets a whole documentary all to himself! Directed, for Something Weird, by the filmmaker extraordinary Frank Henenlotter, the warped talent that has brought us Basket Case (1982 / trailer), Brain Damage (1988 / trailer), Frankenhooker (1990 / trailer) and Bad Biology (2008 / trailer), among other movies. For his first documentary project, Henenlotter was assisted by the less-renown Jimmy Maslon, the producer or co-producer of such fun stuff as Jackie Kong's Lewis-inspired  Blood Diner (1987 / trailer), her comedy The Under Achievers (1987 / full movie), H.G. Lewis's Blood Feast 2: All U Can Eat (2002 / trailer) and the remake of The Wizard of Gore (2007 / trailer).
Cagey Films says, "Frank Henenlotter and Jimmy Maslon's Herschell Gordon Lewis: The Godfather of Gore (2010) is an entertaining survey of the career of the man who introduced graphic mayhem to American film back in the early 1960s. Lewis, who really didn't have much talent as a filmmaker (there's more art in Ed Wood's work), began by making 'nudie cuties' […]; with that market saturated, he looked for a new niche and came up with the idea of spilling blood and guts on screen. […] Lewis turns out to be a cheerful and amiable guy […]. And he's obviously held in affection by the people who worked with him back in the day actors, producers, technicians — as well as admirers like John Waters."
Trailer:


Under the Scares
(2010, dir. Steve Villeneuve)

Under the Scares can be procured over the film's website. This documentary, written by Villeneuve and William Dio, was even nominated for a Rondo; it is the first of a planned series of three — a series that seems to have stalled, as the remaining two have yet to see the light of day. 
H.G. Lewis is one of the talking heads, alongside other people of varying levels of note including George A. Romero (Nightof the Living Dead [1968]), Maurice Devereaux (End of the Line [2007 / trailer] & Slashers [2001 / trailer]), Frank Henenlotter, Lloyd Kaufman (aka Troma Films), Robert Kurtzman (Wishmaster [1997]), Debbie Rochon (Nikos the Impaler [2003 / trailer]), Brinke Stevens (Necromancy [1972]), Trent Haaga and more.
Trailer 1:
As Horror News explains, "The movie discusses the trials and tribulations of making your own film and offers tips on how to get your movie distributed."
Trailer 2:


American Grindhouse
(2010, dir. Elijah Drenner)

Directed by Drenner and written by Drenner and Calum Waddell actually translates into "edited together by": both Drenner and Waddell are productive progenitors of short documentary fillers for DVDs. This feature-length doc is the first of two "feature" docs that Elijah Drenner has made to date, the second being That Guy Dick Miller (2014 / trailer); Calum Waddell has also done dozens of DVD fillers — almost all within the sphere of low culture films of the kind we like. Between the two, enough experience to guarantee a watchable documentary — with HGL present as one of the many talking heads.
Trailer to
American Grindhouse:
TCM keeps their film description short: "[American Grindhouse] explores the hidden history of the American exploitation film. Despite being an often overlooked genre, exploitation cinema has left an indelible mark on American culture. Here, the shameless and occasionally shocking origins of the genre are revealed as well as its principles and popularity that endure to this day."
DVD Talk adds, "American Grindhouse contains such a wealth of footage and eager interviewees, it's easy to get wrapped up in the excitement of recollection and scholarly dissection, exploring a colorful history of film and motion picture distribution. Drenner assembles an amusing and revelatory documentary, piecing together a line of cinematic influence that every movie fan should take the time to admire. Grindhouse itself goes beyond the monstrous and titillating, revealed to be a vital foundation of moviemaking, carrying a profound influence that deserves the affectionate spotlight this documentary provides."
Narrated by Robert Forster — of many great (i.e., Alligator [1980]) and bad (i.e., Uncle Sam [1996]) and overlooked movies (Outside Ozona [1998 / trailer]) — American Grindhouse is actually best watched on DVD, for all the "extras" ("Outtakes", "Extended Interviews", "Deleted Interviews", "From the Vaults", "The Amazing Colossal Trailer Collection!", "Old Photos You Actually Want to Look At!", etc.) are like icing on the cake.

More to come — eventually.
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