Tuesday, October 12, 2010


MaskHead (2009)
Dir: Fred Vogel (ToeTag Pictures: August Underground series/Murder Collection vol.1)

Being a fan of Horror films there are certain habits of high hopes I can never seem to break, Like The hopes that the latest re-make will be done correctly and not completely blow, Another one is that I keep going into Fred Vogels films hoping that it will live up to the hype I hear about them. Now Fred Vogel is the owner of ToeTag films a underground gore/Horror film company and he is also one of Tom Savini's top students of special f/x. After hearing so much about the infamous August Underground series I finally gave in a hunted these films down, Which was no easy task because they have been banned in several places and the only way to get any of them is directly from their website. After watching what was essentially home video quality simulated snuff through 3 films, I was pretty let down. Were they gory? yes, but were they any good? not really . In all  honesty I found them flat out boring and they just seemed to be going for the gross out novelty way too hard, Putting all effort into being shocking and none into character development or story. So in all I was disappointed. Then again knowing Vogel's love for the genre and his credentials and all being a student of Savini I gave in and watched Murder Collection vol.1. This was a somewhat interesting concept although not all that original, Being just a series of simulated snuff scenes shot from surveillance cameras , handy cam's, and web cams to add to the authenticity and make you think you were watching actual scenes of death caught on tape. But again a lack of story and gore just for gore's sake does not make a good movie. So now I once again gave in to the hype of ToeTag films and sat down to watch Maskhead. This time with hopes higher than ever because I actually saw some trailers for this one that made it look in all honesty really good. This one had Characters, a story and an interesting plot sort of....
So, The film follows a lesbian couple Syl and Maddie who run a "Modeling" agency and amateur fetish porn company which is actually a front for their snuff films. Working in the adult industry this plot struck my fancy since really quite a few fetish films I have seen do resonate  some sick and disturbing feelings , and lead one to wonder what really goes on behind the scenes after the camera goes off and if they are really making something darker for a sick niche market. Anyway Syl and maddie enlist two executioners to do their dirty work while they film and take photos , One being a bear looking man named cowboy, who is a pretty interesting character and is played well. This guy should get some better roles, I could see him in some neo grind-house "tarantino" style films with some success. the other being a truly intimidating man known only as maskhead, A hulking heavy set man wearing bandages covering his body and a cool mask with a face guard style thing covered in nails. This guy would be really awesome if he were used in a different film. Now I will say that I was entertained by Maskhead the most out of all of the Toetag films I have seen, but this film falls victim to it's pacing and placement of scenes. The film jumps back and forth to much to be able to really follow. They start a story arch and then just flash forward or backwards to something unrelated way to often and just makes the film hard to figure out. Some of the dialog is pretty well written for the roles and they feed off the sliminess of the material well.As for the gore it for the most part is your standard "Torture-Porn" stuff, with victim tied down and beaten then stabbed so on and so forth but it does up the ante quite a bit as the film progresses. It all starts to get borderline vomit inducing once they throw a fisting scene in for really no reason but a set up for another "snuff" scene, Then we are treated to a nice realistic looking compound fracture , Then a arm chopping / bleeding scene and honestly it is really hard to sit through the grand finale of the film and I would imagine even more so for women viewers. I don't want to spoil too much of the scene but it involves a 2x4 nail covered strap-on and some very graphic cinematography.I do like the little touches of "audition" videos they flash to periodically and there is a pretty funny opening credits scene thrown in from one of Syl and Maddie's "movies" that I thought was a nice touch. For one who is into films like Hostel and the whole "Torture-Porn" sub-genre this one does kick the theme up a notch and as far as Toetag films is concerned personally this is my favorite I have seen so far, There is one I have not seen yet called the Red sin Towers but I have no desire to hunt anymore of there films now because I have truthfully not been to impressed with any of them so far. Let me stress I don't hate any of the Toetag films , I think all the hype I had read and heard about them kinda got my expectations up to high for me to enjoy any of them, That seems to happen allot with horror movie sites reviews and threads along the web, Perhaps I need to stop reading them so much and go into these with a blind eye and I would enjoy them more.
So in the end of it all I did enjoy it but pacing and expectations kinda hindered my experience, Final verdict
2.5 out of 5

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Blood Diner (1987)

Blood Diner (1987)
Blood Diner is a homage to the gore films of the late 60's and for the most part a nod to the Godfather of Gore Herschell Gordon Lewis , More in Particular one of H.G.'s more well known films Blood Feast.
The story is basically ripped straight from Blood Feast in that the film focuses on a Egyptian goddess being brought back to life by piecing together a Host body from parts of different women and having a Feast of Blood ceremony to resurrect her spirit. As the H.G. film follows one Egyptian man and his deli , this one focuses on the nephews of Anwar ( whom is hinted at as being Ramsey from Blood Feast), and their Vegetarian Health food Cafe. Anwar is killed in the beginning of the film by the police in front of his nephews Michael and George Namtut or Tutman . 20 years later the boys dig up Anwars corpse and remove his brain, reanimate it and take instructions from him to revive the Goddess Shitaar. The boys go around slaughtering slutty women in some interesting ways , one of which having her head deep fried into a giant batter ball then decapitated.... in order to piece together the "perfect" body for the Egyptian goddess. The last ingredient needed is of course a virgin girl, whom just happens to be the daughter of the retired officer in charge of their uncle Anwars case.The film plays out as a horror/Comedy which were popular during the mid to late 80's and to an extent it works with all the loud and colorful characters to follow. Michael is the "handsome" brother who has a knack for Psycho-kenesis while his brother George is a talented cook who is strong , slow minded and has a obsession with pro wrestling, this is shown in the film when George accepts an open challenge from local wrestling heavyweight champ Little Jimmy Hitler....(Yes Hitler). Uncle Anwars sex craved brain , A local health food restaurant owner in competition with the Tutman's who talks two a life size puppet and the detectives on the case being the duo of Sleazy perv minded greeseball and his black lady straight laced partner who is constantly shooting down his advances. Apparently this flick was originally supposed to be a sequel to Lewis' Blood Feast but was decided to be it's own film in the late stages of production. The gore in this film is pretty decent but obviously meant to be over the top and slap stickish. The film succeeds in being a comedy as parts of the film are down right hilarious if you enjoy cheesy jokes ,sight gags and one liners, which were rampant during these days.The closing scene where the feast begins the splatter is turned up a notch and leads to some decent closing moments. If you are one that gets a kick out of films like Evil Dead 2, Troma Films , Frankenhooker, or Brain Damage, Matter of fact if you are a fan of Frank Henenlotter films (like I am ) you will thoroughly enjoy this film as it is very similar to his  style of  films. The film is a fun watch and you can tell the folks in charge of putting this together made this with love for the genre in their hearts. H.G. Lewis fans will also find something here to love as it is a nice homage to his contributions to the Horror Genre.
Zagat Dining Guide gives Blood Diner 3 out of 5

The Big Doll House

The Big Doll House (1971)
Dir: Jack Hill ( Foxy Brown, Coffy, Swinging Cheerleaders)
Starring: Pam Grier (Foxy Brown, Coffy, Jackie Brown) Sid Haig (Devil's Rejects, House of 1,000 Corpses)

The Big Doll House is the First in an unrelated series of W.I.P. (Women In Prison) films produced by Cult Icon Roger Corman between the years of 1971 and 1973.Big Doll House is your standard W.I.P. flick as much of the genre is pretty much the same film and scenarios repeated just with different characters and surroundings.This one takes place in a all womens maximum security prison in the Philippines. We start our story with Collier being processed and put into her cell , arrested for the murder of her husband for finding him in bed with their house boy.We then  meet her cell mates which include, Alcott a blonde clean cut looking woman, Ferina and her pet cat, Bodine a feared political prisoner and girlfriend of a Spanish revolutionary, Harrad a young heroin junkie imprisoned for Infanticide , and Greer (Played by Pam Grier ) locked up for hustling and having a john involved in politics who liked to talk. From here we are treated to the typical W.I.P. standards such as shower scenes , girl fights and of course the wicked warden with a knack for torturing the woman in imaginative ways.One day Bodine receives a letter from her boyfriend that is snuck in by Henry (Sid Haig)and his partner Jeff whom visit the prison frequently to sell goods and food to the inmates and staff. Somehow The warden gets word that she received the letter and Bodine is punished by The warden Lucian by being stripped and whipped while a hooded figure known simply as the colonel watches in hopes of beating some info about her beau's planned Revolution out of her.Once Bodine is released back to her cell the girls plan a break out. Nothing really separates this film from any other W.I.P. movies other than for the genre it is somewhat well acted. There are some pretty inventive torture scenes in this one but as far as these flicks are concerned most of it is pretty tame by the genre standards. Of course the girls plan is undertaken and works to some extent but they hit some road bumps along the way due to Harrad's Heroin issues but they eventually succeed like in most of these films and we get a bloody gun fight climax to top things off. If you are one that enjoys W.I.P. films this is a must see just because it is one of the more popular ones of the genre but I still think Womens Prison Massacre is the best this niche has to offer and that film amps every staple of the W.I.P.  scenarios to the extremest extent possible. This one is allot easier to stomach for someone just getting into exploitation cinema but nothing really sets it apart from the rest of the pack, except for the presence of Pam Grier in all of her glory. To me Pam was (and to a lesser extent nowadays still is) one of the most beautiful women to grace the silver screen and you will never find a better icon of exploitation cinema in my eyes than Ms. Grier.Fans of Pam should see this one just for the simple fact that she is in it and looking damn good and it doesn't hurt that her fellow cast mates are easy enough on the eyes as well. I obviously am not the only one who acknowledges her greatness as the director of this film must have seen something in her as well as he went on to cast her as the lead in some of his later works such as Foxy Brown and Coffy. So to sum it up The Big Doll House is just another W.I.P. flick like any other so take that for what you will, If you like the genre you will enjoy this film and if you are just getting into Exploitation this is a good starting point otherwise theres nothing much spectacular to make it a must see.
Judgement for the Movie in question is. 3 out of 5

Friday, October 8, 2010

Tokyo Zombie

Tokyo Zombie (2005)
Dir: Sakichi Sato
Starring Tadnobu Asano (Ichi The Killer/Sharkskin Man, Peach Hip Girl)
This Japanese slice of awesomeness was just what I needed after the crap I reviewed last. The Zombie sub-genre of Comedy/Zombie flicks is always hit or miss , I mean some real gems have come from this style of film like Shaun of the Dead , Zombieland and Dead Alive come to mind right off the bat , but for every so often you run into utter schlock like video Dead and C.H.U.D. 2. Luckily this one is of the better variety. The film starts off in Tokyo where a mountain of garbage has taken over a large part of the city and has been named Black Fuji. Black Fuji has become more than just a waste dumping grounds though as people start burying the dead there and this is when things go wrong. Much like Pet cemetery everyone who is buried in this over sized landfill comes back to life as a flesh craving mindless zombie. The story centers around co-workers and friends Micchan and Fujio played by Tadnobu Asano ( Kakihara in Ichi the killer) . He does an awesome job as Fujio a young man dawning a afro who hopes to become a great Jujitsu fighter under the tutelage of his older friend Micchan. One afternoon they get caught training on the clock by there abusive boss who is not pleased and he taunts Micchan until fujio smashes the bosses head with a fire extinguisher killing him, Of course in hopes to hide the evidence they decide to bury him under Black Fuji.The film takes a very unique approach to the genre once the zombies arrive on the scene this duo decides to use there jujitsu skills to take care of the recently undead.The two decide to head to Russia to escape the now infested Tokyo in search of greater challenges and fighting knowledge.The comedy in this flick is well timed and very funny, and the two main characters paint a truly funny father and son like relationship on there travels.Later in the film the entire story kind of switches up as once Micchan is bitten by a zombie he kills himself by jumping off a bridge and then the film cuts to a anime scene explaining what has happened to Tokyo and we catch up with Fujio five years later . Apparently the rich have built a mini civilization and only keep the poor alive for two reasons , One to be slaves and the other for entertainment as the poor are forced to participate in gladiator like fights against the zombies. The film kind of turns into a running man meets Bloodsport style theme here.Fujio is one of the fighters who is quite successful as he is still alive after his 8 bouts but the crowds hate him because they find his fighting style bland since he applies his craft of jujitsu to the field. He tries to escape after a fight with his wife for not being exciting enough to draw good money and wants to flee to Russia to live out the dream he and his old pal Miccan once had. Fujio is captured and up for execution but the owner of the fight league who has a man crush on Fujio makes a deal with him to release him if he has one more fight. This leads to the hilarious scene between Fujio and a "Zombie" micchan . It is hard to explain why this scene is so funny without spoiling to much of the film, so let's just say we learn early in the film that Micchan is a bit dramatic and has a serious case of hypochondria.I am truly trying not to go into to much detail with this review because I think it is a film any horror fan should see and any comedy fan as well.If you enjoy japanese cinema this one will not disappoint but it is just a fun film from beginning to end no matter how you look at it. I do have to say though that the end throws some really strange shit together and kinda comes out of nowhere with a whole other story arch and gets a bit to slap sticky but other than that this film is pure gold. It has a very Kung fu hustle feel to it for the most part and is kind of a cross between Shaun of the dead and the forementioned film. After watching this one I think I am gonna hunt down some of the directors other works, For the most part Sakichi sato is known for his writing ability writing such films as Ichi The Killer and Gozu (two Takashi Mike Films) but after seeing this I would like to see what else this guy can do from behind the camera. This one is definitely a must see and the only thing that keeps this from getting a perfect score is the truly random added nonsense towards the end.
4.5 out of 5

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Video Dead

The Video Dead (1987)
Well this odd little film tries really hard to add something fresh to the ever popular zombie genre and it does but, is that a good thing in this case? Hard to say. The flick begins with a television set being delivered to the house of writer Henry Jordan. Apparently he had not ordered such item but it had been paid for so he accepts the gift. Shortly after the T.V. keeps turning on by itself and it is playing "Zombie Blood Nightmare", Mr. Jordan repeatedly turns the set off and even unplugs it but to no avail this set will not stay off, Then the zombies begin escaping from the T.V. and then Screaming.... Fade to black. The following day the same delivery folk arrive to pick the television up since it apparently was supposed to be sent to the Institute of the Occult. Upon arrival they find Mr. Jordan has been killed. Flash forward 3 months and the old Jordan home has been sold to a new family where Young Jeff and his sis Zoe move in while the parents are away on business. Jeff hears a woman calling his name from the attic and he finds nothing but the Cursed T.V., Seeing nothing strange about this he takes the set into his room and things go afoul from here. Once again the Dead escape and roam the nearby woods killing a few people in the neighborhood. One thing I liked about this film is that at first the zombies seem to go about life as if they did not know they were dead much like in Dawn of The Dead, But once they see themselves in mirrors they then freak out and get a bit outraged.After Jeff's love interest a Neighbor girl named April finds her family slaughtered she goes to stay with Jeff and his Sis when a Man arrives named Josh Daniels, He apparently is with The Society of the Occult or for some reason he just knows of the dangers of these zombies and begins to tell of their history and how one could dispose of these undead Couch Potatoes.these are no regular Zombies these are in fact "The Video Dead" they cannot be killed by the standard head shots like most others of the genre. He goes on to tell them that there are only two ways to rid these sluggish foes and those ways being to trap them somewhere they cannot escape and they will eat each other until nothing is left or to fight them as if they were normal living folk until they are convinced they are dead. Also they hate mirrors and feed off fear of the living.While educating the young siblings on the nature of the beast at hand , April is kidnapped by one of these Video Dead. So Jeff and Mr. Daniels head out into the  Forrest to track them down and take out the lot of them. Several arrow shots later Daniels says that they truly have to be slaughtered in order to get the point across and so he breaks out a Chainsaw , at this point Jeff wishes to take over because he feels he knows how to wield the saw best since his favorite movie is Texas Chainsaw Massacre.....( always remember the rule: Never mention a better film in your own film).After the Zombies are taken out one apparently survives and kills most of our heroes in a unseen plot twist Daniels Jeff and April are all killed, Jeff being chopped down in the gut by his beloved saw . Later we see the Dead being waken up out of their believed deaths to head back to the house to go for Zoe who is waiting for her brother and Daniels to arrive back victorious. She decides to take a different approach and acts like she is not afraid of the dead and in fact befriends them by inviting them in for dinner and dancing... after a interesting scene she ends up locking the dead in the basement for them to feast on each other. In the end we see that Zoe has been committed to a mental ward and her parents arrive back from Saudi Arabia to visit her barring gifts...... A television they found lying in the basement.....The T.V. goes on and "Zombie Blood Massacre" airs yet again and we fade out.....
This film takes a interesting approach to the genre but it still kinda falls flat due to lack of gore and overall cheesiness. This is by far not the worst Zombie film out there (The Italians have that pretty much covered) but it just does not do enough for it to deserve being dug up from it's grave. Really only a movie for serious Zombie film completists , otherwise simply kind of forgettable . Also the film tries way too hard to be funny and fails at that miserably. So in closing Can you do worse yes very but as far of Zombie films go , You really could pass on this one. I was kinda disappointed by this one because I really remember liking this one when I was younger but that was a long time ago and allot of films have been seen by these eyes since then making this one age badly I suppose.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5