Monday, October 22, 2018

Wild Zero (1999) 1h 38m

Holy shit, Wild fucking Zero!  I picked this up a few months ago at the yearly anime/J-culture convention.  There's one booth that is 90% anime sets but if you walk around to the side of the table they have a stack of movies and weird shit for you to sort through.  This has been on my list to get for a while now as I never had the chance to see it but I knew about it through the early 00's Pittsburgh punk scene.

Wild Zero has a lot going on in it so bare with me.  We start with a bunch of spaceships approaching the earth.  While that's happening a meteor crashes into a town and zombies begin to overrun it, a la Night of the Living Dead.  At the same time, we meet Ace, a Guitar Wolf fan that idolizes their rock n' roll machismo.  When Ace stumbles into a stand-off between Guitar Wolf and a club manager he stands up for rock n' roll only to get knocked out.  After Guitar Wolf shoots the fingers off the manger (while Bass Wolf and Drum Wolf comb their hair) he creates a rock n' roll blood brother pact with Ace and gives him a whistle to call Guitar Wolf if Ace ever needs them.  The next day Ace inadvertently stops a robbery where he meets his new love interest, Tobio.  Zombies attack, the club manager is attempting to track down Guitar Wolf for revenge, and the alien invasion eventually begins... and it's all turned up to 11.  ROCK N' ROLL!

Fuckin' right on, Guitar Wolf!
After watching Wild Zero, this film is definitely in my top 10 all-time favorites, maybe even top five but I'd have to spend more time than I want thinking about that right now.  For a movie that came out in 1999, it's surprisingly progressive.  It takes all the things that I personally like about punk and rock, n' roll and rather than pushing the say, Motley Crue model of excess, it pushes this acceptance of everyone in the name of rock n' roll.  It's almost like it's a polytheistic lifestyle, elevated above everyday life.  Are Guitar Wolf gods?  Is this their bible?!  I'd go to church if it were just going in and having the word "rock n' roll" shouted at me from a microphone that shot flames!

This movie is hands down amazing.  There's a drinking game on the disc as well if you're into that.  If you are, then just do so responsibly.  Drunk driving is not rock n' roll!

I give Wild Zero 5 copies of Joan Jett's I Love Rock and Roll out of 5:

Friday, October 19, 2018

The Revenge of Frankenstein (1958) 1h 30m

You were the chosen one!  Bring balance to the force, not leave it in darkness!  Fucking Revenge of Frankenstein!  More like Rankenstein because this movie fucking stinks!

Nailed it!

We're important men.  Just look at
how tall our hats are!
The Revenge of Frankenstein is the last of our "Week of Hammer" and starts at the execution of Baron Frankenstein which is apparently at 9000 o'clock according to the church bells ringing.  Instead of losing his head he escapes and goes elsewhere in order to act as a real doctor all while continuing his experiments.  He has a new body all set up in order to do a live brain transplant and it's a success, but his patient doesn't want to be thrust into the public eye of science and the world.  He escapes and causes havoc only to begin to have his new body develop the same physical handicaps he faced with his prior vessel.  Stuff happens!

This started out okay but when there were a set of eyeballs on a stick that moved as an autonomous unit I was starting to question the quality of this film.  Don't get me wrong, there was some serious money thrown into the set designs and this was in color as opposed to most of the other Hammer films we covered this week, but in the end it was all for naught.  Not even Peter Cushing could keep me awake as this film descended from entertainment to a background lullaby as I began to doze on the couch.

We did get another actual Frankenstein Monster, but it came too late for me to care about anything.  Also, there's a fight in the lab early on which leads to tons of beakers full of shit breaking and I guess we have to assume they were all experiments on colored water as nothing bad happened.  No fires, no poison gas, just looks like someone pissed on the floor.

I give The Revenge of Frankenstein 1 Grand Moff Tarkin out of 5 only because of Peter Cushing:

Thursday, October 18, 2018

The Snorkel (1958) 1h 14m

Could there be a dumber name for a movie?  The Snorkel.  Fuck you!  You can snorkel this dick!  I'm not even sure what that means but that's how frustrated I am with yet another film coming to us from the cheap as fuck Hammer Films set I got at a Wal-Mart.  You know, the land of bottomless $5 DVD bins and overpriced animated films.  DROP THE FUCKING PRICE ON HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 1 & 2 ALREADY YOU BASTARDS!

You have me confused with that guy
from Are You Being Served?
Unlike our other Hammer Films, The Snorkel doesn't start with a creeper in the bushes but the creeper is already in the house!  A man has drugged his wife to make her pass out and then tapes up the entire room (doors, windows, etc) in order to blow out the gas lamps and have her die as an apparent suicide.  Why he didn't just drug her and make it seem like that was the suicide is beyond me.  He has hooked up a mask and snorkel to outside pipes and hides in the floor to complete his elaborate faked suicide plot.  When she is found everyone assumes she did kill herself.  Everyone except for her teenage daughter who is apparently Nancy fucking Drew because she puts everything together pretty quick and then it's the step-daughter vs. the murderer for who will come out on top.

While a much dumber premise than anything I've watched recently, I was invested for no reason other than I wanted to see how the hell the girl put everything together.  She never figures out the hiding in the floor but it is given away to her at the end.  Speaking of which, always have a fucking back door, or at least an axe or something in case you get stuck.  You know, since you're hiding in floors all the time.

All in all, The Snorkel is a big bag of meh.  Once again, solid acting performance from all involved, and this film has my favorite opening credit now which is "John Holmes dog "Flush" as "Toto" because that dog deserves a fucking credit!

I give The Snorkel 1 hunky scuba diver out of 5:

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

The Maniac (1963) 1h 26m

I am turning this into the "Week of Hammer," fuck it!  Sticking with our Hammer Films set chock full of rapidly declining quality movies comes The Maniac!  A film with more heel turns than the WWE Network... and I don't mean just because they'll reinstate Hogan to the hall of fame but still act as if Benoit never existed!

Mustache rides: 5 cents
The Maniac, like most Hammer films on this set, starts with a creeper in the bushes.  When the local high school kids arrive home he pulls up to one of the girls and offers her a ride.  He sexually assaults her but is caught by a local man and school boy.  The creeper is knocked out with a wrench and brought back to the man's garage where he is tortured to death with an acetylene torch.  Flash forward to present day where a smooth America leaves his rich girlfriend and ends up in a small French village.  At first he has his eyes set on the young waitress but later moves from her to her mother in a "I'll fuck anything that moves" power play.  The woman's husband is in prison for the torture and murder of the creeper.  She claims that her husband will let the two of them be together if the American and her help the husband escape prison.  They do, bodies turn up, then the American finds himself on the wrong end of the torch.

This movie is just treachery everywhere.  The American betrays the daughter for the mother but then betrays the mother because she was trying to betray him by not actually helping her husband escape but another man that murdered the husband upon escaping and the two of them were going to betray the daughter as well in hopes of... I don't know.  I guess elope?  Have crazy mustache babies?

I'm really beginning to regret not shelling out the extra $10 for the better Hammer Films set.  The Maniac was just as poorly paced and boring as the last two films.  The acting was decent, aside from the couple's dance where the two couldn't look more bored with each other despite one of the characters saying "look how happy she is!"  Whatever, fucking next.  I'm over this.

I give The Maniac 0 butane torches out of 5:

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Die! Die! My Darling! (1965) 1h 37m

This is turning into the "Week of the Hammer" because we've got another one here from my cheap Hammer Films Collection.  This film was what sold me on buying the set because with the Misfits song being so good, obviously the movie has to be.  Right?  Danzig wouldn't lie to me, would he?  Sure, he'd have me kicked out of a concert if I tried to take a picture of his gut but... young baby Danzy?

I made this face while watching this.
Die! Die! My Darling! opens on Patricia with her current fiancé.  She tells him that the mother of her prior, now deceased, fiancé has sent Patricia a letter and she would like to visit the mother.  The fiancé continues to London and Patricia travels to Mrs. Trefoile's home.  Upon her initial arrive Mrs. Trefoile just seems to be a still mourning mother and overly pious woman.  It's when Mrs. Trefoile's zealous nature bubbles to the surface that Patricia attempts to leave but finds herself held captive by a mad woman.  Can she escape befor she is murdered in the name of her dead ex-fiancé?

Okay, I described that much better than this film is.  Don't misunderstand me, Tallulah Bankhead fucking kills it as Mrs. Trefoile, but all of the other characters I don't really care about.  The husband and wife duo that had been Mrs. Trefoile's helpers and accomplices are just grifters and Donald Sutherland's simple Joseph serves no purpose aside from being muscle.

The film itself is a bit of a crawl.  A majority of it consists of Patricia being locked in a room and attempting to escape or Mrs. Trefoile descending further into madness.  I do like that the breaking point for her is having a stash of all her sinful items and then doing the crazy wide lipstick ring around her mouth.  Other than that, Danzig has bad taste in movies.  Actually, Danzig has taste in very slow moving films because I've watched Where Eagles Dare and it was a crawl too.  I have a copy of THX 1138 which I haven't watched yet, but if it's slow then Danzig is getting an angry tweet!

I give Die! Die! My Darling! 2 Misfits singles out of 5:

Monday, October 15, 2018

Never Take Sweets from a Stranger (1960) 1h 31m

My very first note for this film was "I made a mistake."  Never Take Sweets from a Stranger is part of a $10 Hammer Films collection I picked up from Wal-Mart not long ago.  They have a better one with better films for double the price but I wanted to have  the bottom shelf stuff.  This is certainly the bottom as I assumed I was going to get the usual Hammer lesbian vampires or whatever.  Instead I saw into the eyes of the devil and he winked at me.

Look at this fucking stranger danger!
Never Take Sweets from a Stranger opens with an old creeper using binoculars to watch two younger girls play.  When one of the girls looses her "sweets money" the other says that she knows where they can get some candy and run towards the old man's house.  Upon returning home for the evening one of the girls relays her day to her parents, not even flinching at the part where she and her friend danced naked while the old man watched.  The family is taken aback and the mother gets the whole story.  When she comes back both her husband and her mother (or mother-in-law, I couldn't tell) downplay the incident and I was losing my mind.  Eventually we get a court case where the defending lawyer rips into the small girl like an absolute scum bag.  The man is found innocent and goes free, only to later find the girls playing in the woods, stalks them, and ends up killing one of them.

I hated this movie.  I hated every fucking second of it.  Not because it was a bad film.  As far as random films from 1960 go this was more than competent.  I hated this because it showed just how horrible human beings can be.  A lot of the town had stories of that old man doing inappropriate things, the grandmother had a story of a man exposing himself to her every day as a child and she just wrote it off like that was normal.  The police, holy fuck the police in this film, pull the "You know he and his family built this town so you should change your mind..." thing and were just evil.  Then the old man's son that was just throwing around his power and influence to protect his nasty ass father.  Acting as if letting the girl's dad keep his job as principal to show that there were "no hard feelings" is anywhere near acceptable.  I've never wanted someone punched in the face as much as I wanted that guy.  I screamed it at the end of the movie but apparently no one heard me through the TV and like 58 years in the past.

A lot of the time horror films will pull the "we were the real evil all along!!!" trope but this is just "humanity is evil" from start to finish.  Don't watch this.  It's uncomfortable and somewhat depressing.   The very end of my notes say "I hate the world now," which is how you leave Never Take Sweets from a Stranger.

I give Never Take Sweets from a Stranger 0 Stranger Danger images out of 5:

Saturday, October 13, 2018

The Forest of the Lost Souls blu-ray + Extras (2017: Wild Eye Releasing)

It's nice to be back with a new Saturday Screamers!  Today's film comes to us from our friends over at Wild Eye Productions.  They brought this film to the U.S. as well as hooked us up with a copy.  So thank you to them for this blu-ray!

They watched too much Daria.
Taking influence from the infamous Japanese suicide forest, the Aokigahara, The Forest of the Lost Souls places itself in Europe where a man is looking for his own patch in the woods to end his life.  While he begins to set out his personal artifacts a college age woman tells him she has already claimed the spot.  The two begin to talk and strike up a morbid acquaintanceship which eventually leads to a lake on the forest edge.  It's here that we find that the woman is really a killer.  I'm not spoiling anything as she's on the cover of the case holding a bloody knife.  We knew this was coming.  It's the fact that we find out the entire conversation was meant for her to learn about his life in order to extend her murderous intentions to those connected to him.

The Forest of the Lost Souls initially feels like it's an "artsy" film.  I use that word in quotes because there's an unpleasant tinge to it, like tasting copper on your tongue.  Around the 15-minute mark I was concerned that this film just wasn't going to be for me.  Thankfully I pressed on and the second half of The Forest... does such a great job of giving the viewer that sense of suspense and dread up until the third act hits and everything comes together.  The director knows exactly how to surprise you, at the right moments, with imagery in the background and holding it just long enough that you feel that anxious flutter in your stomach.

This movie also gave me one of the weirdest self psychological moments when the time came for me to do this write up.  The entirety of The Forest of the Lost Souls is in black and white, but for some reason I recall the latter parts of the film in color.  I actually had to put the disc back in and scene skip in order to see if I was right or wrong.  Sure enough, my memory was wrong.  I've never experienced this but I chalk it up to the set designers, costumers, and director for doing such a good job with establishing the house that I can, for lack of a better term, feel the color there.

I also want to give some love to the fact that this is one of the first films that I've seen where we get a killer spending the time to establish an alibi.  Taking selfies, making phone calls saying you didn't have service while you were somewhere the night before, going through all of this effort... it's something we don't get with a lot of horror.  Our monsters tend to be supernatural or have these character flaws that lead to them being pursued, jailed, or killed.  They're not so calculating and sociopathic as to do this extra work or, if they are, we aren't privy to those scenes.  So thank you to The Forest of the Lost Souls for having this.


Extras are slim on this as it is just an initial release.  We have two deleted scenes with director's commentary.  I really appreciate that input because these scenes were cut because they didn't fit what became the tone of the film.  Without being told that these scenes would feel confusing as to why they even filmed them at all.  We also get a short film based on a holiday in Portugal where people hit each other with squeaky hammers as a greeting.  I liked this short except I think it would've worked much better without the final shot.  Finally there is a commentary track which I would like to listen to the next time I watch this film and also a fight rehearsal which I didn't watch and may revisit.


If you are someone that doesn't like subtitles (this film is in Portuguese), black and white films, or artistically done films, this might not be your thing.  On the flip side, if you don't mind any of that and want to take a break from all of the slashers, torture porn, and b-movie bloodbaths then give The Forest of the Lost Souls a try.  I may not pull this out as an option at every movie night, but when I'm with the right group of people I wouldn't definitely pull a "hey, have you seen this" and put it on.

Thanks again to Wild Eye Productions for the hook-up!