Let’s Get NASTY! : Blood Feast, and The Ghastly Ones

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“But it’s MY party, and I WANT A BLOOD FEAST!” -Michael Alig, Party Monster.

Director Hershell Gordon Lewis is responsible for starting the genre of Splatter Films. Not only did his films pioneer the depiction of explicit gore, but he developed a new realistic looking stage blood that was also easy to clean. Blood Feast(1973) was banned in the UK, and was regarded as a Video Nasty right from the get-go, which is hardly surprising considering how shocking the gore must have seemed at the time. Adding further fuel to the fire, producers of the film opted to hand out “Personal Vomit-Bags” at screenings, and taking out an Injunction on the film in Sarasota, FL, knowing the move would garner publicity.
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The film itself is pretty simple…some would even go so far as to say stupid, it concerns a deranged caterer (yes, a caterer…) Who brutally slaughters young women and collects various body parts to include in the meals he prepares. This is all done so as to make sacrifices to his “Egyptian Goddess” Ishtar. The killer, Mr. Ramses, is the original Wild Eyed Machete wielding Maniac, predating later day slashers by around 20 years. The film is quite low budget, and keeps its aspirations quite modest, except for the beautiful gore.
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Then there is the silliness… I don’t think anyone could take this concept, with this title and play it completely straight. Here’s an example…
“Ma’am, I’m afraid this feast is evidence of murder”
“Oh dear…I suppose we’ll have to have hamburgers for dinner then”

And my personal favorite:
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“Saaaay…you wouldn’t sacrifice me on this Altar, would ya?”
“Oh no no no, of course not…now just lay back down…*pulls out Machete*”

Also worth checking out are the next two installments in Lewis’ “Blood Trilogy”, Two Thousand Maniacs, and Color Me Blood Red. A later gem by Lewis is The Wizard Of Gore.

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The only thing Ghastly about this film is…well, everything, but not for the reasons you’d think. The Ghastly Ones(1968), sometimes known as Blood Rites, is a story about 3 sisters, along with their husbands, who are spending 3 nights in their late Father’s home. As a condition of his will, the couples must have sex in the house, and after 3 days, the remainder of the will is to be read. Along with the 3 couples, are 2 maids, and a semi-retarded hunchback named Colin. As one might expect, deaths start piling up, red herrings abound, etc. We’ve seen it before.
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The only thing I can think of that would land this on the Nasty List is it’s somewhat graphic violence, though it is very tame by today’s standards. To be honest, I had a bitch of a time watching this film. I can forgive the poor picture quality, as it adds a certain charm, but I can’t get past the poor lighting which renders the action sometime impossible to see, and the horrible shaky camera work in the opening scene. The real atrocity though, is the acting. Everyone performs in an exaggerated pantomime usually reserved for stage plays, and it makes everyone on screen look like an over-acting tit. This one really bummed me out. Just a very lame film. Thankfully, the next few installments should provide better fare.

Lust and Lycanthropes

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Please take two minutes to watch the trailer : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j01dPdN5Fbs&feature=youtube_gdata_player

Now there should be no doubt about what the movie is, and for the most part, exactly what happens in it. This film is 100% exploitation from start to finish. I don’t think more than 5 mins go by without a violent act or sex act is shown in graphic sleazy detail. 
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The film opens with a young couple camping somewhere in Mexico, when they are attacked by one of the worst looking Werewolves I have ever fucking seen. It seriously has red LED lights for eyes. Luckily, they are able to make use of a bottle of Vodka with real silver flakes in it, a flaming log, and a terrible CGI cliff to kill the werewolf…but not before Sarah is bitten and Jack is killed.

Sarah is taken to a sleazy jail in Campuna, with no trial or even a formal arrest. Her pleas to speak to the American Embassy are rebuffed by Rita, a perverted Latina Dominatrix who is the right hand man of the Warden, Juan. Both use the girls in the prison to run seedy porn sites, prostitution ventures, and other exploitative endeavors. It is here that the nudity quota skyrockets, and we are treated to porn music that accompanies the “Lesbi-rotic” scenes.

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The acting is terrible! All too often, the actresses have zero change in their facial expressions, whether they are getting groped, or torn to bloody shreds. Even worse, they deliver atrocious dialogue as if they are reading the line for the very first time. “You’ve got the Devil n you so I’ll kill Satan’s mistress”. Not kidding. Someone actually says that. The film is embarrassingly bad from start to finish, and even has the nerve to rip off An American Werewolf In London ( you’ll know it when you see it). As much as this movie fails on virtually every level possible, I still love it for it’s over the top sex and violence. I rank this film firmly in the same category as Troll 2, Sharknado, and a host of other shitty gems, as films that are so bad they are good…and the badder they get…the BETTER they get!

Yes, I know “badder” isn’t a real word, but it made a better closing line. Fuck you.

From Hooker Murder to Evil Twins: Blood Rage!

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Yet again, we have another example of films getting confused for each other…although this time, it’s because of IMDB and a nearly identical title. I first became aware of this film thanks to my good friend Tom P, who had seen this cover:

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and decided it looked like a sleazy hidden gem. I couldn’t agree more, so I looked it up on IMDB, and began my search for the film. The image above implied that Prostitutes were the targets of the killings in the film, and the plot synopsis suggests a man who is blamed for the murders committed by his Evil Twin. Upon viewing the uncut film, I was somewhat confused by the lack of Hooker deaths…or of Hookers in general. A little further digging revealed that the image above is for Bloodrage (1979) aka, Never Pick Up A Stranger, and the synopsis described with the Twins is for Blood Rage (1987) aka Nightmare At Shadow Woods. Fuckin IMDB!

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The film opens set in a drive in theater, to a fantastic pulsing 80’s synth track, and we meet twins Todd and Terry. The twins sneak out of their parents car to create a little mischief…and they just so happen to bring a hatchet with them. Terry brutally murders a young couple as they are back-seat-banging, then immediatly thrusts the bloody Hatchet into the hands of his brother Todd, and smears blood on him. Todd is standing there in shock, so when Terry claims that Todd killed the couple, it is accepted as fact and he spends the next 10 years in an asylum. Terry is a fucking dick!

While his brother is locked away, Terry lives a spoiled life of an only child, seeming well-adjusted and popular, but upon receiving word that Todd has escaped, resumes his murderous ways, brutally slaying anyone he can find in an effort to further frame Todd. The film feels too long by about 20 minutes, but manages to hold my attention with horrible dialogue, over the top kills, and pure cheese. It is sex and violence just for the sake of it, with both elements shoe-horned into the film at every opportunity. The plot is thin, the premise weak, the acting atrocious, the dialogue terrible, and the film as a whole is really quite poor…yet it still retains it’s watchability. Crack open a beer or six, gather some friends, and enjoy this slice of 80’s sleaze.

Sexual Sadism in the Big Apple

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For YEARS, i had Maniac, and The New York Ripper confused, even so far as to think they were the same film. I think it is very likely that Maniac played a very influential role in the crafting of Ripper, and it doesn’t take a genius to see the similarities. Both were made only a few years apart, both track the brutal murders of a Serial Killer in New York who targets women, both are dripping with gore, and ruffled quite a few feathers in their time. The biggest difference is that while Maniac is a film where we know who the killer is, The New York Ripper allows us to immerse ourselves in the role of the killer, in effect to BE the killer, at least until the mystery is solved and his identity is revealed. We follow the exploits of the Ripper as he dispatches his victims with extreme sexual sadism. Broken bottles rammed into genitals, nipples sliced in half with razor blades, and a killer who speaks like a deranged Donald Duck. Wait…What?

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Eventually we learn why the killer quacks…sort of…but not without doing, what I feel, is irreparable damage to the film. If you remove the Duck-Voice element, what you have is a seedy, tense, erotic, and most of all violent film that retains the artistic cinematography and plotting of Italian cinema. A perverse snapshot of the seedy Underbelly of New York in the early 80’s. The film already had a built in audience with the Grindhouses of 42nd street, and likely would have broken through to the mainstream in time. But they had to do that damn quacking…It makes what we are watching immediately feel like a joke, and removes any of the impact of the film. All we are left with is over the top sexualized violence, and cheesy duck noise. The killer’s motivations are revealed to actually be somewhat profound, and even play into the closing scene where a terminally ill child calls her father(the killer) on the phone. She’s begging  for him to pick up, she misses him so very much…she NEEDS to speak to her Daddy…but her Daddy has been killed, and she’ll never speak to him again. This emotional scene should have had huge impact on the audience, but it’s all but forgotten by most. The Duck Quacking stopped us from caring. If you pay attention to the film, the Killer is anything but misogynistic, but…*quack-quack*…and people stopped caring. All that stuck with them was the quacking, and this image

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Now, after reading my review, you may think I disliked this film, but that is not the case. I love this film! I wish more people knew about it and got to enjoy the insanity of this early 80’s masterpiece. It’s just that fucking Duck Voice. It feels like a slap in the face. I need a drink…

Strange things are afoot at the Skinwalker Ranch

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Yup, it’s another found footage film about creepy paranormal events(feels trite saying activity). So right off the bat, most people already know if they will like this film or not. On top of all this, the film alleges to be based on true events. Here we go again…

I was familiar with the stories about the more commonly known Sherman Ranch for around two years, and have always been intrigued by the tales of UFOs, Bigfoot-like creatures, crop-circles, glowing orbs, and poltergeist activity. So upon hearing about this film, and seeing teaser trailers, I was very excited…but I couldn’t shake the feeling that this would be a repeat of what happened with “There’s nothing left to Fear” (check previous entries for my review).

The film follows an investigation of the ranch conducted by a team of experts in the wake of the disappearance of a Ranchers son right before his very eyes. Strange occurrences abound, and are captured by the oh-so-convenient camera setup, each encounter appearing more frightening than the last, until the films eerie conclusion that leaves more questions than answers.

The creature designs are ok, but I can’t help but think how much better they would have looked had they been done practically instead of CG. The acting is pretty sharp for a bunch of no-names. There aren’t any Oscar worthy performances here, but I fully believe each and every performance. Nobody seems trite or forced, and it all seems natural. Perfect for a Pseudo-Documentary Horror Film.

While the film doesn’t show us anything we haven’t seen in countless other FF films, or even a few episodes of Paranormal State…it’s still a very watchable film. Personally, I really enjoyed it. I have a soft spot for Found Footage Paranormal films. Sue me.

Cropsey’s gonna getcha!

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“What becomes of a Legend when the truth outruns fiction?”

Everyone has their Boogeyman, and in New York, he goes by the name of Cropsey. In this 2009 documentary, Joshua Zeman and Barbara Brancaccio take a look at how the Cropsey archetype  fits into NY urban legend, then shift to how the Legends came to life in Staten Island thanks to Andre Rand.

According to on camera interviews with several Staten Island residents, “Growing up in that area, EVERYONE had heard the stories of Cropsey”. The term “Cropsey” originally was a generic term referring to a psychotically violent criminal. Factor in the presence of the infamous Willowbrook State School, at the time the largest state-run mental health facility in the country. Questionable medical practices, barbaric care conditions and rampant over crowding only contributed to the local legend. Suddenly the idea of a raving mad excaped mental patient in showing up on your doorstep becomes a very real and very frightening possibility. Stories of Cropsey would vary slightly from person to person, what drove him mad, what weapon he carried, where he currently roamed…but what remained the same is that he was insane, and he preyed on children. And then, we meet the real life Cropsey.
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In the wake of the disappearance of a young girl named Jennifer Schweiger, the Staten Island community is stunned and terrified. After a 35 day search, her mutilated body is found in a shallow grave in the shadows of the dilapitated Willowbrook  school, suspicion is quickly turned to Andre Rand. Rand is a man of disturbing demeanor who not only was seen with the missing girl around the time that she disappeared, but has a prior history of sexual assault and kidnappings, as well as heavy ties to Willowbrook.

In the midst of their retrospective, we learn that in the years since Rands conviction and imprisonment, he has become linked to the disappearances of 4 other children in the area. Our documentarians follow the events of Rands trial for the kidnapping of Holly Anne Hughes, and as we learn more about Andre Rand, we are left with even more questions and fewer answers. Possible ties to cult activity, allegations of several attempted kidnappings, odd coincidences surrounding the alleged victims, possible ties to David Berkowitz (the famous .44 caliber killer of New York, aka the Son of Sam), only add more eerie uncertainty and intrigue to this story.
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If you are a fan of true crime documentaries, such as Paradise Lost, or are fans of “The Burning” and “American Horror Story:Asylum”, and want to learn about some of the true events that influenced them, then I highly recommend checking this doc out.

I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes from an interviewee, “Whenever people don’t want something, they throw it away, and when you throw something away, you gotta put it somewhere. That’s why we have landfills, and they seem to stick those on Staten Island. They do the same with people. We’ve got Mental hospitals, reform schools, Tuberculosis wards…a lot of them, all close together. Landfills and human landfills. Eventually every landfill is going to fester…to rot and become worse and then spill out to contaminate the surrounding area. Eventually all those things you didn’t want to deal with are going to get out of our control, and then what? I think that’s what happened here…”

#31DaysOfHorror Countdown!

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Oct 1st: The Exorcist: https://doctorhavok.wordpress.com/2013/10/01/31daysofhorror-october-1st/

Oct 2nd: The Burning: https://doctorhavok.wordpress.com/2013/10/03/31daysofhorror-october-2nd/

Oct 3rd: Pieces: https://doctorhavok.wordpress.com/2013/10/07/31daysofhorror-oct-3-6/

Oct 4th: Deep Red: https://doctorhavok.wordpress.com/2013/10/07/31daysofhorror-oct-3-6/

Oct 5th: Burial Ground: https://doctorhavok.wordpress.com/2013/10/07/31daysofhorror-oct-3-6/

Oct 6th: Warlock: https://doctorhavok.wordpress.com/2013/10/07/31daysofhorror-oct-3-6/

Oct 7th: Silver Bullet: https://doctorhavok.wordpress.com/2013/10/09/31dayofhorror-oct-7-9/

Oct 8th:The Fog: https://doctorhavok.wordpress.com/2013/10/09/31dayofhorror-oct-7-9/

Oct 9th: Sleepaway Camp: https://doctorhavok.wordpress.com/2013/10/09/31dayofhorror-oct-7-9/

Oct 10th: Lifeforce: https://doctorhavok.wordpress.com/2013/10/11/31daysofhorror-oct-10/

Oct 11th: Night Of The Demons: https://doctorhavok.wordpress.com/2013/10/16/31daysofhorror-oct-11-12/

Oct 12th: Demons: https://doctorhavok.wordpress.com/2013/10/16/31daysofhorror-oct-11-12/

Oct 13th: C.H.U.D. : https://doctorhavok.wordpress.com/2013/10/16/31daysofhorror-oct-13-15/

Oct 14th: Cheerleader Camp: https://doctorhavok.wordpress.com/2013/10/16/31daysofhorror-oct-13-15/

Oct 15th: The Howling II: Your Sister is a Werewolf: https://doctorhavok.wordpress.com/2013/10/16/31daysofhorror-oct-13-15/

Oct 16th: Pet Sematary: https://doctorhavok.wordpress.com/2013/10/17/31daysofhorror-oct-16th/

Oct 17th: From Beyond: https://doctorhavok.wordpress.com/2013/10/21/31daysofhorror-oct-17th/

Oct 18th: The Howling part V: https://doctorhavok.wordpress.com/2013/10/21/31daysofhorror-oct-18th/

Oct 19th: Maniac: https://doctorhavok.wordpress.com/2013/10/22/31daysofhorror-oct-19th/

Oct 20th: Ghoulies: https://doctorhavok.wordpress.com/2013/10/22/31daysofhorror-oct-20th/

Oct 21st: The Howling: https://doctorhavok.wordpress.com/2013/10/22/31daysofhorror-oct-21/

Oct 22nd: Slumber Party Massacre: https://doctorhavok.wordpress.com/2013/10/23/31daysofhorror-oct-22/

Oct 23rd: Suspiria: https://doctorhavok.wordpress.com/2013/10/24/31daysofhorror-oct-23rd/

Oct 24th: Zombi 2: https://doctorhavok.wordpress.com/2013/10/28/31daysofhorror-oct-24/

Oct 25th: Phantasm: https://doctorhavok.wordpress.com/2013/10/29/31daysofhorror-oct-25/

Oct 26th: Night Of The Living Dead: https://doctorhavok.wordpress.com/2013/10/29/31daysofhorror-oct-26th/

Oct 27th: Nightmare On Elm Street: https://doctorhavok.wordpress.com/2013/10/29/31daysofhorror-oct-27th/

Oct 28th: Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2:  https://doctorhavok.wordpress.com/2013/10/31/31daysofhorror-oct-29th/

Oct 29th: The Haunting: https://doctorhavok.wordpress.com/2013/10/31/31daysofhorror-oct-29th/

Oct 30th: House On Haunted Hill: https://doctorhavok.wordpress.com/2013/10/31/31daysofhorror-oct-30th/

Oct 31st: Halloween III: Season Of The Witch:  https://doctorhavok.wordpress.com/2013/11/01/31daysofhorror-oct-31/