Zombie-Muthafuckin-BEAVERS!!!

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How the fuck do I review a movie where the title tells you literally EVERYTHING about the film? 50,000 Beaver jokes later, I am thoroughly entertained…but no closer to the answer. I first saw the Poster, and thought I was being ribbed. No fucking way a film about Zombie Beavers was a real thing. Zombeavers is very much a thing, and you all need to watch it.

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After ripping off the opening of both Return of the Living Dead part 2 and Radioactive Redneck Zombies, we transition to the truly unique plot of College Kids venturing out to a Cabin in the Woods for a weekend of debauchery. Throw in the obligatory tit-shots, bad jokes, sex, a love triangle, and cheesy creature FX, and you have a film that should be a total flop on paper, yet somehow manages to entertain in a major way.

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Let’s be perfectly clear about this: Zombeavers is a stupid fucking movie in every way you can measure. It is redeemed by never taking itself seriously. It doesn’t take a genius to notice that the horror genre has been littered with silliness and stupidity over the years, be it accidental, tongue in cheek, or balls-out blatant. The film is well made, well cast, and overall looks and sounds top notch…except for the Zombeavers. You can’t count that as a negative though…the ZBs ARE stupid, so they should LOOK stupid. The filmmakers clearly weren’t concerned about elevating the art form, or adding a bold new chapter the the lexicon of fright films, they were concerned with having a good time, and making a fun movie that is sure to entertain.

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Oh, and in case you were wondering what happens when you get bit by a Zombeaver…

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YOU TURN INTO A WERZOMBEAVER-HUman-hybridy…thing…with the, uhhh…FUCK YOU! Let’s see you come up with a better name!

#31DaysOfHorror: Oct 22

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Very few films transcend the Horror genre and even fewer kickstart a Global Phenomenon. Night Of the Living Dead was groundbreaking in it’s time and forever changed the landscape of fright films. Look no further than the success of properties like Resident Evil, Shaun Of The Dead, the Walking Dead, and Zombiewalk to see that The Living Dead are here to stay.

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In plan on doing a very in depth review of NOTLD in the future, so I won’t get too deep into things just yet. Just know that a commentary on the themes of civil unrest, racial tension, and subversion will be made. I’ll also examine the lineage of NOTLD, its various sequels and spin offs, both official and unofficial. Trust me, it gets convoluted!

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On this fine evening, I saw NOTLD presented by the Gentleman Hecklers. This is a local collection of 3 comedians who screen films, then sit in the front row with live microphones and talk shit about the film while it’s playing. Sort of a live version of Mystery Science Theater 3000, if you will. Something occurred to me that hadn’t during any other viewing of the film. It’s really boring at times! Don’t get me wrong, I still love the film, but having the Hecklers point out how much of the running time is taken up by absolutely nothing happening was somewhat of a revelation. How often do we, as devout Horror fans excuse “Nothing Happening” for a slow burn or atmosphere? I’m gonna say it goes both ways, it really just depends on how you view it. If you are by yourself or with other Horror Fans, lack of action can easily be nailed down to slow-burn psychological terror…but if you’re with your buddies and in the mood for a good time, then it won’t be long before someone yells “Boooooring! Let’s drink til Barbara gets naked!”

#31DaysOfHorror: Oct 17

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After the last film, I felt completing the Gates Of Hell trilogy would be just the thing to get me back on track. I’ve already reviewed the film in my Let’s Get NASTY series ( http://wp.me/p3tjV6-mt ), so I won’t go back over old territory. I will however reiterate that this film still fills me with dread. There is something unearthly about the atmosphere and tone, something almost dream-like.

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And of course, being a film by Lucio Fulci, it is dripping with Gore. Originally Fulci intended to make a non-linear haunted house story with the only solid plot element being that of a woman moving into a hotel that was built atop one of the Seven Gates Of Hell. This story focused on the dead leaving Hell and entering the Hotel, with little outside of the ensuing carnage to link the scenes together. Zombies were still popular in Europe and interest in Haunted House films was non existent, so Producers and Distributors persuaded Fulci to give them something more like his other Zombie films. Revisions were made to the final product such as adding Zombies, and completely changing the final act to include the Hospital shoot-out. What we’re left with is a fantastic film that I consider one of Fulci’s best. Full of dread, gore, shocks, and a rare dream-like incoherence.

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#31DaysOfHorror: Oct 1

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Jesus H. Dominican Republic… The fuck did I just watch? Ever since I was a wee lad browsing the VHS aisles not even able to read, let alone rent the damn things, this film or more specifically, the box art stood out to me. Only now am I seeing it for the first time. What a fucking bent way to start this years #31DaysOfHorror.

So, the film starts off with some little shit named Billy, who is pissed that his parents forgot his 13th birthday, so he decides to run away into the woods, talk to shady drifters, and enter deserted mansions as he pleases. As you can probably tell, I fucking hate Billy. No real reason why…just fuck that annoying little snot. Anyway, Billy enters this mysterious mansion in the woods, and finds it decorated for a birthday party. He opens a present only to discover a severed head is inside. Billy then loses his shit, powders out of there, and is then attacked by some weird creature with a hook hand. Damn thing makes noises kind of like a cat, and looks like fucking Nightcrawler from the X – Men. He catches Billy and throws him in a shallow grave, slowly covering the lazy little shit with soil until Billy is buried alive. Good riddance!

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Shortly after, an odd grouping of young and older folks comes out to the mansion to party. Why this mansion? What is their relation to each other? No clue. It’s never addressed, all we know is each insufferably annoying. Also, a sorcerer named Kreon lives there, and needs to sacrifice the group to somehow aid him in preserving the youth of his reluctant Bride. He unleashes all manner of supernatural creatures to dispatch the group, including reptile demons, giant spiders, an electrified tentacle thingy, a witch-ish puppet thing…a pretty sweet looking Grim Reaper, Zombies and…did those Mud-Men just fucking fart?

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…Why are they constantly farting? What fucking purpose does this serve? The creature effects have been pretty decent overall, nothing ground breaking by any stretch…but making the Mud-Men fart…I really don’t know what to make of it. That seems an appropriate reaction to the film. The whole affair feels disjointed and oddly edited. It’s a confusing affair…then I did some research.

It seems that Spookies began under the title Twisted Souls. Part way through production, there was some kind of dispute between the financial backers and the Directors, resulting in funding being pulled before post-production could be completed. All the footage concerning the partyers in the mansion, and all the creatures they encounter directly was directed by Brendan Faulkner and Thomas Doran. After Legal and creative disputes, Financiers hired Eugenie Joseph to direct more footage which was pieced together with the footage from Twisted Souls, creating Spookies. The added footage by Joseph, with an entirely different cast, includes all the footage of the boy looking for his birthday party; Drifter; Cat-man-Nightcrawler; old, withered magician; girl in coffin; zombies; witch in basement/cave; and the little blue boy. It’s a fucking mess. It’s the kind of story I would expect from one of the Video Nasty films (eerily similar to what I discussed with Cannibal Terror).

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So, that is Spookies! You truly need to see it for yourself to appreciate how random and unfocused it is. When you do (because I always assume that you Creeps just blindly follow my advice), You’ll see that as I mentioned before, you’ll see the FX are really pretty decent, and even more impressive given the turmoil on set and lack of proper budget allocation. It’s a fun, weird slice of 80s horror muck, and I’m glad I sat through it. I will say though…I feel a little let down that not once did these fantastic tits get let out to play!

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Call me a misogynist if you like, but I’m pretty sure those were the only reason she got the job in the first place, because it certainly wasn’t her acting chops.

#31DaysOfHorror: Oct 3-6

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Oct 3rd: Pieces(1982): http://youtu.be/A97EOtxF2gA

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I think the original intention for this film was to have it loosely based on Ed Gein, but like most plans in the 80’s, it soon went to shit in hilariously sleazy ways. The opening scene shows a young boy putting together a puzzle of a nude lady, all while singing the Humpty Dumpty song “…all the kings horses and all the kings men couldn’t put the pieces together again”. He is caught by his Mother, who hits him, calls him a filthy pervert like his father, and then yells for him to get a plastic bag, so she can “Burn it all”. The film is dubbed from Spanish, so some of the translations are awkward and make the dialogue sound silly, which explains why plastic bags are essential to fire building. Instead of being obediant, the little boy decides to grab an axe and chop his porn-blocking Mother to pieces. As the boy finishes putting together his nudie puzzle, a friend of his Mother knocks at the door. Upon receiving no answer, she immediately fetches two police officers to break in and conduct a search. That escalated quickly! The crafty little sociopath hides in a closet and pretends that some random Man came in and committed the slaughter, and he is whisked off to a relative. The narrative jumps forward several years and we see the killer still in possession of his Mothers bloody dress, and the Nudie Puzzle, both now triggering his murderous urges to boil over and begin stalking a university campus. 

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This film has all the ingredients of a great slasher film, but it’s like the ingredients were assembled and baked in an easy bake oven. It’s slightly retarded, but you love it anyway. The dialogue is awkward, the acting is terrible, and the plot is baffling. A campus Cassanova is allowed to work closely with the police to help catch the killer, for virtually no reason, and then there is the random Asian Kung Fu attack. Watch it to see what i mean. This is absolutely a film that should be watched with friends and alcohol. A Bloody good time!

 

Oct 4th: Deep Red(1975): http://youtu.be/IO8dtFwvu-Q

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Dario Argento is one of the Masters of Horror. As much as i love his films, the scores by Goblin stand out to me the most, and this film may have the best score of all. The story opens with a public demonstration of a psychic using her skills to read people in the crowd, only to proclaim that someone in the crowd has “Killed before, and will kill again”. Soon this very same Psychic finds herself the victim of a bloody death which is witnessed by her neighbor, who begins investigate the murder in hopes of catching the killer. Keep in mind, he is not an officer of the law…he’s a Pianist. Of course. Argento crafts a truly eerie film by focusing on atmoshere and mood. Several elements stand out such as one eye of the killer peering out from the darkness of a closet, or a creepy mechanical doll running towards a soon to be victim, or the young girl who has a history of mutilating lizards and seems to take delight in it. I can’t help but think these are ideas Argento had that he wasn’t able to flesh out into full films, but felt they were too good not to include somewhere. The full film can be found here: http://youtu.be/CsLnaq1mAE4, As out-dated as it may be, it still doesn’t fail to illicit chills.

 

Oct 5th: Burial Ground (1981): http://youtu.be/ixxGww40-pY

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HOLY FAAAAAAAAK! This one is bizarre! A scientist is researching an ancient crypt underneath a Mansion, and decides to invite 3 Jet-setting couples to join him for the weekend. Before they arrive, the scientist manages to unleash an Ancient curse which causes the dead to rise and tear him apart, then turn their attention to the newly arrived couples and one small child. Now, as far as Italian Zombie films go, this is nothing out of the ordinary. The Zombie make-up looks decent, the zombie themselves even seem a bit more resourceful than usual, so where does it go weird? The sex? All three couples arrive at the mansion, and immediately go upstairs to fuck, only to get dressed, go to explore the grounds, and then fuck outside! Nope, that’s not where it gets weird…One of the Women has brought along her young son Michael along…and Michael is portrayed by an adult midget…

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This wasn’t done because the role called for any kind of sophisticated acting…It was done because there is an Incest angle played out between Michael and his Mother. During the Post-Arrival-Fuck-Fest, Michael walks in on his Mother, and appears very disturbed. Throughout the film he will not stray from her side and frequently holds her tightly. Eventually he becomes traumatized by the Zombie assault, and is taken into an empty room by his Mother to comfort him. It seems that Michael’s idea of comfort is to kiss his mother and play with her tits. She lets it go on for a brief moment before slapping him. Michael then yells “What’s wrong?!? I’m your son!” Pretty much just answered your own question there, lil fella. Later, Michael is killed, but rises as a Zombie. Deciding that the best way to welcome her son back to her is to pop a tit out and invite him to suckle, Michael’s Mother may have to most hilarious Zombie death of all time.

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Now, I know that incest-zombies may not be everyone’s bag, but this film has plenty more to offer. Like regular zombies, and sex, and a Midget!

Oct 6th: Warlock(1989): http://youtu.be/FmmYDGknX-U

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I can’t remember how old i was when i first saw this film, but I do remember that it was on VHS, and that it was right around then time when i became aware that i really liked being scared. Looking back on the film now, I can appreciate the subtleties that led me to find it so frightening. The story concerns a Warlock, played by Julian Sands, who is swept forward in time by Satan to track down and assemble the Grand Grimoire so he may un-make creation. He is pursued by a Witch-Hunter named Redferne, who chases him across modern day America in an attempt to put an end to to Warlock once and for all. The score is truly creepy, and Julian Sands paints a foreboding figure. Little things like a brief shot of an attic door hanging slightly open, followed by the hook of the score, and the realization that the Warlock must be hiding within, somehow managed to terrify me as a child, and even now give me a chill. I also enjoyed that exposition is kept to a minimum. We accept that magic and hexes and curses work, and we don’t need to dumb things down with explanations. Ultimately, it’s a decent film that still holds up (kinda) to this day, for what it is…just avoid the sequels. AT ALL COSTS!

 

Let’s Get Nasty: The Beyond, and A Bay Of Blood

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The Beyond (1981), has done what no other Zombie movie has done before, or since…It inspired real dread in me. Known in Italy as L’aldilà, and re-released after being heavily cut as Seven Doors of Death, this Lucio Fulci masterpiece is the second installment of his Gates Of Hell Trilogy(bookended by City of the Living Dead and House by the Cemetary), and one of his finest works. Rather than face prosecution for obscenity, the UK distributors elected to re-release the film in 1987 after certain scenes were cut. The uncut version was made available again in 2001.

The film opens in Black and White, set in 1927 Louisiana, at the Seven Doors Hotel. We see an angry Lynch mob coming for one of the male lodgers. My first reaction upon seeing this was “Ok, its the South, in the 20’s, he’s white…so they must either think he’s gay, or in league with Satan”. Turns out I was right, They think he’s a Warlock. Apparently the proper way to deal with Warlocks on the Bayou is to beat them mercilessly with a chain, splitting flesh with every strike, then nailing them to a wall in the basement with spikes through their wrists, then dousing them with quicklime(an incredibly caustic chemical compound) and melting them to death. How bout that? Fast Forward several decades, and a Big City Gal named Liza inherits the hotel with plans to re-open it. A fine plan! Probably stimulate the local economy, preserve a local piece of history…thumbs up! Except for one small detail…THE HOTEL IS LOCATED OVER ONE OF THE GATES OF HELL, AND KILLING THE WARLOCK/ARTIST OPENED THE GATE! MWA-HA-HA-HA-HAAAAAA! *cough*

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Before she knows it, she is visited by a Blind Ghost who tries to persuade the inhabitants to leave the house, Zombies and vengeful spirits begin to rise, big fuckin spiders eat peoples faces, a creepy old book plays hide and seek for a few scenes, and the final survivors are transported to a desolate wasteland, presumably Hell. As much as my description makes it sound silly, this film is beautifully crafted and has that distinct Italian style, even using one of my favorite devices of part of the score being played real time within a scene. The plot was originally conceived by Fulci as an exploration of the idea of the realms of living and dead bleeding together. Fulci also wanted to do a film that would pay homage to his idol, the French playwright Antonin Artaud . Artaud, a sometime member of the early 20th Century Surrealist movement, envisioned theatre being less about linear plot and more about “cruel” imagery and symbolism that could shock its audience into action. Given the amount of violence and carnage depicted in the film, I would say he achieved this goal.

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Zombie films and Zombies in general have been done to death today, but there will always be a special place in my heart for older Zombie films, particularly when they aren’t centered on some biological threat, or infectious jackassery. I much prefer MY dead to walk the earth because there’s no more room in hell.

 

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The film so offensive it made Christopher Lee walk out of a screening in disgust, and had it’s best kills aped by Friday the 13th! Most widely known as “Twitch of the Death Nerve”, this film may break the record for most titles. We’ve got Bay of Blood, Bloodbath, Reazione a Catena, The Odor of Flesh, Thus do we live to be evil, Before the Fact, The Ecology of Crime, Chain Reaction, Carnage, Last House On The Left Part II, New House On The Left, and Bloodbath Bay of Death. 13 motherfucking titles! Either Mario Bava is one indecisive motherfucker, or this is another example of the classic scenario we’ve seen of re-titleing a film for international release and for censorship/film rating issues. This 1971 Italian Giallo thriller was quite shocking in the day for it’s gruesome murders, 13 of them in total, which won awards for the use of special makeup effects. Ultimately though, this film was way before it’s time. It’s fantastically shot and crafted murders were off-putting for a large section of the film-going public at the time, but went on the be a huge influence on the slasher genre years later. The plot concerns family members killing each other off in an effort to be the sole heir inheriting a large and presumably valuable property. In grand Giallo style, the camera work hides the killers identity and they almost ALWAYS wear gloves. There is somewhat of a “whodunnit” approach which is eventually abandoned after several twists and turns. All you need to know is that many people die, and the killer could be anyone. Two of the more brilliant kills were lifted verbatim from this film and dropped straight into Friday the 13th part 2, and had a huge role in establishing Jason Vorhees as King Of the Slashers. First up, we dispatch shy Bobby who takes a Machete directly to the face, virtually out of nowhere.

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I say he had it coming. I mean, C’MON! I know it was the early 70s, and in Europe, but look at this dickhead in that sweater, with that stupid fucking haircut. You can’t see it in this pic, but he’s wearing tight khaki pants, and thigh high leather boots as well. Dude was practically begging for someone to Machete him in the face! Next we have a young couple, making the beast with two backs. A great POV shot tracks the killer advancing on them with a spear, and then…

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OH YEEEEEEAH! Take THAT Eurotrash! I like this kill so much that i’m gonna steal it and put it in MY movie too!

All in all, the shock value may not hold up well by today’s standards, but it’s influence cannot be understated. Director Joe Dante had this to say:  “It features enough violence and grue to satisfy the most rabid mayhem fans and benefits from the inimitably stylish direction of horror specialist Mario Bava. Assembled with a striking visual assurance that never ceases to amuse, this is typical Bava material – simply one ghastly murder after another, 13 in all, surrounded by what must be one of the most preposterous and confusing plots ever put on film.”

How can you get better than that?