Friday, November 10, 2006

General Housekeeping

Fixed the link to Band's blog, which is now hosted at wordpress and actually works properly.

Also, added a link to a site called Band Fans which is really well done and has a kickass Tim Thomerson banner!

Evil Bong should be at my local Hollyshit Video soon, so look for a review of that and a few new VHS tapes I bought the other day...

On a final note, if you collect any of the Full Moon toys, check out the Puppet Master Forum link on the right, and you'll find lots of others who do too...

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Review: Petrified (2006)

2 out of 5 full moons
Petrified is Charles Band's latest attempt at comic book-y camp-y horror. The premise fits well within the Full Moon family: during a botched artifact sale by some shady hustlers, the blood of an old guy leaks onto the mummified remains of an alien, resurrecting said alien, who chases one of the hustlers back to a nympho-rehab center.
The final product is not good. Not funny in the least. The "horror" effects look like 15 minutes with Mac's iFilm, and sluggish pacing sets the action (what little there is) in between long expository plot dumps from our boring characters. Even the hotties aren't all that hot.
The "house" that makes up the nympho-rehab center looks like the house from Doll Graveyard. Later in the film as the action moves to the basement, you'd swear that an industrial warehouse was located under the ground at the house.
The mummy itself is well done: the only reason I've opted for a "2" rating. The highlight of the flick is the mummy observing some lesbian fondling (not for the un-hot fondling, but for the mummy's reactions).
A one-word review of "putrified" would be sufficient. So, let's all pray together that Evil Bong will be worth a look when it's released in a couple of weeks....

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Monday, July 24, 2006

Bad Moon Risin'

Petrified is now slated for a September 26th release. The trailer is online here. The Evil Bong trailer is here. EB is gonna come out October 26th. No mention of Cutter's Club.

I participated in my first "horror roundtable" over at the horror blog. As is evidenced by the 40+ fan emails I received following my masterful exposition, I was the clear winner. :)

A question has been rolling in my skull: When was the last (or only?) time you saw an African American actor in a Full Moon flick (Big City Pictures films don't count)? has an interview with Jay "Woeful" Woelfel (director of Demonicus and Trancers 6).

MJ has an interview with Danny Draven (edited Tomb of Terror, and the three newest titles, and directed Horrorvision).

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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Review: Backlash: Oblivion 2 (1996)

4 out of 5 full moons

Oblivion and Oblivion 2 are easily the best non-R-rated Full Moon flicks I've seen.

Backlash picks up where the first ended: Zach is the new sheriff, his friends Stella (Meg Foster) and Buteo (Jimmie F. Skaggs) are his deputies, Lash is still teamed up with dumb-but-strong Irwin Keyes (yes, Jaws from James Bond), and so on, and so on.

It's a scifi western, love triangle, mystery thriller all rolled into one. Sweeney, the galaxy's most feared bounty hunter, rolls into Oblivion looking for an arch-criminal in disguise. Zach immediately offers up Lash as the bad mama, but soon realized she's not the one. Stuff happens for an hour and we end up with another giant scorpion finale.

Maybe the best role in the whole thing goes to George Takei's bumbling doctor/mad scientist, Doc Valentine whose penchant for drunken rambling turns out quite funny.

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Monday, July 10, 2006

Review: Totem (1999)

3 out of 5 full moons
Man, I was in the mood for this the other night! I had just come off a weekend of Asylum Films dreck, and Totem hit the spot. So, the following review is gonna be: why I liked this movie / why you won't.
The plot follows a well-worn convention, by getting some kids (6, in this case) into a cabin in the woods on a dark and stormy night. What little originality there is plotwise, comes from the fact that the 6 kids have been summoned by some unknown force (the film begins with the 6th arriving) and can't get away because of some invisible barrier that turns them all slow.
The kids discover a graveyard containing an old stone totem with some monster statues. The graveyard seems to be the center of the circle of their confinement. As the bodies pile up, they discover that they have been summoned to wake a stone totem monster by killing each other (3 killers, 3 victims).
There is absolutely no action in this flick (and very little gore). Large chunks of conversations between the kids (becoming more and more panicked) make up most of the film, and in most b-movies that's the kiss of death. But, for Totem, there is a pretty good script and the actors convey the sense of impending doom (besides a brief make-out session) that is necessary for it all to work.
The final 5 minutes of Totem faces the ugly challenge of wrapping up the 3v3 kids, the three totem puppets, and two newly awoken zombies. The challenge is not met, and the film meanders through an almost incomprehensible ending with lots of thunder and lightning. The puppets just sort of hang out by the totem (I guess puppeteer Bergschneider wasn't around on the final day, and Dave DeCouteau couldn't figure out anything else to do...).
I know I'm being too kind with my 3 rating, but dammit, I liked this one, and would recommend it to any Full Moon fan who may be tiring of really fake gore efx, and just want a good story. But, please don't waste your time on this on my recommendation alone: I don't want you thinking I've lost my touch.
Other Reviews (all very negative): Monsters at Play,, 1000 Misspent Hours.

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Thursday, July 06, 2006

25 and counting...

I've now seen over 30 Full Moon pics in about two months. Yes, that's 1 every 2 days. And, yes that is waaay too many for the average brain to handle. But, alas, my brain is stupid.

Along the way, I've gone through periods of intense hatred for the Huckster, as well as times of admiration, fondness, and amazement. I've also gone through about a hundred bucks in rental fees, and now used VHS purchases.

My personal Full Moon library has gone from 0 to about 10, not including the Subspecies box set I got from I've basically cleaned out my local Hollywood Video of used Full Moon VHS tapes, and am now the proud owner of such masterpieces as Totem, The Killer Eye and Alien Arsenal.

I'm gonna have to find some new places to buy (not eBay: those a-holes want like 4 dollars for shipping and handling for a .95 cent tape!).

I'm hoping FM will get off their asses and get Petrified out to the masses. My gut is pegging it as a 2 out of 5 rating, with a couple of good scenes and a "70"-minute runtime, but I'm hoping it's a 3. I'm really hoping. I think a 4 is too much to ask for, as it seems like it's the same plot as Shrieker (which, along with Creeps and Head of the Family, is a flick I'm actually looking forward to reviewing!).

Oh, and the wikipedia page for Full Moon is actually pretty good, including some innuendo and rumors and maybe a bit too much about JR Bookwalter. It's interesting to read the rights history to these films, and it looks like most of them from the Paramount era will never make it onto DVD, and those that do will be distributed by Anchor Bay (which is a good thing if you ask me).

Until then, try the teaser of Evil Bong.

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Review: Alien Arsenal (1999)

2 out of 5 full moons.
I've really gone and crapped on the toilet this time. You see, Alien Arsenal isn't just a Full Moon pic. It's part of the Full Moon-meets-Disney Channel-dreckfest that is Full Moon's ActionFX/PulsePounders line of PG-13 Dave DeCouteau films. I've been dreading watching these ever since I started this stupid blog.
The only reason I'm steering away from a one-rating, is the lead actor, Josh Hammond who plays a good nerd. He's sort of Corey Haim, and he keeps the movie moving through all of it's Power Rangers efx and gaping plot-holes. The tomboy sidekick is played well by Danielle Hoover, but that's about the end of my niceties.
The movie's premise is really simple: Aliens have left an arsenal in the basement of the high school and now that it's been opened by our leads, they're gonna destroy the planet. They equip the head bully in Alien gear to be archnemesis to our nerd hero in alien gear. Unfortunately, the script or DeCouteau, or both, seem to believe that we need to be spoonfed the plot in a bunch of worthless conversations which make up half of the film.
When the action does happen, it's terribly inept, and we get a series of Commodore 64 blips and laser efx to enhance the fights. Yawn. The aliens themselves are introduced as 3 Kraut-rock twins at school and there is a bit of humor to them that quickly wears off.

The whole flick wears off after about 30 minutes. Pass on it.

Other Reviews: TrenchMan (really fun review), SF H and F Reviews.

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Review: Trancers 4: Jack of Swords (1994)

3 out of 5 full moons.
In Trancers 4, we find Jack returning to the future (his present). He's got Shark's head as a lampshade now, and instead of a Trancer-hunter, he's now a timecop. Big whoop.

There seems to be a disturbance in the time continuum in Kansas and so Jack climbs into his little phone booth looking time-machine. He gets accosted by an alien and is sent, instead, to some alternate dimension where people are scared of some sword-wielding trancer nobles. Basically, he's sent to Full Moon studios in Romania where they can film both Trancers 4 and Trancers 5 at the same time to save money and be able to afford Thomerson.

Jack gets some sweet one-liners and some duds (you just know there's gonna be a "This doesn't look like Kansas" line). Unfortunately, Jack also gets his ass kicked. All the time. None of his James Bond gear works in this dimension, so he spends the whole movie getting beat up. Note: the bit with the long-second watch in reverse was hilarious.

Overall, the flick has high energy, a halfway decent script, some babes, and some funny action scenes. I think in the scheme of Trancers fans, you either like number 3 or number 4, but never both. I have always tended to err on the side of 4 and 5, but neither of them is that great a flick.

Other Reviews: Stomp Tokyo, shlntv.

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Sunday, July 02, 2006

Full Moon blogged...

Trash City has a nice little review retrospective called Charles Band's Doll Squad in honor of The Huckster's visit to Phoenix in the fall...

Note that the next Full Moon release, Petrified, is still in post-production, though The Huckster had previously slotted a June release for the undead-mummy flick. So, it looks like Petrified, then Cutter's Club, then Evil Bong...

Skewed and Reviewed has interviews with actors from Ginderdead and Doll Graveyard...

Thanks for the publicity to Warren from his rechristened 150 Days of Sodom. I always read Warren. Always.

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Review: Sideshow (2000)

3 out of 5 full moons
A "3 full moons" is a bit harsh for this little Fred Olen Ray gem that spun nicely in my VCR last night. The flick is genuinely a "freak fest" and makeup efx guru Gabe Bartalos (of Basket Case fame!) does a ridiculously good job of making some gruesome and funny freaks with what must've been an itty-bitty budget.
Besides the freaks, Sideshow has Phil Fondacaro going for it, and he's at his best in this one. I'd rate it his best Full Moon performance to date, as he is by turn mean and funny and nice, all shot through with carny hucksterisms.
The plot is simple enough: teens visit creepy sideshow and get what they deserve. See, the good Dr. Graves (Fondacaro) has a little glass booth that turns people into freaks for his show. While it doesn't have little Ricky Coogan going for it, Sideshow does have enough fun and freaks to stand out from the Full Moon dreck of the 2000's.

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Review: Voodoo Academy (2000)

1 out of 5 full moons
I knew this would be bad going in: Dave DeCouteau directing a movie about a boy's school. He failed to disappoint. Voodoo Academy is now the worst Full Moon flick I've ever seen. Bar none.
The plot is thus: hot, rich widower Mrs. Bouvier (the 2000's Full Moon girl, Debra Mayer) runs a college with a crackpot reverend because they want to sucker some young, "pure" guys into a voodoo ritual that puts their heads on a tiny voodoo doll so that they can resurrect a really bad guy.
All fine and dandy, until you begin the meat of the movie, which is guys in their underwear talking about what's going on. The efx is lame. The dialogue isn't even funny in that "so-bad" sort of funny. And, of course, we get a short running time (though it feels like I've aged a year or so), a single set (gotta love a college dorm where all 6 students sleep in the same small room), and did I mention the sitting around talking in their underwear?
Trite. Mindless. Drivel.

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Saturday, July 01, 2006

I wish Charles Band would've thought of...

1. The Leprechaun series. Just imagine Phil Fondacaro as the limerick-spoutin' killer! It really would've fit the Full Moon franchise well. Just as Band was opening up to Alchemy Entertainment/Big City Pictures for their lame brand of "urban horror", Warwick Davis was goin' Back 2 tha Hood!

2. The Silent Night, Deadly Night franchise. Hmmmm. It's 1984 and Charles Band's Empire Pictures is set to release the most profitable film it will ever make (bad publicity makes money): Stuart Gordon's Silent Night, Deadly Night, starring Jeffrey Combs as our axe-wielding Saint Nick! In sequels 6 and 7, released some time after the Paramount well dries up, Band can add helpful homicidal elves that can be turned into marketable toys!

3. The Carnosaur flicks. Look, it's simple: Band had all of the props and shtick ready from the Prehysteria kiddie films! How much cooler would it have been to have Brinke Stevens, Julie Strain and Karen Smith running topless from some lame-o dinos?

4. The Barbarians! I'm sorry, but the Barbarian Brothers meet the Band Brothers is just too easy. Charlie produces, Albert directs (I know, I know, it's his kid!), and Richard scores the 80's synthesizer music. It would've coincided perfectly with Full Moon. The first flick could've been the R-rated scifi/horror/actioner with some boobs, puppets, and cheap efx. And then, just as the Barbs did anyway, Band could've prodded them into his burgeoning kidvids.

5. The Mad Max Trilogy. Mel friggin' Gibson?? Naw. Try Tim Thomerson on for size. See how easy that just rolls off the tongue....Tim Thomerson is Mad Max. Cool. Tough. And blighted wasteland one-liners. Sure, Full Moon would've never gotten Tina Turner for Thunderdome, but Grace Jones was available and can sing too!

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Review: The Killer Eye (1999)

1 out of 5 full moons
An unscarier bad guy than Killjoy? A dumber premise than Dr. Bones? A more hackneyed script than Horrorvision? Has Dave DeCouteau directed the worst film of his softcore-horror career? Was Killer Eye really only 80 minutes long instead of the 4 hours of drivel it seemed?
These questions and more on the next episode of Seizures from Boredom!
What could've been a fun, campy and maybe a bit gory premise is emasculated completely by DD's need to show boobs at all expense. Unfortunately, the expense is paid by plot, efx, and characters. In the hands of Henenlotter I'd probably be groveling at the feet of this flick, but as it is, I can't wait for this review to be done, so I can go out back and burn this VHS into friggin' ash.
Basically: a mad scientist makes a gigolo's eye fall out via some dumb experiment with eye drops for seeing the 8th dimension. The eye grows bigger than a human head, gets upright on its optic nerve, stares at some medical posters about genitalia that happen to be posted up on the wall of the lab, and walks away. It diddles the scientist's wife who's been sleeping with two druggies next door, then diddles the scientist's assistant's wife in the shower, then they all chase each other around diddling. There's a few deaths (I guess they died, when they disappeared?) and some boobs and it's all very slow and lame.
Also, we get Full Moon's Jeffrey Combs-wannabe, Blake Bailey playing Creepy Bill, which is really a sad knockoff of Brad Pitt playing Jeffrey Goines in 12 Monkeys.
Finally, there is absolutely nothing worse in a movie than constant fake thunder and lighting. Along with lameness and boobs, this seems to be a DD specialty.

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Friday, June 30, 2006

Review: Trancers 3: Deth Lives (1992)

2 out of 5 full moons
I've always considered T3 the weakest of the franchise, and upon re-viewing, I'm now convinced of this. Sure, 4 and 5 were "Romanian" Full Moons, but they had a bit more energy to them. With that said, Deth Lives is, of course, a must-watch for Full Moon fans, since this is really the franchise franchise.
What this installment lacks in momentum, it more than makes up for in one-liners. Jack gets to share zingers with a partner/trancette. And, for the last time in the series (so far, anyway), all the gang is back together: wife Helen Hunt, ex-wife Megan Ward, engineer/commander Telma Hopkins, and commander Raines.
Best Quote: Jack: "Hey, I've got a little lag here, and itsa helluvan adjustment!"
Shark: "Adjust to the adjustment."
So, anyway, the top trancer baddie in this one is Col. Daddy Muthah, played by Dirty Harry's nemesis, Andrew Robinson, with a southern accent and a whole bunch of military trancers at his beck-and-call (for superhuman, trancerized soldiers they do get killed real easy...).
I guess a 2 is a harsh rating, but I got bored at times watching this one. And, while it was nice to see Helen Hunt again, it was pretty boring and had lame efx. If you're like me and know what "Only squids can be tranced, baby" means, you'll rent/buy and enjoy.
Other Reviews: Stomp Tokyo, shnltv.

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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Review: Trancers 6 (2002)

3 out of 5 full moons
Zette Sullivan is this monkey's banana: she absolutely nails Tim Thomerson's Jack Deth, in the latest and greatest entry into the Trancers franchise. Trancers 6 is less about wasting Trancers than it is about Thomersonesque one-liners.
I'd give it a 4, but the plot's really pretty weak and the efx are less-than-TV quality. What Jay "used to be woeful" Woelfel does is turn the series into a scifi comedy, and it's a masterstroke.
Basic Premise: Jack has to "go down the line" and dust some trancers who are angling to take out his daughter (who is also his great-grandmother) or he'll stop existing. Woelfel uses a little stock Thomerson footage to get the thing going, then we cut right to the star of the show Jo Deth (Zette-baby!). She immediately gets fired by her trancer boss after reading him the riot act and zinging the other squids in the office, and the dusting trancers portion of the flick is on.
Definitely worth a rent if you liked the first.

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Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Review: The Dead Hate the Living (2000)

4 out of 5 full moons
Just what I like to see in a post-90's Full Moon release: they really tried! The script is up to snuff - getting the film moving with a bang before we drop into character intros. The acting is enough to carry it along, and the sets and effects are great. Especially the effects!
What we get with The Dead Hate the Living that you won't find on most post-Paramount Full Moon flicks is gore! Certifiable gore! As for plot....sure, it's dumb, even trite, and most definitely unoriginal, but its also funny, quick, and bends over for gore.
Basically, we've got a small indie film crew with one camera shooting a zombie movie in some abandoned laboratory. There's some "in-jokes" about Romero and Savini and Campbell and Karloff and one of the crew members has a FULCI LIVES bumper sticker. Unfortunately for the crew, there's some real zombies and a mad scientist who brought them back to life in the lab as well. Yeah, you read that right: zombies and mad scientists!! Mayhem ensues. And the film hangs tight, but the ending....the ending is fantastic! No spoilers here.
More than a "rentable" little movie, I think, if you're a Full Moon fan you'll really fall a bit for this one.

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Review: Doll Graveyard (2005)

3 out of 5 full moons
So, Charles Band has released 3 movies under the new incarnation that is Full Moon Features cum Wizard Entertainment. All three are about 60 minutes long. All three have basically a single set. All three have minimal characters. And, of course, all three have small and marketable mini-killers: Marvin the Homunculus from the piss-poor Decadent Evil, the Busey-cookie from the piss-and-vinegar The Gingerdead Man, and finally the four little killer puppet dolls from Doll Graveyard.
This is the last of the three new releases that I'm reviewing and is the hardest review to develop. I'm completely wishy-washy about the film. There's so much good in the premise, there's some funny deaths, some lovingly crafted mini-killers, that I gravitated for a long time (I watched this one with notecard in hand about 3 months ago) towards a good, solid 4-full-moon rating. But, alas, there is too little in this film.
I'd start with the running time ripoff (60 minutes!), but I discussed that ad nauseum in my Gingerdead and Decadent reviews. I would follow with being pissed off that the cool killer dolls only get about 5 minutes of screentime, but isn't that every Full Moon feature? Finally, I could groan about the gore efx, or lack thereof, but then we're talking about a 100-grand flick here, aren't we?

There's enough promise in the premise to get the film going: little girl is mistakenly killed by her more-than-austere father and buried in a hole in the backyard with her 4 little dolls: samurai doll, baby doll, African tribesman doll, and kaiser doll. And, yeah the dolls are pretty racially denigrating, but Band's idea was that they look like something from the early 1900's or something...
The film then follows a motherless family about 100 years later who have moved into the house. Nerdboy finds doll and father goes on a date so slutty older sister throws a party (need to get some offables into the house). Mayhem ensues (and lots of fake thunder and lightning), though not much, but there are a few bits of inspiration which I'll leave for you to discover.
So, I've given a wishy-washy rating. If you're a Full Moon fan, rent the damn thing (although you probably already have). If you're not and the Puppet Masters flicks, Demonic Toys flicks, Blood Dolls, or any of the other mini-killers do not amuse you, stay away. Stay very away.

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Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Review: Bloodstorm: Subspecies 4 (1998)

5 out of 5 full moons
Since the series was originally planned as a trilogy, going into Bloodstorm I wasn't sure whether the fourth entry would be a useless appendage or a worthy contribution to the mythos.
It was obvious there would have to be a fairly lengthy and complicated resurrection of Radu: he was convincingly offed in the finale of Bloodlust. Instead of complication we get absurdity. His burning body falls into a river, the flames are doused, he sucks on the bloodstone a little and in broad daylight (he's a goddamn vampire!?) he stumbles across a field, into the castle, and makes for his crypt. One minute in and the film is seriously stumbling...
Alas, Ted Nicolaou hits his stride and makes directly for the goods. We get the introduction of smart and flaky Dr. Niculescu and Radu's lieutenant, the music-loving, upper-crust Ash. The storyline that follows lifts this sequel above the other two.
Best Quote: Ion: "Bullets are useless against a vampire." Lupo: "Even so, a false sense of security is better than no sense of security."
All in all, the best entry into the series. Makes you wish it would continue...
Why is Radu cool?
1. He's destroyed in increasingly convincing ways in each film, yet keeps getting back up.
2. He shows a girl how much he loves her by destroying his whole family and attempting to do the same to hers.
3. He drools blood. All the time.
4. Sometimes he sounds like the Godfather.

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Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Review: The Horrible Doctor Bones (2000)

1 out of 5 full moons
Let's just say that I recognize the sets from Killjoy. That's really all I need say about The Horrible Doctor Bones. It's horrible.
There are no best quotes to share with you. There are no thoughts of giving this a 2-full moon rating simply because "they tried". They didn't. After reviewing these post-90's Full Moon films it's really easy to see why the company was failing. I'll give credit to Band for trying hard to regroup after the Paramount deal fell through. He got some young guns (Draven, Bookwalter, Albright) to get some stuff shot on digital. He also hooked up with Big City Pictures to distribute their low-budget "urban" horror movies. And while it's all commendable that Band didn't fold in the tent and leave town, he really should have. The amount of garbage that Mel Johnson Jr's Big City team and the aforementioned Tempe Video team put out really sullied Band's empire.
While the new Full Moon Features may be working on even leaner budgets than these pre-collapse films, I'll take Gingerdead and Doll Graveyard over this Big City drivel any day.
The plot is a touch convoluted and really dumb: Dr. Bones is a music mogul and a witchdoctor who wants to synchronize his voodoo zombie chants with some fresh hip-hop and send it out to the world and turn us all into live zombies. It's a Pinky and the Brain episode. Bland acting, really cheap sets, five-dollare special effects and really rotten pacing don't help.
At least Pinky and Brain had a catchphrase...

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Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Review: Bloodlust: Subspecies 3 (1994)

4 out of 5 full moons
Ok, so picking up right where we left off with Bloodstone, Bloodlust continues the story of blood-drooler Radu, lovely and newly-vampired Michelle, and Michelle's sister Rebecca. Also vampired up now is Liuetenant Marin.
Radu continues to be the star of the series, but Michelle gains serious momentum in this film. She portrays a new vampire with an anxiety that seems realistic for such an outlandish bunch of plots. The other actors round out a solid cast, but, of course, Anders Hove's Radu is the terribly engaging monstrosity that you can't get enough of.
Best Quote: Radu: "There is no love between the living and the dead. What you feel is hunger."
Amen, brother. These and some other cool-ass vampire lines are delivered with an almost Godfather-Brando quality of voice. Just for giggles, try them yourself, in your best Brando voice:
"See the fear pulsing in his veins. Drink. Savor his agony."
"I have killed my brother and my mother. I have wiped out my
entire bloodline for you. And what do you offer me in return?"
Anyhow, I gave it a four only because of the 10 minutes of unwelcome intrusion by Bob, the CIA guy. An armed siege againt a vampire's castle is kind of cool, but Bob has dead extra writte all over him.
Tips for the newly vampired:
1. Make sure when night falls, you wake up from your coffin first.
2. Don't drool out half the blood you suck.
3. Have someone guard you during the day.
4. Don't chain your enemies to walls with old, flimsy iron and then go to sleep.

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Monday, June 05, 2006

Review: Castle Freak (1995)

5 out of 5 full moons
The question posed is this: if you are, say, 40 years old; have been chained to a wall your entire life; have been flogged daily when given your meal; and know nothing of humanity save for your twisted mother who has provided you this existence, what do you become?
I'll ask an imaginary college class:
Fair Ellen, who grew up in Pleasantville, who lost your virginity at sweet 16 to a fine young football player to whom you're now engaged, how say you? "Well, he's gotta be like crazy, and scared of like women and food!"
And young Trevor, "Mr. Smart Guy", "Mr. Unfocused Anger", have a go, will you? "We're all going through it at some level as society slowly grinds us into neat little squares..."
And, finally, you, Mr. Stuart Gordon, he with the knack for taking a hundred thousand dollars and creating visually stunning, complex little horror movies....what do you think? "Disturbing mayhem, sir!"
You are correct Mr. Gordon! Much mayhem can be had if the mother dies, a troubled little family moves in, and our Castle Freak gets hungry enough to break his bonds.
If for some reason you have set about to watch all of the 150+ Full Moon films and review each of them and Castle Freak is roughly the twentieth of said films, you'll be very, very surprised: it's scary. Serious and scary. There are no killer dolls. There are no boobs-for-the-sake-of-boobs. There are no teenagers getting stoned. No synthesized Richard Band scores (he had the foresight to orchestrate this one...).
The set, the Italian supporting cast, Barbara Crampton's screams, the whole disentegrating family subplot, and the freak himself (in full body make-up, no less!) highlight an inventive take on the slasher genre. Unlike 90 percent of Full Moon fare I've seen, the gore is actually gory: no silly camera-cut decapitations, post-production wavy lines, rod puppets, or blood sprayed from ridiculous off-camera angles.
Fair Ellen, Young Trevor, and the rest of you must check it out...

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Friday, June 02, 2006

Review: Bloodstone: Subspecies 2 (1993)

4 out of 5 stars
So, with a minor hit on his hands, Band sends Ted Nicolaou back to Romania to film two more Subspecies flicks to complete a trilogy. Most of the first cast is unavailable, the notable exception being our boogieman Anders Hove (Radu). Presto!, and we get Bloodstone.
The film picks up right where the first ends, and we get our first taste of Radu getting put back together (remember, there are two more sequels after this). The plot centers around Radu and his mom, the mummified sorcerer alluded to in the original whom he calls "mummy", and Michelle, the newly minted vampire hottie whom Radu so desires.
Michelle is played by Full Moon regular Denice Duff this time around, and she does a really fantastic job going through the wants, needs, and pains associated with being a new vampire. Of course, Anders Hove is the center of the Subspecies universe and he turns in another spectacularly manic performance.
Best quote: Radu: "I bring you a sacred gift...the blood of my father. The king is...but a memory."
So, the travails of the newly vampired: Michelle gets found "dead" in the bathtub of her hotel room during the day, and quickly escapes her body bag when night falls. We then are introduced to a police character: Lieutenant Marin, a bumbling sandwich-eating amalgamation of every 60's TV private eye you've seen.
Her sister arrives from the states and forms a bond with the US embassy man as they try to find Michelle, and all sorts of running around Bucharest and the Vladislava castle ensue. The plot is just good enough to provide filler between scenes as we wait for more Radu and his mom.
Tips for Vampire Hunters:
1. No sleeping in on the day of the hunt. If you wait until late afternoon to go after a vampire, chances are your prey will awaken right as you are about to drive that stake through his heart.
2. No metal! Use wood, dummy!
3. No walking backwards in dark, creepy vampire-infested places. Duh.

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Thursday, June 01, 2006

Review: Demonicus (2001)

2 out of 5 stars
Jay Woelfel's Demonicus is a Full Moon-as-shot-on-video steaming pile. The plot is moronic, and the acting is so bad I cringed. Repeatedly.
The saving grace of the production is not the dull pacing, nor the pitiful cave set, nor the dull bad guy, nor the one-dimensional victims; rather, it's the mountains. I gather the film was shot somewhere around Big Bear out there in Cullyfornia (Ah-nold country), and the scenery is really majestic and well shot.
The plot is the possession of a college kid by a long-buried gladiator's spirit who then goes out hunting his friends in the mountains so he can make a body-part stew, hum a few lines of latin, and resurrect the gladiator himself. A few of the kills are fun and ugly, but most of it is typical Full Moonish dullness. The shots are held too long exposing the gore as really fake. (sidenote: when is Band and his editors ever going to realize that fewer frames means less of a low-budgetness look to their gore and mayhem?)
I'm not going to spend all day on this one, racking my brain for something nice to say like I did for my Witchouse review and a few others. I'm just gonna sit here for a few moments and think about the $2.50 I wasted renting this dreck...

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Monday, May 29, 2006

Review: Subspecies (1991)

5 out of 5 stars
Radu is the baddest vampire since Orlok. He's got wonderfully snaggly teeth, a filthy mother-of-pearl pallor, long creepy fingers, and three little devil beasties (the subspecies of Subspecies) to help him out. Even better, he spits out his dialogue in throaty demonic whispers. And, just as Orlok did, he staggers about like a gin drunk.
Best Quote: Radu: "Such a touching tableau. Your pain, little brother, makes me sick."
The film follows the father-slayer Radu Vladislava as he sets about creating a consort from three lovely students visiting Transylavania to complete dissertations on Romanian folklore. The setting is superb, and the cinematography far surpasses regular Full Moon fare. There are many sets involved and a fairly large cast. The film is well-acted and even features Angus Scrimm in the brief role of Radu's pops.
While all three women, and their protector, Radu's brother Steffan, put in good performances, there is no way they can compare to Anders Hove's scene-munching performance as the chief blood-drooler. He's almost too over the top, but he succeeds masterfully in walking the fine line and delivering a first rate performance.
The only problem I have with the film, is a five-minute series of poorly-edited scenes when the girls begin getting picked off by Radu. Other than that, the pacing is superb, and really builds to an exciting climax.
The gore effects are great, and the vampires look thouroughly disgusting.
While Puppet Master and Re-animator got me interested in Band and Co. many moons ago, the Subspecies series really delivers the goods, and has kept me a fan.

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Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Review: Horrorvision (2001)

1 out of 5 stars
Big budget films that go through several scripts, several script rewrites, several directors, and several casts generally fail at the box office. Small budget films, as a rule, avoid this fate: they are usually directed and acted by the persons that dreamt them up. Horrorvision seems to be the microbudget exception to this rule.
You can find references to the film littered throughout late-90s Videozones from other Full Moon films. Originally titled Fear.Com, the film was to be directed by Charles Band himself. After a year or so, it was rewritten as Horrorvision.Com and handed to J.R. Bookwalter to direct after he finished shooting Witchhouse 2: Blood Coven. Why Band would hand money over to someone who put out that drivel is beyond me.
The story only gets longer: Bookwalter was also supposed to direct the second entry into Band's "classic horror revisited" project, entitled Mummy Resurrection or some nonsense. Bookwalter decided to rewrite Horrorvision.Com, and he and on e of his Tempe Entertainment cronies came up with dreadful script that finally found its way to DVD. No longer wanting to direct the film, Bookwalter turned over the reins to young Tempe post-production prodigy and former Full Moon webmaster, Danny Draven. Really, if you want more info on this story, you can check out the "making of" featurette on the DVD; but, you'll have to sit through both Bookwalter and Draven spouting off about their previous self-financed short films.
So, on with the movie: Horrorvision is a technology-is-bad-and-computers-can-kill-you derivative. After a website eats up his girlfriend and girl friend, our hero, Dez Draven, sets about ruminating and driving around. He encounters the film's Matrix derivative, Bradbury, sitting on his car, and they go on some adventures to find the girls and kill the techno-baddie. They are attacked by two robot-coputer things, and some poorly done gore is attempted by the EFX crew, and the movie then ends, unresolved. It ends abruptly, actually, like they ran out of money.
As for the adventures of Dez and Bradbury, let's just say that 30 of the film's 70 minutes are taken up by driving around in a convertible. Each driving trip consisting of one Trent Reznor ripoff song and some accompanying footage of passing mountains, factories, trash, one horribly inept beating, and finally, the desert.
The drive to the desert is particularly long and we're never told why they've gone out there. The car runs out of gas, so they set off on a tedious hike in which the movie is explained to us through a series of bad Star Wars jokes and fake tech-speak. After a confrontation with a techno-monster who just sort of stands in one place flailing his wire arms around, the movie ends.
Did I mention the goth angle? Ah, thought not. You see, Dez and his girlfriend, Dazzy, are goths! The first third of the film is all about their little goth conversations and their visit to a goth store. If we do some rough calculations, we find that 20 minutes of goth and 30 minutes of driving around is about 75 percent of the movie.
Unfortunately, while Bookwalter has not reared his creative drivel in the new incarnation of Full Moon, Draven has edited all three of the new films, and is responsible for the hatchet jobs on Tomb of Terror and Horrific!.
Other Reviews: Flipside, ColdFusionVideo.

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Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Review: Decadent Evil (2005)

2 of 5 stars
Another 2-star flick, this one part of the newer incarnation of Full Moon, called Full Moon Features, a subsidiary of Wizard Entertainment. Another 70-minute movie, if you count the long credits and the stock footage from Vampire Journals.
The plot for Decadent Evil is easy enough to follow, since the whole plot is divulged in a boring series of plot dumps and throwaway scenes that make up most of the movie.
Best Quote: Dex: "Alright guys, take your hands out of your pants and put them together for Cashmere. And, remember tipping is not a country in China...."
I can't believe I thought this, but: the opening strip club scene is way too long, or way too boring, or mostly some of both. Luckily there are just enough highlights to get you through to the superb ending.
Phil Fondacaro has a few good lines, but is a pretty inept "badass vampire killer" carrying a big duffel bag with nothing more than some garlic powder, and two dull, wooden stakes. The other highlight would be the terrible written opening kills with the Joe Pesci soundalike and his reluctant-to-go-to-a-stripclub-and-get-in-a-threesome girl.
And then we get to the ending. An ending I could never get enough of. A laugh-out-loud ending that ranks as one of the best cinematic denouments of all time!
Other reviews: ColdFusion, the Horror Channel.

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Review: Witchouse 2: Blood Coven (2000)

2 out of 5 stars
Another Witchouse (this one, Blood Coven), another Romanian shoot. The film, like the first, is set in Covington county, MA, but was shot in and around Full Moon's Castel Studios in Bucharest. The "haunted house" exteriors is a local crematorium.
Best Quote: Soderquist: "If Clark could only use the power in his nasal passages for good instead of evil..."
Ok, so your question must be: How did that fullmoonreviewguy give the sequel a higher mark than the original? The answer is a bit complicated, because they both stink. But, really people, there's just not much difference between 1 and 2 stars....
The only thing (or, I should say, person) keeping Blood Coven's head above water is the casting of Andrew Prine (of Grizzly fame!) in a dual role. While he's not given much to work with in an uninspired script, there's something about that is eminently watchable.
You'll notice a bunch of "home movie" footage, I guess, cashing in on the Blair Witch craze the year prior (although director Bookwalter says it's an homage to his old movies directed in Cleveland...please...). The townspeople interviews shot in video were the only compelling thing in the flick, to be honest.
The build-up is ok. But the last fifteen minutes are some of the poorest creature v. human battles I've seen. Maybe worse than the Power Rangers. The special effects are so poor, and the action so dull, you'll be amazed that Band had this Bookwalter guy direct more crapfests for Full Moon.
Save your money.
Other Reviews: Joe Bob, Video Graveyard.

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Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Review: Killjoy (2000)

1 out of 5 stars
Another evil clown movie. Why is Killjoy so special? Ah, here's the catch: we've got ourselves an "urban" evil clown movie. I guess "urban" means everybody's black, and the bad guys are wannabe-rapper, blunt-smokin' gang members. Geez, strike another drum for stereotypes...
I especially enjoyed our high school heroes enjoying cocktails at nightclubs and living with their girlfriends/boyfriends.
Best Quote: Jamal: "If we're gonna stop this clown mf'er, we gotta split up!" D'oh!
To be honest, there is nothing to recommend this movie. About the only positive thing I can figure is Killjoy's gnarled-up yellow teeth.
My main problems with the film is the lack of pace, ho-hum killings, non-existent sets, unfunny clown "mayhem", wooden acting, and Richard Kosinski's wannabe urban score. What irks me most is that producer Carl Washington alludes to the service films like his are performing for the black community, since the director and all of the cast members are black except for the token Latino.
My advice Mr. Washington: "Make a good movie. Or, really, an even 'passable' one...."
Other reviews: HorrorDVD's.

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Monday, May 15, 2006

Review: Retro Puppet Master (1999)

5 out of 5 stars
Six-shooter, Tunnel Sergeant, Dr. Death, Pinhead, Cyclops, and Blade help the young Andre Toulon take out Sutek's Egyption henchman in the best sequel this series has seen.
Retro Puppet Master is atmospheric with many sets, quality acting and some fun puppet FX. What it lacks in gore, it makes up for with an interesting well-paced plot.
Best Quote: Dr. Death: "Don't you know, my friends? Smell the sulfur, see the smoke..."
This is easily the best Dave DeCoteau film I've seen. The actors do a more-than-credible job: Jack Donner as "Azfel" turns in an inspired performance, and the young Toulon does well with the puppets. Oh, and the ring-needle is cool.
John Massari's score is a nice symphonic take on the original Puppet Master tunes by Richard Band, keeping the movie playful and eerie. It's rare for a Full Moon score to actually add something to a film, and this one does.
Unfortunately, Dave Allen didn't seem to be affordable enough for Band and Co. in the late-90's and beyond, so all of the puppet action is done rod and string. There's no stop motion such as the famous and funny scene in the original where Pinhead's looking for his pinhead.
And, of course, as with all of the Full Moon fare of this time period, RPM was shot in and around Castel Studios in Bucharest, so most of the bit parts were cast to Romanians: hearing their "Parisian" accents was a bit annoying.
All in all, this is probably one of the top-10 Full Moon films. It's certainly the most inventive of the Puppet Master sequels.

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Review: Witchouse (1999)

Tagline: "Evil Beyond Evil..."
2 out of 5 stars
I have a hard time with Dave DeCoteau movies, in general. Like most Albert Pyun suckfests, they drag, are confusing, and the gore is mishandled. Unfortunately, Witchouse is no different.
Set in Dunwich, MA, the film was shot at Full Moon's Castel Studios in Romania. Exteriors were shot in and around Bucharest.
Best Quote: Jack: "We're not in high school anymore, Bob. Why don't you put down the bong and realizet that!?"
There's not much to recommend here except for the sets and the Killjoy-ish teeth on the witches. The home wiring lesson from our applied-sciences major hero, Jack, is neat and actually becomes important later on....
I've got a laundry list of problems with the film, but I'll stick with 3 here:
1. The fake thunder and lightning is incessant. VERY, VERY ANNOYING. Only halfway through the movie and I was yelling at the screen...
2. The pace severely drags at several different points. So much of the movie is plot dumps and throwaway scenes that when anything resembling "film magic" happens you feel relieved. The "seance" is actually a 5-minute monologue. Ugh.
3. The deaths are really poorly executed (hehe, no pun I kill me!). Usually a Full Moon highlight, the deaths in this film are incredibly ill-shot and dull. The opening "knifings" are 8th grade level home movie quality.
The only reason this movie gets a "2" from me is because I think they tried.

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Friday, May 12, 2006

Review: Tomb of Terror (2004)

1 out of 5 stars
Rented out 5 Full Moons last night and this is the first I watched. Tomb of Terror is an anthology of three "short" films which are actually 3 full length Full Moon films re-edited and "re-energized". Although the idea is neat, regular Full Moon viewers will be severely disappointed by the end product: 3 very chopped, almost incoherent shorts.
The transfer to DVD is terrible. It looks as though they used a regular old VHS/DVDr machine and made the transfer from a used rental video. You may get a headache watching all of the frame shakes.
I'll take the 3 stories as they come:
1. "Ascent from Hell", edited from the Full Moon feature, Dark Angel: The Ascent directed by Linda Hassani. Unfortunately, Full Moon Direct doesn't offer the full length movie on DVD yet. It is easily a 5 out of 5 stars and the re-edited and "re-energized" version here doesn't do the original the justice it deserves. (I always thought Dark Angel would be an excellent Full Moon serial.)
Best quote: Veronica's Mom: "You've got to apologize to your father, and promise him you'll give up these crazy ideas of yours. Otherwise, he may feel he has to destroy you." Note: her father is torturer in hell who punches guys in the nuts and cuts off their tongues....
Veronica is a hot hellspawn who decides to pay us mortals a visit. She falls in love with a doctor and begins a crusade against evil in her own ghastly way. What follows is a satanic Bewitched where heaven has decided the mayor of our unknown city must go.
The movie is atmospheric, funny, gory and a great effort from Full Moon. This frigged-up version stinks; but, it's the best of the three by far.
2. "Infinite Evil", edited from the Full Moon feature, Lurking Fear directed by C. Courtney Joyner. Jeffrey Combs fans beware: take the time to find a used version of the original. You'll spend the first 10 minutes of this re-edit just trying to figure out the plot.
Best quote: Dr. Specs (played by the great Vincent Schiavelli): "Wow, Syd, you're worth more dead than you ever were alive."
This will be a short review: A cemetery full of cannibals who come out to feed during thunderstorms is under siege from a kick-ass hottie and her crew, who in turn, are under siege from a group of criminals looking for a corpse stuffed with loot. I've never seen the original movie, so none of this plot made sense until near the end of the short. Basically, you've got a heist movie with too many turns of fate and really, some tame cannibals.
3. "Eternal Damnation", edited from the Full Moon Feature, Talisman directed by David DeCoteau (not Victoria Sloan, as noted on the credits of the feature). Not a good movie. Not a good re-edited movie, either.
Best quote: The Black Angel: "Ah, tears of young men: are they not the most poignant of all?"
The famous Full Moon castle in Romania plays a creepy boy's school in Eastern Europe for rich, troublemakers. Our hero is neither rich, nor troublemaker - he's an orphan! The baddie is a pasty, chrome-domed, red-eyed antichrist who rips flaming hearts from schoolboy chests. Luckily for humanity, our hero is both mischievous and curious enough to figure it out and save the day in a really piss-poor ending.
Horrorvision Review (note: I'd try to find someone with a better opinion of this dreck, but was unable...)

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Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Review: The Gingerdead Man (2005)

4 out of 5 stars
I rented The Gingerdead Man last night. I think the Hollywood Video clerk smirked when I put my head down to find my membership card in my wallet, but I can't be sure.
I was actually a bit excited about the movie. It's been a long time since I've seen new Full Moon blood. So, first out of the gate is a serial killin' cookie played by the drunk and scaryfunny Gary Busey. Obviously, it's campy, and a little bit fun, and a little bit gory.
But, I'm a bit pissed that Band and co. would charge $19.99 for a 60-minute movie. Even the rental fee (it's considered a "new release") seemed a bit much. Maybe a dollar to rent and five to buy would be fair.
Best Quote: Amos: "Let's get the lights on. I wanna see this fucker when I blast him to crumbs."
Best Quote 2: Brick: "A mosh pit of tag-team damage and body slammage. And, in this corner: the Butcher Baker!"
The plot is no more convoluted than any other "serial-killer-comes-back-to-life-as-a-blank" flick. And there isn't much wasted momentum which is key to a flick like this, and obviously the result of Charles Band's ever efficient direction.
Gary Busey is paydirt! Hopefully, Gingerdead will be the beginning of a Full Moon renaissance for Mr. Crazy. One can only dream. His voice as the cookie, spewing out "Take that punk BITCH!!" invective is highlight-reel material. As is his opening scene, in full crazyBusey serial killin' glory.
The supporting cast is as good as needs be and a bit better. They seem to have a good old Texas Dazed and Confused sensibility. Especially noteworthy is "Amos", the funny, pure-hearted town delinquent who wears a "Pull My Finger" t-shirt.
I have only two problems (a bit nitpicky, I know):
1. the oven-baked mom didn't look all that oven-baked. Where's the gore?
2. The 30 or so shots that the cookie gets off with a six-shooter is kinda ridiculous.
Anyhow, overall a happy, if brief, return to the director's chair for Mr. Band has produced this bizarre little piece of film magic. I heartily endorse, and screw that sniveling gimp at Hollywood Video.
(found a good interview with Charles Band, which mentions all of his new projects and some back story on his career and the Full Moon label)

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Review: Vampire Journals (1997)

5 out of 5 stars

I rented the Sci-Fi Channel version, William Shatner's Full Moon Fright Night Vol. 1: Vampire Journals. The DVD includes the original Full Moon Video featurette, a slew of trailers, and a Roadshow preview as well as the William Shatner stuff where the commercials would've been placed. Finally, and weirdly, the DVD includes Shatner interviewing Stan Lee.

The movie is an offshoot of director Ted Nicolaou's excellent Subspecies series. It features vampires from Master Radu's bloodline and the fairly complex plotlines of the film explore the relationships between master vampires (in this case, Ash) and others of their line. Nicolaou makes mention a few times of integrating Vampire Journals with the classic Subspecies themes to create a crossover at some point in the future; but it's possible all hope of such a film was lost during the Full Moon wane of the 2000's.

The pacing of Vampire Journals is excellent, though much slower and less gorier than Nicolaou's Subspecies work. A decayed, gothic feel is sustained throughout, with highbrow dialogue and subtle plot shifts. Most of the sideplots are resolved well before the ending, but all of them help depict the decay of master Ash's powers.

The main plot of the film centers around the "hero" vampire, Zachary, who has sworn to wipe out Radu's bloodline. He's traveled to Bucharest to hunt out the "music-lover", Ash. They square off over a pianist, and the rest is good watching.

The plot is interesting until the ending standoff, which is so terribly out of place, boring, and quick that it almost ruins the film. It doesn't; and more importantly, it leaves plenty of room for some sort of sequel. And, if there's room for a sequel or a crossover, Full Moon is a company that will give it a shot. Hopefully, Nicolaou is still interested. Considering that Vampire Journals was the first choice entry for the Shatner-hosted Sci-Fi Channel show, its a good bet the film carries a significant place in the heart of Full Moon.

One final comment: Vampire Journals and other top shelf Full Moon fare is the reason I've waded through every dreadful Albert Pyun suckfest in the catolog. You never know when you'll come across a gem.

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