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Featured Post - Mystery Movie Marathon

I thought I'd kick the new year off with another movie marathon. I thought it was time to check out a few old school mystery flicks. Som...

Monday, February 27, 2023

The Lair (2022)

Director Neil Marshall is back with a new monster movie. When this hit Shudder I couldn’t wait to check it out and I wasn’t disappointed. Things kick off with a British pilot, Kate Sinclair, and her back seater getting shot down in Afghanistan. They parachute safely to he ground but the insurgents who downed their aircraft are on them immediately. They end up in a firefight where Sinclair is the only survivor. She heads off but enemy reinforcements arrive, and she is forced to take shelter in an abandoned Russian bunker. Here is where things get interesting.

It seems that the Russians were experimenting with a downed alien spacecraft or more specifically the passenger! They have created some alien/human hybrids that are bloodthirsty but safely locked up. That is until the gunbattle in the lab frees them. Sinclair is again the only survivor and is picked up by an American patrol. But the critters are loose and end up attacking the base. Soon the survivors are forced to either wait to die or go back to the lab and destroy the nest. This leads to more firefights with insurgents and some neat monster gore and violence.

I enjoyed the heck out of The Lair. Marshall has always been good for some military versus creature action (Dog Soldiers) as well as creepy claustrophobic horror (The Descent) and I thought he pulled off both nicely here. The soldier characters are developed enough that fans of the genre will know what archetype they fall into. There is the angry leader who won’t end well but is likeable. The screw up that runs away… dude you died on a toilet! Some general badasses who talk shit to each other. These are just a few examples of what you get. There is even the local who starts off as an enemy but obviously due to backstory has an axe to grind with the creatures and becomes an ally.

The Setting is great... very spooky!
I suppose that in many ways these characters and how the story plays out in such a predictable way is why this movie is getting savaged by so many fans. Yeah, I read the reviews before I watched and honestly didn’t care. But as I’ve stated in the past some movies can just be comfortable fun and don’t need to be “art”. When did making an ultra-violent fast paced action creature feature with characters dropping funny one-liners become unacceptable? Neither the director nor the cast are taking things too seriously and are just trying to entertain the audience and I think they succeeded marvelously.

We get dozens of kills, many of which are of the standard getting shot variety. But there is also some gut-munching (a favorite here at the site), face ripped off, jaw ripped off, head off, a fist thru the face, a double grenade while holding them monster dispatching, and a flare to the chest. But my personal favorite was half a head getting munched off in one bite… sadly off screen but the post chomp scene lingers enough to be enjoyable. This is a very violent and bloody movie and was just the sort of thing that I wanted when I saw the trailer and heard the plot synopsis. And I almost forgot the alien autopsy by skill saw! 

Tentacle time
If that doesn’t get you then let me tell you about the creature design. They are humanoid but very alien looking at the same time. Giant gaping maws filled with sharp teeth are scary, but then they also spring some mouth tentacles that just don’t grab you but sort of caress the victims in an uncomfortable way that only adds to the horror. Marshall also sets much of the action, basically anything not the night attack on the base, in the underground lab. As I’ve already mentioned the man knows how to make you feel claustrophobic and creeped out in such a location.

The Lair checks all the expected boxes with a gleeful and maniacal energy that I just couldn’t help but love it. Currently the movie is streaming on Shudder, and I highly recommend you check it out. I know that the year is still young, but this is the best thing I’ve watched so far.


© Copyright 2023 John Shatzer

Friday, February 24, 2023

Craze (1974)

Friendly antique dealer Neal Mottram has a secret in his basement. A statue to the great God Chuku, whom he and his coven worship. We see a ceremony with some dancing and a bit of bloodletting to appease Chuku. Afterwards a former member of the coven shows up and tries to take the statue back but gets killed in the process. Mottram prays to Chuku and gives her soul over to him in exchange for favors. Wouldn’t you know it the very next day a fortuitous hidden drawer and some gold fixes all his financial woes.

This leads Mottram down the wormhole of killing ladies in the name of Chuku in exchange for more and more favors. One by one he plans his crimes and then dumps the bodies. But soon the police are onto him and start to follow his movements. He is eventually seen by a victim’s roommate and cornered in the basement where there is one final sacrifice to Chuku. Of course it wasn’t going to end well for him!

Craze is a lot of fun. The story is a bit goofy and the statue of Chuku must be seen to be believed. But despite all this there are also some mean spirited bits as well. We get some fun murders with faces being burnt off, necks stabbed, old ladies scared to death and a non-fatal belly slashing that is the most in your face. None of these are overly gross or gory but it does give us enough to support the story. The pacing is brisk for the most part with us jumping right into the action with a bit of a lull in the middle before picking back up for the finale. This is the sort of movie where something is always happening to keep a viewer’s interest. I had a lot of fun with it.

The Great God Chuku
When I saw this sitting in stack of movies that I hadn’t watched yet two things jumped out to me. First was the star. Jack Palance plays our lead character, Mottram. He chews up the scenery in that very special way only he could. Not ever overacting but getting close to it. Some of my favorite parts of his performance are the times he is working his romantic magic on the ladies. Apparently, all the groovy ladies of London were unable to resist his smooth game. Between that and his vigorous praying to Chuku every scene he is in has something going for it. And he is in most of them!

The other item of note was the director, Freddie Francis, who is best known for movies like Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors, The Skull, The Deadly Bees, and Tales from the Crypt. The guy worked with both Amicus as well as Hammer and made some killer movies. Way more than I just listed. Here every shot, scene, and setup move the story along or give us some bloody payoff. He normally is always good for an entertaining flick and Craze is no different.

I’ve been digging into old horror movies that I’ve not seen before. That has led me down a lot of horrible paths… I’m talking to you Ghosts That Still Walk! Though discovering a movie like Craze makes sitting thru the bad worth it. I had a blast and think you will too. It is worth checking out for just Palance’s performance. I highly recommend it.


© Copyright 2023 John Shatzer

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Ghosts That Still Walk (1977)

Heads up. This is a terrible movie! Just in case you were going to be annoyed spending your valuable time reading the review. I know the ninety minutes that I spent watching wasn’t worth it. Then again at least I get to write a review and get some of the frustration out here.

Mark, a fifteen year old boy, is getting an MRI. He has been getting headaches, seizures, and generally feels lousy. He is all smiles and jokes until it starts. Then he freaks out which transitions to him talking to the doctor. Mark, along with his grandmother, is told that they can’t find anything wrong with him. The doctor suggests that it might be all of the recent tragedy in his life. His grandfather had a heart attack, and his mom went nuts and was locked up. So he sends him to see a psychiatrist named Dr. Stills.

Dr. Stills decides it is important to hypnotize both Mark and his grandmother. And she also wants to read Mark’s mothers’ journals as she was working on a book when she lost her marbles. This is an excuse for flashbacks, which is how most of Ghosts That Still Walk tells the story. We get to see Mark’s grandparents have a bad time in their RV. Then we see Mark’s mother had been messing with astral projection and an Indian mummy, finally there is a bit where Mark is possessed by the spirit of the mummy. So that is the ghost that still walks… around in Mark’s body. Some stuff happens and then the ghost is destroyed. The end.

In my years tracking down oddball regional drive-in movies I’ve seen a lot of trainwrecks. But in many of those there was still something to enjoy. Inept direction and/or acting can be entertaining so normally they are good for a few laughs. Though on occasion we get a movie that is so tedious that there is nothing redeeming about it. Ghosts That Still Walk falls directly into that category.

The star of the movie...
This movie is basically three shorts with a wrap around to connect them and even with only needed to setup and execute a cohesive plot for maybe thirty minutes at a time it fails. We get an extended RV driving in the desert bit with some rocks rolling at them while grandma is trying to cook supper in the kitchen. It goes on and on, stopping for them to eat before continuing. I’m not kidding. All of this is to setup that grandpa had a heart attack, which they already established in dialogue.

Then we see the mother starring at a mummy that is just laying there in her home office. She does some voiceovers that don’t explain much of anything. Then she sees Mark and the mummy sort of swap and then goes nuts never to be seen again. Finally, it comes to Mark being freaked out about the mummy in the house and having nightmares before screaming a lot. It all wraps up with him now in a wheelchair (I guess that happened) and on a picnic with grandma and Dr. Stills. She forces the Indian possessing him to come to terms with being dead and then it is all over.

Does that sound thrilling to you? Because it isn’t. These stories are filled with padding, in fact they are mostly padding. Nothing much happens other then the viewer losing ninety minutes of their lives. The performances are rough with awful line delivery that is barely audible with the subpar sound. Toss in some camerawork that has most scenes so dark that it is hard to see what is happening on the screen. I don’t have a positive thing that I can find to talk about so I’m just going to stop. Don’t watch Ghosts That Still Walk. Just don’t do it.


© Copyright 2023 John Shatzer

Monday, February 20, 2023

Island of the Burning Damned (aka. Night of the Big Heat) (1967)

It is winter in England… well except if you live on the small island of Fara. There the temperature has hit the high nineties with so stop in sight. To that end we meet the locals. Jeff is a writer who also runs the local pub with his wife Frankie. There is also the island’s M.D. Dr. Stone and a cranky mysterious man named Hanson. As we see folks complaining about the heat Jeff’s new secretary Angela shows up to start her job. She wears a bikini, which is quite the thing. What is odd is that no one seems terribly concerned that the island is cooking while it is freezing right across on the mainland. We also know that everyone is aware of it because of radio reports.

What is up? Turns out that Hanson is a scientist that has come to investigate Fara. He has tried to convince the authorities that aliens have followed a radio signal back to the observatory and are testing Earth out for colonization. They apparently need things to be hot so cue the heat wave. Despite the obvious strange weather no one is coming to help them, so they must try and stop the invasion themselves. Nothing works and pretty much everyone is dead before the last three minutes happen. In those three minutes we hear thunder, it rains, and all the aliens die… probably because they cooled off. The end.

The Drama... The Scandal!
Island of the Burning Damned had all the ingredients for a cool movie. Isolated island setting, alien invasion, mysterious deaths, and a great cast, more on that later. So, what the hell happened? First up the story is painfully slow. We get so much walking around and people talking about the heat that there is never any momentum. We spend more time watching Hanson setup a camera trap then we do with them discussing the aliens! This is even worse with the introduction of a major subplot involving Jeff and his new secretary Angela. They had an affair in London, and she has pursued him to the island to try and continue things while he wants to leave peacefully with his wife. Sweet… forget the aliens I want the drama of an affair. Not really. The movie feels like they didn’t really have much of a plot and threw a bunch of random plotlines in to pad things out. I still can’t get over the abrupt and silly ending. I mean advanced spacefaring aliens didn’t know it was going to rain! Really?

I was especially disappointed with this because it wasted direction from Terence Fisher, and performances from both Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. That is some legendary British horror both in front of and behind the camera. All three are hamstrung with a script that goes nowhere and other characters that don’t deserve the screentime they get. I wanted more Lee and Cushing and less girl drama! Damn asshole script killed them off and left the girl alive… stupid movie.

Yinz gonna move... ever?
The aliens in this alien invasion movie are saved until the very end. For most of the movie they are a portrayed as a spotlight on the victim while a loud sound plays. When we do see them, they are at best a Horta (classic Trek reference… hope you get it) looking rubber blob that I don’t believe ever actually moves on camera. You know real scary stuff. Other than that we get nothing. Despite them telling us “something landed” we never see a ship or anything. Not even a crappy cardboard set! Very disappointing.

I can’t recommend spending your time on Island of the Burning Damned. It just isn’t a good movie. If you want to see a very similar and much better executed flick check out Island of Terror also starring Peter Cushing and directed by Terence Fisher. It is even from the same year!


© Copyright 2023 John Shatzer

Friday, February 17, 2023

Warning Sign (1985)

This is an interesting subgenre from the eighties that I don’t think I’ve ever covered for the site. Warning Sign is an outbreak/virus/disaster movie without the horror tropes that we are used to. It is more China Syndrome than it is Crazies. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

We get introduced to some characters that work at a small biotech company in middle America. Our main characters are the Sheriff, Cal, and his wife Joanie, who is the security guard at the facility. When there is an accident, and a nasty bug is released the lab gets locked down. Seems that they weren’t working on a better strain of corn but rather a bit of bio warfare. The government shows up and sets up a perimeter before sending a team in. That goes poorly (more on that later) and they lock it down. All those trapped inside are to be sacrificed as it just needs to run its course. That includes Cal’s wife, which isn’t going to work for him.

Here we meet our other main character, Dr. Fairchild. He is a former employee of the biotech company and had left due to his ethics. Basically, he didn’t like building bioweapons. It also turns out he is responsible for the cure, or at least the inoculation that is supposed to protect folks. While we know it didn’t work, he is the only person that has a chance to figure out why and how to fix it. He and Cal end up sneaking into the facility to save Joanie and possibly the world. For an added bit of fun we also find out that the people who died didn’t totally die. They wake back up as homicidal maniacs who kill everyone they meet. That is what happened to the team that went inside and is why the government wants to let everyone die inside.

Despite what I just mentioned about the infected becoming killers I don’t want to give the impression that this is some sort of outbreak movie like 28 Days Later. It plays much differently than that. You get far more of the paranoid “I don’t want to get sick” vibe than the horror that many would expect with the plot synopsis. This is very hard for me to explain other than to refer to my initial comment about it being more China Syndrome than it is Crazies. It has that technology and/or our own hubris going to do us in seventies and eighties feeling to it.

I found the story to be interesting from beginning to end. And unlike many other movies that tell stories like this the government folks aren’t portrayed as bad people. When Major Connolly decides they must abandon everyone inside to their fate it seems to pain him. He knows these people and is doing what must be done. To me that is an example of how well the story is written. Plus, it feels cheap to just write it off as the government doing bad things, when it is more of a question about how human beings will do things because they can rather than thinking if they should. Mad scientist stuff you know.

The cast is a filled with familiar faces. Sam Waterston is Cal and Kathleen Quinlan is his wife, Joanie. We also get Jeffrey DeMunn, Richard Dysart, Jerry Hardin, and G.W. Bailey as scientists. DeMunn gets lots of screentime as Dr. Fairchild which was nice to see. The guy is always good in whatever role he is given, though far too often it is a smaller supporting role. Yaphet Kotto is Major Connolly and is equally excellent.

I’m not sure how I missed this one. It feels like a movie that should have been all over cable back in the day. I would have loved Warning Sign and watched it again and again. But then I was a bit of a nihilist in my teenage years. As an adult I still appreciate this sort of story and think that it is worth checking it out. Not sure where you can find it but if you can check out Warning Sign.


© Copyright 2023 John Shatzer 

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Doctor Blood’s Coffin (1961)

A doctor is caught doing forbidden experiments in an attempt to bring back the dead. He is kicked out of medical school and returns home… though I don’t think we are supposed to make that connection yet. Too obvious not to though. Anyway, when he returns to the English countryside, he does a couple of things. One is to determine whose life is not being lived correctly and therefore can be used for his experiments. The other is to romance his father’s nurse (he comes from a family of doctors). 

When people start to disappear, the locals catch onto something being wrong. After some searching, they do eventually figure out that the young Dr. Blood is doing bad things. One of those things is bringing back the dead husband of the nurse he was romancing… because that is going to endear him to her. Though by then he may have just been trying to prove a point that he was right and everyone else was narrowminded. As you would expect our mad scientist and his monster die horribly and everyone else lives happily ever after. 

I really wanted to like Doctor Blood’s Coffin as it stars one of my favorite British horror actresses, Hazel Court. She was in so many great movies like Roger Corman’s The Masque of the Red Death and Hammer’s The Curse of Frankenstein. Sadly, this isn’t one of those great movies. They make the questionable decision to spend far more time on the romancing of Court’s character, Linda, and the younger Dr. Blood. There is a lot of them talking and walking around. Honestly, I want my mad scientists to be a bit more focused on their horrible experiments. Seeing their dating life isn’t at all what I’m signing up for when watching a movie from this subgenre. 

The above is further complicated by the fact that when they are going for the spooky stuff it ends up being a lot of skulking around the mines (where he hides his lab) and the countryside. At times it is creepy, but they linger far too long to the point of any fun being lost to the boredom of watching the searches and chases dragging on. I will give the movie credit for having some decent makeup when the dead husband, referred to as Zombie Steve from this point forward, makes his appearance. 

Zombie Steve time!
Though this is ultimately disappointing as it takes way too long to happen and for inexplicable reasons, he tries to kill his former wife. Instead of talking about their hopes and dreams maybe we could have gotten some dialogue from Dr. Blood as to the complications of his experiments. Or maybe another character could have talked about bringing back long dead bodies without their souls. Anything to explain why the dead are so pissed off and homicidal. When I say the dead that makes is seem like we get a few examples when the only time it works is on Zombie Steve so there isn’t much to the story itself. 

I was hoping for a Frankenstein inspired mad scientist flick. I would have even settled for a regular old monster movie. Instead, what I got was a romantic melodrama with a bit of murder and Zombie Steve at the very end. I can’t recommend Doctor Blood’s Coffin which by the way never has a coffin in it. Weird…

© Copyright 2023 John Shatzer

Monday, February 13, 2023

Help Me… I’m Possessed (1974)

I’m back with another regional drive-in movie review. This time it is Help Me… I’m Possessed from director Charles Nizet, who really didn’t do much other then a few flicks like this. The movie follows a mad doctor who runs a nut house. He specializes in getting rid of the parts of a human mind that make people violent. He does this by having a dungeon and whipping ladies. He also has a hunchbacked assistant and a creepy chauffer.

How does the torture dungeon help cure folks? This isn’t the sort of movie that requires or even desires that sort of logic. We do meet the doctor’s sister. Her name is Melanie, and she seems to be his one big success. She went from unpredictably violent to childlike. But when murders start to occur near the hospital it becomes clear that she might not be as innocent as she appears to be. The good doctor has managed to separate the violent tendencies into their own “monster” that appears on occasion to release the homicidal tendencies. Eventually folks catch on, including the doctor’s wife who comes for a visit, and he meets his end with a self-inflicted guillotining.

This isn’t a very good movie. While not an overly long movie, clocking in at seventy nine minutes, it feels much longer. The story is filled with ideas that are never explained or explored. Why does the sister need to go to the cave to talk to her friend? Why is there a torture dungeon in the basement? Why does the doctor occasionally just murder the shit out of people on his own? Also why does he just randomly kill one of his nurses when she is attacked by a patient? There are more questions but none of them are explained. This is the kind of plot and script that seems to have been written to include as many tropes as possible without any effort to explain them. They threw a lot of ideas at the wall and sadly none of them stuck. It makes for a confusing and in the end a boring experience. It was tough to get thru.

The "monster"
The hammy performances and terrible line delivery is awful. I’d toss some blame towards the poorly written script but two of the main actors, Bill Greer and Deedy Peters, are also our leads Dr. Blackwell and his wife. So regardless of whether the acting or script is to blame it still falls at their feet. The rest of the cast isn’t much better. Though I’ll give credit to the actress who plays Melanie, Lynne Marta. She is decent and went onto work steadily into the early two thousands.

I will give some credit for a few random gags that they pulled off. I laughed (probably not the intention) at the goofy monster effects. It is like they laid the camera flat and dangled some rubber tubbing over it with red backlighting. It doesn’t work at all but is so ineptly funny that I admit to having enjoyed it. There is one sequence where they have a really short coffin… comically so… that the hunchback has to fit a lady into. With a bit of movie magic they insinuate that he has to lop off her legs to make her fit. You don’t see anything, but it is staged well, so I appreciated that.

Most of the time when I find a regional flick that I’ve never seen before there is a good reason no one has mentioned it to me. Occasionally it is a hidden gem that I can recommend and try to get the word out. But most of the time it is because it is utterly forgettable and shouldn’t be foisted upon anyone. Help Me… I’m Possessed is a prime example of the latter. This one is for the drive-in low budget completist only. I can’t recommend it for anyone else.


© Copyright 2023 John Shatzer

Friday, February 10, 2023

Blood Stalkers (1976)

I needed to get back to watching some regional drive-in flicks, so I plucked Blood Stalkers off of my to watch pile. Two couples are driving to an isolated cabin in the Everglades. Mike has just inherited it from his mother and has some fond childhood memories of fishing trips there. His wife, Kim, really isn’t thrilled by the idea and complains about the long drive and being in the middle of nowhere. They have also brought their friends Jeri and Daniel with them. Sure enough when they stop for directions the local gas station attendant tries to warn them off. He lets them know that it is “blood stalker” territory now and no one goes up there. In typical horror movie fashion, he is ignored and off they go.

After a few wrong turns they finally arrive at the cabin and settle in. Though something or someone is watching them from the woods. After some jump scares Mike and Kim go skinny dipping. It is here that we see a figure creeping up on them… a very hairy one. Holy Shit is this a Bigfoot movie? When they return to the cabin it isn’t long before something is smashing thru the windows and grabbing at them. Mike grabs his trusty .22 derringer and starts to fire away at it. What self-respecting Bigfoot is going to be scared off by that? Well, it will make sense later.

More attacks happen, Mike goes for help, no one will help him, and eventually he returns to find everyone dead. Spoilers: But we find out after the bodies are located that it isn’t actually Bigfoot but some local poachers who killed everyone to protect their operation. Yep, it turns out this was a killer redneck movie. Mike grabs some weapons and spends the last ten minutes getting some revenge for his dead friends and his lady.

This is an interesting movie. There are big pacing issues with lots of nature footage being used to pad things out. Also, there are sequences like the drive to the cabin, the small talk once they arrive, and Mike running from house to house for help that feel like additional padding. The abrupt switch from the creature attack to Mike going on a revenge spree also felt a bit like they didn’t know how to end the movie and threw something together. Basically, the story and writing leave a bit to be desired. But there is a sweet spot after the attack at the cabin beings that is fun. And the look of the Bigfoot suit is cheesy enough that it fits with a movie like Blood Stalkers. So while it is flawed the pacing and story didn’t totally spoil the fun.    

As a regional filmmaking fan/nerd it was fun to see some connections to a couple of my favorite seventies’ flicks. Our lead, Mike, is played by Jerry Albert who also had a small part in William Grefe’s Mako: The Jaws of Death. That itself isn’t a surprise since Robert W. Morgan, who directed Blood Stalkers, wrote the screenplay for that movie. Morgan himself was a well known Bigfoot expert who appeared in The Mysterious Monsters. This makes him doing the switcheroo from Bigfoot to rednecks even more disappointing.

In the end this technically isn’t a good movie. There are some serious issues with the story and pacing. But it does scratch a certain cheesy itch that I get once in a while so I can’t totally dislike it. That said I won’t be in any hurry to revisit the movie anytime soon. I also worry that it might not play that well to someone without my predilections for bad drive-in flicks. You have been warned.


© Copyright 2023 John Shatzer

Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Project Wolf Hunting (2022)

Over the last several years the genre films coming out of South Korea have been hitting it out of the park. Movies like Train to Busan, # Alive, and Monstrum have been some of the coolest new horror flicks that I’ve seen. When my co-host Tim picked Project Wolf Hunting for the latest episode of the Bloodbaths and Boomsticks podcast I was very excited to watch it. Were my expectations met? Lets find out.

The movie opens with a prisoner being transported from the Philippines to South Korea. A family member of one of his victims sets off a bomb and kills a bunch of folks. That leads to the authorities changing their plans. Instead, a large group of convicts are loaded onto a freighter and sent back home via a sea route. You have their guards, a bunch of bad guys, and the ship’s crew. Unfortunately, there is a jail break and lots of people get brutally killed during and afterwards. This also leads to them cutting all communications and the engines being damaged causing the ship to come to a stop in the middle of the ocean.

As if that isn’t bad enough the blood from the bodies goes down a drain and drips onto a secret cargo. Seems that a criminal organization was sneaking a medical experiment from World War II back to South Korea. It is an unstoppable killing machine that is also immortal, which is important later. The gang is run by a man who is researching immortality and the creation of super soldiers or perhaps just super killers. It isn’t clear. The monster goes thru the ship murdering everyone that it finds in some of the stickiest and gooiest ways possible. There is also a twist with one of the prisoners that sets up what I think are some intended sequels. Many folks die… well basically everyone actually… before we get to the big reveal at the end.

For a movie that is just over two hours long I have to say I wasn’t bored at all. They waste little time getting to the action and it never lets up once it starts. That said I did find myself confused at times since there is little to no character development. I know what you are going to say… “John this is a horror action flick who cares?”. But I’d point out that one of the reasons movies like Train to Busan or #Alive are so memorable is because you care about the characters. Here they were just there to get mangled by either the escaped prisoners or the monster.

The Gore is satisfying
Want an example? The prison break was organized by what is clearly the villain of the movie. He is established as a bad ass and a homicidal maniac right away as he tears a dudes ear off with his teeth. It is his gang that frees everyone, and the other escapees defer to him. So, this is going to be the dude or at least he will be the point of conflict in the survivors when the monster shows up right? Nope just as that is about to happen, he repeatedly takes a sledgehammer to the face until his noggin’s is a pile of goo. Hell, the real reason they are in the situation with the monster and folks die is a character introduced towards the end of the movie and only exists to set up a sequel.

That brings me to my other big complaint about Project Wolf Hunter. While entertaining this movie clearly exists solely to setup sequels as the story here just establishes the experiments and where our augmented characters (yes there are more than just the monster) come from. Our one survivor, who is eventually established as our protagonist, literally washes up on a beach ready to get revenge right as the end credits are about to roll. I would have liked a complete story with an ending, even if it leads to sequels. There isn’t any resolution here and I felt cheated. I just spent two hours of my time, and this is how it ends? Damn it!

Decent looking creature
Now it sounds like I didn’t like the movie. In fact, there is enough gore and violence to keep my attention until the very end. Between the psycho criminals and the monster killing survivors we get all kinds of cool stuff on the screen. There is a scalping, throats get ripped out, limbs are snapped, ears chewed off, throats cut, faces torn out, organs torn out, legs lopped off below the knees, and a dude is beaten to death with his own arm. This doesn’t include the dozens of shootings featured during multiple gunfights. Though my favorite has to be the smashing of the gang leader as his head is turned to mush “Gallagher” style. Look that last one up kids… he was a funny dude. The creature design is also great so special effects wise this movie checked all the boxes.

I will be checking out the sequels and I recommend that if you get the chance, you should check out Project Wolf Hunter. It is a decent movie. Though I can say that this wouldn’t have made my top ten of last year and doesn’t come close to the storytelling we have gotten from other recent South Korean horror flicks. But overall, not too bad. 

© Copyright 2023 John Shatzer

Monday, February 6, 2023

Doctor of Doom (1963)

When we think about the subgenre of Mexican masked luchador horror movies obviously most of us go to Santo or the Blue Demon. But there was a less successful attempt to do lady luchador movies as well. Doctor of Doom is one of those and I have to say I dug it. But I’m getting ahead of myself here.

An evil scientist is terrorizing “the city” by kidnapping beautiful young women for his hideous brain transplant experiments. We know this because after some wrasslin’ inserts we see him operating and a lady dying on the table. He theorizes that his experiments fail because he needs a smarter lady to transplant the brain into… because of science reasons and whatnot. So he ends up kidnapping the sister of the champion wrestler lady Gloria. When Gloria’s sister also dies on the table, she swears that he will be brought to justice! With the help of Golden Ruby, a new to town lady wrestler, she gets kidnapped by and slaps the bad guys around.

Eventually the mad doctor/scientist gets really mad (she did toss acid on his face!) and builds a special killer lady wrestler to kill Gloria in the ring. But fear not my friends as she and Golden Ruby are able to fight the killer off and eventually both the doctor and his creation meet their ends at the end of a rifle and fall off a water tower. It was truly beauty that killed the beast… or something like that anyways.

These movies, whether it is a Santo entry or one of the many copies/clones like Doctor of Doom, are an acquired taste. Some folks get annoyed with the padding out of the short runtime with a couple of extended shots of luchadores doing their thing in the ring. Personally, I kind of dig this myself and find it entertaining. As far as padding goes it can be a lot worse then watching acrobatic jumps and hip tosses. Clocking in at only seventy seven minutes long it is paced well and never lingers long enough to lose the audience. There is enough humor mixed in with the action to make you chuckle here and there and overall, I had no complaints. It is cheesy and harmless fun that is entertaining.

The Lady Wrasslers!
The fact that this movie is made as well as it was shouldn’t come as a surprise. It was directed by the prolific Rene Cardona who had a hundred and forty seven directing credits over his forty plus year career. The guy made a lot of low budget gold including some Santo flicks, so he was familiar with this genre and how to make it work. There was a formula, and he knew how to execute it.

I realize that I had forgotten to mention that the mad doctor has a monster in the basement that he uses to help capture his victims. The monster is called Gomar and is basically a guy with some latex slapped on his face. While simple it is effective and along with the post acid splash scarring is decent enough for the budget and overall goofy vibe.

Doctor of Doom is a fun way to kill some time and well worth checking out. As of the writing of this review you can find the movie on YouTube as well as several other places. It is easy to find and at the low low cost of free! Give it a chance.


© Copyright 2023 John Shatzer

Friday, February 3, 2023

Amityville Witches (2021)

This marathon is never going to end. This time around the action kicks off in the past where three witches are being hanged. This seems like a legit thing to do since they are chanting and doing other “evil” witchy things. Then the action moves to the present day where a couple of sketchy dudes are going to burgle a house. They break in and sure enough the witches live there. They do some witchy things and I think reprogram them to be nice guys. Wait a minute…

Turns out these ladies are white witches and the good guys to this story. There is a nearby Amityville Academy that is run by an evil witch named Dominque who wants to summon the demon Botis to destroy the world. If she can collect enough witch blood to feed him then she can also control the demon. To that end she keeps inviting students to kill them and feed their blood to the demon who is in a mirror in the basement. Jessica is the latest victim, but she has the special three horned mark and that is some kind of prophecy or something. Stuff happens and the day is saved.

This isn’t a horrible movie, at least by Amityville standards which are admittedly not terribly high. The story has a beginning, middle, and end. It also makes sense and while the pacing is awful with lots of spinning in circles, training montages, and positive reaffirmations to how wonderful life is it at least is trying to tell a cohesive story. The cast is at least proficient enough to deliver the dialogue and are not terrible. Though as far as the story goes this is another Amityville flick that has nothing to do with the franchise other than having the name slapped on it. Hell, this was clearly shot entirely in England regardless of them trying to sell it as being in the United States. Though my only real issue with the movie is the glacial pacing of the story.

Pew pew pew... magic!!!
The “action” is staged is a very goofy way that I can best describe by referencing a South Park episode. Remember when Cartman thought he had psychic powers and got into “fights” with other psychics by wiggling his fingers and making “mew pew mew boop boop boop” sounds? Yeah, that pretty much sums up what we get. The demon is basically a shirtless dude with a bit of makeup on his head and chest. Again, it is okay but not anything too memorable. There are three kills with the first, a decent throat slash with blood spray, being the best. The others are sort of forgettable.

I’m at the point with these Amityville flicks that if you manage to keep the camera in focus and attempt to tell some sort of story, I’m going to give you props. Yeah, the bar is that low some twenty five entries in. Amityville Witches is not normally a movie I’d like, and I still can’t say that I do. But in the context of this franchise, it is one of the better entries. Though that isn’t a recommendation at all. Don’t watch this movie. I guess I’m onto the next one.


© Copyright 2023 John Shatzer

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Amityville Island (2020)

The pain continues with this installment from director Mark Polonia. Here he proves, yet again, that he has quit trying. With that spoiler out of the way I might as well get this over with and talk about the “plot” of Amityville Island.

There is a lady on her cellphone while driving, sheesh how irresponsible is that? We hear her talk about how her husband has died overseas and how she is now a single mom of four. Not to worry though because after purchasing a box of crap from “the house” she gets possessed by a spooky baby doll. How does that help? Well, she kills her kids, so problem solved. At least the single mom problem. Now she is in prison and gets forced into the lamest prison fighting ring ever. When the baby doll demonic force takes over again she kicks her opponents butt and they both get sent to “the island”.

So, what is this island? There is a doctor who is experimenting on lady prisoners in an attempt to make super soldiers by injecting nanites into their uterus. Along the way to the mad scientist, we do see the evil baby doll demon take over a bear and a shark so there is some excuse for shitty CGI attacks. There are also some zombies or at least a zombie lady who turned undead monster because of her nanite infused uterus. Damn and the internet gets demonically possessed to kill another dude as well. In case you were wondering… this movie makes no sense.

I will give Polonia some credit in that this movie at least mentions or hints at the haunted items from the house so at least kind of connects to the franchise rather than just toss the name in the title like others have done. But beyond that brief mention this is just a jumble of dumb ideas instead of an actual script. It has a “let’s throw shit at the wall and see what sticks” vibe to it. People like sharks and we can put it on the cover… do it! How about a women in prison fight ring… do it! You know folks like bear attacks… do it! Uterus nanotech super soldiers… DO IT!!! This all ends up in a jumble of nonsense that I found painfully tedious and a chore to sit thru.

Hell, they even tossed in a random reporter subplot that just ends in a car crash after slowing things down with several staring at liquor bottles while on the phone scenes. All this crap is wrapped up in what should be a tight seventy minute long runtime but with all this padding they obviously didn’t have a script to speak of.

The production values are also bad. This was again shot at what appears to be some sort of regional college campus or trade school, which has been used in many of Polonia’s recent movies. The level of set decoration goes back to… want to hide that picture on the wall… don’t take it down just cover it in Reynold’s wrap. That isn’t an exaggeration but is what they actually did and have done before. We also get awful attempts at acting, fight choreography, and CGI special effects that are garbage. Did I mention that it is clear Mark Polonia has stopped trying and is just making “product” now rather than fun low or no budget flicks?

It should come as no surprise to you guys that this is another not recommended from me. While not as awful as some of these Amityville movies have been Amityville Island is still a waste of your time.

© Copyright 2023 John Shatzer