Featured Post

Featured Post - Slasher Marathon 2021

Since I started the website I've done a Slasher marathon every summer. This time I thought I'd start things off in the first week of...

Monday, August 31, 2020

Terror is a Man (1959)

 



note: This review is part of a bigger series the Filipino horror and exploitation movies of the late sixties, seventies and eighties. While it isn’t necessary to read those, I would recommend starting at the beginning as I refer back to the other movies covered in my reviews. Click here for the full list of what I’ve covered.


Before I go any further I should note that this is an early movie and doesn’t technically fall into what I had intended to cover. Though while it predates the sixties and seventies Terror is a Man is sort of an unofficial prequel to the Blood Island movies I just finished covering. This was a one-off horror picture made by directors Gerardo de Leon and Eddie Romero. Ironically, they couldn’t get it released for years and when they did finally get it out in the US its success inspired the Blood Island flicks. With that connection in mind I thought I’d take a look at it. Now with that bit of history behind us lets dive in.

The movie kicks off with a man, Fitzgerald, washing up on a beach after being shipwrecked. He is found a Dr. Girard and his assistant. They take him to the doctor’s house to recover from his injuries. When he wakes, he not only meets the doctor but his lovely wife, Frances, as well. Why is Girard on the isolated island? Well it pretty clear that he is a mad scientist of sorts having created a process to give human intelligence to animals. That might explain why a half man half panther has chased all the locals off of the island! Toss in a subplot with Fitzgerald making passes at Frances and you have the makings of a decent monster movie.

Terror is a Man is a very good movie. It is an odd combination of the Island of Dr. Moreau and Frankenstein. The idea of monster being part human and part animal clearly is a reference to the Moreau story, which has been filmed several times. Keep that in mind as we will be talking about it again in this review series. The stranger being shipwrecked, the love interest in the household, it is all very familiar. I’m okay with this because it is done very well. The actor playing Girard brings a misguided and most importantly sympathetic angle to his performance. What he is doing is terrible, but he isn’t being evil about it. That was interesting and showed some thought in the plot and character development.

We also get a bit of Frankenstein as well. Dr. Girard has an Igor like assistant who has hatred for his creation. This leads to him beating him with a wooden stake and generally being cruel. In spite of all the killing that the monster does when released you sort of feel bad for it. It still is part panther, which is a predator. Toss in the beatings to twist up it’s growing intelligence and you can’t really blame it for what eventually happens. Hell at the end of the movie it is trying to save Frances, the only person that has shown it compassion. Even the monster has some depth to it, which is very Karloff like.


Clearly, I like the story and the time spent developing both it and the characters. But this is at its core a creature feature, so I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk about the special effects work and creature design. First up there is a very effective bit where they use a shaved pig (I’m thinking and hoping it was already dead) to emulate them cutting into flesh as they do surgery on the monster. This is in your face and really graphic for the ‘50s. You weren’t seeing anything like this in the movie made in America at this point. I got a real kick out of it. I also think that the creature design was extremely good. The panther mask looks fantastic and even allows the actor underneath to emote a bit, though mostly with his eyes.

In the end I found Terror is a Man to be an unexpected treat. If you have spent any time here at Crappy Movie Reviews you know that I’m a huge nerd of all things fifties horror and sci-fi. I grew up watching this stuff in the seventies on my local hosted late-night movie shows. Since then I’ve spent much time tracking them down on VHS, DVD, and finally Blu-Ray. Finding one that has slipped by me is very rare. The fact that this was my first viewing and that it is so damn good gives me hope that I have more hiding out there waiting for me to find. I highly recommend this movie and can’t wait to see what else the Filipino film industry has to offer.

  

© Copyright 2020 John Shatzer

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Beast of Blood (1970)

 

note: This review is part of a bigger series on the Blood Island trilogy which itself is part of my look at the Filipino horror and exploitation movies of the late sixties, seventies and eighties. While it isn’t necessary to read those, I would recommend starting at the beginning as I refer back to the other movies covered in my reviews. Click here for the full list of what I’ve covered.



I guess that it would make sense that the next movie I cover be the third entry into the Blood Island series. Though some say there is an earlier movie and others say that there are sequels. I’m honestly just a bit confused by it. But if we are counting the creative team of Eddie Romero and star John Ashley then this is the third of the series. But then I think the pair worked on another movie that some people consider part of the trilogy… You know I think I’m just going to get to the review.

 

Unlike the first two movies that shared the setting of Blood Island but weren’t connected otherwise Beast of Blood is a direct sequel to Mad Doctor of Blood Island. Though they do use a convenient boat explosion to explain the characters that survived Mad Doctor not appearing in Beast of Blood. That might annoy some fans, but I applaud the effort made to explain it away. Who returns? Well we get John Ashley back again as Bill Foster. Also coming back is Dr. Lorca and his number one henchman Razak. And of course, the beast/monster from the prior entry also makes an appearance, though disappointing. I’ll have more on that later.

 

Things kick off with the explosion which is caused by the monster sneaking onto the boat at the end of Mad Doctor of Blood Island. The only survivors are Bill and the monster, though no one knows that the creature survived. After the opening credits we see that Bill is returning to Blood Island because he thinks Dr. Lorca is still alive and is basically coming to kill him for all horrible things he has done. Obviously, he is proven correct, but things get complicated when he discovers the doctor has a new hidden camp and an army of hired thugs protecting him. With a lady reporter he just met, some locals, and the crew of the boat in tow he heads into the jungle for a showdown with Lorca who is again terrorizing everyone with his renewed experiments.

 

In my earlier reviews for the Blood Island series I mentioned that I had been warning people off from watching these for years and I was confused by that since I’ve been enjoying them so much this time around. Well I think it all makes sense now. I’m not going to say that Beast of Blood is a bad movie, but it certainly isn’t very good either. After having watched the first two I have an idea, or expectations if you will, of what I’m going to get. That would be monsters and blood. Pretty simple stuff if you think about it. Most of this flick is spent with our protagonist, Bill, fighting the henchmen of Dr. Lorca. In fact, other than the two or three minutes before the opening credits where they establish the monster caused the boat explosion the they never share the screen together!

 


Think about what I just said. Beast of Blood basically doesn’t feature the beast. That is kind of disappointing, especially after seeing all the mayhem and fun from the previous installments. It plays a lot more like the war movies that director Eddie Romero worked on in the fifties and early sixties. Again, I won’t say that is bad, but it isn’t what I was expecting when I popped the Blu-Ray in. I was disappointed after having just watched the previous installments. When we finally do see the monster, it spends all of its time in two pieces, one head in a jar and the body strapped to the table. Don’t let the cover art fool you as they never get back together. Forever apart… that is kind of sad if you think about it.

 

I had pointed out that the creature work had dropped in quality and quantity from Brides of Blood to Mad Doctor of Blood Island and sadly we get another drop here. As I’ve already mentioned we don’t see a lot of the creature, but when we do it actually looks worse than it did in Mad Doctor of Blood Island. All we get is a mask over an actors head and another actor in a jumpsuit. During the shoot-out at the end of the movie between the henchmen and Bill’s impromptu army there are some gnarly bullet hits with spurting blood, but that is about it. That was disappointing.

 

In the end I dug the first two but can’t bring myself to recommending this one. Though if like me you are a completest, I suppose you will feel obligated to get the conclusion that you didn’t know you needed at the end of Mad Doctor of Blood Island. Crap did I just sell more copies of Beast of Blood? Damn it! Oh well I’m sure there are much worse movies to spend your money on.

 

 

© Copyright 2020 John Shatzer

 

 

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Click Here for the Filipino Movie Marathon

For a few years I've been talking about doing a deep dive on the horror and exploitation movies shot in the Philippines during the '60s, '70s, and '80s. Everyone from William Girdler to Jack Hill were working in what was a very friendly financial environment under the Marcos regime. This made from some quirky homegrown product as well as a few transplanted American filmmakers like I've mentioned above. I'm not going to cover everything this time around (there is a surprising amount) but will do my best to cover some of the highlights. 

To help anyone that has just jumped into this series I'll include a list of what I've covered below in the order that they were posted. This can be important as there is at least one series and I will be referring to movies that I've previously covered in some of the reviews. 

What I've covered so far in the Filipino movie series. 

Brides of Blood (1968) - The first in the Blood Island "Trilogy" (some folks disagree on that). Co-directed by Eddie Romero and Gerardo de Leon. It also stars John Ashley. 

Mad Doctor of Blood Island (1968) - The second of the Blood Island Trilogy. Co-directed by Eddie Romero and Gerardo de Leon. It again stars John Ashley. This one also has Ronald Remy who I remember as a cool vampire in sunglasses in another movie I will be covering in the marathon. 

Beast of Blood (1970) - The third of the Blood Island Trilogy. Eddie Garcia returns as Dr. Lorca the Mad Doctor of Blood Island. Eddie Romero directs again and John Ashley gets to play the same character for the first time!

Terror is a Man (1959) - Not technically in the Blood Island Trilogy  but some consider this a prequel of sorts due to many of the same creative people being involved. Gerado de Leon directs with Eddie Romero in this genuinely creepy black and white gem. 

Beyond Atlantis (1973) - Patrick Wayne, John Ashley, Vic Diaz, and the late great Sid Haig star in one of my favorite drive-in movies of all time. Directed by Eddie Romero. This one is less sleazy than previous Eddie Romero flicks because Patrick Wayne insisted on a PG rating. 

Curse of the Vampires (1966) - This is one of the earlier movies that I will be reviewing for this marathon. That said I somehow managed to not notice that this is a sequel to sorts of another movie that I will be covering. Still you don't need to see that one to enjoy this quirky vampire movie. 

Twilight People (1972) - Like the earlier Terror is a Man this is a take on the Island of Doctor Moreau story. Here we have a mad scientist "improving" helpless victims by adding animal characteristics to them. Luckily John Ashley has enough sex appeal to seduce the scientists daughter and save himself. 

The Blood Drinkers (1964) - I thought I'd wrap up this first dive into the movies of the Philippines with another vampire flick, and the one that Curse of the Vampires was sort of a sequel to. Here we have a twisted tale of a vampire showing up to steal the heart from a woman to save his love who just happens to be her twin sister. 

Update 5/26/21

Night of the Cobra Woman (1972) - I found another Filipino shot movie. This time it stars Vic Diaz and Joy Bang of Messiah of Evil fame. It has an evil snake God, cheesy special effects work, and is clearly low budget. It is also a heck of a lot of fun. I'll keep adding to the list here as I find more.

© Copyright 2020 John Shatzer

Mad Doctor of Blood Island (1968)

 



note: This review is part of a bigger series on the Blood Island trilogy which itself is part of my look at the Filipino horror and exploitation movies of the late sixties, seventies and eighties. While it isn’t necessary to read those, I would recommend starting at the beginning as I refer back to the other movies covered in my reviews. Click here for the full list of what I’ve covered.


The Filipino movie review series continues with this second entry into the Blood Island series from directors Gerardo de Leon and Eddie Romero. Also returning is actor John Ashley, although he is playing an entirely different character this time around. I probably should mention that the Blood Island movies don’t have a narrative that continues between them but are mostly similar in tone and those returning in front of and behind the camera. Now with that out of the way lets dive in.

The movie kicks off with a naked girl running away from a monster chasing her. Not the same one as from before, but a different one. She is presumably killed and then we are introduced to our main cast. Ashley plays a doctor, Bill Foster, come to the island to investigate the rumors of a new disease. There is a beautiful young woman, Sheila, come looking for her long absent father. He is the islands drunk, though he sobers up pretty quickly. There is also a local, Carlos, who has come to visit his mother with I think the intention of taking her back to the mainland with him. Now that the characters are established let’s talk about the plot.

The previous entry, Brides of Blood, had radiation mutating people and causing all the mayhem. Mad Doctor of Blood Island switches this up a bit with the mad scientist twist of having Dr. Lorca experimenting on his patients. The title makes more sense now doesn’t it? He is using chlorophyll to extend life and help heal people, though it turns their blood green and makes them homicidal. Well I guess you have to break a few eggs to make an omelet. There are also some twists as to the identity of the monster, much like the earlier Brides of Blood, as well as at least once character that isn’t who you think they are. For what is an otherwise cheesy drive-in movie this one has a surprisingly interesting story that I don’t want to ruin here, thus the slightly vague recap. Much craziness, murder, and blood splattering occur before the end credits roll.


From a pacing and plot perspective Mad Doctor of Blood Island is a marked improvement over Brides of Blood. Characters are introduced and tossed right into the action without the movie ever dragging. There is always something interesting going on and even the dance number, yes we get another one, is shorter and plays better as it is cut into the middle of the movie. It doesn’t feel like it was tacked on to pad the running time. We do have a silly bit at the beginning talking about green blood and asking the audience to take a pledge of sorts to protect themselves. While not necessary it has a distinct goofy and fun vibe much like the shenanigans William Castle did in the fifties that added to my enjoyment of the movie.

The plot is much more straightforward but has at least one twist that I didn’t expect. Again, I don’t want to give anything away, but I will clue you in that it has to do with Carlos and his history with Blood Island. Even Dr. Lorca is initially played as a decent guy, though it is pretty clear he is the Mad Doctor, so I don’t feel like revealing him as the bad guy is much of a spoiler. Still I appreciate the efforts they went to not immediately reveal this. I’m not saying that Mad Doctor of Blood Island is a classic but compared to other flicks in this genre it has a decent story and script.

There is a bit of a drop off in the gore and creature design. Here we get a lot more green paint and a few appliances glued to a couple of actors rather than the full rubber creature suite from Brides. There is a decent kill scene here and there with the highlight being one woman getting torn up on screen by the creature, but it doesn’t match the sheer volume of rubber limbs and God help us tree tentacles from the earlier Blood film. This was disappointing but didn’t ruin the movie for me. What almost did was the decision to use this annoying zooming in and out on the scenes when the monster was near. It doesn’t matter if it was a close up of the actor or the creature the shot zooms in and out rapidly. So much so that I almost got nauseous a couple of times. It isn’t found footage camerawork bad, but it got close a couple of times.

Despite these last two criticisms of Mad Doctor of Blood Island I still found myself really liking it. I find a certain charm in old drive-in movies that I just don’t get from anything else. When you also toss in a story that I enjoyed and gives a few unexpected twists then I think you are onto something. Consider this one recommended.

 

© Copyright 2020 John Shatzer

Monday, August 24, 2020

Brides of Blood (1968)

 


I’ve been kicking around the idea of covering the exploitation/horror movies of the Philippines, especially those made in the late sixties and seventies. I even went as far as buying a couple box sets as well as tracking down a few other movies. I suppose it is time to actually get started and I couldn’t think of a better place to start then the first movie in the Blood Island series, Brides of Blood.

Things kick off on a boat as we are introduced to our main characters. We have Jim, a well-meaning Peace Core volunteer traveling to the remote island to help the locals with sanitation and irrigation. You know the real tree hugger crap they do. There is also Dr. Henderson and his much younger wife Carla. He is coming to do some research and she is basically just miserable. He has needs that her husband seems disinterested in helping her with. They arrive on the island and are met by the locals, including the lovely Alma who becomes Jim’s love interest. Also, there is a fellow American (though he is clearly not…) Esteban who lives in a big house near the village.

Not long after they realize that something is horribly wrong as they encounter mutated animals and plants. Yeah, the trees are trying to kill them! The worst of it is a particularly nasty monster to whom the villagers keep sacrificing lovely ladies. Why only the ladies? It seems that the monster has needs if you get my meaning. When they pick Alma that is the last straw for Jim, and he frees her and flees to Esteban’s home with her in tow. Along the way we find out that the island has been affected by radiation from the atomic bomb tests and that is why the local flora and fauna has become so homicidal. After one big twist involving the identity of the amorous monster we get to a satisfying conclusion to the movie, a big dance number.

My recap of the movie makes it sound like I didn’t like it, or at least like I’m being snarky about it. The truth is this isn’t a great movie and has its fair share of flaws. That said I enjoyed the heck out of it. There is a certain cheesy fun to be had with a movie like Brides of Blood, or really any movie that was made for the drive-in crowd in general. That is if you do it right. For me you have to have a decent creature or at least an entertaining one. Here we get a big bug on visible wires, some tentacles springing forth from the trees, and of course the man in a rubber suit. For the late sixties and on such a small budget all of these are executed pretty well. My favorite creature related bit has to do with a tree trying to eat a kid! Yeah they went there. All in all I was satisfied with what I saw on screen.

Now this is going to sound creepy but, in my defense, it is a staple of the drive-in genre and that is nudity. We see a lot of skin in Brides of Blood. While it might seem tame by today’s standards (my how the internet has changed things) this was pushing the boundaries of the late sixties. It is likely that if these movies weren’t dismissed as trash, they wouldn’t have been able to get away with as much as they did.

The cast is solid with Kent Taylor, Beverley Powers, and John Ashley all doing good work. Some of the local Filipino cast is good as well. Eva Darren as Alma does a great job and Mario Montenegro is good as Esteban. A lot of effort was put into trying to write the best script and get decent actors and it shows. The direction from Gerado de Leon and Eddie Romero is solid. That said the movie does drag a little bit here and there and the big dance scene tacked on at the end does nothing for the story and feels like padding, which they didn’t need.

My only other complaint with Brides of Blood is the music. While I don’t mind the soundtrack itself my issue is with how loud it gets. There are times where it drowns out what is on screen, not dialogue but just the ambient sounds of the jungle. It feels intrusive and took my attention away from the action on screen. This and the slow spots are the only real issues that I have with the movie.

For years I had warned people away from the Blood Island flicks based upon me watching them on VHS years ago. I’m not sure if it is the transfer on the new Blu-Ray set or if my tastes have changed but I feel like that was the wrong thing to do. Again, I can’t say Brides of Blood is a great movie, but I’ll be damned if it isn’t entertaining. Now I’m looking forward to checking out the rest of them to see if they are also better than I remembered. Consider this a recommendation.

 

© Copyright 2020 John Shatzer

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Deep Blue Sea 3 (2020)

 


The trailer for this one caught my eye online. It looks like a fun shark flick and since I’m a big fan of the original Deep Blue Sea I was excited. I think that I skipped the first sequel or at least can’t remember it. I can tell you after watching this one that it is okay to jump into this movie without having seen the first two. In other words, this isn’t a franchise that has a continuing narrative for you to follow… just a lot of hungry sharks! Now onto the review.

The movie kicks off with some do-gooders shooting some footage at a fishing village that has been mostly abandoned because of climate change. After some chatter about biodiversity and ecosystems there is an encounter with a great white shark where the researcher is bumped. The divers surface and we are introduced Emma and her team. They are studying a local shark nursery and how it is being affected by the global warming. It isn’t long before a fancy corporate owned ship shows up chasing some bull sharks that they claim are a danger to the nursery. On the ship is an old colleague and ex-boyfriend of Emma named Richard. He is also a marine biologist and is leading the team trying to catch the bull sharks.

Now if you have ever seen a Deep Blue Sea movie you know that the corporate guys are up to no good. The sharks they are chasing have been modified and are not only aggressive but also super intelligent. Yeah, they basically gave an apex predator the ability to figure out what we are doing and set traps for us. That seems like a terrible idea. The bad guys do what they do, lots of people end up as chum/supper, and we have an epic final showdown between Emma and the last shark.

I’ve mentioned in reviews before that I don’t mind a formulaic movie if it is executed well. Deep Blue Sea 3 knows what the formula is and adheres to it religiously. The jump scares come when you expect them, the bad guys go from jerks to murder at the drop of a hat, the father figure ends up dead, and of course there is the ironic kill. That last one is more of a trait of this series. It isn’t a Deep Blue Sea movie unless someone says something prophetic right before ending up as lunch! While I saw everything coming the movie is fast paced and only lingers on the good stuff like the kills. Sure, there is a little bit of character development fleshed out in some dialogue, but this movie concentrates on the sharks and the damage that they do. The filmmakers know what the audience wants and gives it to us.

The special effects are fun. The sharks are mostly all CGI work, but it looks good, so I have no issues with it. We have a nice number of kills from the shark violence. The kills are creative and different, which is cool for a shark movie. Some of the highlights are an arm in a fishing net, a half a diver still being pulled by his sled, a head gets chomped, and the requisite profess your love before being yanked to your doom. My favorite kill has to be a snatched from mid air gag that was funny. I do really like the kills and the creatures in Deep Blue Sea 3.

I’m always down for a good shark movie. That said I must warn you all that I have low expectations for them. I want some fun and creative kills, a few jump scares, and characters that at a minimum I don’t hate. You might be surprised how many movies in the shark subgenre aren’t able to meet these standards. Deep Blue Sea 3 met them and because of that I had a good time. No one will ever consider this a classic movie, but it’s a fun watch. With that in mind I’m recommending it.

  

© Copyright 2020 John Shatzer

Monday, August 17, 2020

Ice Sharks (2016)

 


More movie reviews and more sharks! They seem to go hand in hand lately so when I noticed this bad boy pop up on my Amazon Prime list, I knew I had to check it out. So many questions needed answered. Are these sharks made of ice. Do they lurk at weddings as strange sculptures waiting to pounce? I NEED TO KNOW!

The movie starts off with a guy hunting a polar bear, or at least the stock footage of one. His dog sled gets too close to the edge of the ice flow and a shark jumps out eating his dogs and then him. Later some people go to investigate the missing hunter and they get too close to the edge and also almost get eaten. Then the sharks attack the research station that is also sitting next to the edge of the water and cut it loose so that it eventually sinks. I mean it totally is watertight, so they don’t die right away. That means the survivors must keep trying more and more complicated ways to escape that involve them swimming outside and getting eaten. Eventually they are rescued the end.

This is an Asylum movie and it is terrible. You get the same bad acting and thin story that most Asylum movies hit you with on a regular basis. Characters do dumb things and the cast trips over poorly written dialogue all while stuck in the middle of absurd situations. Seriously guys just stay away from the edge of the water and you will be okay! The sharks can’t walk… at least they haven’t made that movie yet.

The movie has a lot of very bad CGI as all the creature effects and gore is digital, and not even well-done work at that. It appears they had the same models that they just kept inserting in scene after scene. The live action stuff with the cast doesn’t match the digital work and is very distracting. The kills are basically the footage of the cast member with a digital shark superimposed over it as if they are being eaten… thru the bottom of the shark! The only time they try something practical is with a God-awful bit involving a severed leg that looks like they grabbed a ham off of the craft services table. Which begs the question does the Asylum feed their cast? As I’ve already mentioned all of the above is to be expected when sitting down to watch a movie from the Asylum so that isn’t my biggest issue with the movie.

What I didn’t expect from Ice Sharks is for it to be so damn boring. Even if these movies are bad, they can still be entertaining by tossing a bunch of silliness at the screen. Here we get nothing. The first part of the movie is them wandering too close to the water and getting attacked. The second half is them swimming out of the sunken building trying their increasingly complicated escape plans only to be eaten. Things are so repetitive and joyless that I found myself watching the clock hoping for this to be over. And yes, I stuck to the end. Make my sacrifice mean something and skip Ice Sharks. Not recommended.


Ó Copyright 2020 John Shatzer

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Trailer Park Shark (2017)

 


I was browsing the shelves of my local big box department store and a DVD caught my eye. Trailer Park Shark called out to me saying, “you know I’m a shitty movie, but you have to buy me.” I did my best to resist but then I saw that Tara Reid was in it. Still I resisted. Then I saw Dennis Haskins name on the box and read the synopsis. Mr. Belding from Saved by the Bell is the bad guy! Yeah, I bought the damn movie and a six pack of beer. What else am I going to do with my Saturday night?

The residents of a trailer park are trying to hook into a new windmill to steal electricity, so they can be off the grid and save some money. While this is happening the levee/damn is blown up and the trailer park gets flooded. The movie then rewinds to introduce us to the characters and give some background before returning to the action. When the flood happens, a shark is dragged in and starts eating everyone. Our hero, a guy named Rob, uses the electrical wire and shocks the shark to death… or does he? The shark absorbs the juice and uses it later to zap its victims.

While this is happening we also find out that the evil Deconnard, Haskins’ character, sent his minions to flood the park so he could claim the land and develop it to make some serious money. But Rob saw them so now they must return to the flooded park to kill him and all of the other the witnesses! Sharks and a homicidal gang of bad guys. That can’t end well.

This is a terrible movie that I enjoyed the heck out of. The plot is completely absurd and is filled with characters that are cardboard cutout stereotypes of rednecks. But I think that is exactly what they were going for and if that is the case mission accomplished. The cast knows what kind of movie that they are in and are clearly enjoying themselves. Haskins especially is having a blast chewing up scenery getting to be the villain. We even get a funny extended cameo from Tara Reid of Sharknado fame sitting on a trailer dropping one liners with of course one of them referencing the Sharknado franchise.

This is not going to end well
Given that this movie couldn’t have had much of a budget the shark is brought to the screen with CGI. Particularly bad CGI that looks terrible. But for a movie named Trailer Park Shark that is what I would expect. In fact, I would have been annoyed if they “wasted” good special effects work on this movie. The kills are generic and there is a lot of CGI blood tossed at the screen. Again this normally a deal breaker for me, but here it fits so well I wasn’t annoyed too much.

Most of the time when a filmmaker sets out to make a “bad” movie they actually make one that is too terrible to watch. This one is enjoyably goofy and entertaining with a cast and crew that seems to be in on the joke. I found myself laughing and smiling from opening scene to end credits. Not to be taken seriously Trailer Park Shark is a good time if you sit down with the right expectations. Plus, the dog lives! If the dog lives in your movie then I immediately give you a thumbs up.

  

Ó Copyright 2020 John Shatzer

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Piranha Sharks (2017)



There are a lot of shark movies out there. Some good, some bad, and some just mediocre. Still I just can’t help myself. I think it is a sickness…

This is a simple story that we have all seen before. Random big corporation decides that the weaponized genetically engineered Piranha Sharks they couldn’t control well enough for a military application would make an excellent holiday gift idea! Really this is what they do when the little buggers break out and eat one of the scientists from the inside out. They think they can control the growth and make them pretty much harmless, but they can’t. Before you can say corporate greed the first batch of them are in the water system and taking over NYC. It is up to a couple exterminators and a slacker to save the day.

This is another of those movies that I had to watch after hearing the title. Most of the time that goes horribly wrong, but here it wasn’t so bad. First, I should point out that the movie is being played for laughs. From the Hallmark Christmas movie looking opening credits to Kevin Sorbo playing the mayor who doesn’t like to wear pants this is absurdly silly from start to finish. Piranha Sharks gave me just about everything that I expected. In addition to what I’ve already mentioned there is a bit with a sick dude getting killed on the toilette, random stripper girl dying in the bathtub, and an attack at a bar where the little sharks are swimming unnoticed in the drinks. If that isn’t enough to interest you there is an odd infomercial shown in the movie for the Piranha Sharks where former baseball player Jose Canseco professes his love for them! This movie is just plain weird.

The special effects are CGI. All of it is terrible and looks goofy as hell. The piranha sharks remind me of monsters from a bad PlayStation game and I’m talking the old school original with the blocky graphics. We get some CGI blood, but the kills are all tame and dumb. They even take the time to put a CGI helicopter in when they could have totally skipped that scene. Normally this would bug the hell out of me. Here this level of incompetence in digital effects feels right. It just fits with the rest of the movie and is sort of what I would have expected. In some weird way better effects might have ruined the laughs, which again is what this movie is aiming for.

The best part about the movie is the cast. Everyone is having fun with their roles and not taking themselves too seriously. Our three main leads, the exterminators, have some decent chemistry and are very funny. The writing is decent and pokes some fun at the tropes of the genre with gags like the piranha sharks suddenly learning how to fly which leads to the line, “Flying Air Breathing Piranha Sharks. I didn’t see that coming.” I felt like they were purposely poking fun at the genre, and it works.  

This isn’t a good movie. I can’t even say that it is that funny. But I didn’t hate it and found myself laughing in some spots. Piranha Sharks is one of those silly flicks that you watch once and likely never think about again. Not sure if that is a glowing endorsement of Piranha Sharks but it is the best I can do. I found this one Amazon Prime and watched it for free. That seems about the right price.  

  

Ó Copyright 2020 John Shatzer

Monday, August 10, 2020

House Shark (2016)




You might be asking yourself, “Did I just read that title correctly?”. Well you did. The next logical thought is that it must be about a slick relator that corners the market and makes a lot of money, but you would be wrong about that. Nope this is about a shark that lives in a house and kills anyone that dares step foot in it.

We meet Frank, who is about to reenter the dating scene after being divorced. He has his young son with him and after some chatting they go downstairs, and we meet the babysitter. This is important because later on when she is on the toilette the house shark gets her. Frank sees this happen and is traumatized by it. Two months later he and his son are living in the backyard, afraid to go into the house. But events occur that force Frank to team up with a couple of house shark experts to go back in and do battle with the beast. What are those events? Well an odd reality company wants to sell the house and shows it without his permission. This leads to a couple being eaten in the living room. This is a weird movie…

House Shark has the feel of a movie that threw a ton of jokes at the wall to see how much would stick. We get the typical Jaws references including a spoof of the famous Quint monologue that is actually pretty good. The actor playing Abraham does his best impression of the character while explaining the horrors of the House Shark attack at the parade of homes, which is standing in for the Indianapolis sinking. What didn’t seem to fit was his strange beard. That is until you understand one of the other gags. Let me sort it out for you. We have characters named Frank, Abraham, Zachary, and Franklin’s wife is named Lady Bird. Get it yet? All of them are named after presidents or first ladies. The Abraham/Quint character is sporting a very fake beard, which they even reference at the end of the movie. I was sort of amused by this and it was another of those jokes that feels tossed in.

If you are easily grossed out, you might have issues with House Shark. Not because it is gory, but because it uses what my mother used to call “potty humor”. We see butts, both real and rubber. Another of the characters gets peed on while thanking the Fuhrer… Weird shit is happening here. There is an ugly cry complete with snot running down a character’s face. Talk of period farts and lots more like gross out humor like that. Though my favorite joke refers back to Jaws when a little girl runs up to Franklin and kicks him in the nuts for not stopping her adoptive parents from being eaten in the living room. That part isn’t so funny, but her being mad about having to return to the high kill adoption center had me laughing.

My only complaint about the movie is that it runs too long. Some of the jokes just don’t work and could have and would have been cut by a decent editor. House Shark is one hundred and eleven minutes, which is crazy for an independent movie like this. Better to be shorter by twenty minutes and focus on the jokes that land.

This is one of the flicks that has to be seen to be believed. It is so strange and goofy that I can only begin to scratch the surface here in the review. Do I recommend this one? If you are in the mood for a few laughs and not wanting to take it seriously I think House Shark is the movie for you.


Ó Copyright 2020 John Shatzer

Friday, August 7, 2020

Blood Vessel (2019)




I’ve said it before here at the site and I will continue to say it until I’m otherwise proven incorrect. Australian filmmakers can do no wrong when making horror movies. The last ten or so years I’ve seen one gem after another pop up from down under. When Blood Vessel was brought to my attention and I learned it was an Australian made spooky flick set on a ship at sea I was in. Within less than forty-eight hours, which is damn fast for me, I was watching the movie.

The movie kicks off at towards the end of the second World War. We see some survivors adrift at sea after their ship was torpedoed by a German U-Boat. They are in a desperate situation as supplies are running low but are ecstatic to see a ship bearing down on them. They are saved… until they notice the Swastika. Out of the frying pan and into the fire. They managed to climb aboard the ship, losing someone in the effort. Almost immediately they notice something strange. They aren’t met by the crew. After some searching, they start to find bodies, burnt to a crisp, as well as a little girl hiding. This leads to them finding a lone German sailor locked in the hold guarding something. By the time they learn what he was guarding from the creepy pictures and book in the Captain’s cabin it is too late. A terrible evil is on the loose and they are all in serious trouble.

Before I start in on my review, I need to warn you guys that there will be spoilers. I can’t really explain why I dig this movie so much without doing so. The short of it is that I love Blood Vessel and highly recommend that everyone check it out. Now that you have been warned I’m going to continue.

This is an ambitious and well executed movie. I’m a big history nerd so the fact that they did such a good job on a small budget making things look right was fantastic. From the setting, they shot on a restored ship from the correct era, to the costumes it was spot on. The story is well crafted and while somewhat familiar there is a twist to what is going on that I didn’t see coming until we were halfway thru the runtime. I thought Blood Vessel was going to be about a haunted ship or some demonic occult thing, but it isn’t that at all. This is an old-fashioned balls to the wall vampire flick! Not that sparkly teen heartthrob crap. These vampires are real monsters that ooze evil and look terrifically creepy. It is also a family affair as we get not only mom and dad but daughter as well so there is a lot to like here.

The dialogue is solid, and the cast does a fantastic job bringing their characters to the screen. I thought it was cool that they managed to include most of the allies among the survivors that end up on the Nazi ship. Americans, Russians, Australians, and the English are all represented. Again, I’m a history nerd so I notice things like this. The lighting and ambient sound accentuate the already creepy setting and make for a nice bit of atmosphere. This is also helped by the way they stage several scenes where we can see things going on behind the characters and know something terrible is about to happen. I dig that.

The kills are fun and include someone getting turned into chum by a propeller, a guy shot thru the eyeball, and numerous throats being ripped out. We also get to see a lot of gooey bodies laying around. The makeup on the vampires is excellent and runs the gamut from the almost human little girl to the monstrous father vampire. This is all practical effects work and is pulled off nicely. This is something else that I notice a lot with the movies coming from Australia, they love practical effects work.

I could keep blathering on about Blood Vessel, but I think you get it already. I don’t often have a chance to see a new monster movie that makes me this excited. It is one of the best movies I’ve seen all year and highly recommend everyone check it out.


© Copyright 2020 John Shatzer

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Patchwork (2017)




Recently I was browsing my watch list on Shudder and stumbled over Patchwork. I had added it to my queue a while ago and hadn’t gotten around to checking it out yet. I figured today was as good of a day as any other. Shudder you have hit another one out of the park.

A woman, or rather women, wake up after a night of partying. When I say they wake up their corpse returns from death. Just in case you think I goofed by not making corpse plural I didn’t. The three of them have had various parts sewed together and then were reanimated. The women involved are Jennifer, Ellie, and Madeline. Obviously, they are a bit confused and go looking for some answers. Along the way we see in a series of flashbacks what happened to them and how they all ended up in their current predicament.

Without giving too much away they are victims of a plastic surgeon who is so obsessed with perfection that he has taken to sewing parts together to make the best possible versions of people and animals. More on that last bit later in the review. The ladies eventually make their way back to his lab after some violent misadventures and demand that he fix them. Sadly, he has disposed of the unwanted parts, so they are sort of stuck together. There is another twist that I didn’t see coming before the final credits roll. One that I enjoyed the heck out of.

This is a good movie. Perhaps my expectations were low or maybe it was because I had no idea what I was getting into, but I had a blast with Patchwork. The movie has a Frankenhooker vibe as well as some thinly veiled Reanimator references, but they don’t dwell on them too much. Instead the filmmakers take the story in their own direction with wacky violent bloody results. The pacing is brisk, and the movie is always showing us interesting stuff on screen while slowly revealing the rest of the story. There is a twist at the end which explains everything, including how the women go from confused to gleefully violent so quickly. Patchwork grabs the audience’s attention and never lets us go. You can’t ask for more than that.

The special effects work is a lot of fun. The design of the assembled ladies is great. You can actually see each of the ladies in there, which is cool. We also get some funny gags including a sex scene where she loses a hand. There is also a bit with a finger being reattached with a stapler, someone gets beaten to death with their own leg, and a house full of douchebag frat boys gets what is coming to them. That isn’t even everything that is in the movie! Like I mentioned earlier this flick always has something fun on the screen. And the mad scientist guy doesn’t just work on people. This movie has one of my favorite lines of the year. “RELEASE THE OWL CAT!” Oh, hell yeah.

Clearly, I totally dug Patchwork and am going to recommend it. I also need to encourage you that if you aren’t currently a subscriber to Shudder you really should be. The service is always digging up fun independent movies like this as well as some great foreign genre flicks. If you like horror you need to support them. Okay back to the review. Check this one out it is worth your time.


© Copyright 2020 John Shatzer

Monday, August 3, 2020

They Come Knocking (2019)




This movie is part of the Into the Dark series on Hulu. I’ve watched a couple of them and honestly have been impressed with what I’ve seen so far. Small budget horror movies that have delivered the goods. Will They Come Knocking keep up my streak of decent flicks? Let’s take a look.

Nathan is taking his daughters Clair and Maggie into a special spot in the desert to spread their mother’s ashes. She died of cancer, I think, and they are all traumatized by it. His oldest, Clair, is also in that angry teenager phase so it is a double whammy. After some family drama they end up camping in a remote area. That first night some creepy kids show up asking if they can come inside. They are wise enough not to let them in, but the next morning the truck is disabled, and they find themselves trapped in the middle of nowhere. After some exploring it becomes clear that they aren’t the only people to have fallen prey to these little monsters. But who are they and why did they pick this family? Sorry no spoilers in this review.

There is a lot to like with this movie. The story is tight and after a couple of minutes of initial backstory gets right to the creepy stuff. They make a wise decision to drop little nuggets of history to develop the characters while they are trapped and tormented by the evil kids. This adds depth without bogging down the proceedings. By the end of the movie we know who these characters are and when it comes time for a solution why it works. One of my pet peeves with low budget movies is that far too many of them don’t take the time to make sure they have a finished script that has an arc that is easy to follow and understand. They Come Knocking is a perfect example of how to do this right.

Creepy kids... yikes!
The locations and cast also work perfectly for their resources. Most of the movie is just the three characters along with the performers in the makeup. The location is the campsite and camper, along with a couple other smaller set pieces. All of which are easy to control and work with. The scale of the movie is very small and fits the resources that they were working with. Even the makeup is perfect. The costumes and designs are simple, but very effective. They create a lot of tension with a couple well placed jump scares reinforced by the sound design. Is there anything creepier than the sound of children laughing and giggling in the dark? Toss in some tapping on the glass, the dead cancer mom, and a shovel to the face for a fun and interesting time.

I don’t want to give anymore away because I’m going to recommend this movie and don’t want to spoil the best stuff. Is this a perfect movie? Not really. But it is a perfectly serviceable horror story that can scratch that itch if you are looking for something new to watch. I’ll probably never revisit it, but They Come Knocking was well worth one viewing. Like I mentioned earlier this one is streaming on Hulu. If you have that service check it out.


© Copyright 2020 John Shatzer