GREGORY DARK WEEK: Frenemy (2009)

Made as Little Fish, Big Pond, this is the last movie that Gregory Dark has made other than the documentary An Evening with Stephen Lynch. It follows the wanderings of Mr. Jack (Matthew Modine) and Sweet Stephen (Callum Blue) as they make their way through Los Angeles and discuss the nature of life.

And if you look at the cover and wonder, is Zach Galifianakis in this any more than five minutes?

No. He isn’t.

But hey, Adam Baldwin is pretty good as Tommy the cop and there’s a really strange dialogue on the history of porn, especially when you consider that director Gregory Dark had finally left the world of adult behind, but it doesn’t look down on anyone who needs pornography. But the mention of Traci Lords is interesting, seeing as how one of the movies damaged by her underage status was Dark’s New Wave Hookers.

There’s also the mystery of who chopped up a waitress, a Springer talk show with a child murderer, Mattew Modine tripping a child and singing a lot, a strange ending in limbo and a bum fight with a bottle stabbing. Not all of it holds up, but it definitely wasn’t the kind of movie I expected and I enjoyed watching it. It’s more of several actors all trying out characters, but it never gets too arty and indulgent.

Writer Robert Dean Klein has made a bunch of The Wrong… TV movies as well as a film we enjoyed last year, 6:45. Honestly, I’d love to speak to either him or Dark about this film and learn more, because I have so many questions. Maybe you catch watch it and ask some in the comments.

You can watch this on Tubi.

Mill Creek Through the Decades: 1960s Collection: Lilith (1964)

Director and writer Robert Rossen (All the King’s MenThe Hustler) made this his last movie, as he was disillusioned with Hollywood*. What a film to go out on, a bleak and sullen meditation on mental health and lost love.

Vincent Bruce (Warren Beatty) has returned from the war, but perhaps not all of him mentally has, but he finds work at Chestnut Lodge in Rockville, Maryland. There, he seeks to help — and becomes obsessed by — an artistic patient named Lilith (Jean Seberg, an icon of the French New Wave and a woman so hounded by the FBI that she had a miscarriage and continually tried to kill herself on every anniversary of her lost child’s birthday until she succeeded).

Lilith is seduction incarnate, as though she secludes herself inside her room, her mind is at the same level as her outward appearance. Every person she encounters wants her and she also has no compunction over seducing everyone she meets, no matter their age. This begins to upset Bruce as they become lovers and he becomes more jealous of her multiple affections, even causing another patient, Stephen Evshevsky (Peter Fonda) to kill himself after he learns that the man has romantic feelings for Lilith.

That death takes Lilith back into her world of seclusion, reminding her of the moment that her life would never be the same again: her brother killed himself after she made incestuous attempts to make love to him.

With appearances by Gene Hackman, Jessica Walter and Kim Hunter, this is a movie that may haunt me for some time, much like the woman at the center of this story. It doesn’t end happily at all and actually has quite an open close, if that is an actual phrase.

I wondered what “hiara pirlu resh kavawn” written above Lilith’s bed meant. According to the book, it’s her own language and says, “If you can read this, you will know I love you.”

*Kim Hunter said, “The tensions on the set contributed to his (Rossen’s) death. I don’t think I want to talk about it.”

Mill Creek’s new Through the Decades: 1960s Collection has twelve movies: How to Ruin a Marriage and Save Your Life, The Notorious Landlady, Under the Yum Yum Tree, The Chase, Good Neighbor Sam, Baby the Rain Must Fall, Mickey One, Genghis Khan, Luv, Who Was That Lady? and Hook, Line and Sinker. You can get it from Deep Discount.

GREGORY DARK WEEK: Carnal Crimes (1991)

Elise (Linda Carol, Reform School Girls) might look like a gorgeous woman to any other man — and many women — but not to her husband, so is it any wonder that she falls for Renny (Martin Hewitt), a photographer who encourages her to live her fantasies while also having some fantasy sex of his own with Julie Strain in a sushi bar? If he’s really a murderer, are we surprised?

This was Gregory Dark’s first erotic thriller — he’d make New Wave Hookers 2 the same year, so he was still working in the adult world — and it’s still amazing to me that of all the directors in X, he was the one that crossed over into the mainstream. There was no one in any type of film making the surreal insanity that he was at the time, movies where the sex wasn’t even remotely arousing and it was all about pushing boundaries and capturing something shocking.

In other words, you know, art.

Bonus points for not only getting Danny Trejo in this, but Doug Jones out of any form of makeup.

Mill Creek Zombie Collection: Harold’s Going Stiff (2011)

Harold Gimble was the first man to be infected with Onset Rigors Disease and unliked everyone else, he hasn’t become a zombie yet, unlike everyone else. He’s just growing old, but inevitably, he’s going to become one of the undead, unless a nurse helps him. Or the scientists trying cure after cure. Or, most probably, he’s beaten to undeath by a gang of vigilante zombie killers.

This is a movie that really stands out in the zombie genre, using it to tell a story about how we treat the aging, how nationalism destroys the innocent and about the inevitability of death. The fact that it does this within a humorous zombie film is a major achievement, breathing some life into what has become a moribund collection of films.

Director, writer and editor Keith Wright hasn’t made anything since this movie. Here’s hoping that he’s planning something else, because I ended up really enjoying this.

The Mill Creek Zombie Collection has four different comedic zombie films, including Attack of the Lederhosen ZombiesGranny of the Dead and Attack of the Killer Donuts. You can learn more on the official page and buy it at Deep Discount.

Mill Creek Zombie Collection: Attack of the Killer Donuts (2016)

By no stretch of the imagination should a movie called Attack of the Killer Donuts be any good, but somehow, someway, I found myself liking this. It’s definitely the best undead donut or pastry movie I’ve ever seen, but that said, it’s also the only one.

Also — I have no idea how they got C. Thomas Howell to play a cop in this, but they did, and then they also made the donuts look vaguely like vagina dentata, which is very horrifying and somehow, as bad as the effects are, I found them kind of charming.

I usually hate the Troma films that are so aware of how stupid they are, but you know, sometimes I am very forgiving. This would be one of those rare times, so…get a dozen and watch this with someone understanding.

The Mill Creek Zombie Collection has four different comedic zombie films, including Attack of the Lederhosen Zombies, Granny of the Dead and Harold’s Going Stiff. You can learn more on the official page and buy it at Deep Discount.

GREGORY DARK WEEK: Night Rhythms (1992)

EDITOR’S NOTE: You can check out an alternate viewpoint from R.D Francis in this article.

This movie is so not from our reality and that makes me love it so much. Imagine a world in which Nick West (Martin Hewitt) can put on a nightly radio show where he gets multiple female callers to have phone sex with him. And he’s very not so great at it, other than having a gravelly voice, but they instantly become jelly on the phone lines, telling him how horrible their husbands are and why only he truly understands them.

Then one night, Honey (Tracy Tweed, sister of Shannon) gets through to Nick, who decides to dial Radio Moscow with her live on the air while people listen because obviously, the FCC does not prosecute for obscenity in the world of Night Rhythems.

Nick ends up taking it to Honey so hard — there’s some choking — that they both pass out but she doesn’t wake up. She’s dead and several very horny women basically heard Nick kill her on the air with his lovemaking. Even he isn’t sure what happened.

The one person who can help Nick is Cinnamon (Deborah Driggs, the one-time wife of American Rickshaw star Mitch Gaylord), an ex-dancer that understands the world that Honey came from, a place where the criminal Vincent (David Carradine) controls the ladies on and off the stage of his club. The cops are on his trail, mainly Jackson, played by Sam J. Jones, but Nick also keeps scoring with the ladies, like Jamie “The Brat” Summers, Julie Strain, Kelly Royce, Kristine Rose (who is in Joe D’Amato’s Passion’s Flower and Eleven Days, Eleven Nights 2), Tamara Longly and Alicyn Sterling.

You may figure out the twist early, which is fine, because obviously, it’s Bridget (Delia Sheppard) as the person trying to go from being Nick’s producer to taking over the show. What is a shock is that Wally Pfister, who has been the cinematographer for Christopher Nolan’s films (as well as Amityville: A New Generation and several more movies for Dark).

It all adds up now. Every frame is filled with smoke, sax solos, neon and the need to make the kind of love that only exists in movies, where no one gets a sprain or kneels on someone’s hair or looks anything less than their absolute sexiest.

Gregory Dark knows what he’s doing. This is probably one of his better efforts, at least mainstream.

Mill Creek Zombie Collection: Granny of the Dead (2017)

Craig Tudor James directed, wrote, produced, edited, shot, did the effects and sound, as well as acted as Corey in this movie, a film in which a guy named Ed learns that his grandmother has gone on to her just reward only to come back as a shambling zombie who is gained power with each moment.

In fact, everyone old has become a zombie, which means that elderly care is about to change for all of us.

Sometimes, your zombie movie is Shaun of the Dead and sometimes, it’s Hard Rock Zombies.

This one is, well, the latter. A funny idea that maybe will make a few laugh, but probably the weakest of the films on this set.

The Mill Creek Zombie Collection has four different comedic zombie films, including Attack of the Lederhosen ZombiesAttack of the Killer Donuts and Harold’s Going Stiff. You can learn more on the official page and buy it at Deep Discount.

Mill Creek Zombie Collection: Attack of the Lederhosen Zombies (2016)

Sure, you’ve seen it all in zombie movies, but have you seen them attack a snowy mountain resort? If so, let me know, because this is the first movie of its kind that I’ve seen. It moves fast — 78 minutes — is filled with geysers of frozen and unfrozen bloody appendages, green glowing snowmaking chemicals that make zombies and an old woman packing tons of firepower.

I guess Dead Snow and Dead Snow 2 qualify as wintery mountain undead movies, but this one also embraces the goofy humor of a sex comedy and it kind of works. I mean, this isn’t going to dethrone a Romero movie from its throne, but on a snowed-in winter day, it passed the time and made me laugh a few times.

Shot as Alpine Zombies and filmed in Italy, let’s called this movie by director Dominik Hartl a success.

The Mill Creek Zombie Collection has four different comedic zombie films, including Granny of the DeadAttack of the Killer Donuts and Harold’s Going Stiff. You can learn more on the official page and buy it at Deep Discount.

GREGORY DARK WEEK: Sins of the Night (1993)

Jack Nietsche (Nick Cassavetes) is an ex-con insurance investigator for Anaconda Casualty Company. He meets his boss Ted Quincy’s ex-lover Roxie (Deborah Shelton, who before she became a star on Dallas made Dangerous Cargo, a movie even rougher than this), who wants his help to kill his boss and her abusive husband Tony Falcone (Miles O’Keefe, Ator himself!).

Richard Roundtree shows up, but perhaps the real stars are the saxophone-rich music on the soundtrack, the foggy nights, the neon-lit streets burning into your eyes across VHS dubs from decades ago.

Gregory Dark started by telling us porn was dead, then created his own genre, the erotic direct to video and cable thriller, which owes a lot to giallo, but still…even the movies that he makes that aren’t perfect have some strange angle to them in some way that’s worth exploring. He claimed on an episode of The Rialto Report that he had an early memory of his mother and her friends in Las Vegas wearing heels at a hotel pool, wondering why they would do that without realizing that she was looking for a new husband. That informs so much of his work, when you think about it.

GREGORY DARK WEEK: Dead Man Walking (1988)

Dead Man Walking has most of the same cast as Gregory Dark’s 1990 film Street Justice — Brion James, Wings Hauser, Sy Richardson — but throws in Jeffrey Combs. And for that, I rejoice.

Chazz (Combs) is trying to save his boss’s daughter Leila (Pamela Ludwig) from a maniac plague victim named Decker (James), so he teams uo with a merc with the same plague (Hauser) to get in and out of the Plague Zone with the girl.

So yeah — in 1997, people get the bubonic plague and even if they survive, they become Zero Men who will die soon enough, which gets them relegated to controlled areas of their own kind. The corporations have the cure, but we know how that works. The people will never get it.

This movie also has chainsaw roulette, which is much more interesting than thinking about a pandemic any more than I have to.