Ozone (1994)

Born in Akron, Ohio, J.R. Bookwalter has so many shot on video films to his credit such as The Dead Next Door, Robot Ninja and Zombie Cop and brought many more to audiences through his Tempe Entertainment releases.

He directed and co-wrote this with David A. Wagner and it’s the story of Eddie Boone (James Black), a cop who gets injected with the titular drug Ozone and starts to lose his mind and he’s either going to melt or turn into a zombie or kill everyone before that can happen.

Some movies would say that a body melting and a head exploding would be enough, especially one made on this budget. But no, Ozone goes one further by throwing you a mutant baby that can talk near instantly and has transulcent skin. Then, it says, “What if we also gave you a drug lord who was a gigantic fat man with a pig head? Would you like some of that?”

Yes, I would like some of that.

There’s also cage fighting, people wth syringe arms and women addicted to the slime that seeps out of the bubbles on Ozone users’ skin. There are some people who think this is too long, that it’s too slick for SOV and too scummy for a regular movie.

All of these people are morons.

You can watch this on Tubi or buy it from Makeflix.

Red Lips (1995)

Donald Farmer has been making movies since 1973 and through movies like Scream DreamDemon Queen and Cannibal Hookers, as well as his three hour interview with Jess Franco and Lina Romay The Bizarre World of Jess Franco, he’s really made quite an impression.

Ghetty Chasun (GoroticaDamselvis, Daughter of ElvisVicious Kisses) is Caroline, a woman just trying to survive who sells her blood and meets The Doctor (Mandy Leigh) who starts to experiment with her for reasons unknown, transforming her into a vampire ravenous for human blood, including that of George Stover.

Then she meets Lisa (Michelle Bauer) — who has just broken up with a bathing Kitten Natividad — and they travel the darkest side of New York City, whether that means coming into the orbit of a sinister pimp or making out amongst a punk rock show.

Yet through all the gore and exploitation, this is a film that finds a real relationship between its leads who are both incredible in this. Imagine finding the love of your life at the same time that your life becomes living for destroying other human beings.

It’s like Franco shot on the cheapest of cameras in cities that may not be New York City but as its edited, you’ll never notice. Chasun and Bauer are incandescent, doomed souls who struggle to hold onto one another despite all of the horror and violence that this world has to send their way.

Is it weird that a lesbian shot on video vampire movie features a central relationship that in no way feels like exploitation?

You can get this on blu ray from Saturn’s Core, a partner label of Vinegar Syndrome.

Sixteen Tongues (1999)

The first time I wrestled in Japan, I took a handful of sleeping pills on a 19-hour flight and they never really kicked in, fighting in my gut with a glass bottle of Thailand Red Bull which laughs at that skinny can we have here and I was caught in a world between sleep and awake, knowing where I was but feeling like someone else was dragging me through airport lobbies, subway stations packed with singsong teenage girls trying to get dogs adopted and endless walking through the unfamiliar streets of Osaka until we ended at the Arrow Hotel, a place with a BGM button in my small room that only played two songs — the themes from The Godfather and Midnight Cowboy — and a TV that only played bukkake porn that had pixelated genitalia all static shafts spraying all over a woman whose face was anything but hidden.

Sixteen Tongues starts there and goes even further, giving me flashbacks that shock me into unreality, like at the end of Altered States when people start to de-evolve into VHS tracking noise before we knew what that was.

Director and writer Scooter McCrae creates worlds filled with menace and carnal overload and never more than this movie, a hotel where you have to pay to shut off the endless penetration on the TVs that never shut down, can never be unplugged, that just fluff you until you remember those screaming moments of first puberty overwhelming need with the adult realization that there’s truly nowhere to gain relief.

I always loved the Dark Brothers because back in the letters pages of Hustler people were enraged that someone had the effrontery to make a dirty movie that was nearly impossible to climax to. How dare someone put art in my smut? Or, in the case of this movie, smut in my art?

Adrian Torque (Crawford James, who improbably also played a cop on iCarly, so he’s done the alpha and omega of being a police officer on film, one supposes; he was also a security guard in The 6th Day) survived a bomb blast but maybe his mind and body didn’t. He has the sixteen tongues of everyone who died around him grafted to his skin and he can feel them all screaming inside his mind.

Ginny Chin-Chin (Jane Chase) is a cyborg good at making love and taking lives. She’s in a constant state of arousal thanks to the mad scientist she dreams of killing, a man who implanted a clitoris inside each of her eyes. Her lover — who hasn’t given her much in the way of relief in some time or maybe just days, who can even know — Alik Silens (Alice Liu) is a hacker obsessed with finding the man who killed her brother.

You know how everyone was making future tech movies in the 90s and 2000s and all of it felt dated instantly? When so many people filmed Phillip K. Dick movies and referenced William Gibson? Sixteen Tongues is at once the film they wanted to make and never could because sex is worse than death. For all everyone refers to movies as being like Cronenberg, I’m more amazed by this movie which is its own genre, its own world, its own influence.

I’ve read that this was based on the Merle Travis song “Sixteen Tons,” which goes “Some people say a man is made outta mud, a poor man’s made outta muscle and blood. Muscle and blood and skin and bones, a mind that’s a-weak and a back that’s strong.” The song came from the writer’s life, as his brother wrote to him and remarked, “You load sixteen tons and what do you get? Another day older and deeper in debt” while his coal miner father often would state, “I can’t afford to die. I owe my soul to the company store.” It’s a catchy song that’s fun to sing until you realize all these men were under the Earth digging and dying.

Also: Stark Raven from Shatter Dead showing up as a nun in latex, a character named Mistress Mummy and Tina Krause playing “Bear Handler” and sings you into seeing her dancing bear.

You can get this from Saturn’s Core, a Vinegar Syndrome partner label.

Saint Frankenstein (2015)

Director and writer Scooter McCrae made this short in 2015 and it’s been the last film he’s put out. It makes you hungry for something else because it’s just so effective in this short form and McCrae needs to keep on making his incredibly vital and unique films.

W.A.V.E. starlet — and maker of the incredible Limbo — Tina Krause is Carla, a sex worker who has been invited into the room of Shelley, played by Melanie Gaydos, the Dark Angel from Insidious: The Last Key and Jug in Vesper; Gaydos was born with ectodermal dysplasia, a series of rare genetic disorders that affects the development of skin, hair and nails. Additionally, she is partially blind. Beyond acting, she has modeled and is in two videos for the band Rammstein. Her voice in this is by Archana Rajan.

As the two engage in wordplay that goes from foreplay to near combat, Shelley relates her origins and how she has come to be who and what she is, all while both women appear in states of undress. Her body is covered in scars no one should survive, like an autopsy slice through her chest and a head that’s barely stapled together. Yet as these two dance with words, it all builds to a dark conclusion.

As Russ Meyer once said, “While violence cloaks itself in a plethora of disguises, its favorite mantle still remains…sex.” McCrae’s films depict dead worlds on the very precipice of destruction, overstimulated characters dealing with too much death, too much pain and way too much desire. This is no different yet so much more assured.

Also: A Fabio Frizzi score!

This was originally intended to be in the film Betamax but it was turned into a short all on its lonesome. It’s near perfect, a staggering work that I can’t wait to see more of.

Shatter Dead (1994)

After working as a production assistant to Frank Henenlotter on Frankenhooker and Basket Case 2, Scooter McCrae made this as his first movie. He’s only made two others since then — 1999’s Sixteen Tongues and 2015’s short Saint Frankenstein but man, every single one of them is astounding. And upsetting in a way that no shower can erase, no distance can take away.

Shatter Dead starts wiith a female Angel of Death making love to a human woman, stopping death from being real. Into this world walks Susan (Stark Raven) carrying a bag of groceries and an aresenal of weapons that she uses to pick off the living dead that get too close to her. Except these zombies don’t want brains or flesh or anything other than money and for someone to pay attention to them, making this as far from a zombie movie — that features zombies — as it gets.

After a preacher and his flock of the shambling masses steals her car on a country road. Soon, she meets Mary (Flora Fauna), an undead woman who committed suicide so that she could remain gorgeous for all eternity. There’s also a cult of religious zombies in this town that wants everyone to be dead and has no issue killing people to get them that way.

Susan runs from this insanity, making her way back to the preacher, who she shoots in the head and steals her car back. I guess that whole idea that death is better than life and how the old humanity is ending is now something that the man of the cloth can now live for himself.

By the time she makes her way back to her boyfriend and has the food for him, she learns that he’s already killed himself and come back from the dead. The blood no longer flows through his body, so to make love, she ties her gun to his crotch and takes it. She soon discovers that he’d poisoned her milk — add this to my Letterboxd poisoned milk list — and he tells her that now she can always be young and beautiful for him. She tries to shoot herself to ruin that but ends up blasting away at him, sending him out of a window to the unforgiving street below.

The preacher fixes wood all over Dan, allowing him to stand and walk almost as the Son of Man carried his cross. Susan tries to use water to bring life to her now dead eyes as Dan knocks and knocks, begging for her to let him in.

Shatter Dead is a movie with a vibe that corrects any issues of acting or pacing or shooting. It’s so different when it comes to not just SOV but movies in general.

McCrae told Quiet Earth, “I still love Shatter Dead because it’s just as crazy and sexy as it has ever been in my mind. In fact, I think it feels a bit more excessive now than when it was first made since there are not as many underground movies flooding the marketplace as there were back then. Explicit nudity and matter-of-fact sexuality seem more foreign to the current movie-going climate. What was shocking back then just seems unthinkable now, Shatter Dead feels like an artifact of a bygone era of moviemaking that I have a good deal of nostalgia for. I do wonder what modern viewers make of it.”

McCrae had originally titled this movie Dead People, which is ironic, as if this movie feels like any other film, it would be Messiah of Evil, a movie McCrae had not seen before he made it. Of that unheralded classic, he said, “I love the film immensely; I think in many ways it’s the closest thing we have to an American-made Dario Argento movie in terms of extreme stylization. So many beautiful shots of people wandering through rooms or standing next to paintings that they appear to become part of or disappear into.”

Trust me — Messiah of Evil is an untouchable work of Biblical level truth — but this movie gave me the same feeling that it exists on the very edge of something horribly real, at the outside of sanity, beyond the walls of my reality begging and screaming to be let in. It’s too real despite living in a world of unreal.

This movie really hit me perfectly. The end of the world is not gnashing and gnawing. It’s sighing.

You can get this from Saturn’s Core, a Vinegar Syndrome partner label.

Shreck (1990)

No not Shrek.

I don’t know who director Carl Denham is, but he’s not the guy who took King Kong to America. Instead, he’s making a movie about some screenprinting metalheads — my people, to be fair — who bring back Max Shreck — a German soldier who moved to Wisconsin and got gunned down by the cops in the 50s — the man who once owned the home where Roger Drake lives, makes pepperoni swastika pizza and watches old speeches from the war.

If you can make it past ten minutes of metal dudes going on and on about the Third Reich as newsreel footage plays, well, you’re going to be able to get through anything. Once the gore gets here and the wild time travel side story starts, though, this definitely gets better.

Back in high school, there were a lot of edgelords that drew swastikas all over the place and even made them in pottery class. My dad was an art teacher and one day, I remember him finding one in the kiln and instead of just letting it go, he picked it up and smashed it into pieces. I said, “That was someone’s project” and he replied, “You’re never wrong when you’re destroying one of those. Those should never be made again.” I hate that I now live in a world where people think it’s cool to be in groups that respect Hitler’s views and even worse, fly the swastika for dummies, the black and white American flag with that one blue line, like some fascist post-apocalyptic horror rag.

You can watch this on YouTube.

Death Metal Zombies (1995)

How true is Death Metal Zombies? Not only does a girl wear a Relapse shirt, but it also has a ton of that label’s artists on the soundtrack such as Amorphis, Brutality, Deceased, Disembowelment, Dismember, Hypocrisy, Incantation, Mortician, Pungent Stench and Winter.

It also has Brad Masters and his crew of metal dudes like to go to shows and fight other metal dudes in the woods, I guess to prove how kvlt they are. Brad wins, because he is the lucky caller who gets a Living Corpse tape — yes, this movie is so metal it has cassettes — from a radio show and it has a song called “Zombified” that turns everyone into — did you guess? — Death Metal Zombies.

Yes, the lead singer of Living Corpse, Shengar, is the lord of the dead world and man, that’s awesome. He decides to go after Brad’s girl, Angel, who skipped the party because she had to work and now she’s with a dude named Tommy and supposedly they know how to stop the headbanging dead.

Also: There’s a slasher on the loose wearing a Nixon mask.

Everyone in this movie is a master of air guitar, most essentially the girl in the Relapse shirt that is wearing the mommest of all mom jeans.

Todd Jason Cook also made Evil NightDemon DollsHorrorscopeLisa’s NightmaresFrightmares and Zombified, which has zombie attack a nightclub, a serial killer attacking people and only two people who can save everyone. So, you know, Death Metal Zombies.

You can watch this on Tubi.

Killing Spree (1987)

Tim Ritter might not be the best person for your female friends to date but we’re not trying to fix him up with someone. We’re watching SOV. For that, he’s the right person, as Killing Spree builds on the same plot I’ve seen in several of his movies — man is either getting cucked or has fears that his wife is sleeping around — and he loses it and kills everyone he knows.

Tom Russo is that man, an airplane mechanic working non-stop to keep a nice house for his wife Leeza. He’s sure that she’s cheating on him — he’s read her diary — so he starts killing anyone who she has written about, starrting with his friend Ben and a punk girl whose head he cuts off and uses as a weapon to murder his former buddy.

Anyone in Leeza’s notebook dies, like the electrican who gets chopped off by a machete ceiling fan and the lawn guy who gets buried up to his neck and mowed.

The truth? Leeza has been writing for a romance magazine to earn money so Tom doesn’t have to work so hard. But now, Maniac-like, all the victims are coming back from the dead and begin to shout at Tom to kill his wife so they can rest.

Shot on 16mm instead of camcorder — yes, I know, it’s another SOV that doesn’t live up to the format — this movie has an old ladyt’s face get hammer-based surgery and the line “You screw my wife, I screwdrive your head!”

Also: The lead actor’s name is Asbestos Felt.

Things II (1998)

Things II is not a sequel to 1989’s Things. No, it’s a sequel to 1993’s Things and how about the fact that there are two SOV movies called Things? Well, Dennis Devine, who directed and wrote this with Steve Jarvis and Mike Bowler, also directed Fatal ImagesDon’t Look In the Cellar and Demon Kiss (want to learn more? Check out Drive-In Friday: Dennis Devine Night).

Horror writer Dean F. Keene orders a pizza and tells two of his stories to the delivery girl. “The Thing From Nanchung” has Stace getting a monster from a scientist and feeding it chutney and that’s she’s going to lead it to kill her husband Dexter and get to be with her true love Sam. Then two thieves come in and the whole plan may be ruined. Steve Jarvis directed this part.

“The Thing From The Lab” has a cop hunting down a serial killer called The Westside Strangler who may be an insect while romancing a photographer who has already had the creature kill someone in her studio. This segment was directed by Devine and has a slasher theme mixed with some strange science fiction monster action.

Mike Bowler, who would make Hell Spa, was in charge of the wraparound and the stories all work together. This is the precursor to the streaming horror anthologies that glut my inbox, except that it’s closer to a real horror anthology because there was some thought and care put into it.

If you’re looking for what happened after the 1989 Things, prepare yourself for Wicked World.

Nightmare Asylum (1992)

Todd Sheets has disavowed this movie but it’s still got its charms. Lisa (Lori Hassel) wanders through, well, a Nightmare Asylum for around an hour. There’s a creepy family, some killers, a Leatherface-like big boss and a zombie pit at the end, all in a movie that was shot at various points with several different groups of people and then edited into whatever this is.

The star of the whole thing is The Devil’s Dark Side Haunted House where this was made. It’s already got some cool lighting and fog, plus you get to see some horror icons inside an SOV. Sheets is a big fan of Fulci and you can see the absolute movie idea from The Beyond in this, except that sound goes in and out so much and the video quality defines murky and this only dreams of the budget of the cheapest of Italian film.

But man, I do love Enochian Key’s songs and Gustav Holst’s “The Planets” which is super classy compared to what’s happening inside the movie.

The good news is that Sheets really improved as a filmmaker without losing the strange energy that is all over the place here. That makes me so happy.