Director and writer Peter Horak may have shot this in Prague and California, but it looks like the kind of movies that Cabellero and VCA put out in 1998 without you know, all the ejaculate. It also has a lead who loses his girl in a rowboat accident, which sends him to Europe, and into the orbit of — you knew it — Dracula (played by three actors, Ernest M. Garcia, Chaba Hrotko and Tom McGowan).
Who can battle Dracula? How about Bruce Glover? Yes, Crispin’s dad.
Horak did stunts on Viva Knievel!, Throw Mama from the Train and more than twenty other films. I have no idea what made him write, produce and direct a comedy Dracula movie that is beyond brutally unfunny. I mean, I have no limit when it comes to evil — I mean bad movies — and this one really pushed me even worse than any other film has.
Which means I loved the experience and I’d totally force you to watch it while screaming about why they made the choices they did.
Night of the Living Dead shocked audiences with scenes of ghouls devouring human bodies — actually fried chicken — but I can’t even imagine what would have happened if those audiences sat through Andreas Schnaas’ Zombie 90: Extreme Pestilence.
A military transport carrying untested lethal chemicals crashes into the forest, leading to a dead patient returning from the dead in an operation room. Before long, decimated human beings are turning up and the Extreme Pestilence pandemic has broken out. That’s a nice way of saying zombies and we all know that the only way to kill them is to take out the brain.
The English dub was done as a joke and honestly, it makes the movie. It’s also deeply offensive, but so is this movie, in which no people in wheelchairs, breasts, babies or penises are safe.
It’s not the best zombie movie ever — or even the best gore movie, as it promises — but for those that find its wavelength, it’s pretty entertaining. I mean, it cost $2,000 or less to make, so they definitely got their money’s worth of H.G. Lewis’ looking blood.
Olaf Ittenbach did everything on this and stars as Thommy, whose family moves into a new house, upon which he discovers a cursed mirror and diary. Man, this is why I was glad my family never moved, because I was barely able to deal with the revelation that the family that lived in our house before kept one of their kids locked in one of the rooms upstairs so that no one would discover that they had had a mentally challenged child.
So anyways, this mirror and diary turn young master Thommy into a crazed killer and then, unrelated but we can assume that the wheels of fate and karma and movies have connected column A with column B, we soon watch his girlfriend Petra die in a car accident and then rise from the dead.
If you dug Olaf’s The Burning Moonthen you’re going to love this. Spoiler warning: a cock gets nailed to a board and sprays a lot of blood. The more tender of the menfolk out there may want to skip that.
All this movie has going for it is a great title, box art and idea. A creepy Santa doll is possessed, has an Irish accent and kills a whole bunch of people in the summer. All of the editing is done in-camera, the quality is the level of a birthday party shot by a drunken relative, everyone is probably drunk (I hope they are) and there’s a lot of blood. The effects are abysmal, given away by everyone ripping open their own blood packets, and the Santa attacks are kind of like Bruno Mattei throwing Rats onto Geretta Geretta.
It’s not good — it’s vehemently not good — but man, with that title, I had to enter the breach for you, my dearest readers. Consider it my holiday gift to you. Because I don’t feel like Christmas means anything anymore. I hate getting dark and dismal, but one look outside our doors will show you that this time when we’re all supposed to come together to celebrate good will toward men surely isn’t happening, so if I can bring some light into your life with a bunch of moronic kids abusing one another with a Santa figurine, then so be it. Ho, ho, ho.
In the tradition of Curse of the Blue Lights, Manchurian Avenger, Mind Killer, Night Vision, and The Spirits of Jupiter, here’s another, early ’80s homegrown effort from the wilds of Denver, Colorado. Sure, there are other, obscure Mile Highers to review, such as Savage Water (1979), Lansky’s Road (1985), and Back Street Jane (1989), but good luck locating vintage VHS copies of those Rocky Mountain low budgeters, and there are no — unlike The Jar — freebie or with-ads online streams of those home growners to share.
Yeah, there’s nothing like a reputation among horror fans as “being the worst film ever made” to have a film transition — not by a reissues imprint (Arrow, Severin, Kino), mind you, but by the film’s fans — out of the analog snow drifts of the brick and mortar old to the digital streams of today. And when those same fans shout for a DVD/Blu restore . . . well, there must be something in those frames, right?
Outside of a brief, local theatrical release on April 16, 1984, The Jar is purely a direct-to-video effort (a genre lumped-in with shot-on-video films intended for direct-to-video release) that received its first, widespread distribution in 1987 via the Magnum Entertainment imprint. As result, we have a film that passes the James Whitcomb Riley SOV-duck test — and lands as a buckshot-filled mallard on our SOV stacks.
Well, eh, maybe.
While the proceedings aren’t exactly blowing off the lid off any canisters, The Jar is not that bad.
It’s hard to believe this lone effort by screenwriter George Bradley and director Bruce Toscano — an effort clearly influenced by Frank Henenlotter’s Basket Case (1982), with a soupçon of Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead (1981), and a dash of Don Coscarelli’s Phantasm (1979) — was shot in Techniscope Anamorphic at a 2.35:1 aspect ratio (if we are to believe the IMDb). Sure, video tapes uploaded to video sharing sites suffer from repetitive, brick and mortar wear n’ tear renting and, regardless of what format a film is shot in, you’ll experience a VHS-wash out, but shot in 35mm? This film? The fuzzy, color-hazing duck a l’orange aromas of the S-VHS and U-Matic recording format of broadcast-news ENG cameras and 3/4-inch U-Matic videotape using Ikegami cameras, permeates the nostrils.
Regardless of the film’s rumored $200,000 price tag — keeping in mind the “Midnight Movie” and VHS rental classics of The Evil Dead shot for $375,000, Phantasm for $300,000, and Basket Case for $35,000 — The Jar comes across as a much cheaper production. In fact, while The Jar more closely resembles a Don Dohler 16mm-to-35mm backyard effort (his debut, The Alien Factor, shot for $3,500; his sophmore effort, Fiend, shot for $6,000), Bruce Toscano’s efforts — however valiant — are void of the against-the-budget Dohler charms we’ve come to adore. The Jar is a perpetually grainy and dark film where the framing is non-existent and the dubbing out-of-sync. It simply does not look like — regardless of its impressive-against-the-budget “Vietnam flashback,” complete with a helicopter; a rental which probably chewed up much of the budget — a $200,000 movie.
The Jar is a film with no middle critical ground: Those who love it, love it. And the haters are as cunning as they are cruel. There is, however, a sliver of middle ground when it comes to the film’s score: everyone agrees the ambient, Goblinesque keyboards by a one-and-done artist, Obscure Sighs (actually director Bruce Toscano and cinematographer Cameron MacLeod), is better than the film deserves. It’s those cherish, Italian-giallo Goblin memories that lend the few to name drop Dario Argento. True, Argento may drift into bizarre, disjointed narratives with out-of-nowhere twists in his works, but a soundtrack alone does not an Argento film, make. What everyone on both sides of the critical fence agree on: all of the respective film disciplines — in front and behind the cameras — took one hell of swing for fences, but instead, struck out.
This critic concurs.
The soundtrack is engaging. The film — in its technical aspects of cinematography, lighting, editing, and sound — is not. There is, however, something to appreciate in writer George Bradley’s insightful and inventive, religious-inspired chronicle. This reviewer sees an influence from The Holy Bible’s synoptic gospels narrative of the Temptation of Christ: the film’s lead character of Paul, our faux-Jesus, is sent off into “the wilderness” to be tempted by the jar’s inhabitant, our faux Satan.
“What the hell, R.D? Are you nuts? Did you watch the same film we did?” Bill Van Ryn bewilderingly drags his cigar. “First, it’s Ingmar Bergman, Brigadoon, Inca death masks and incestuous ghosts with The House That Vanished. Now you’re turning a best-forgotten, SOV piece of junk into a Jesus parable? Sam,” Bill chair swivels. “What the fuck is it with this guy? And tell him to stop featuring me in his rambling, half-assed reviews.”
“I know, Bill. I know. I’ll talk to him. Just leave him be for the moment. He’s quiet and happy in his corner. Besides, we have a Groovy Doom double feature to plan,” dismisses Sam the Bossman.
“Fuck those bastards,” R.D leans into and frantically fingers his laptop. “Here’s some Fellini and Ambrose Bierce references to frost your ass.”
When the final frame of the film’s end credits rolled, a single world appeared: Carrion, which was the film’s shooting title. From the Latin, caro, meaning “meat,” it refers to dead, rotting flesh — animal and human. Another of the film’s alternates titles — if we believe the IMDb — is Charon, the ferryman of Hades who carries souls of the newly dead across the river Styx.
You’ll recall that the powers at New Line Cinema retitled Sam Raimi’s Book of the Dead as The Evil Dead, due to reasoning that “you don’t want movie goers thinking they’ll have to read when seeing a movie.” If one takes a viewing of the script for The Jar — originally released in 1984 as Carrion — in that context, it seems screenwriter George Bradley brought a much more profound narrative, one that expands beyond our assumed, previously mentioned, VHS-horror rental inspirations.
In addition to a definite, Fellini’s Juliet of the Spirits (1965) inspiration, there’s also an Ambrose Bierce An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge (1890) vibe in Bradley’s pages. It is that Bierce connection — as result of our protagonist’s war flashbacks — that led some fans to opine The Jar reminds of the later-released Jacob’s Ladder (1990). That exquisite, Bruce Joel Rubin work is, itself, an afterlife amalgamation of the Genesis parable of Jacob’s Ladder, Dante Alighieri’s Inferno, tales from the Tibetan Book of the Dead, and Bierce’s short story.
Yes, I’ll debate you on this fact: That level of intelligence, as well as impressionistic ambiguity, is in the frames of The Jar.
Is the jar’s occupant, in fact, Charon itself? Is it a coincidence that many a Greek lekythos, that is, a vessel or canister, used to carry anointing oils for funerary rites, are decorated with artistic Charons and found in tombs? Is the jar of our film, in fact, a lekythos meant to anoint the dead? Is Paul, our protagonist, already dead, going through a series of tribulations on his trip through purgatory before reaching Heaven?
The visual craftsmanship of that intelligence, however, as we’ll come to discover, is not in the frames. The Jar is case of — well, a jar of — a film where noble ambitions, it seems, exceeded the skill sets involved. However, director Bruce Bradley and his cinematographer, Cameron MacLoed, are not two morons running around with a camera making a movie. The Jar certainly has its WTF moments of Euro-cinema ambiguity — which is my personal, celluloid jam — pitter-pattering afoot.
The most enjoyable aspect of reviewing lost tapes from the VHS fringes in our now, digital age is that the actors involved with the film are able to offer their experiences on social media, in this case, the IMDb: Gary Wallace, who portrayed the lead, Paul, confirmed the “amateur” aspects of the film.
Wallace tells us the film was shot for $200,000, in two stretches of two weeks: the first was shot in the fall, while the second shot in the spring, with pickup shots in the summer. No only were rehearsals non-existent during the shoot: all of the dialog was dubbed. The cast would shoot from 5 to 6 am until dark. Then return to the studio and dub until 1 to 2 am that morning. The process then repeated the next day, etc. Wallace also tells us that director Bruce Toscano — a photographer by trade — decided he “didn’t want the 60 Hz” signal so he could sync the recorded voices to the film. Toscano and his assistant [sound recording Ronnie Cramer, we assume] ended up cutting little pieces of tape and splicing them together to at least try to make the sound match the movie.
“I think he [Bruce Toscano] and the script writer [George Bradley] had a vision of what they wanted the movie to be,” recalls actor Gary Wallace. “If I remember correctly, they were trying to portray various incidents of inhumanity and how [that] inhumanity could pass from one person to the next.”
That’s what the Jar — or at least the occupant of the Jar, is: a mystical, otherworldly canister/creature that tests the humanity of its possessor and, it seems, in order to save their own “humanity,” they have to pass the canister and its (forget the VHS cover) blue, demonic occupant (that looks a Ghoulies (1985) outcast) to another person. Or the Jar, after if finishes draining a soul, and prior to its host’s death, inspires its passing to another soul.
Now, here’s were the dark photography and poor framing we previously spoke of, comes in: but since we are low-budget cheating, here, it makes — from a creative standpoint — sense. Just not from a narrative one. Did Paul hit another car? Did a car hit him? Did he hit the old man? Did he just run off into a ditch and find the old man? Was the old man hitchhiking or just laying on the roadside? Did the Occupant of the Jar set a trap and make Paul drive off the road to find the old man, so the Jar could be passed on? (I personally think it’s the latter. It’s also obvious: The “accident” was shot — as with the nighttime car scenes for The Evil Dead, as well as Reggie’s ice cream truck wreck in Phantasm — on a darkened soundstage, well, an ad-hoc’d warehouse.)
Anyway, after an “automotive accident,” Paul picks up a crazed, old “hitchhiker” (as some critics have stated) obsessed with a jar he carries in a crumpled paper bag. After taking the man to his apartment — instead of the hospital (so goes the Jar’s power to do its will, IMO) — the man disappears (goes to Heaven or some afterlife, IMO): but leaves behind the Jar. Paul opens the Jar. And no matter how many times Paul gets rid of the Jar, it — with its fetus-like occupant (that never actually comes out of the jar to crawl around) — returns.
So starts off the film’s Coscarelliesque surrealism meets David Lynch symbolism (think Eraserhead) — only with none of either filmmaker’s level of non-linear style or viewer engagement. Paul’s disjointed hallucinations and/or dreams where reality meshes with illusion take him from watching his own birth in a blood-filled bathtub (my interpretation of who the teen in the bathtub, is), seeing himself crucified (as he looks down, deep inside a back alley dumpster), a black & white flashback when he interacts with his younger self (again, my interpretation), and a creepy little, Stephen King-type girl walking with a balloon in a park (Is it his dead daughter or little sister? I’m lost . . .), as well as a group of cloaked monks out in the rocky desert (carrying the cross to Paul’s crucifixion).
So — at the risk of plot spoiling — does Paul kill his pretty, romantically-inclined neighbor when she appears to him . . . as the old man who cursed him with the Jar? Does Paul eventually pass off the Jar to his boss to rid himself of the evil? Should we directly pass “Go” on the celluloid Monopoly board and go straight to the Aylmer in Frank Henenlotter’s Brain Damage (1988) to suck our brains dry? Have we gazed deeper, down inside The Jar than it probably deserved to be? Is it really better than most critics have opined?
We know you’ll open The Jar because, you, like us, enjoy out-trashing the last trashy mess we just watched. Take comfort in knowing there’s at least a contingent that enjoy The Jar (including moi). The same can’t be said for the abysmal remake of Jacob’s Ladder. Yes, there was a remake released in 2019: everyone hated it. (Ditto for the 2019 remake swipe at David Cronenberg’s Rabid. Just why? Why? Oh, why!)
You can watch The Jar on You Tube (the Magnum version) and You Tube (the Antoniana version). The soundtrack also has its fans, as you’ll listen from the You Tube clips HERE, HERE and HERE. The second two are fan remixes that make it sound more Tangerine Dream than Goblin, however. But that’s not a bad thing.
Perhaps those remixes could be used in a remake? The story for a great film, is there.
About the Author: You can learn more about the writings of R.D Francis on Facebook. He also writes for B&S About Movies.
Fate is you surfing around the various movie-centric pages you’ve “liked” on your social media platforms — and having the cover of Todd Sheets’s ode to sorority babes on Paul Zamarelli’s VHSCollector.com group starring back at you.
Fate also means you have to review that movie of your youth for the future analog generations of snowy n’ white noised video horndogs — regardless of that film’s actual lack of horns, hooters, and dogs.
Sheets is part of the ’80s SOV vanguard inspired by the self-made, 16mm exploits of New Jersey’s Don Dohler who gave us charming, ’70s drive-in schlock such as Fiend. It was the efforts of Dohler that paved the way for the shot-on-video and released straight-to-VHS purveyances of Dennis Devine, Donald Farmer, Jon McBride, Brett Piper, and Mark Polonia — each who we’ve gone on about at the site, to your ad nauseam chagrin.
The resume of “Kansas City’s Prince of Gore” dates back to Blood of the Dead, issued as two, two-part shorts in 1985. The Karo syrup and Spirit Gum mayhem got really interesting with his energetic, sixth production — which became Sheets’s most successful rental — Dead Things (1986). While many SOV’ers are long since done and gone (Justin Simonds of Spine fame, vanished; Farmer and Polonia are still spinnin’ the sprockets) — Sheets is still at it (and on film #51) with his most recent offerings of Hi-Death (2018) and Clownado (2019).
Now, you are most likely questioning our raving about these camcordered efforts and their makers. You must understand that we, the Allegheny cubicle farmers of B&S About Movies — as our buds over at Wild Eye Entertainment complemented us — are doing our part to hold up the old guard of the genre-writing filled zines of the ’80s that first covered this then new sub-genre of shot-on-video films. So we give SOVs a break — a very wide berth (see Nigel the Psychopath, as an example) — that we would never give to the direct-to-streaming horror that gets released today . . . well, unless that 21st century DTS’er is from one of the ’80s old guard, such as Donald Farmer — who got his start with Cannibal Hookers (1987) and most recently released Shark Exorcist (2015) and Bigfoot Exorcist (2021) — and Mark Polonia — who recently released Noah’s Shark (2021) that’s written by fellow, digital SOV-rebooter, John Oak Dalton.
While the video box claims this fifteenth production from Sheets is a “sequel” to David DeCoteau’s USA Network cable-run Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama (1988), in reality — outside of DeCoteau producing the film and the title similarity — it’s not.
DeCoteau, if you’re not familiar with his works, is also part of that ’80s SOV vanguard: only he, unlike his analog brethren, was able to transition out of the shot-on-video realms to produce actual “films” distributed by indie shingles (Wizard Video and Empire Pictures) with the likes of Dreamaniac (1986) and Creepozoids (1987) — both which, like Sorority Babes, not only became top home video rentals but also oft-programmed cable television favorites. And double-D, as with Donald Farmer and Mark Polonia, is still making movies, only more successfully: Decoteau just released his 25th “Wrong” movie for the female-centric Lifetime channel, The Wrong Valentine (2021).
So, with most of the adult film-centric cast from the real “sequel” to Prehistoric Bimbos in Armageddon City (1991), Sheets weaves this tale about five well-endowed bimbos of the down-and-out Kappa Beta sorority given a chance to join the more fashionable and popular Felta Delta house. The “death” comes in the form of their initiation: spending the night in an abandoned and rumored-to-be-haunted college. Complicating matters is that the girls screwed with an antique crystal ball during a seance (between their floor games of Twister) that unleashed a force trapped inside. And the entity is pissed and follows them to the abandoned college. Also along for the ride are two, pizza-delivering frat nerds trying to score and two crusty antique dealers who’ve tracked down the ball and only they can reseal the demon back inside.
Again, we give these camcorder, brick and mortar-released SOV flicks a lot of critical wiggle room, but man: this one really is a mess and it has none of the charms of the cheaper and less skilled Nigel the Psychopath. The frames are perpetually soft focused, the “acting” is non-existent to the point of bimbettes reading off-camera cue cards, the juvenile sex jokes don’t land, the effects are cheap ‘n’ fake (a self eyeball removal; a 2×4 shoved down the throat), and regardless of sleeve’s promise: there’s little-to-none of boobs and blood we came for. Hey, it’s only 70 minutes of your time and a forefather to today’s direct-to-streaming horror films. So view it as a historical, celluloid artifact to file away in your grey-mattered trivia banks to amaze your friends with your film knowledge. You know, like I am doing to you, the three people who read this review (okay, one: namely me).
In the end, this wasn’t bloody and trashy enough for me back then or now during this second go around — not after the joys of renting Sheets’s two-part Blood of the Dead and Dead Things all those snowy n’ white noised years ago. And here I am, all these digital years later, lamenting my Todd memories (to myself) and getting free on-the-job screeners of his latest flick, Clownado. So, while the circle completes . . . the circle should really be broken because I am too old for this SOV shite. . . .
“Get that motherf**king VHS tape out of my motherf**king VCR!”
“At the time I didn’t think anyone but the people involved were going to see [Cannibal Campout] and when it was actually picked up for distribution I was shocked. The fact that it’s achieved any kind of cult status is totally amazing to me. Even after Cannibal [Campout] was distributed I thought only a handful of people had seen it and it would disappear into video heaven. It wasn’t until the Internet craze took off that I started to hear from tons of people who had seen the movie and even own it! I was incredulous. I still am. It’s all a bit overwhelming.” — Actor, producer, writer and director, Jon McBride with Mike Haberfeiner of Search My Trash
Hey, after paying tribute to Brett Piper with a “Drive-In Friday” featurette and reviewing a half dozen Mark and John Polonia flicks*, it was time to show micro-budgeted SOV auteur Jon McBride the love. Look, the dude has that Dennis Devine jam that we love (and gave a “Drive-In Friday” tribute). Did you know that, in addition to his SOV exploits, Jon’s appeared in national commercials for AT&T, Fanta Soda, and Mars Candy? That he acted in roles on the U.S. daytime dramas Days of Our Lives and Young and the Restless? That his absence from the SOV-doms from 1988 to 1996 was result of his producing music videos for MCA Records? True stories, all.
Let’s go exploring across Jon McBride’s twelve directing efforts.
It was Rudyard Kipling who said, “The twain shall never meet, but Top Gun and Nail Gun Massacre, so shall.” So, after one too many showing of Top Gun (1986) and the motorcycle-helmeted slashing featured in Nail Gun Massacre (1985) — .”
In this Jon McBride guilty pleasure debut, four teenagers on a wooded outing are menaced — with cheap, but excessive over-the-top gore — by three mutant cannibals of the Mother’s Day (1980) variety: Joe, of which, likes his flight helmet.
In 1986 Newtown, Connecticut, Richard Crafts dispatched of his wife, Helle Crafts, by the gardening implement of the title. However, before the Coen Brothers pinched the idea, some kid in Connecticut pulled together 400 bucks and weaved an SOV-slasher about three dysfunctional siblings on a murder spree with a woodchipper. Yeah, mom should have let junior have the “Rambo” knife of his dreams . . . and dad shouldn’t have left them latchkeyed over the weekend with a crabby, bible-bangin’ aunt.
After an almost ten-decade break — again, McBride was working for MCA Records — he’s back with his third SOV’er. And it quickly became BlockbusterVideo’s #1 independent rental of the year.
After an acting stint in Blades (1989) by New Jersey SOV’er John P. Finnegan of Girl School Screamers fame, Jon McBride makes his first collaboration with the Polonia Brothers — as a co-director and lead actor. This time: the budget ante ups a hundred bucks to $500.
If the video sleeve and title doesn’t give it away: Two photographers on assignment in Pennsylvania pick up two female hitchhikers — then stumble into some very hungry and vampiric, little grey aliens. The extra hundred must have been for the Macintosh’ed UFO effects . . . and the aliens cloning humans.
Believe it not: All of those camcorder shakes and childish special effects were successful enough as a Blockbuster Video Rental Exclusive that it spawned a sequel: Feeders 2: Slay Bells. And yes: Santa and his elves battle the aliens in the winter’s wood. Yes. Feeders 3: The Final Meal is coming in 2021 though Wild Eye Releasing via Team Polonia.
Courtesy of the Blockbuster connection, both have ended up as free-with-ads steam on Tubi. Now, how can you say “No” to streaming it? It’s friggin’ free, you cheap bastard.
This VHS-shot delight — that also made the distribution rounds as The House That Screamed — was done in one, continuous 16-hour shoot as it plays as an early take on Saw (2004).
Three college students, one who is blind, take up the offer to stay in a house haunted-by-murder for a $25,000 reward. Once there, they’re drugged. When they awake: they discover they’re bricked-up in the house . . . and they’re stalked by a mask-adorned, deformed freak of the Michael Myers variety.
My favorite theatrical one-sheet trope of disembodied floating heads — and they’re both human and alien! — above a moon base model that gives Gerry Anderson pause. Dude, I’m all in.
A rogue planetoid in orbit around Mars causes global storms, so the Omega 1 is sent to investigate. When they fail to return, the crew of the Omega 2 discovers an alien force has not only killed the crew of Omega 1, but everyone on the neighboring lunar base.
I really liked this one — in all of its COVID-style masks and tool shed safety goggles glory. Paired with a ’50s-styled Roger Corman monster, it takes me back to Brett Piper’s early ’80s Star Wars-wannbes Mysterious Planet, Galaxy Destroyer, and Mutant War. And that’s not a bad thing: evoking a little bit o’ Piper.
There is an age-restricted sign-in uploaded on You Tube.
While it’s not a sequel, we are back in those same woods as Feeders. Three bank robbers — portrayed by Jon and the Polonia Brothers — hide out in the woods: the same woods where a hungry alien has landed.
This Predator rip has it all: cut-and-paste outer space battles, dopey astronomers, and inept bank robbers who took a wrong turn at the border and bypassed Tarantino’s vamp-strewn The Twitty Twister.
Look, it’s an SOV shot in one long weekend for a cost a total of $50 — and it’s made its budget back many, many, many-fold. So let’s keep the naysaying to a minimum, shall we?
Poltergeistis the model as a team of parapsychologists investigate the six-months passed disappearance of Marty Beck at the mysterious Wingate Road house, in this sequel to the Polonia Brothers-released (without McBride) The House That Screamed (2000).
Is Jon McBride’s Terror House (1998), which was also known as The House That Screamed, a prequel or a repacked/recycled tweak of the 2000 version? Don’t known: I haven’t seen any of them to sort it all out. Apparently, there is a Phantasm “Lady in Lavender” twist with a beautiful woman bringing on the evil manifestations.
Sorry, no streams freebie or with-ads, but Amazon has the DVDs.
Gorilla Warfare: Battle of the Apes (2002)
Apes now rule the galaxy as two warring Simian factions battle for the spoils of the others human cargo. When one of the ships is thrown off course by an errant wormhole (I hate when that happens), two males and one female human escape when their slaveship crash lands. Yes. It’s the Planet of the Apes meets The Most Dangerous Game. Yes. I want to see this, but can’t?
There’s no DVDs or streams as it’s not yet been released. So, we’re hedging our bets anything shot for this ape epic was recycled as the Polonia;s Empire of the Apes (2013), and it’s sequel, Revolt of the Planet of the Apes (2017). Ah, but the actual story, according to Jon McBride with Search My Trash: Gorilla Warfare was shot specifically for the 3D market. Sadly, distribution issues have led to a company owning the masters and they’ve yet to release the film.
The sole reason this Jon McBride tribute came into being was result of the Ukrainian model on the cover of this film’s Euro-DVD sleeve: Maria Konstantynova. Who? Go to the Night Thrist review to learn more about ALL of the films her image, adorns.
As for Jon McBride: he ups the budget once more, but not by much, to take on ’70s Hammer and Amicus anthology flicks. He plays a tow truck driver stranded in the remote countryside. Finding refuge in a home, its occupant weaves four scary tales.
Night Thrist (actually, it is officially stylized as NightThrist and NighThrist) is one of the many French and German-issued DVDs that used the oft Euro-repeated image of Shutterstock modeling-star Maria Konstantynova. Yes, having her on the cover is the film’s highlight. And do click through to read reviews on ALL of the films featuring Maria on the cover. It’s a hootenanny-and-a-half!
Among Us (2004)
Just the cover alone is giving me a warm n’ fuzzy Don Dohler vibe of the Alien Factor (1978) and Nightbeast (1982) variety.
I ain’t hatin’ this $20,000-shot story about washed-up B-movie director Billy D’Amato who, after making Bigfoot and killer alien movies, and, well, the same type of movies Dohler, the Polonia brothers, and Jon McBride have made over the years: Billy D. comes face-to-face with a real Sasquatch while location scouting his latest feature. Inspired, he decides to head back into the deep woods to make retro-’70s-styled documentary about his encounter — and instead ends up with a modern-day The Blair Bigfoot Project.
No streams to share. Oh, and this is the writing debut of another modern-day streamer burning the SOV ’80s flame, John Oak Dalton, who is still at it with the bonkers-we-love-it Noah’s Shark (2021).
Holla If I Kill You (2004)
When Blockbuster Video needs an urban-based horror comedy, team Polonia calls up Def Jam and Comedy Central stars “Brooklyn” Mike Yard, Will Sylvince, Arnold Acevedo, Brad Lowery and Jay Philips. (I’ve heard of Brooklyn Mike; sorry to the rest of you. No offense.)
Once the hottest African-American comic in America, Hollaback, is now a has-been. No one will book him and when he does get a booking, he’s booed off stage. That is until a mysterious figure appears — and begins killing those whose dis ol’ Holla.
Scoff if you will, but the McBride and the Polonia brothers work those contacts and put product on the shelves. In fact, I’ve seen this on the shelves at Walmart. So, there you go.
Micheal Mann’s The Keep is the model as four American GIs, caught behind enemy lines, seek refuge in an old church, deep in the secluded woods. The parish’s old priest tells of the supernatural occurrences in within its walls . . . and that the Nazi have been using such against the Americans. Now, our GIs must defeat the evil to save the Allied Forces.
After looking over the stills from the film featuring the impressive era-correct costuming, as well as an effectively-dressed church set and graveyard, you can see Jon McBride went all-in with money. Shot in Wellsboro, Pennsylvania, it was penned by the prolific John Oak Dalton, who has penned most of the Polonia Brothers’ output — and, if you did more than just skim my hard work, you know that John also wrote Among Us, reviewed above. Later known as the cash-in Da Vinci’s Curse in some quarters (know your Tom Hanks Oscar bait) and Dead Night in others, this ended up as Army of Wolves in Japan — each butchered with scenes taken out and stuff added in from other films, so be sure you get the Black Mass original for your maximum McBride pleasures of the 3/4″ flesh.
Nope. No streams to share. Yeah, I need to see this. And John Oak Dalton, who wrote this, tells me he doesn’t have a copy, either. So, there you have it.
“I think people are going to be surprised how good it is when they see it. We hit a plateau with that movie on so many levels that I almost wonder if we can top it. I’m so anxious for people to see it. It’s definitely our stand out film.” — Jon McBride, in 2008 with Search My Trash
Multi-pack DVDs featuring Jon McBride’s films:
Jon McBride showed a lot promise with Black Mass, but it became his last directing effort, to date. He’s since settled into composing soundtracks for the Polonia Brothers’ Razor Teeth (2005), Spatter Beach (2007), Wildcat (2007), and Halloween Night (2009). Considering Jon left film for a decade after his late ’80s, two-fer output of Woodchipper Massacre and Cannibal Campout to pursue interests in music videos, rest assure: he’s still out there, creating.
I want to say I’d like to see him return for one more, but there’s scant information online as to his whereabouts. Someone updated his Wikipedia page in January 2020 — with no indication to believe the now 60-something Jon McBride is no longer with us. The only — and last — interview he’s done was in October 2008 with Search My Trash. But in talking with John Oak Dalton, Jon still walks among us and is doing fine.
“I’m just really thankful that people have enjoyed some of my stuff. To be honest I’m still amazed at the number of people who have seen some of my movies and it’s a little overwhelming at times. I never thought that some of them would get the attention they did and I’m grateful for that. Even if I never get to make another movie I’m happy that I was able to make a minuscule offering to the genre [horror and SOV] I’ve loved for so long.” — Jon McBride with Search My Trash
There’s more insights to be had with all of these films by way of the two-part documentary short Mark Polonia: A Life of Monsters, Mayhem, and Movies. You can also remember the late John Polonia (1968 — 2008) with this tribute video. You can also pick up a copy of the recently published biography, Monstervision: The Films of John and Mark Polonia, from Amazon.
I’d like to know how Gary J. Levinson was able to get Michelle Bauer, Hyapatia Lee, Elizabeth Kaitan and Mary Woronov* to appear in his movie about a wheelchair bound slasher.
Our wheelchair slasher Eugene was made a paraplegic when his mother dropped him while she was being assaulted and murdered by a set of conjoined twins, then he was raised on the streets by his drunk aunt who also gets raped and killed, so that finally sets him on the path of revenge against anyone who can walk.
This movie, while horrifically bad, was stolen by another label and the case went the whole way to court. The People’s Court. You can’t invent things like that.
Only watch this if you hate yourself, if you want to write as many slasher articles as possible or both of these facts.
*She’s in the IMDB credits but I don’t see her anywhere in here.
Lunchmeat is not pretty — although it does have Kim McKamy, the actress who would one day become Ashlyn Gere, in the cast — and it looks like it was filmed by the same gigantic home camcorder that your dad once used to tape your prom.
Directed, written and produced by one and done auteur Kirk Alex, who drove cabs for years to raise money for this movie, which tells the story of Paw and his three kids: Elwood, Harley and Benny, the gigantic man on the cover of the VHS release.
The kids that are fated to die first have to eat human meat within the burgers of Wilbur’s Bar and Grill and then they’re off to be part of a USDA Grade — trust me, that’s the lowest grade that can be legally sold to humans — remix of Texas Chainsaw Massacre that isn’t as good as even Blood Salvage. If you’re gong to remake something already made, make it weirder. Make it different. Do something.
For everyone proclaiming this murderdrone, all the killing happens off screen and at no point did I use this movie to find a higher plateau of reasoning. I sure tried, however! Maybe I have such a disdain for movies that instill a distrust of the Southern accent, particularly when this movie takes place in California.
You know, David A. Prior has beaten me so many times, I wonder why I even come back. I just know I’m going to get hurt again and just look at the art for this movie, the worst video box I’ve ever seen, a cover so poor that it’s stopped me from watching this numerous times.
Yet here I am.
So ten years or so ago, this little kid got locked in the closet while his mom and her lover planned to run away but then someone came in and sledgehammered them both, which seems to be a very crossfit way to kill someone.
So yeah, a seance by a bunch of horny kids brings the little boy back in the form of an enormous man with a clear mask that can somehow only be defeated by its own sledgehammer, which feels incredibly stupid.
But you know, at some point, all the bad acting and thirtysomething teenagers and food fights give way to mind-numbing murders and that’s what I’m here for, the catharsis that for some reason comes from movies shot in the woods outside a suburban development or, in this movie’s example, the director’s apartment. Everybody came to have fun and make something bloody and they ended up getting this onto the shelves of video stores across the country and that makes me happier than I can explain to you.
Man, if you love slow motion, let me tell you, they made this movie for you.