Look at that featured image and bask in the blobby look of a fifth-generation video and know that the people who made this — Mike Beck (who was also the chief editor of the Swedish edition of Hustler and had suspected Olof Palme-killer Christer Petterson pose naked in an issue), Richard Holm (who directs TV today) and Henrik Wadling — had a great time.
As an audience watches Halloween, a killer awakens in an office building and begins killing everyone in his path before one of the victims comes back from the dead, Freddy shows up, a karate fight gets started and everyone decides to just give up and dance to “I’m Your Boogeyman” years before Rob Zombie started playing that song.
Depending on your love of SOV movies, you’re either going to be absolutely in love with this or see it as amateur hour junk. Not only is there a sequel, but the VHS tapes of this movie appear in that movie, which is the kind of meta that Scream would like you to believe that it invented.
DAY 12 — CAMPFIRES & FLASHLIGHTS: One where a character tells a scary story and then . . . flashback.
As part of our annual “Slasher Month” last October, we reviewed Snuff Kill (1997), the third film — and best known and distributed film — from homegrown Baltimore SOV filmmakers Doug Ulrich and Al Darago (Ulrich also came to work with our SOV hero, Don Dohler, on 2001’s The Alien Factor 2). Now it’s time to take a look at their debut film, the anthology Scary Tales that, while released in 1993, had a long-in-development on-off shooting schedule that began in the mid-’80s. As with Snuff Kill — in which Al Darago portrayed the rocker-slasher Ralis — he and Doug Ulrich provide the film’s original tunes (“Destined to Love,” “She’s a Good Time,” “Let It Go,” and “I’m in Love”) as well as take care of all of the other film disciplines.
As the film opens, we meet a hooded, faceless storyteller with glowing eyes who weaves three tales from an ancient text to a group of ghostly, silhouetted children: “Satan’s Necklace” concerns an evil piece of jewelry that possesses its owner’s soul. In “Sliced in Cold Blood” a man loses his sanity upon discovering his wife’s infidelity. Then things come very close to our current techno-reality in “Level 21,” as a man loses his soul — literally — to a PC-based video game.
Amid the expected muddy-to-distorted audio, Spirit Halloween-effects, and accepted non-thespin’, we get an inventive against-the-budget human-transformation-to-vicious, man-eating demon, lots of heads split-open or decap, a knife out through the mouth, demons breath fire flumes, and in the final Tron-inspired tale (but closer to the lower-budget “The Bishop of Battle” segment starring Emilio Estevez in the 1983 Universal-produced omnibus, Nightmares; even more so to Charles Band’s 1984 tech-manteau The Dungeonmaster with Jeffrey Bryon sucked into a netherworld overlorded by Richard Moll), we get a gaggle of netherworld dwarfs and ninjas in an ambitious against-the-budget Dungeons & Dragons playing field. Remember the computer non-effects in Jerry Sangiuliano’s tech-slasher Brain Twisters? Well, it’s like that, and not the least bit “Tron.” But that’s okay because this movie splatters to the side of bountiful, which is why we rented home video SOVs in the first place.
Look, if you’re expecting a celluloid-perfect homage to the ’70s Amicus anthologies that inspired Ulrich and Darago’s debut film, then just keep on walkin’ past the crypt and go watch George Romero’s Creepshow. In the end, this is The Night of the Living Dead-era fun, as we’re living vicariously through Doug Ulrich and Al Darago, two guys just like us, who, instead of watching, reading and writing about films, they went out and made them. (And watch Scary Tales instead of the yawn-inducing Creepshow 2. Yes, I am saying team Ulrich-Darago’s film is more entertaining than a George Romero comic-book based sequel.)
You have to give team Ulrich-Darago their props as — unlike most SOV auteurs, who only managed one film — our SOV duo from Baltimore made four, including Darkest Soul, the aforementioned Snuff Kill, and 7 Sins of the Vampire, in quick, back-to-back succession. The only other SOV’ers to pull off multiple films as quickly was Christopher Lewis with Blood Cult, The Ripper, and Revenge . . . well, because of Blood Cult’s rep as the first mail-order SOV, Lewis is the best known. But there’s the crowned king that is Dennis Devine of Fatal Images and Dead Girls fame that’s still making them, albeit digitally these days (his latest is 2020’s Camp Blood 8). And porn-funded British SOV purveyor Cliff Twemlow (with his directing-partner, David Kent-Watson) knocked out six film in quick succession in the wake of his SOV pinnacle, GBH. Jeff Hathcock made his debut with Victims! in 1985 and during the next seven years pumped out three more: Night Ripper!, Streets of Death, and Fertilize the Blaspheming Bombsell. Yeah, you’ll SOV-drop fellow Baltimorite Don Dohler with his ’80s shoestring trio of The Alien Factor, Fiend, and Nightbeast released between 1978 to 1982 — but while they have that SOV-couch change stank on ’em, those were shot on film.
However, of all of those films and their makers, we’ll always pencil-in Doug Ulrich and Al Darago on the top of our SOV lists courtesy of their Wiseauian heart and tenacity to release their quartet of films in quick succession — while showing improvements in their storytelling and effects skills along the way. Sure Tim Ritter of the SOV classics Truth or Dare and Killing Spree and Donald Farmer of Demon Queen and Scream Dream are still makin’ movies into 2021 and should be at the top of the list for their still growing, extensive resumes . . . well, I don’t know . . . I just dig what Doug and Al loaded into the SOV canons. I like ’em, so sue me . . . plus: we haven’t gotten around to reviewing Ritter or Farmer flicks on the site — at least not yet. Too many films, so little time.
And you can learn about the new Blu-Ray release of Scary Tales at Vinegar Syndrome. But we found a VHS rip on the very cool You Tube home to all things SOV, with the fine folks at Letterboxd Funtime. Oh, our review of 7 Sins of the Vampire is on the way, as part of our October 2021 “Slasher Month,” so search for it in the coming days . . . whoop, there it is!
About the Author: You can learn more about the writings of R.D Francis on Facebook. He also writes for B&S About Movie
Okay, so let me get this straight in my head: This is a 55-minute, Italian-made anthology horror of three tales consisting of a killer sex doll, a killer handbag . . . and a parody of Joe D’amato’s Anthropophagous. And — being ever the good sport — Dardano Sacchetti, the writer of, well, a large portion of our favorite films at B&S About Movies, appears in the frames.
Just wow. You made my youth worth living, Dardano!
But Sacchetti isn’t the only Italian icon, here: Underground horror greats Linnea Quigley (recently of The Good Things Devils Do), David Warbeck, and Sergio Stivaletti appear, as well as directors Joe d’Amato, Luigi Cozzi, and Lucio Fulci; the late maestro’s daughter, Antonella, has a cameo as a pregnant lady . . . whose fetus is blown out of her vagina into the air. Yes, it’s like that. No, really. And it’s all very dumb, and it’s all very cheap, and it’s all very sloppy . . . and it is extremely sick. So, hell yes, we love it!
Just wow. We never heard of this one. We never once seen it on a U.S. video shelf. And here we are, 26 years after the fact, lovin’ it, over on You Tube.
Look, if the trailer doesn’t sell it . . . turn in your B&S membership card. For we never knew ye. If it does, well, pair this up with Nigel the Psychopath for a Halloween double feature.
About the Author: You can learn more about the writings of R.D Francis on Facebook. He also writes for B&S About Movies.
You have to wonder why more slashers didn’t have a killer with a fighter pilot helmet. Maybe Joe has one on in this because it came out after Top Gun, unlike the majority of slice and dice movies. Regardless, it’s a great look*, even if the quality of this movie isn’t always top of mind.
Don’t get used to any of the victims. I mean that — everyone, including their unborn children — is fair game for the three killers. In addition to Joe, there’s Rich and Gene, hillbillies who treat their mother with the same kind of reverencee as Addley and Ike do their mama in Mother’s Day.
McBride would follow this gory assault on senses with Woodchipper Massacre, which is just as disgusting and I say that with love. Despite the lack of taste, budget, effects and acting on display here, this movie made me laugh numerous time and really, isn’t that why we watch these things? There’s no defending my love of this film — much less any SOV piece of junk — but there is no need for defense. I don’t believe in guilty pleasures and I am unashamed to admit that I like plenty of absolutely revolting and poorly made movies.
*It also covers the face of co-director Jon McBride and probably allows him to have others in the shot while he directs.
10. RITUALS: It’s good to have a routine, even if it’s evil.
This is a Shot On Video remake/remix/rip-off of Re-Animator that has the worst quality filming, the most drone soundtrack and ends right in the middle of a scene. Some people will say that that sounds like a bad time. These are not the kind of people that you want to hang out with.
This movie also has long dialogue sections, longer montages of science happening and something else called God Science, which involves regenerated serial killers out of the grave. Also, no one seems to notice that Dr. Strain’s face is basically falling off. Were the people of his area that polite? Was this made in Canada?
I used to record drone black metal and actually recorded a laundromat behind some of my guitar parts to give it a sound that was covered up with strange mechanical noises and the sound of water. I can only assume that the people that made this movie did the same, because so much of it is barely audible, which makes it even better, because you can just drop out and allow the power of this junk to warm your veins.
Also — I have no idea if this is shot on 16mm or video and if you’re the kind of person ready to fire off an angry mail because I don’t know, I’m ready.
DAY 9: SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL: One with a misunderstood freak/mutant/abomination, etc., (or in this case: a fatherless child with farm implements).
Oy, this movie . . . this friggin’ movie! Just like a Wim Vink joint, such as Half Past Midnight, a Jim Larsen joint takes its punches for being repetitive and plotless, with its “awfulness” compounded by its scant-to-no dialog and added-in-post victim screams that come replete with bad acting and well, bad everything that a film should not be.
Frackin’ balderdash: Nigel the Psychopath is a thing that should be.
For as our cherished (well, my) Doug Ulrich and Al Darago Karo Consortium for Better Film product line foretold in Snuff Kill: a Larsen bowel movement is a burst of pure offal ridiculousness squeezed out by an-off-the-Ritalin energy. Yeah, that’s right: move it on over, Mr. Dennis Divine, for there’s a new, pulpy monster mag back pages SOV-auteur in the john, er, town.
Yeah, just plop it right over ‘ere, Jimbo: our VCRs have been trained on a steady diet of the fibrous intestinal cleaners of Jean Rollin, Jess Franco, and Bruno Mattei for a very long time. We can handle the raison d’etre Sean S. Cunningham stank for the one hour serving you’re dishing . . . or is that squatting? Hey, if we can clench our cheeks on Joel Reed’s Gamma 693, we can pass this tape worm without the vasoline assist, no problemo.
Okay, so . . . the pesky plot, or lack there of: Our misunderstood ‘lil devil on this 9th day in the month of our Scarecrow is Nigel: a gas mask-adorned psycho who frolics among the SOV backyards of America as he lives by the edict: heaven is a place where everyone is a lot happier. But not just anyone, mind you: get the adults the frack out of here, for Nigel stalks the local playground and kills children death-porn style — with a weedwacker (well, a sickle/rake thingy) — along with the occasion broomstick impaling and staple gun dispatching. Heads are split open, neck are garroted-by-tree, faces are stomped, and arms and legs are loped off in quick succession in between fight scenes that make ol’ Dolemite himself, Rudy Ray Moore, look like Bruce Lee.
Oh, hell yes, and jumpin’ Jehoshaphats, Nigel the Psychopath is a film that breaks all the rules, not just the crafts of filmmaking and thespin’, but of good taste and common sense that jangles the five sense. Ye must embrace the inept editing and the muddy-to-blaring music that goes from acoustic guitars to reggae to rock. Accept and suspend all logic as Larsen’s gang of shemps* out-Raimi a Sam Raimi production with a commitment to the shot-on-video cause. Pair ‘er up with Cards of Death and Lazarus the Legend and analog yourself into a snowy-screened stupor.
In the end, for me: Nigel the Psychopath isn’t so much a fluid narrative, but a documentary — a documentary chronicling Jim Larsen and his friends having the best ’80s summers, ever, as they lived the dream of making their own slasher movie. So, yeah, uh, okay . . . Nigel the Psychopath may not be the best movie (for me, it is), but it’s full of the heart that lacks in wannabe, SOV-masquerading junk like the Canadian slop that is Blue Murder. And the Larsen love comes in spurts!
Thanks to writer and director Jim Larsen interacting with his fans via the wonders of the web, we’ve come to know that, while we toss his slasher opus on our SOV woodpiles, it was actually shot on Super 8 mm film and VHS video between the years of 1986 to 1989. There are also three versions on YouTube to chose from: the original super 8 film short, the VHS-version, Nigel the Psychopath At Large, and Nigel the Psychopath: 33rd Anniversary Director’s Cut (that runs a wee-longer, at 70-minutes). Pick one or pick ’em all and watch the insanity for yourself, courtesy of Jim’s very active You Tube portal.
What’s that? You want to know more about the man, the myth, the “real” warped mind of Jim Larsen? Well, he’s on the web at themindofjimlarsen.com via WordPress. He tells his version of events concerning Nigel the Psychopath with his own page dedicated to the film. Read it!
* Dude, if we have to explain “shempin'” to you, we know ye not. Turn in your B&S About Movies membership card.
9. SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL: One with a misunderstood freak/mutant/abomination etc.
Written, directed by and starring Norbert Moutier (as N. G. Mount), a man who loved horror, Ogroff somehow has Jess Franco-star Howard Vernon show up in it. That’s some feat, as this is as grimy and low end as a shot on video French slasher gets.
I mean, how great is it that Moutier owned a video store and published zines and was like, “I’m going to make something for people to rent from my store.” That means that for half the movie, Ogroff has a metal mask, rubber boots and a jaunty cap. And when you’re not admiring that outfit, you’re just watching him kill. And kill. And kill again.
After he battles a lumberjack with a chainsaw, he falls for a girl and the zombies that live under Ogroff’s house to emerge and Vernon to show up as a vampire priest who wants the girl for his own. Look, Orgoff isn’t going back to onanistic pleasure after getting to make sweet love.
But these are just words and the truth is describing what this movie feels like is like explaining what the color brown looks like to a blind man. It kind of washes over you in its drone haze and creates the perfect mood. Now, that mood comes at the price of watching someone’s legs get chainsawed off, but there must be sacrifices.
The first horror film in history to be shot on video, Boardinghouse is…well…there really isn’t anything else like Boardinghouse. Somehow, this movie seems at once ten minutes and ten hours long, taking you on a journey into — man, I have no idea how we got here ot where we’ve been, but we really went somewhere.
Back in 1972, Dr. Hoffman and his wife — who one assumes were doctors of the occult — died in their Mulholland Drive home on the night of their anniversary, committing double suicide in front of their daughter Debbie, who had a nervous breakdown. Everyone who has lived in the house since has died. And now, a decade later, the nephew of the last owner of the home, James Royce, puts out an ad looking for single women — beautiful women with no ties — to move in with him — he plans on you know, studying the occult while they’re there — so Sandy, Suzie, Cindy, Gloria, Pam, Terri and — you know it — Debbie all move in.
To say this movie has a disjointed narrative is like saying that you’re reading this on a web site.
James is also trying to get with Victoria, a singer, and shows her how she can use her own latent telekinetic powers. After a dream in which she is dragged to the grave of Dr. Hoffman, she begins to grow jealous the women of the boardinghouse who are all potenitally sleeping with the occult master that she has come to love.
Oh man, before you know it, people are throwing cake at one another, women are clawing their eyes out, Debbie revealing herself as the psychic monster who killed both her parents after sleeping with her father, Jim shows up with less clothes in every scene and the end credits look like they came from a Apple 2E.
Directed by, written and starring John Wintergate, this is the kind of movie that defies description, despite me writing so many words about it already. It has a lead actress with one name — Kalassu. And she’s the wife of Wintergate and their children show up. And then there are monsters, hallucinations and bloody showers. And the cut I watched has a running time of 2 hours and 38 minutes.
This movie was also shot in Horror-Vision, which is a swirl of color and a glove and it’s supposed to warn you when something scary happens but nothing like that seems to happen and man, they blew this up on film and played it in theaters and Wintergate must have quite the thong collection.
You know how I know life is good? Because AGFA + Bleeding Skull! are releasing the 35mm theatrical cut to home video for the first time later this year, along with an alternate cut named Psycho Killer and a family film from the filmmakers, Sally & Jess. I’m ordering that right now. If you come to my house this year, you will be subjected to this movie.
This is one of funniest and enjoyable, cult-driven 78-minutes you’ll enjoy unspooling across the SOV tundras. And it was done to the tune of $1000. Lazarus the Legend is a shot-on-video epic that would have also fit nicely into our “Regional Horror Week,” which ran from Sunday, March 14 to Saturday, March 20 (use our “Search Box” feature to your left to find those films), but since that end of the B&S schedule filled up quickly, this lone feature writing and directing debut by Erie, Pennsylvania’s Matthew Frazzini — since it is a shot-on-video feature, after all — overflowed into our current, September “SOV Week” tribute.
When Lazarus (Dale Crawford) receives a do-or-die challenge from Nick Safara (writer-director Matthew Frazzini), an ancient foe, Lazarus begins his quest in a world where the lines of good and evil blur as he saves the world by acquiring the ultimate power. Lazarus’s sidekick in his fight against Safara’s “Clobbers” is Eva (Frazzini’s sister, Christine Lorraine), a local fortune teller, and his girlfriend, Nina (Patty Colman).
Pour John Carpenter’s Kung-fu/sci-fi action tribute, Big Trouble in Little China (which has its share of fans and detractors; I’m a fan — and no, not because of the Kim Cattrall bondage scene, but because of Kurt Russell’s perfect slices of ham; I’ll watch anything with Kurt, yes, even Escape from L.A. which sucks donkey), dump in Lloyd Kaufman’s 1990 Troma superhero comedy romp Sgt. Kabukiman N.Y.P.D., then smidgens of your favorite Turkish or India ripoffs of American film/TV franchises, then soupçons of Kiss makeup, Star Trek music, and Bruce Lee sound effects. Shake your ’90s Blockbuster Video-logo’d tumbler. Movie served! Gulp the greatest action-comedy ever committed to camcorder. Does this exceed the “heart” of Tommy “The Room” Wiseau that we oft mentioned often around the B&S About Movies cubicle farm — and then some? Oh, yes. And it’s even better than Wiseau’s debut — because, with Frazzini’s debut, the comedy here, is intentional.
Courtesy of his sister and co-star, Christine, in her efforts to satiate fans’ questions about the film, she maintains the film’s IMDb page. So we know that her brother created Lazarus the Legend as a spoof of his fandom of martial arts movies. (Shameful Plug: We love the genre, too. Check out our “Drive-In Friday: Karate Blaxploitation Night” featurette.) She also tells us the cast featured Matthew’s co-workers/friends from the steel mill company where he was a plant superintendent. He produced, wrote, taped, and edited the film in his spare time, which was shot in and around Eric, Pennslyvania — the Bayfront Parkway area in particular, which has vastly changed since the film was shot. And Frazzini’s passions paid off: Lazarus the Legend won the “Best Screenplay” award at the 1993 Hometown Video Festival — against 2,200 films from five countries — in Atlanta, Georgia.
Unlike most SOVs, Lazarus the Legend was never released on VHS or DVD. Outside of the festival circuit, it aired on Erie public access television — only once. The folks at Adjust Your Tracking later came to release in the film in a limited-edition VHS — which includes a newly-produced “Making of” documentary and other Frazzini-produced horror-short films.
However, no worries! You can enjoy this ingenuity-rife, Kung-fu sci-fi-action wrestling comedy courtesy of Vacuum Tube Rescue You Tube — in its original, unedited and full-length state. The commercial-free upload has been online since 2014, so it’s not going anywhere. Enjoy!
Hey, wait! Don’t leave! Come back!
In keeping with the regional wrestling comedy vibes of Lazarus the Legend — and the fact that it also shot in Pennsylvania (well, Eastern, this time) — you may want to check out Masked Mutilator. That film had a 25-year production history that began in 1994 to be completed and release in 2019. Another wrestling-centric — and SOV flick — we reviewed this week is Heavy Metal Massacre (1989). Yeah, we love wrestling-oriented films around the ol’ B&S cubicle farm along the muddy waters of the Allegheny . . . you can catch up with all of our wrestling flick reviews, here.
Sadly, we lot Matthew Frazzini in 2009 as a victim in a car crash. And he left us with this film. And the SOV canons are better for it. Just wow . . . if that doesn’t look like Sam the Bossman in ersatz King Diamond face paint. . . .
Bobbi Young AKA David DeFalco* co-wrote and stars in this movie, which was shot in the metal bars — “The Living Room” — of Province, Rhode Island. Research has shown me that Bill Conti — yes, the man who wrote the song that Rocky runs up the steps to — as well as Blu Cantrell, Combustible Edison, Deer Tick, Jeffrey Osbourne, Six Finger Satellite and Throwing Muses may come from the Renaissance City, but very few hair metal bands (and yes, I realize Vital Remains and The Body are from there, but they are very far removed from the music in this movie).
The movie is all about Bobbi killing women he picks up in nightclubs, but also video effects. It’s the kind of movie that George Lucas might say of, “Maybe you shouldn’t use so many of those transitions.”
This is the kind of movie where the budget did not include cops and emergency crews, so according to an interview from Kotaku Australia, the production got someone to actually call 911 for the end of the movie.
The article goes on to explain that the sledgehammer kill that is so brutal in this movie also nearly killed the girl in the scene doing it, as DeFalco didn’t understand that he had to hit the styrofoam head and missed his mark by 5 inches, striking the actress directly in the head with the wooden handle and knocking her out.
You know, my cousin made a Shot On Video movie once and my grandmother made us all sit down and watch it. She beamed with pride the entire time the film played, which was mostly an endless scene of a drunk old man screaming and not letting the story go on, as they had to shoot in one of his friend’s houses. Then, my cousin’s character killed his girlfriend and had sex with her, but his character had VD, so he ripped off a condom and it was filled with blood.
“I’m so proud of you,” my grandmother said.
Heavy Metal Massacre is somehow worse than that movie.
*Oh man — DeFalco was also once a pro wrestler and on his 2005 film Chaos, he had an extra scene called “Inside the Coroner’s Office: A Tour of the L.A. Coroner’s Crypt” where he walks around the mortuary and talks about Los Angeles’ most disturbing crimes with technician Michael Cormier, who later died from massive organ failure in what has been said to be a conspiracy related to the Obama administration.
On the site Awesome for Awesome’s Sake, the video is said to be “17 minutes of a greased up, shirtless Dave “The Demon” DeFalco (the writer/director of Chaos) flexing and ranting (wrestler style) about how brutal the world (and his movie) is and how much Roger Ebert sucks…in front of real dead bodies (wrapped in plastic)!”
Then, Cormier “walks us through the various crypts pointing out all sorts of stuff, like dead babies (wrapped in plastic) and dead fat people (wrapped in plastic)!”
This is followed by DeFalco and Cormier discuss their new project The Devil’s Doorway, in which their theory of how meth “opens up a doorway to another dimension allowing demons to possess these meth-heads and then these possessed speed freaks commit brutal crimes!”
Here’s the link that I found on YouTube about it. Any time I think I still can’t be stunned about movies, something amazing comes my way.
So yeah. Cormier died right around the same time as Andrew Breitbart in very much the same way. He ingested arsenic 24 to 48 hours before his death and it’s never come out as to why.