REPOST: Satanico Pandemonium (1973)

EDITOR’S NOTE: This movie originally ran on our site on January 27, 2020, back when we were doing two weeks of Satanic films. Seeing as how it was just re-released by Mondo Macabro, we’re bringing it back.

Sister Maria should be living the quiet and chaste convent life, but she has a fantasy world in which she runs free and wild, the servant of Satan. In our world, her acts of violent blasphemy are on the increase as she begins to realize that her job is to lead her sisters in Christ down the left hand path to Hell. The Devil has his hooves into Sister Maria and he isn’t going to let go.

Gilberto Martinez Solares also directed Santo and Blue Demon Against the Monsters, but there’s no way that will prepare you for this movie. I’d compare it — obviously — to Alucarda, a movie that it has similar themes to but less eye popping visuals. That’s not to say that this movie plays it safe, but man, it had a high bar to reach.

Sure, Maria is good with medicine and animals, but once she sees Lucifer — who tells her “Call me Lucifer. If you want me, just think of me, I’m everywhere.” — and eats the apple he offers, all Hell breaks loose. Where she once self-flagellated herself, now our heroine — I guess? — is making love to the other nuns when she’s not watching them hang themselves.

There’s also an interesting subplot about a black nun who is treated badly by everyone, including her Mother Superior, which seems a deep subject to tackle in a Mexican nunsploitation film. Also — lots of stabbing. And obviously, this is where Salma Hayek’s character in From Dusk Till Dawn got her name.

You can get the new blu ray re-release from Mondo Macabro, who were kind enough to send us this movie.

Dangerous Cargo (1977)

Mondo Macabro has been releasing several examples of Greek exploitation cinema lately, which is a genre I have only recently started to dip my toe into. This is directed by Kostas Karagiannis, who directed more than a hundred movies between 1961 and 1990, including Land of the MinotaurThe Wife Killer and Tango of Perversion.

Deborah Shelton, a former Miss USA and star of DallasBody Double and Sins of the Night, plays the captain’s wife. That’s right. That’s the only name she gets. When her husband is killed by pirates, she’s left alone with these rough and brutal men on the roughest of seas. That said, she’s not unafraid to use her body and cunning to stay alive and start to plan her revenge.

Set entirely on a ship carrying an illegal cargo of dangerous nitroglycerin, this film places all the many sides against one another. No one is blameless. No one is safe. Not many people have clothes on, either.

Complicating matters is that one of the film’s stars is named Kostas Karagiorgis, when the director is Kostas Karagiannis. Perhaps these names, in Greece, are as common as John Smith.

The original Greek title, Anomalo Fortio, translates as An Abnormal Load, which makes the 12-year-old in me laugh to no end.

You can get this from the fine folks at Mondo Macabro, who were kind enough to send us a review copy. It’s also available on their new site.

Mom and Dad Save the World (1992)

Ever seen License to Drive? That’s a Greg Beeman movie, too. This one, he got Jeffrey Jones, usually the villain, to play the heroic dad opposite Terri Garr. Of course it bombed. But it ended up becoming an HBO and video store favorite.

Emperor Tod Spengo (Jon Lovitz) rules the planet Spengo, the leader of idiots who have created a Super Death Ray Laser that will destroy our planet. That’s all before he fell in love with the aforementioned mother.

Once they arrive on Spengo, courtesy of the Magnobeam, Marge is waited on by servants with fish or dog heads, while Dick is stuck in the dungeon, where he meets Raff (Eric Idle), who is the real leader and goes into the desert to find his son White Bird and the rebels.

Jon Lovitz left Saturday Night Live to make this film. I’d compare it to Flash Gordon but you know, Jeffrey Jones instead of Sam J. Jones.

The Legend of Hell House (1973)

John Hough knows how to make a horror movie. The IncubusTwins of Evil?  American Gothic? Yeah, I’m a fan.

Richard Matheson? Yes, him too.

Man, team them up and throw in AIP producer James H. Nicholson, making one of two non-AIP pictures before he’d die, and you get some magic.

You don’t have to look up the other movie he produced. It was Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry.

Dr. Lionel Barrett is enlisted by eccentric millionaire Mr. Deutsch to look into life after death at the Mount Everest of haunted houses, the Belasco House. It was once owned by “Roaring Giant” Emeric Belasco, a huge pervert and millionaire who tortured and killed enough people at his home that it’s filled with ghosts long after his disappearance.

He brings his wife and two experts: mental medium and spiritualist minister Florence Tanner (Pamela Franklin, NecromancySatan’s School for Girls) and medium Ben Fischer (Roddy McDowall!) who is the only survivor of the last time someone tried to get to the bottom of this house of secrets.

Fischer is soon battling not only the advances of Barrett’s wife, but also the spirits of the home, including Daniel, the son of Belasco. His ghost not only sexually assaults Florence, but then dumps a giant crucifix on her.

Man, the reveal of this movie is so berserk that I don’t feel like sharing it here, despite this movie come out a year after I was born. I’m old, so imagine!

There are some lessons here. Don’t go to haunted houses. Don’t neglect your wife sexually. And if a ghost cat attacks you, leave.

You can get this from Shout! Factory.

Shedding (2020)

Shedding is a retro-magical fantasy with a narrative structure created through an inventive use of music, camera work, editing, and actor-body language that harkens the French New Wave movement of the late ’50s. Shedding is the story of a Panda, a bored house cat who longs to escape his life and go outside—and with the slight tinkling of a wind chime in the breeze, Panda gets his wish: he transforms into a human. And during his daylong journey in the outside world, he helps a grieving mother and daughter at odds over the loss of their son and brother, find peace.

If you haven’t guessed: Shedding isn’t an A-List Hollywood cute-cat movie starring Will Ferrell with an over-the-top interpretation of a human-cat romancing a career-driven Kristen Wiig and redeeming mom Lin Shayne’s broken soul. This is a film about, just what the title says: shedding. About shedding one’s pains, wants, and needs. About finding a “new coat” through coping and bonding with others—and finding an acceptance and “rebirth” in our lives.

As is the case with the works of Claude Chabrol (La Femme infidel), Jean-Luc Godard (Breathless), and Francois Truffaut (400 Blows) this feature film debut by Jake Thomas (award-winning shorts Blessed are the Peacemakers, One on One) is a film of subjectivity and ambiguity; an existential commentary on the human condition through the mind of a cat, the relationships animals have with humans, and how animals help humans deal with the emotions of loss and longing. It’s a film that, as the credits roll, your left wondering: Was it real or was it a dream. And if it was a dream, were the human’s part of the cat’s dream, or vice versa. Did the cat help the humans gain a better understanding of their lives, or the humans of the cat?

As we discussed in our recent reviews of the indie-minimalist masterworks The In-Between by Mindy Bledsoe, Wicca Book by Vahagn Karapetyan, Space by Monte Light, Same Boat by Chris Roberti, Double Riddle by Fernando Castro Sanguino, and Ghost by Anthony Z. James these modestly-budgeted tales from the John Cassavetes narrative school of filmmaking that focus on characters and story that are shot with handheld cameras, available lighting, and spontaneous actor improvisation isn’t easily digested by a mass audience—an audience that most likely dismisses the iPhone-based films of first-time filmmakers Jody Barton and James Cullen Bressack (For Jennifer) and have no interest in the recent low-budgeted, iPhone-shot works of multi-award winning director Stephen Soderbergh (Unsane).

Inspired by the likes of his fellow filmmakers who started their careers with low budget DIY feature films, such as Christopher Nolan (Following), Robert Rodriquez (El Mariachi), and Kevin Smith (Clerks), Thomas, who’s worked as a script reader and other various film disciplines for Lakeshore Entertainment, Paramount Pictures, and Warner Bros., began crafting a “storytelling experiment” capturing footage of his cats on an iPhone with the intent of placing the audience in the mind of an animal protagonist. After pouring through the hours and hours of archival footage of his cats to weave a narrative, he then spent the next twelve days iPhone-shooting the second act of his live action fairytale that worked with a combination of script and actor improvisation.

I know. I know. I keep coming back to Will Eubank analogies.

But it’s true: If Will Eubank was able to make the transition with his under-the-radar, low-budget science fiction dramas Love (2011) and The Signal (2014) to directing Underwater, a major motion picture for 20th Century Fox, the same good fortune will come to Jake Thomas.

It’s not the technology. It’s not the “cost” of the filmmaking tool. It’s the person behind the technology that creates great film. And Shedding isn’t just a great film—it’s an incredible film.

Shedding is currently making the festival rounds and seeking distribution. To keep abreast of those festival showings and when it will appear on PPV and VOD streaming platforms, you can follow the film on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

About the Author: You can read the music and film reviews of R.D Francis on Medium and learn more about his work on Facebook. He also writes for B&S About Movies.

Disclaimer: We were intrigued by this film’s advance press and trailer and contacted the filmmaker for a review screener. As you can tell, the film didn’t disappoint.

Drive-In Friday: Movies About Movies Night

Thanks for joining us at “The Francis” last weekend for our “Drive-In Friday: First Time Directors & Actors Night.” Tonight, we continue the theme of that night with four movies about those movies — well, two of them, anyway. And the last two feature Nicolas Cage — and we all know about The Cage’s unorthodox project choices. It’s why we are and always will be, his “bitch” (shameless plug: check out our “Nic Cage Bitch” love fest).

So let’s hook up the speakers, lite the coils, and pop the Orange Crushes as we roll Dolemite Is My Name, The Room, Adaptation, and Shadow of the Vampire.

Movie 1: Dolemite Is My Name (2019)

For my previous installment of Drive-In Friday, we started off with Rudy Ray Moore’s feature film debut, Dolemite.

Say what you will about Moore’s celluloid “break” into the movie business, but his $100,000 investment grossed $12 million during the film’s initial release and, for what it’s worth, gave him the film career he always wanted. And he’d go on to repeat the success with his follow up films The Human Tornado, Petey Wheatstraw, and Disco Godfather.

Eddie Murphy, who would eventually become friends with Moore, had long wanted to bring a bio-flick on the ghetto renaissance man to the big screen. And Craig Brewer, who made his mark at Sundance with 2005’s Hustle & Flow, was able to honor a man that, as Snoop Dogg (who appears the film) and Ice T rightfully pointed out, is the “Godfather of today’s rap music.”

The nominations and awards for this Netflix production are too numerous to mention, but the fact that the National Board of Review and Time magazine choose this as one of the “Ten Best Films of the Year” tells you that this film — even if you’re not familiar with Moore’s oeuvre and his Dolemite persona — is worth your time. That and the fact the film was Oscar nominated for “Best Motion Picture” and Murphy for “Best Actor.”

And Dolemite Is My Name leads us to our next film on the schedule, which is, essentially, the blaxploitation-homage version of The Disaster Artist.

You can stream Dolemite Is My Name on Netflix-by-subscription.

Movie 2: The Disaster Artist (2017)

When Tim Burton released Ed Wood, his 1994 bio-flick homage to the man dubbed the world’s worst filmmaker, it opened up a whole new audience to a man that many heard of, but never made the effort to see his movies. And James Franco’s The Disaster Artist inspired the many who heard of The Room, but never saw it, to see it. Today, 20 years after its release, Tommy Wiseau’s passion project is the 21st century version of 1975’s The Rocky Horror Picture Show — and still plays in theatres around the world.

While the ineptitudes of Wood, Moore, and Wiseau are grossly evident, there’s no denying their passion and determination. Tim Burton and Eddie Murphy saw it in their subjects. And James Franco saw that same spark in Tommy Wiseau. So he optioned The Disaster Artist, Greg Sestero’s 2003 best-selling chronicle of his friendship with Wiseau and their making of The Room.

The nominations and awards for the film are too many to mention, but the fact that it’s Oscar nominated for “Best Adapted Screenplay” may — even if you don’t know or have any interest in Tommy Wiseau — pique your interest to watch what is, a really good movie. Bravo, Mr. Franco!

You can stream The Disaster Artist across all digital PPV and VOD platforms, along with a free-with-ads stream on FShareTV.

Uh-oh. The tax bill came . . . and a developer is eye ballin’ my land for an office park. Are we closing?

Movie 3: Adaptation (2002)

Did you hear the one where Spike Jonze, Charlie Kaufman, and Nicolas Cage walked into a bar? Can you name a director, writer, and actor more unorthodox? Didn’t think so.

Look at Jonze’s resume: He blew us away with the meta-fest that is Being John Malkovich, Human Nature (which everyone hated, except me, natch), and gave us, count ’em, four Jackass movies — five, if you count the critically reviled Bad Grandpa (yes, which I liked . . . in a Freddy Got Fingered kinda way). Of course, Kaufman was the scribe behind Being John Malkovich and Human Nature, along with the even weirder (again, I pick the most-film inept chicks) Confessions of a Dangerous Mind and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (“Why did Jim Carrey do this?” she shrieked). And Cage? We be his “bitch,” remember?

This is freak-fest is pure meta. The screenplay is based both on Susan Orlean’s 1998 non-fiction best seller The Orchid Theif and Charlie Kaufman’s failed screenwriting assignment to adapt the book into a screenplay. Kaufman found the real life tale of the 1994 arrest of South Florida orchid poacher John Laroche “unadaptable,” so he wrote an exaggerated version that incorporated himself — and a fictional twin brother (both played by Cage) — into the screenplay. And the meta gets weirder: John Cusack, Catherine Keener, John Malkovich, and Spike Jonze (along with his cinematographer, Lance Acord) from Being John Malkovich re-create scenes as themselves on the set of Being John Malkovich.

Friggin’ awesome.

Kaufman thought the screenplay would ruin his career. It ended up sweeping the Oscars and the Golden Globes with multiple nominations and awards. And Nicolas Cage? He made us his bitch with this film . . . and the next film-within-a-film freakfest on tonight’s program: as a producer.

You can watch Adaptation as a free-with-ads stream on Crackle.

Movie 4. Shadow of the Vampire (2002)

Long before “meta” became 21st century digital filmmaking de rigueur, there was this film-within-a-film account of German filmmaker F.W Murnau’s unauthorized adaptation of Bram Stroker’s Dracula.

While the vampire Count Orlok of Murnau’s 1922 silent masterpiece, Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror, was portrayed by German actor Max Schreck, the film plays up Schreck’s unorthodox Method Acting techniques. (By the way, Nicolas Cage produced this: and we all know his unorthodox methods to get into character.) Schreck would only appear amongst the cast and crew in makeup, would only be filmed at night, and would never break character on set. All which led the crew and actors under Murnau’s (John Malkovich) direction to believe Schreck is a real vampire.

No surprise: Willem Dafoe’s portrayal of Schreck as Orlok was nominated for a “Best Supporting Actor” Oscar.

And the meta on this gets even freakier — if you watch this alongside Werner Herzog’s Klaus Kinski-starring remake of Murnau’s film, 1979’s Nosferatu the Vampyre. Then Kinski took it one step further: he played the character one more time in the 1988 Italian-made Nosferatu in Venice, which co-stars Donald Pleasence and Christopher Plummer.

I’ve binged all four of these “Nosferatufilms back-to-back several times over the years — and it does screw with your mind. And it’s a chick repellent. And all four films come highly recommended, chicks be damned. (One day, I’ll meet a woman who can embrace silent film and Double K.)

You can stream Shadow of the Vampire on Shudder.

Hey, if you missed them, be sure to join “The Francis” for our Drive-In Friday: Black & White Night, Drive-In Friday: Heavy Metal Horror Night, Karate Blaxploitation, and Musician Slashers nights.

About the Author: You can read the music and film reviews of R.D Francis on Medium and learn more about his work on Facebook. He also writes for B&S About Movies.

Body Snatchers (1993)

You may wonder — how is a remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers by Abel Ferrara, the director of Driller Killer and Ms. 45 any good? It’s great, helped by a tense script by Nicholas St. John (who worked with Ferrara on nine movies), Stuart Gordon (Re-animator) and Dennis Paoli (Castle Freak). Yes, this is the third adaption of Jack Finney’s book, but each of the three films have their own reasons for existing and reasons that I enjoy them.

This movie disappeared from theaters, despite a four star review from Roger Ebert. Warner Brothers originally scheduled the film for release in October 1992, but when they saw so many serious horror films coming out, they released Innocent Blood instead and dumped this in theaters in January.

Unlike the other versions, it takes place on a military base and puts Gabrielle Anwar’s young character against the aliens, which are violently shown taking over human bodies, including her stepmother Carol (Meg Tilly), father (Terry Kinney) and most of the base, including commanding officer R. Lee Emery. Forest Whitaker and Christine Elise (Child’s Play 2) also have short roles that they really make the most out of.

This is somehow an even darker version than the 70’s remake, which is pretty much as nihilistic as it gets. The budget is obviously lower and the FX are much grosser, so it feels like it fits into the early 90’s pre-CGI direct to video space quite well.

Dolly Dearest (1991)

Ed Gale played both Chuckie and Dolly Dearest. Knowing this fact has not helped me at all in my life, but perhaps it will bring better fortune to you.

Americans Elliot and Marilyn Wade (Sam Bottoms and Denise Crosby) take their kids Jessica and Jimmy (Candace Huston and Chris Demetral) to Mexico where father is about to run the doll factory, because that’s how things go in 1990’s direct to video — yes, it played one small theater run — movies.

Jessica soon bonds with Dolly Dearest and accidents start claiming the lives of everyone in the house. This is the kind of movie where an entire doll factory must be blown up to protect a child. That would be the type of movie that I completely endorse.

I’m also totally for any movie that features Rip Torn as an archaeologist who just spews exposition.

Dolly Dearest was directed by Maria Lease, who went from acting in movies like Love Camp 7 and Dracula vs. Frankenstein to being a script supervisor, editor, writer and director.

This movie is completely ridiculous, like some strange mash-up of Demonoid with Child’s Play. That’s the kind of magical thinking that we need more of.

You can finally get this on blu ray from Vinegar Syndrome.