Vacation Massacre (2001)

No, this isn’t the other title for Fernando Di Leo’s 1980 home invasion slasher Madness. I mean, that one has Joe Dallesandro in it.

This one was directed by Brian Labuda when he was just a teenager and had access to a family video camera, but go with me on this. It’s not bad. I mean, the kid was in eighth grade when he made this, his friends all seem so much younger and yet they were able to come together and make a forty-minute SOV horror movie complete with early 2000s punk touchstones like a nearly brand new Ramones shirt and yes, a Goldfinger tee.

Better than it has any right to be, this film puts you dead center into a 2000s version of “do you want to see a dead body” except that it’s “do you want to see several dead bodies and perhaps even be one of them?”

We all had hobbies as a kid like drawing comics or playing in bands, right? No one is ever going to see my scribbled remixes of comics like Grips and Mr. A. They will also never hear my horrific high school hair metal band Nasty Habitz or Pretty Boy Floyd or even my 2000s rap rock outfit Mr. Blonde. Yet everyone in this movie has been trapped in amber and we can see their past fun and marvel at not only how entertaining it is, but how much of a joy it had to be to make.

You can watch this on YouTube.

The Monster Man (2001)

In the year 2210, the world as we know it has been wiped out by a virus sent here by aliens — aliens that look like ninjas with pillowcases over their heads. Now, their leader Lord Gideon (Conrad Brooks, yes, from Ed Wood’s movies) has sent these alien ninjas to destroy the last two people alive, Jake (director and writer Jose Prendes) and Katherine Great (Denice Duff, Michelle Morgan from Bloodstone: Subspecies II and Bloodlust: Subspecies III and the director of Song of the Vampire; if you’re going to be alone with just one woman, you really are doing find if it’s Denice Duff).

Beyond Prendes being decent at kicking and punching, he was smart enough to go to a convention and pay Tom Savini and Linnea Quigley to do a scene, which is probably some of the reasons why some people watched this.

Prendes is still making movies, writing stuff like Mega Shark vs. Mecha Shark and directing 2022’s Headless Horseman. He thanks marshmallows in the credits, which seems like the right thing to do after watching this.

Who would think of making Omega Man on the budget of what Will Smith drank in soda on each day of I Am Legend? Joe Prendes. That’s who.

Screamday (2001)

There are just three movies by Stefan Schipke — this, Blutgericht der Zombies and a sequel to this — and you know, you could look at this as scuzzy SOV throwaway dross but hey, it was reissued on DVD in Germany as part of Terror Compilation: Volume 1 (2000-2002), which is pretty wild when you think of it.

There’s definitely a crossover — beyond the simple of metal and horror — between black and speed metal lovers and the SOV gore obsessed. There’s the same yearning for someone to go harder and faster, to be true, to not worry if the drum sound or video quality is horrible as long as the blast beats are there and we get plenty of guts and chum. The voices and vocals sound the same. Inaudible. Unspeakable. We have no idea what’s happening but if we experience it enough we learn the riff or the gist and celebrate it, speaking names of arcane bands and lost movies either outside in the cold before shows or in chat windows, seeking new and better highs.

The fact that this ends with a poised karate battle that looks so legit gives me hope in this life.

Also: How the fuck does this have an entry on Letterboxd?

All hail altohippiegabber who posted this on YouTube and is keeping so much strange and not even posted to IMDB SOV alive.

Cruel Intentions 2 (2001)

They made a Cruel Intentions 2, I hear you say? Baby, they made three of them.

This was intended to be the Fox TV series Manchester Prep, a re-imagined prequel to the first film that was canceled before it even made it on the air in 1999. 13 episodes were ordered with original Cruel Intentions director Roger Kumble writing and executive producing the series, two were filmed and Rupert Murdoch himself was upset with all the incest, teenage sex and a scene with a female teen character was aroused by a horse’s penis.

Columbia TriStar Home Video repackaged the two existing episodes of the show as a direct-to-video film, but not before adding nudity and even more sex, including dialogue like “At this rate, your dick ll be in my mouth by lunch.”

Sebastian Valmont (Robin Dunne) has transferred to Manchester Prep following his father Edward’s (David McIlwraith) remarriage. Then he meets his new rival, his stepsister Kathryn Merteuil (Amy Adam, well before she was someone who starred in films and instead was playing sexy teens in Fox TV series) who warns him to stay out of her business. He then falls for Danielle Sherman (Sarah Thompson), the one girl — the only virgin in town — who he thinks is normal in this rich school filled with secret societies.

Man, how I wish this show had made it to TV because it is absolute trash and I say that with all the best of meanings. I actually prefer Dunne to Ryan Phillipe, but as good as Amy Adams is, she in no way can match the sheer menace that Sarah Michelle Gellar was so perfect at being a horrible person that one wonders if anyone can act that well.

You can watch this on Tubi.

PITTSBURGH MADE: Children of the Living Dead (2001)

Produced by John Russo and intended to be a sequel to his 30th anniversary remix of Night of the Living Dead, this had a screenplay written by Karen Lee Wolf, the daughter of executive producer Joseph Wolf.

There’s some back and forth about why this movie turned out the way it did. Director Tor Ramsey said it was rough with both Russo and Wolf telling him to use their friends as crew members. Ramsey even sent an apology to Homepage of the Dead and said, “As for Russo, I was surprised to find him not quite the idiot internet sites make him out to be and certainly doesn’t derve to be fed to one of his own zombies as the prevailing winds usually concur. . He’s basically a decent guy who should be allowed nowhere near a movie set. Sadly I must confess his reputation as a hack is well deserved. He insisted I use his DP, a 63 year old farmer named Bill Hinzman who played the cemetery zombie in the original Night. Bill’s previous work was unwatchable garbage like FleshEater and Santa Claws and though the Wolf’s knew Hinzman’s work, they told me I had to use him anyway due to Russo. I also had to use Russo’s pal Bob Michelucci as my Art Director though he had never set foot on a movie set and his experience was limited to doing sets for a softcore porno mag called Scream Queens.” The rest of his rebuttal is scathing and man, this movie sounded like a nightmare.

Russo claimed that Joseph Wolf liked his script and was going to direct it before showing him his daughter’s work, which he said was horrible. He refers to this movie as The Living Abomination of Children.

As for Tom Savini, who acted and coordinated the stunts, he said that this was “the biggest piece-of-shit movie ever made. I think her father gave her that movie as a present and she didn’t know what the hell she was doing. The film shouldn’t even be on the shelves of video stores.” He also had all of his lines dubbed.

The story is about fourteen years after a zombie attack in a small Pennsylvania town — more on that in a bit — Matthew Michaels (Damien Luvara) is trying to open a car dealership. He doesn’t realize that he’s on the land where Abbott Hayes (A. Barrett Worland) has control of the living dead. Also: Abbott Hayes appears to be wearing a latex Nosferantu mask.

This movie also combines the two split living dead timelines with the first outbreak taking place in 1969 — Night of the Living Dead — and the second outbreak in 1986 — Return of the Living Dead — for the first and only time. Hey — where’s Rev. John Hicks from Russo’s remix? Why even do that if you’re not going to follow it up?

The most amazing thing is that this was shot where I get off the turnpike to go visit my mom, literally minutes away from where I grew up, right down from the wild Ann’s Thrift Shop where I got a DVD of El Topo for $2 and a beta of House On the Edge of the Park for 25 cents. Some of the action takes part in the parking lot of Danny’s Motel, some at Valhalla and because this is a busy road where the turnpiek cuts through, no traffic is stopped as zombies battle humans. You can also see the bookstore that screams ADULT under the old Holiday Inn where they found an old man drowned in the pool and he was in there for weeks and was bright white when they fished him out, but back to ADULT — called Human Beings I think now — it still smells like PineSol forever and we’d go there to get nitrous and one dude was too cheap to get a cracker for them and froze and broke out his teeth in the back of my van while I was driving. You can see Sims Bowling Alley and people going in to bowl in the middle of this undead battle but the best thing is that the other place that humans fight off flesheaters in now DJ’s Island — visit the web site and be amazed — the premiere tri-state area lifestyle club since 2002. Yes, DJ’s Island provides a safe, sexy and fun filled upscale nightclub atmosphere for like-minded members to enjoy and the amenities include an elegant carving station every club night, featuring chef selection, soup, salad and one alternate item. This is in my home town. My home town is Twin Peaks without the logging to make up for the mills closing. This section is techncially Beaver Falls, but really, it’s Big Beaver and if you don’t think a swinger club in a town called Big Beaver isn’t hilarious, you really aren’t on my level.

THE IMPORTANT CINEMA CLUB’S SUPER SCARY MOVIE CHALLENGE DAY 21: Visitor Q (2001)

21. A Horror Film That’s Shot on Mini-DV (But is not a found footage film).

I don’t know if this is horror to be exact but it’s Takeshi Miike, so anything goes. Part of the Love Cinema series, which contains six straight-to-video releases by independent filmmakers that played an exclusive engagement at the Shimokitazawa cinema in Tokyo, this was made on digital video to keep the budget low but also capture the look of the video camera used in the movie itself.

The other films were Ryuichi Hiroki’s Tokyo Trash Baby, Mitushiro Mihara’s Amen, Somen and Rugger Men!, Isao Yukisada’s Enclosed Pain, Tetsuo Shinohara’s Stake Out and Akihiko Shiota’s Gips.

Like Terence Stamp in Pasolini’s Teorema, Visitor Q comes into the lives of the Yamazaki family and changes their lives. Of course, he also beats the father Kiyoshi (Kenichi Endō) over the head with a rock, teaches the mother (Shungicu Uchida) the magic of lactation and throwing knives at her abusive son, explores the incestuous relationship that the daughter Miki (Fujiko) has with her father and teaches the son (Jun Mutō) to be less violent while still encouraging his parents to murder and hack up his bullies from school.

Somehow, through chaos, necrophilia, vinegar filled bathtubs, heroin and murder, the family comes back together. Visitor Q has filmed it all, yet created something magical through his rock bashing psychological torture, I guess. The family unit thrives. Somehow, in the midst of all the blood, feces and breast milk, a traditional heart beats. Who knew Miike had it in him? Then again, he does reinvent himself with nearly every movie.

2022 Scarecrow Psychotronic Challenge Day 16: Mulholland Drive (2001)

16. MAKING THE 3RD WALL: One where they’re filming a movie within the movie you’re watching.

Smarter minds and better writers have already written about the work of David Lynch, so let me write a lot about what this movie means to me at 3 AM. This may be the best way to do this.

“A love story in the city of dreams.”

Originally shot as a TV pilot that its ABC didn’t understand but come on. Do you expect them to? It was supposedly intended to be a series about Audrey Horne. What amazes me is that — according to David Lynch — the decision maker at ABC who saw it watched it at 6AM and was having coffee and standing up. That person is the reason this became a movie and not a TV show.

Naomi Watts is both Betty Elms and Diane Selwyn. Laura Harring is Rita and Camilla Rhodes. The film starts with a car crash and ends with a gunshot. In-between are moments like a man claiming that if he sees the evil man from his dreams, he’ll die. And then he does.

Sometimes this movie makes my head hurt. I guess some movies don’t need explained but this begs for you to understand what it’s about. Is Betty real? Diane? Both? Does the Hollywood experience match that of star Watts? Is the death of the Hollywood fantasy Lynch’s own anger at an industry that he still had to hustle for money? Are these parallel universes? Can everyone exist at the same time in the same place?

It’s also about Club Silencio, where everything is an illusion. A place where Rebekah Del Rio sings “Crying” in Spanish and passes out while her vocals keep singing. Lynch again using recorded vocals for live singers, lip synching so many time. Plus Lynch knows who to hire, like Ann Miller, James Karen, Dan Hedaya and Lee Grant.

What is it like to be an actor in one of Lynch’s movies, perhaps only understanding the most limited outline of the story? I think it’d be so interesting because there’s no way to ever know if you’re playing things the right way. Even you, the person reading this, will it in its own way. What other director can do that?

MILL CREEK DVD RELEASE: Through the Decades: 2000s Collection: Spy Game (2001)

Tony Scott’s Spy Game unites Brad Pitt and Robert Redford, two gorgeous actors who became known just as much for their acting as their looks as their careers progressed onward.

Redford is CIA Case Officer Nathan D. Muir and Pitt is an agent he mentored, Tom Bishop. Bishop has been detained in China along with his lover, relief worker Elizabeth Hadley (Catherine McCormack), a civilian asset that broke up the friendship between the two men.

Even though Muir is retiring, he feels that he must atone for the way that he and Bishop came to stop being so close by rescuing him, even if he must put his long career and accomplishments on the line to make it happen.

This movie was very important to the people who made it: Pitt turned down The Bourne Identity while Scott felt that a helicopter was so necessary to the Berlin scene that he paid for it himself.

I don’t think this movie would have the same impact without the two stars, but I’m also a big fan of Tony Scott’s films. He could make something that would be total junk by anyone else yet would find so much personal art within it that you couldn’t help but watch the final film.

The Mill Creek Through the Decades: 2000s Collection has some great movies for a great price like Nurse BettyOne Night at McCool’sThe Emperor’s Club, The Shape of Things, 21 Grams, Baby Mama, State of PlayThe Hitcher and Cry Wolf. You can order it from Deep Discount.

MILL CREEK DVD RELEASE: Through the Decades: 2000s Collection: One Night at McCool’s (2001)

Directed by Harald Zwart (Agent Cody Banks) and written by Stan Seidel — who died before the movie came out and based so much of the story on his friend’s bartender stories from Humphrey’s Restaurant & Tavern near St. Louis University — the real title of this movie should be “Everyone wants to fuck Liv Tyler.” I mean, yes, that’s crass, but that’s the point of the movie. Her character Jewel has destroyed the lives of Randy (Matt Dillon), Carl (Paul Reiser) and Detective Dehling (John Goodman), the details of which they explain in Rashomon-like fashion.

Even Andrew “Dice” Clay — in the dual role of Utah and Elmo — can’t escape her or the men in her orbit, dying twice in the same film. At least Michael Douglas’ character seems to be able to win her over; Douglas was the king of these roles where he’d somehow be the one man who can tame the wildest of women.

If you’re looking for a movie that has the Tarantino influence and makes fun of the other romantic crime films of the late 90s, well…you could do worse.

The Mill Creek Through the Decades: 2000s Collection has some great movies for a great price like Nurse BettySpy Game, The Emperor’s Club, The Shape of Things, 21 Grams, Baby Mama, State of PlayThe Hitcher and Cry Wolf. You can order it from Deep Discount.

ARROW BLU RAY RELEASE: Running Out of Time Collection

Director Johnny To (The Heroic Trio) has created two different tales of criminal masterminds going up against the Hong Kong Police Force, led by Inspector Ho Sheung-sang (Lau Ching-wan).

The Arrow blu ray set comes with both Running Out of Time and its sequel, Running Out of Time 2. Both films appear with high-definition blu ray presentations that have been scanned and restored in 2K. As always, the packaging is incredible from Arrow, with original and newly commissioned artwork by Lucas Peverill plus an illustrated collectors’ booklet featuring new writing on the films by David West.

Running Out of Time has new commentary by Hong Kong film expert Frank Djeng, as well as a second commentary by writers Laurent Cortiaud and Julien Carbon, moderated by Hong Kong film expert Stefan Hammond. There are also interviews with Carbon and Courtiaud, Johnnie To, Lau Ching-wan and Raymond Wong. Plus, there’s a feature entitled The Directors’ Overview of Carbon and Courtiaud, the trailer and an image gallery.

Running Out of Time 2 also has commentary by Djeng, a making-of, Hong Kong Stories, a documentary by director Yves Montmayeur about Hong Kong cinema mythology via Julien Carbon and Laurent Courtiaud’s experience as writers in the HK film industry, the trailer and an image gallery.

You can get this set from MVD.

Running Out of Time (1999): Cheung Wah (Andy Lau) has been diagnosed with cancer and given four weeks to live. One night, as he eats at a diner, he takes notice of the way that Inspector Ho Sheung-sang handles a bank robbery. Impressed, he decides to play a game against the cop, giving him 72 hours to catch him for a series of increasingly daring crimes. Cheung will admit defeat if Ho can take him to the police station before three days are over.

Generally, Hong Kong cop movies are so deadly serious. This has some moments of that, as the disease killing Cheung is no joking matter. But by the end of the film, the two men have somehow earned each other’s respect, even if Cheung keeps outsmarting his police adversary the whole way to the very end.

Lau is an incredibly popular actor but rarely gets any respect. He’s a populist favorite, but this is the movie that finally won him Best Actor at the Hong Kong Film Awards. From stealing diamonds to repeatedly faking his demise, he’s the heart of this film.

Running Out of Time 2 (2001): Co-directed by Johnnie To and Law Wing-cheung, this sequel finds Inspector Ho Sheung-sang returning to match wits with another criminal mastermind, the unnamed man played by Ekin Cheng.

The man introduces himself by faking his suicide by jumping from a roof. He then announces that he has stolen several priceless Chinese treasures and will tell the press, ruining the insurance company that has been hired to protect them. Where Cheung in the first film relied on his brains, this mysterious magician can tightrope walk and seemingly disappear into thin air.

There’s an amazing scene where a chase between the two rivals is paused for water and ice cream. The unnamed man also uses bald eagles to help him steal from people and if that joke means what I think it does, well done.

The follow-up is much funnier than the first film, but it keeps so much of what made me love that movie. It’s definitely worth your attention.