I watch a lot of Disney Channel movies late at night, so perhaps I can be forgiven when I mix them up. Or maybe it’s because this is the first of several films where some motherless or fatherless kids move to or visit a new town where a relative was involved in the supernatural and must deal with it themselves. Seeing as how there’s no Debbie Reynolds or Mr. Boogedy in this, I would assume that we’re watching The Scream Team, but you can also think that maybe this is Beetlejuice.
At least this has the talents of Eric Idle, Tommy Davidson and Kathy Najimy as the ghosts who help those in the afterlife cross over. They even have a waiting room just like the aforementioned Tim Burton classic.
This is also an early role for Kat Dennings, who plays Claire Carlyle, who is joined by her brother Ian in learning exactly why their grandfather can’t move on from this plane of existence.
This was a pilot for a series, but this episode is pretty much all you get. If you like this type of supernatural fun that’s safe for kids, trust me, there’s so much more on DIsney+.
Based on Zombies & Cheerleaders by David Light and Joseph Raso, this Disney take on when Hell gets full is all about the town of Seabrook, where a power plant accident turned half the town into zombies, who have been fitted with Z-Bands — whose soothing electromagnetic pulses keep them from craving brains — and live in a walled off city called Zombietown.
Our star-crossed lovers are Addison, a cheerleader with white hair, and Zed, a football playing zombie. Nobody in either group of kids — zombies have their own all-in-one peer group — know that they’re in love. Throw in a few musical numbers and you have a recipe for success that has led to two sequels (Zombies 3 is in production) and 10.3 million viewers.
I kind of liked how the humans are more zombified than the undead. The only flavor of ice cream in town is vanilla, which is a cute joke.
There was also an unsold pilot for Zombies and Cheerleaders and the second film in the series added werewolves while the third looks like it’s going to have aliens.
I just want to know who decided to integrate the zombies into the school. That makes me want to make a serious drama about the zombies who worked so hard to get rights for everyone and if you think I’m kidding, you can laugh as I win an Oscar for my tearjerking dramatic script.
June 21: Junesploitation’s topic of the day — as suggested by F This Movie — is a movie with Julie Strain in it.
Also known as Planet of the Erotic Ape and World of the Erotic Ape, this shot-in-Cincinnati ape rip is actually a rip off of (IMHO) the Richard Hatch, Kay Lenz, and John Saxon bore festival that is Prisoners of the Lost Universe (1983) — only with sex and apes added. A TV repairman, who sidelines as a mad scientist, tests his new invention (something about transporting TV signals into space) and accidentally transports himself to a planet (which sounds like the dopey, 1989 John Roarke (S.F.W) fronted sci-comedy Mutant on the Bounty) where Amazonian women banish men into “The Forbidden Zone” and bed with talking apes. The gist of the tale is that the women of this world are ruled by a brutal dominatrix and their “erotic ape” sex partner, tired of his love-slave imprisonment, escapes. And when you’re a tribe of horny women without an ape, you turn into a lesbian jungle cult — and take an interest in your world’s newest male inhabitant. Or something like that.
Look, if you want to see a porn movie with five topless girls on an island horny for a guy in a ratty monkey suit, you’ve found your movie. If you want a lot of girl-on-girl action, you’ve found your movie. If you want a movie shot as a comedy, but without any comedy, you’ve found your movie. Hey, it’s only 60 minutes and the human babes on male ape sex arrives within the first five minutes, so what’s not to likey, here?
Keen eyes weaned on the lowest-budget of the low-budget B-Movies (aren’t our eyes all, for B&S wouldn’t exist without them) will recognize the reason that we’re here: Julie Strain, a Penthouse “Pet of the Month” in June 1991 and “Pet of the Year” in 1993, who has graced us with the likes of Psycho Cop Returns, along with appearance in Naked Gun 33 1/3, Beverly Hills Cop II, and Battle Queen 2020, along with Monique Gabrielle of Jim Wynorski’s Transylvania Twist, as well as 976-Evil II, Munchie.
Eric Eichelberger* (Ghoul Scout Zombie Massacre) started his career on this long-gestating Julie Strain project, but not at the same time. The future director and actress would come to work together on Blood Gnome (2004).
* We had an extensive interview with Eric in February of this year regarding his currently-in-development documentary Exploit This! The Complete History of Exploitation Cinema in America. We also reviewed several “erotic ape” movies with our “Ape Week: Sex on Planet Ape: The Lost Erotic Ape Movies” feature as part of our “Ape Week” of reviews of all of the Planet of the Apes movies and its rip offs, reboots and knockoffs.
We lost Julie Strain at the age of 58 this past January 2021.
Vincent Dawn is the name Bruno Mattei used to make this movie, which is seemingly shot all in the same two or three rooms and feels like an even lower rent Showgirls, which is exactly the kind of movie that I want to watch Mattei make.
How do you know it’s Bruno Mattei? Because there’s an entire suicide scene from Lethal Weapon cut and pasted into this film! Not an inspired shot or a copied scene, I mean he took the actual footage and put it into his movie.
That suicide scene goes in when one of Bruno’s (Hugo Baret, who is also in Mattei’s Privéand The Tomb) many women catches him in bed with another girl, does some coke he gives her and swan dives to her doom. One of her friends, Damy (Emily Crawford, also in Mattei’s Capriccio Veneziano), starts dancing in his club to get revenge.
I don’t know who this movie is for, because it’s packed with strip scenes that aren’t all that sexy and lovemaking scenes that are edited in strobing way that could give you a seizure but not an erection. Yet you know, I love that when some people retire and live quiet lives, Mattei was making movies pretty much up until the point that he died from brain cancer.
There’s also a sequel to this and with my level of obsessive-compulsive disorder, you know that I’m going to have to track it down.
You’d be forgiven if you think Venetian Capriccio is Desire, another Bruno Mattei — Vincent Dawn this time — softcore romp in which an American girl comes to Italy to learn the art of music and spends more time learning the language of the aardvark.
Our lady this time is Roberta (Emily Crawford, an adult actress whose mainstream acting career consists of this movie and another Mattei film, Belle de Moirre), who has come to Venice to teach music when she runs into an artist named Lorenzo (Gualberto Parmeggiani). Before you can say “Cinemax After Dark” he’s taking her to nightclub orgies and having her genderbend and make some tourists nervous.
But is it love? Or just cazzo?
This movie also has a very 60s attitude toward relationships, with Roberta giving her boyfriend Riccardo to another teacher named Luisa as well as her also making some horizontal music with her female friends Anna and Letizi.
With a name that literally means go with the flow, this is pretty much Mattei doing that, finding a genre that he can make some money in. His heart never feels in these gauzy romantic films, as if he sadly wants everyone to devour one another and not just as part of foreplay.
At this time in his career, it seemed like all Bruno Mattei was making — sorry, Vincent Dawn — was Cinemax After Dark fodder with interchangeable covers of women turning their backs to the camera.
This time, we’re dealing with the dangerous liaisons of the rich and famous. Francesca (Dana Ceci, in her one and only role) can’t get anything out of her husband’s lovemaking skills, so she starts a secret identity as adult star Bizou. Along the way, she falls for a male adult actor named Bingo (Hugo Baret, who was Bruno in Mattei’s Belle de Moirre and High Priest Tatamackly in his movie The Tomb, pretty much playing the role that Arnold Vosloo essayed in The Mummy).
What a ridiculous name, I thought, and then remembered that one of the most famous male European adult stars of all time is named Nacho Vidal.
This was written and produced by Giovanni Paolucci, who we have to thank for the late period burst of Mattei’s shot on video horror period in the 2000s, but also have to blame for funding Dracula 3D.
There’s also a full-on devil worshipping scenes that feels straight out of Tim Vigil’s Faust comic. You know, when they adapted that movie, they should have just asked Bruno to make it. Also, there’s some PS1 level CGI in this, which made me love it even more.
You’re arguably the best actor of our generation and here you are as the bad guy in a vehicle for Frankie Muniz, at the time a hot sitcom star on Malcolm In the Middle. Speaking of sitcom stars, this was written by Dan Schneider (who beyond being on Head of the Class and writing Good Burger also essayed the perfect role of the evil Ricky Smith in Better Off Dead) and Brian Robbins (who also went from Head of the Class to now being the President of Kids & Family Entertainment at ViacomCBS). If that isn’t enough big time talent for you, this was directed by Shawn Levy, who directed the Night at the Museum movies before becoming the executive producer and one of the directors of Stranger Things.
This movie is literally packed with talented people, like Donald Faison, Sandra Oh, Taran Killam, Amanda Bynes and the reason why this movie ended up on our site, Lee Majors, who plays an aging stuntman. The hardest thing he ever had to do? Watch his leading ladies kiss some other guy while he’s bandaging his knee.
So yeah. All this talent in the service of a teen comedy in which Paul Giamatti gets dyed blue. They even remade this movie in 2016 and Barry Bostwick took over that role. The blue skin is the comeuppance for stealing Muniz’s script and making it his own. I was around twenty-some years too late to be a target audience for this film, but if it works for you, so be it.
I’m just here for Lee Majors, a phrase I have uttered more than once this week.
At one point, William Malone was on top of the horror world — well, of the 90’s and the less said about that era the better — thanks to his remake of House on Haunted Hill. And then came feardotcom.
Wanting to make a movie that looked “basically like a nightmare,” this ended up being one of twenty-one films* that audience polling service CinemaScore — “the industry leader in measuring movie appeal among theatre audiences” — rated an F.
Stephen Dorff is Detective Mike Reilly and Stephen Rea is serial killer Alistair Pratt. They’re up against one another and have one thing in common: both actors deserve much better.
Also deserving better: Udo Keir and Jeffrey Combs.
All of Pratt’s victims have visited a website called feardotcom.com which shows torture porn. Once they view it, they all go insane and then kill themselves within 48 hours, kind of, sort of and totally like The Ring.
The site is actually the ghost of one of Pratt’s first kills, so there’s the twist. Did I ruin it for you? Or did I save you from watching this?
Well, it’s on Tubi. So watch it if you dare, I guess. Right?
*The others are Alone in the Dark, The Box, Big, Darkness, The Devil Inside, Disaster Movie, Doctor T and the Women, Eye of the Beholder, I Know Who Killed Me, In the Cut, Killing Them Softly, Lost Souls, Lucky Numbers, mother!, Silent House, Solaris, The Turning, the remake of The Wicker Man, Wolf Creek and the remake of The Grudge.
There are decades between the worlds of Kinji Fukasaku and Takeshi Miike, but this is the movie that unites both of their lengthy resumes. They’re very different filmmakers, so seeing them both tell the story of Goro Fujita’s book and the life of Rikio Ishikawa.
The original film takes place in the years following World War II, but this version takes place in a very different time, as the late 80’s economic boom is about to give way to the depression of the 90’s. It also changes how its protagonist enters the world of crime. Here, he bluntly — literally — saves the life of a boss when an assassin (Miike) comes in like he’s in a completely different film, double guns blazing, only to be knocked down with a chair.
But just like in the previous version of this story, Rikuo cannot be tamed. Or reasoned with. Or expected to act like a normal human being. He drags down everyone he comes near and turns on anyone close to him. He is a force of horrible nature and corrupts everything he touches.
This is perhaps the most restrained movie you’ll see Miike. Don’t take that as boring. Even a more dramatic version of the director is still more whiplash than three lesser talents put together.
You can get this movie as part of the Graveyards of Honor set recently released by Arrow Video. It comes with Kinji Fukasaku’s 1975 version, as well as audio commentary by Miike biographer Tom Mes, a visual essay by author and critic Kat Ellinger and archival features like interviews with Miike and the cast, making-of features, press release interviews and a premiere special.
Neil Marshall has directed several Game of Thrones stories, as well as the remake of Hellboy. This movie is much better than that one by several dog hairs. It’s the story of a squad of six British soldiers who are on maneuvers when they meet an enemy even more deadly than they are — a werewolf.
Private Lawrence Cooper (Kevin McKidd, Trainspotting) failed his special forces test because he refused to shoot a dog. Now, he’s stuck back with his old unit in the Scottish Highlands for wargames against an SAS team. As soon as they get there, they find the remains of those men and realize that maybe they shouldn’t be here.
Before long, the team’s commander Captain Richard Ryan (Liam Cunningham, The Card Player) reveals that they were here to capture a werewolf alive. What follows are twists, turns, double-crosses and bloody death. It’s a nailbiter and honestly, I don’t want to give much away.
There was talk of a sequel, Dog Soldiers: Fresh Meat, and a prequel, Dog Soldiers: Legacy, but neither ended up being made.
Between references to H.G. Welles, Zulu, The Matrix, Evil Dead, Jurassic Park, The Company of Wolves, The Searchers, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Jaws, Zabriskie Point, A Bridge Too Far, Apocalypse Now, The Shining, Southern Comfort, An American Werewolf In London, Predator, Love, Honor and Obey, Battle Royale, the TV show Spaced (Simon Pegg was almost in this)and Aliens, this movie is packed with references to other genre favorites. Marshall would later claim, “I think I got completely carried away.”