APRIL MOVIE THON 2: Penny Dreadful (2006)

April 18: Vroom — A movie mostly about cars.

This is as much a car movie as it is one about people making the dumbest decisions. Like therapist Orianna (Mimi Rogers), who decides to try a technique in which she tries to put Penny (Rachel Miner) right into the trauma she has avoided since her parents died in a car accident. Immersion therapy? I don’t know. I went to art school. But then, while on a road trip with penny, Orianna hits a hitchhiker and instead of calling the police, she decides to give that injured man a ride.

What follows is the hitchhiker stabbing one of their tires and nearly killing them. Well, he goes all the way and murdered Orianna,then wedges the car between two trees and tortures Penny by making her do her breathing exercises and, you know, cutting off one of her toes when he isn’t murdering everyone around her.

Mickey Jones, who teamed with Michael Ironside in the series version of V, and Michael Berryman are in the cast. Directed by Richard Brandes, who wrote the script with Diane Doniol-Valcroze and Arthur Flam  (who were also the writers of the vehicular homicide movie Hit and Run and the movie Kill By Inches, which is about a murderous tailor who can’t measure anything properly and thus becomes a killing machine), this movie literally has Mimi Rogers dead in the car for most of its running time. What a role.

Also: the same license plate on the car in this was the plate for Nash Bridge‘s 1970 Plymouth Barracuda, a car that Bridges claimed they only made 14 of. Well, it’s actually a 1971 Plymouth Hemi ‘Cuda, a Plymouth Barracuda with a Hemi V8 and a special design that really was only for one year. According to Hot Cars, this model had not only the distinctive fender gills of this car and the shaker hood from the 1970 edition, but also four headlights and improved taillights. But Nash may have been off on how many there are, as estimates go from single digits to eleven made. Eleven! These things sell for around $3.3 million. So that means the cars for the show were custom-made fakes. There were four cars: a 5.5-liter Barracuda with a shaker hood, two 5.2-liter Barracudas and a 7.2-liter version that were all made by Frank Benetti and his Same Day Paint and Body Shop in Newhall, Los Angeles.

I told you all that about that car because honestly, it’s way more interesting than Penny Dreadful.

APRIL MOVIE THON 2: El luchador implacable (2006)

April 6: Viva Mexico — Pick a movie from Mexico and escribir acerca de por qué es tan increíble.

Lucha libre movies were a big deal from the 1950s to 1980s, but kind of went away, ironically at the same time that lucha had a major boom by finally being on TV. Yes, unlike America, wrestling often stayed off TV in Mexico, instead using magazines and newspapers for promotion. That all changed when one of the largest promotions, CMLL, began appearing on the national Televisa network in the early 1990s.

Lucha is very conservative — despite the high flying ring style — and has only changed when renegades left their home promotions. For example, Francisco Flores, along with EMLL trainer Ray Mendoza, broke away from EMLL (the old name for CMLL, which you can consider very similar; it was formed in 1933 and is still around to this day) because they were too restrictive, taking many of the younger wrestlers and those that had not really been pushed — including Fishman, Perro Aguayo, El Canek, Dos Caras and Villano III  — and forming the Universal Wrestling Association. While they were the main national competition to CMLL, by the late 80s, the companies were working together and many of their wrestlers left to work for CMLL.

The nail in the coffin of UWA was another renegade, Antonio Peña. The company remained stuck in the past and matchmaker Juan Herrera preferred heavyweight wrestlers who stuck to the traditions of lucha libre, while Peña — who wrestled as Espectro Jr., Dalia Negra, The Rose, Espectro de Ultratumba  and Kahoz, a rudo who would invoke evil spirits before his match and release live pigeons before he fought, sometimes even appearing to have bitten the head off of one of them and being covered in blood — was a fan of faster-moving wrestlers like Konnan, Octagon, Mascara Sagrada and the mini-estrella division, in which wrestlers under 5’1″ were not in comedy matches but instead high action battles.

After Paco Alonso, the owner of CMLL, kept ignoring booking ideas, he began negotiations with Televisa. They paid for Asistencia Asesoría y Administración (AAA) and now owned their own lucha libre promotion, leading to an even bigger boom — despite the hardliners claiming TV would ruin their live gates — that only died out when the peso was devalued.

CMLL and AAA are still in business, but man, in the 90s, AAA boasted one of the most exciting rosters ever. In addition to Konnan and Octagon becoming gigantic stars, it was where Rey Mysterio Jr. got his first major fame, as well as having a roster that included Psicosis, El Hijo del Santo, Eddy Guerrero and his partner Love Machine Art Barr, Blue Panther, Cien Caras, Blue Panther, Heavy Metal, La Parka and so many more.

It’s funny — Konnan leaving AAA just followed the same formula — he returned — and CMLL is still considered way too conservative, thirty years after AAA was created.

El Luchador Implacable is a throwback to the other way that lucha libre was once promoted. Stars like El Santo, Blue Demon, Mil Mascaras and more often appeared in movies that were created to draw fans back to the arenas.

It’s about a motorcycle gang that is running wild until they make the mistake of attacking a pro wrestler: Dos Caras Jr.!

Dos Caras Jr. — the nephew of Mil Mascaras — would eventually lose his mask voluntarily when he left Mexico behind to find fame in America as part of the WWE. That said — he did do a few MMA matches with the mask on!

Known as Alberto Del Rio, he became the only man to hold the WWE, WWE World Heavyweight, Impact World, GFW Global, AAA Mega and CMLL World Heavyweight Championship titles. He’s been controversial — that’s putting it mildly — figure due to multiple scandals but is currently back in AAA.

At the time this was made, he was still in CMLL and while there, he would be one of the few of his family members — El Sicodélico Sr., his uncle, was also a rudo — to be a bad guy. He kind of struggled in CMLL as one way that the company changed was that heavyweights weren’t pushed as hard as they were in the pre-UWA days. Unlike most luchadors, Del Rio is 5’6″ and 239 pounds, so he has some size.

Other luchadors that show up in this include Silver King (who was Ramses in Nacho Libre), Rey Bucanero, Hector Garza, Olimpico and Ultimo Guerrero, as well as Rey Myserio Jr. I wonder if some of this movie was filmed while Rey wrestled just ten matches for CMLL in 2001-2002. Mysterio started the year this movie was made by winning the Royal Rumble, then the world title from Randy Orton, becoming a bigger superstar than he ever was before, even if he had to change his name, removing the Jr. as Vince McMahon hates the name as he suffered being called Junior most of his early life.

El Luchador Implacable isn’t bad, but when compared to the movies of lucha libre’s history, it kind of pales in comparison. There are no mummies, no aliens, no werewolves transforming in the middle of the ring.

You can watch this on YouTube.

Arrow Video The Lukas Moodysson Collection: Container (2006)

Lukas Moodysson said that this was “a black and white silent movie with sound” and used this sentence to set it up: “A woman in a man’s body. A man in a woman’s body. Jesus in Mary’s stomach. The water breaks. It floods into me. I can’t close the lid. My heart is full.”

As Jena Malone reads what sounds like an off the cuff soliloquy, we watch as Man (Peter Lorentzon), a man in women’s clothing, shares the screen with the ghost of Woman, an ideal he feels that he will never reach.

It’s been so incredible watching all of Moodyson’s films in sequence as he goes from the somewhat traditional feel — while still having a unique look — of Show Me Love and his films grow darker and less like ordinary narratives until by this point, it’s nearly just images against Malone’s monotone delivery, which is way more intriguing than that word choice may suggest.

I can see how some people would come to this movie and hate it. I was intrigued by how Moodysson uses a completely alien form to tell truths.

The limited edition The Lukas Moodysson Collection from Arrow includes high definition blu rays of seven films, as well as interviews with Moodysson and other cast and crew, moderated by film programmer Sarah Lutton. There’s also a two hundred page featuring new writing by Peter Walsh, excerpts from the original press kits for each film, interviews with and directors’ statements from Moodysson and essays on his films from a 2014 special issue of the Nordic culture journal Scandinavica by C. Claire Thomson, Helga H. Lúthersdóttir, Elina Nilsson, Scott MacKenzie and Anna Westerståhl Stenport and Kjerstin Moody.

Extras include interviews with Moodysson, a feature on the themes of this movie, a trailer and an image gallery.

You can get this set from MVD.

Pathogen (2006)

Emily Hagin started making this movie when she was only 12 years old. It took two years to make and she had to endure plenty of hardship, including the theft of some of the film’s equipment, which was replaced thanks to a grant from the Texas Filmmakers Production Fund that paid for post-production. A grocery store in town also closed down early so they could shoot the end of the movie there.

What’s amazing is that this film focuses on what it’s like to be a teenager as a zombie epidemic takes over and even your parents are powerless to protect you. Dannie (Rose Kent-McGlew) has been having dreams of this world-ending event and learns that the Nanochip has leaked into the water supply of Austin, which causes a waterborne disease that kills everyone who gets it and then reanimates their corpses.

Hagin has gone on to direct and write the opening of Scare Package and Sorry About the Demon. This movie makes me so happy — despite how dark and absolutely dire the ending gets — because it’s made by someone that truly cares about making something creative, as well as people gathering around her to help make that happen. It’s also so much better than every other zombie movie that will be made after it.

You can watch this on Tubi.

JEAN ROLLIN-UARY: The Mask of Madusa (2006)

It was thought that Jean Rollin’s 2007 film House of Clocks was his final film of his career, but then he made this one-hour short which was screened at the Cinémathèque de Toulouse. Then, he added twenty minutes of additional scenes and cut the film into two distinct parts just like The Rape of the Vampire.

Instead of vampires, this is the story of three sisters, Medusa, Stheno, and Eurydice. Rollin’s wife Simone plays Madusa as she stalks the stages of the Grand Guignol after her sister Euryale (Sabine Lenoël) and she have had a psychic battle that left one mindless and the other blind. A girl (Gabrielle Rollin, Jean’s granddaughter) plays for the reptiles and is turned to stone and then we hear a long conversation between a janitor (Jean-Pierre Bouyxou) and the figure of myth surrounded by posters advertising past bloody performances.

After a shocking battle between Stheno and Meduda, the second part really feels like the past films.  Stheno(Marlène Delcambre) wanders a cemetery holding the head of her sister, meets Cornelius (Delphine Montoban) and says things like “The two orphan vampires danced on the graves in Père Lachaise. We’ll dance under them,” before the two dance to a song from Fascination.

There are several moments near the end of his career where Rollin made movies that tried to unite his past works and say something about getting close to the curtain. This is one more and yes, as lovers of his films seem to always say, this may not be the best one to start with. But do start. Get obsessed.

DISMEMBERCEMBER: Black Christmas (2006)

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is better than you would think. It was on the site on December 21, 2017.

Director Glen Morgan (Willard) did this movie with the intent of expanding on the ambiguous ideas of the original while giving it an identifiable villain. Once I read that, I instantly wanted to hate this movie. I’m of the John Carpenter school that believes that the more you explain the monster, the less interesting it is. But I was surprised how much I enjoyed this film.

Working along with producer James Wong (they also created the TV series Space: Above and Beyond, as well as the movies Final Destination (in Japan, this film is included as part of that film series and was called Final Deadcall) and the Jet Li vehicle The One), this film was made for Dimension Films and MGM. Wong and Morgan clashed with the Weinstein brothers over the script and the end of the movie, which led to numerous rewrites and reshoots. Oh that Harvey Weinstein — I feel that no one will really miss him in Hollywood until they figure out that he can make them money again.

A bright point that made me think twice about Black Christmas (or Black X-Mas) was that Morgan asked for input from Bob Clark, the original creator, as well as having him sign on as a co-producer. The film features Billy, the killer only hinted at in the original, and his daughter/sister (oh no, not another incest movie), Agnes. However, in Steffen Hantke’s book American Horror Film: The Genre at the Turn of the Millennium, Morgan said that the inclusion of a second killer came from Dimension and that “a ten million dollar movie of Black Christmas didn’t need anyone’s help, and they should have left us alone. But they had to have the two killers, and then they were after kids from The O.C. We compromised a lot.” In another interview, he stated that he wasn’t happy with the film, claiming that it was schizophrenic “because Bob Weinstein came in and urinated on it. Really, there was a time where torture porn was the hot thing. You know I became friends with Bob Clark. You can throw that movie into one of your first questions. I loved that movie, and also A Christmas Story and I learned a lot from Bob, and had his blessing that we were trying to make a version that he didn’t get to deal with the background of the killers, and stuff like that. When Bob Weinstein came in and saw that, he was like, “We need to drag Michele Trachtenberg down the hall by her eyes.” And I was like, “Oh, Lord,” and I talked to my agent and lawyer, and Kristen about it. It was humiliating, it was horrible. I stayed to try and protect the cast and crew, friends of mine, and ended up taking it on the chin”.

Let’s get to the movie, hmm?

We meet Billy early — he was born with severe Sin City-esque jaundice and liver disease to a mother who never loved him. Beyond abusing him, she also kills his father and buries him in the crawlspace with the help of her boyfriend. It turns out that that guy is impotent, so she rapes her 12-year-old son (again, can we please stop getting incest movies by surprise) and gives birth to Agnes.

Eight years later, on Christmas Day 1991, Billy escapes from his attic prison and kills his mother, her lover and stabs Agnes in the eye. He then makes cookies out of his mother’s skin and is sent to a mental asylum that he escapes from fifteen years later.

Billy wants to go home, but his home now belongs to the Delta Alpha Kappa sorority. Within minutes, Clair (not Clare) is killed and when Megan goes to investigate, she is killed as well (including her eyes being ripped out and eaten while she is dragged by her eyesockets). Meanwhile, the rest of the sisters, Kelli  (Katie Cassidy, Taken, the 2010 revision of A Nightmare on Elm Street), Melissa (Michelle Trachtenberg, Dawn from TV’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Heather (Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World), Dana (TV’s Party of Five), Lauren and house mother Mrs. Mac (Andrea Martin, who was in the original film) are trying to have a Secret Santa party when an obscene phone caller threatens to kill all of them.

Clair’s half-sister Leigh (Kristen Cloke, Final Destination) comes looking for her, just as Eve, the weird sorority sister, gives Heather a glass unicorn for her present. Meanwhile, Kelli’s boyfriend Kyle (Goldie Hawn’s son Oliver Hudson) shows up. As they search for Megan, a video shows up on her laptop of her having sex with Kyle. Kelli kicks him out and then the lights suddenly go out.

Dana goes outside to fix the fusebox, but is murdered. The rest of the girls get a phone call of her screaming and another threat that they will all be killed. As they search for her, they only find blood. And oh yeah, Eve decapitated and frozen head inside her car.

Heather and Mrs. Mac try to get away despite the bad weather (the police said it would be up to 2 hours for them to arrive). Heather is killed inside the car as it warms up and an icicle impales Mrs. Mac right through the eye. Meanwhile, Melissa is killed with a pair of flying roller skates and Lauren, who was recovering from drinking too much, is found in bed with her eyes removed.

Whew! This film is a whirlwind of gore and eye destruction as if Fulci himself rose from the dead to do ocular harm. As Bill from Groovy Doom reminded me, Fulci once told an interviewer that the eyes “are the first thing you have to destroy, because they have seen too many bad things.”

Kyle comes back and swears that he is not the killer, which everyone tends to believe once he is pulled into the attic and killed. Turns out Agnes is the real killer and she’s brought Billy with her. A fight ensues, Agnes falls into the empty space between the walls and the house is set ablaze as Kelli and Leigh escape.

If you ever find yourself in a horror movie, always ask to see the killer’s body, then shoot that body in the head as many times as you can. Then set it on fire.

Of course, Billy and Agnes come back, with Leigh being killed and Kelli using a defibrillator to take out Agnes. Billy drops out of the ceiling and chases Kelli, but he falls off a railing and is impaled on a Christmas tree.

This movie is pretty much wall to wall gore, in marked contrast to the original. Yet I found myself really involved in its pacing, in the cinematography and even the lighting. It’s not a slapdash affair.

After the critical and financial failure of this film, Bob Clark began work on a sequel to the original with Olivia Hussey and John Saxon reprising their roles of Jess and Lt. Ken Fuller. Jess would have been the new house mother in this version, but Clark died before it could get made.

There’s a ton cut and changed in the final film. Like Lauren Hannon’s original death scene, which involved Agnes sneaking into her room and gouging her eyes out with the glass unicorn in an homage to the original film. And there were three alternate endings shot for the film. The first ending had Leigh and Kelli open Clair’s present when Kelli gets a phone call from either Billy or Agnes. The second ending, which was used in the UK, had Leigh coming to examine Agnes’ body and being killed by her, then Kelli electrocuting her Agnes. Finally, the third ending had a mortician find that Billy’s body is missing.

Despite the pain that it took to make the film, I really think it’s worth watching. It shouldn’t take over for the original, but it’s worth your time this holiday season.

DISMEMBERCEMBER: Two Front Teeth (2006)

EDITOR’S NOTE: I love this movie and it was my favorite holiday movie that I watched last year. It was posted on December 23, 2021.

Gabe Snow writes for a tabloid with a very limited audience — The X-mas Times— which is all about holiday conspiracies. The latest is Flight 1225, which was brought down one foggy Christmas Eve by a flying creature with a glowing nose.

To keep this a secret, Clausferantu — a demonic vampire anti-Santa Claus — has unleashed zombie elves, demonic snowmen and an army of ninjas known as the Silent Nights.

It makes sense that this was directed and written by one of the people who worked on the WNUF Halloween Special, Jamie Nash, who created this along with David Thomas Sckrabulis.

There are animated sections, Gremlins flashback stories to horrible holiday secrets, a karate fight with Santa coming back to battle his evil twin, an evil bunny, a horrifying story about pulling out teeth to get money and an SOV aesthetic that I absolutely loved.

This movie has jumped up on my list of favorite weird holiday horror and feels like a spiritual sequel to Elves, which is the highest praise I can give.

2022 Scarecrow Psychotronic Challenge Day 3: The House Next Door (2006)

DAY 3. DEAD IN THE SUBURBS: Neither is living in the ‘burbs.

Walker Kennedy — the kind of name someone has in a Lifetime movie or a country star, played by Colin Ferguson — and his wife Col — also a Lifetime name, but hey, Lara Flynn Boyle should be a giallo queen and I’ll take this — don’t want kids and are happy to just live in the suburbs. Well, they were.

That’s because their quiet home is soon in the shade of architect Kim’s (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) obsession, a house that seems like a cathedral to Col. Also, if you don’t think that Zack Morris isn’t going to put it to Donna Hayward, you must not watch many Lifetime movies.

Every couple that moves into that house goes absolutely insane and kill one another, which would seem to stop people from moving in but you know, as someone who bought a house next to a Native American ground and the last owner killed himself — at least not in the house as far as they told us — I know how hard it is to get a home.

Based on the book The House Next Door by Anne Rivers Siddons, this was directed by Jeff Woolnough, who also made Universal Soldier II: Brothers in Arms and Universal Soldier III: Unfinished Business. It was shot in Toronto, which makes a lot of sense when you watch it, because this neighborhood seems a bit too polite, even when the ladies are all discussing affairs. Man, this movie makes me glad I don’t talk to any of my neighbors other than the biker dude next door.


Based on The Black Dahlia by James Ellroy, which is in turn based on the unsolved 1947 murder of Elizabeth Short — one in which her black hair had been bleached and then dyed red before she was surgically sliced in half with a technique called a hemicorporectomy, her skin washed and her body was posed with her hands above her head, elbows bent at right angles and legs spread apart — this 2006 Brian DePalma movie was in development hell until L.A. Confidential was a success and Ellroy’s books got hot.

The director’s cut of the film ran over three hours but was cut down to a little over two hour for the producers. Ellroy was highly critical of the released film and claims that the original cut is a superior version of the film and more faithful to his book.

After a boxing match between them, LAPD detectives Dwight “Bucky” Bleichert (Josh Hartnett) and Lee Blanchard (Aaron Eckhart) become partners and friends, bonding as a trio with Lee’s girlfriend Katherine “Kay” Lake (Scarlett Johansson). Beyond her trying to sleep with Dwight outside of her relationship, she’s also branded with the initials of the mobster whose arrest made Dwight’s career.

On January 15, 1947, their lives change when the Black Dahlia’s body is found.

Dwight soon learns from Madeleine Linscott (Hilary Swank) that Elizabeth was a lesbian and appeared in smoker films, a fact she doesn’t want to be connected with, so she sleeps with him in exchange for his silence and then introduces him to her rich parents. Meanwhile, the man whose initials are on Kay, Bobby DeWitt (Richard Brake) is out of jail, so Lee attempts to kill him and dies in the process. That grief causes Dwight and Kay to finally make love, but when she follows him later, she sees him with Madeleine, the woman who looks like the Black Dahlia who so obsessed her now dead husband.

The end of this goes beyond noir and pulp to madness, as incestual pornographic films, ruined rich families and femme fatales nearly wipe out most of the main players, which also includes Fiona Shaw as Madeleine’s mother, John Kavanagh as her father and Mia Kirschner as the ghostly Dahlia, seen only in flashbacks and death. Kirschner was originally on set simply to feed lines to other actors in their screen tests. potential actors in screen tests. De Palma and writer Josh Friedman cast her and expanded her role from the novel. As Kirschner resembled the real Dahlia, she knew a good deal about the case and had always been told if there was a movie about the murder, she should be in it.

Plus, the cast also has Rose McGowan, Rachel Miner, Angus MacInnes (Rosey from Strange Brew), Mike Starr (the hired killer from Dumb and Dumber) and DePalma regular — and Phantom of the Paradise — William Finley in his final film.

DePalma kept up his string of being seen as a woman hater by winning the Alliance of Women Film Journalists Hall of Shame for this. Other films inducted in 2006 were A Good Year, Basic Instinct 2, Beerfest, Little ManMy Super-Ex Girlfriend and You, Me and Dupree as well as Mel Gibson inducted for his languge about women when he was arrested for drunk driving.

David Fincher had originally planned to direct this movie as a multi-hour mini-series in black and white. He left the project when he saw that he wouldn’t be able to make it to his standards. While I like this movie, I would absolutely go wild seeing what Fincher would have done.

You can get this from Deep Discount.

Snakes On a Plane (2006)

Back when people thought the internet was a positive thing, this movie had such an online buzz that New Line Cinema used web feedback for five days of reshooting, most of which was spent feeding lines with the f word in them to Samuel Jackson.

It was also the first movie where Hollywood learned that memes and online chatter do not equal box office and then like people getting that Men In Black light to the eyes, they forgot and did it again. And then again. And then some more.

After seeing a gang slaying, there’s no way Sean Jones (Nathan Phillips) is making it to Los Angeles alive. I mean, the guy he’s narcin on, Eddie Kim (Byron Lawson), just set a whole bunch of pheromone-sprayed venomous snakes loose on a plane and then marked everyone with a Hawaii lei to be killed.

FBI agents Neville Flynn and John Sanders (Jackson and Mark Houghton) are going to try and protected everyone on the plane, from flight attendant Claire Miller (Julianna Margulies)  and rapper Clarence “Three Gs” Dewey to Mercedes Harbont (Rachel Blanchard), her dog Mary-Kate, senior light attendant Grace (Lin Shaye) and, well, everybody on this plane once those snakes come on our and start biting faces.

David Dalessandro is a University of Pittsburgh associate vice chancellor of university development who found the time to write this script back in 1992 based on an article he read about Indonesian brown tree snakes climbing into planes during World War II.

Originally, this was going to be directed by Ronny Yu before David R. Ellis (Final Destination 2Homeward Bound II: Lost in San Francisco) took over.

Even though the movie has 450 snakes coming from 30 different species of snakes in the cast, the majority of the ones in principal moments are either animatronic or CGI. That’s because real snakes don’t move around that much and aren’t that fast.

The best part? If you watch this on basic cable, Samuel Jackson yells, “I have had it with these monkey-fighting snakes on this Monday-to-Friday plane!” And here you thought it would be the on-the-nose use of Cobra Starship for this movie’s theme.

You can watch this on Tubi.