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.

MILL CREEK BLU RAY RELEASE: Black Dahlia (2006)

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.

Lycan Colony (2006)

Director and writer Rob Roy has had a strong connection to wolves his entire life. It started after he first saw Balto, which inspired him to create his own wolf film. The film you’re about to reach about. The film during which he attempted to contact Balto star Kevin Bacon for a cameo before being somewhat ironically chased off the actor’s property by dogs.

He told the Nashua Telegraph, “Let me say first of all that I am an animal lover. No werewolves were hurt during the making of Lycan ColonyI’ve always loved werewolf movies, but I’m tired of seeing the same storyline over and over again. The werewolf is always a sick tormented beast. He’s always the bad guy. In Lycan Colony, we filled a whole town with them. Some are good, some are bad. None of them are these simple monsters that show up for five minutes at the end of the movie. They’re the life and blood of a modern town, and much closer to us than we’re used to seeing in these movies.”

Roy is self-taught and learned every aspect of filmmaking – from make-up effects to building his own camera dollies, animatronic heads and blood sprayers as well as building his own blue-screen shooting area in his garage – while making this movie. 

Dr. Daniel Solomon (Bill Sykes), a disgraced alcoholic surgeon, and his family move to a small town in the wake of one of his surgeries under the influence costing a patient their life. He has an AA sponsor so bad that he takes him to a bar afterward, a bar where he meets a brother and sister who are ex-military and looking for their adventurer father. Seconds after they explain the inscription on their father’s watch, the bartender ends up dropping it on their table, which is like Chekov’s gun going off before you even see it. This leads to a werewolf attack within the bar, the military brother getting killed and Daniel falling through what can only be a warp zone to escape.

Meanwhile, Daniel’s son Stewart (Ryan O Roy) has fallen for Sarah (Libby Collins), who comes ot his room late at night and brings him to a graveyard where she bites his chest and makes him one of the cursed under the full moon.

Who can save the day? Maybe it’s Athena, the witch played by Kristi Lynn, who loaned all of her exotic animals to this movie which still doesn’t explain why a spider monkey randomly shows up at the end. She licks everything with sight and then explains the history of werewolves in animation that I am not even remotely sure can be referred to as animation. Speaking of animation, the military guy has a neck tattoo that was added in post and it flickers. It’s the most disconcerting take-you-out-of-the-movie thing I’ve ever seen and yes, it is awesome.

Made in Hudson, Bedford, Goffstown, Merrimack and Manchester, New Hampshire — which is why this had the tagline “Welcome to New Hampshire…Live free or die!” — you’ll perhaps struggle with some of the accents. These towns are the homes of stars like Seth Meyers, Sarah Silverman, Jane Balder from V, Grace Metalious who wrote Peyton Place and Adam Sandler. Perhaps most relevant to this film are the facts that GG Allin was born there as well as The Howling star Christopher Stone.

Keeping it local, the movie premiere at Chunky’s Cinema Pub in Pelham on Sunday, Oct. 23, 2005 with a concert/film screening/Halloween costume contest extravaganza. At Chunky’s you can order a Caesar Romero Salad, Wizard of Ozzarella Sticks, Reservoir Dogs (yes hot dogs), the Parmageddon Chicken Sandwich, a Kevin Bacon Burger, a Carrie Cosmo, the Catalina Wine Mixer Sangria, Jurassic Pork Tacos, Rum Forrest Rum or a Jabba the Hot Fudge Sundae.

If you ask Rob Roy, he says that this movie is about “The sensual underbelly of animalistic human beings and what happens when we surrender to that.” He’s expanded the universe of the film in Rage of the Theriomorphs, a book in which Dr. Dan, Dave, Russ, Stew, and Sarah are back and getting accustomed to their new lives and new rules. A new mysterious death has caused an uproar and a new threat to the entire town has arrived. This needs to be a movie, right?

Lycan Colony is the kind of movie that shuts off my brain and lets someone else drive. I never really recovered.

Ghost of the Pirate Queen (2006)

The Full Moon cut down version of Bikini Pirates, this Fred Olen Ray movie has Evan Stone in its cast and I think he just took his outfit from the adult movie Pirates and no one said anything.

 

Jill (Nicole Sheridan) and Dustin (Voodoo) have found a doubloon necklace and the diary of the pirate queen Morganna (Rebecca Love), so they get their friends Susan (Beverly Lynn) and Joe (Randy Spears!) to undergo a seance and that brings both Morganna and Captain Tygus (Stone) back to the land of the living and everyone races to find the treasure.

Also known as Harlots of the Caribbean, this movie has both a cabin in the woods and Morganna’s book looks like the Necronomicon. Except instead of blood coating the walls, people have sex in the shower.

I feel like my time on Earth is short and yet here I am, watching a softcore movie about pirate ghosts.

You can watch this on Tubi.

Fight Club – Members Only (2006)

You know how some people based their entire personality on Fight Club and it was incredibly annoying and you knew they were eventually going to start getting banking jobs like their rich parents and turn into the bosses they supposedly were against and all of their practiced cynicism and white knighting betrayed the fact that they had no identity beyond a film that really was a pose?

Don’t turn your back on those people.

But also, this is about Fight Club – Members Only, a Bollywood movie that takes the title and logo from that movie and well, that’s about it. These dudes named Vicky, Karan, Somil and Diku have started a Fight Club but it’s just for fun, you see, and when people make it not fun — and gangsters get involved — then they need to make it fun all over again.

There is no soap made from human fat nor any Meatloaf appearances or songs.

You can watch this on Tubi.

APRIL MOVIE THON DAY 16: Chai Lai’s Angels (2006)

Also known as Chai Lai and Dangerous Flowers, this Thai action film reimagines Charlie’s Angels as a Thai-centric adventure made for 35 million baht instead of the $92 million dollar budget for the Hollywood film.

The five Dangerous Flowers are Kulap(Rose) played by Bongkoj Khongmalai, Bua (Lotus) who is Supaksorn Chaimongkol, Chaba (Hibiscus) acted by Jintara Poonlarp, Pouy-sian (Crown of Thorns) who is Kessarin Ektawatkul and Na-wua (Spadix) played by Bunyawan Pongsuwan. Their job is to protect Miki, the daughter of a professor who knows the location of a hidden treasure known as the Andaman Pearl.

The best joke here is that chai-lai is thai for gorgeous, which makes this a perfect title. There’s literally non-stop action and a surprising amount of blood, as well as scenes that come directly out of the American version, as well as the idea that men always screw over the Angels.

There’s also a bad guy named Dragon, Miki’s evil stepmother Mei Ling and a cross-eyed transgender villain named King Kong who gets shot more times than I can count. Also, seeing as how the women in this wear swimsuits and lingerie for their missions, it’s not always correct, but it is fun. They’re definitely more capable than any of the man they come up against, which is good to see.