Deaf Crocodile Films — who released the amazing Solomon King on blu ray this year — has also released four feature films by acclaimed Iranian filmmaker Shahram Mokri on demand for U.S. audiences.  The four films will be available on Amazon, iTunes and Projectr and tell the stories of aerial killers, kite flyers, vampires and arsonists who disappear into time. You can also buy the blu ray box set from Deaf Crocodile, a partner label of Vinegar Syndrome.

Careless Crime (Jenayat-e Bi Deghat) (2020): Inspired by the Cinema Rex fire in 1978 that triggered the Iranian Revolution, this movie follows three different paths: arsonists planning the fire, the students at the cinema interacting with the employees of the theater and the characters on the screen of the movie that played that night. The crime that was committed that night was so horrible that it literally burns through the reality that unites these three storylines.

The night Cinema Rex burned — one of the biggest terrorist attacks in Iran for decades — The Deer was playing. Two women attempt to play that same film in the desert in another storyline as they come across soldiers who have discovered an unexploded munition from another conflict in the past.

The theme of carelessness is carried through by so many in this, as many of the terrorists believed that the audience would just rush out and be unharmed and their message would be heard. Yet the theater manager oversold tickets to the show and his greed is just as responsible for the deaths.

This is a movie that is historical beyond true crime while also telling of the world of film. It may get repetitive and a little long at two hours and twenty minutes, but wow, those last twenty minutes make up for it. You won’t just know about what happened. You will feel it.

Fish & Cat (Mahi Va Gorbeh) (2013): In the Caspian region, students have gathered for a kite-flying event during the winter solstice. Next to their camp is a small hut occupied by three cooks who work at a nearby restaurant, a place that serves human meat on the menu. Meanwhile, the space-time loop within this film both gives away the ending and also makes it seem suspenseful at the same time. And here’s one more thing that makes this break from the pack: The entire movie is one single 140-minute take.

Director Shahram Mokri said, “I like the paintings of Maurits Escher, where you can see a change in perspective in the same visual. In my film, I wanted to give a change in perspective of time in one single shot. So the idea for the film came from his paintings.”

Consider this an Iranian Texas Chainsaw Massacre, yet one where we don’t see the horror of cannibalism yet feel it even more, if that’s possible. What a wild film.

Ashkan, The Charmed Ring And Other Stories (Ashkan, Angoshtar-e Motebarek Va Dastan-haye Digar) (2008): Mokri’s first feature was a black and white comedy about fate that, yes, has the feel of Tarantino yet establishes the director’s own voice as it tells the tales of blind jewel thieves Shahrooz and Reza; Askhan, a man who can’t quite seem to commit suicide, some cops, some hitmen, a young couple who wants to run away to get married, the boy’s angry father, art dealers, two female morgue attendants and, oh yeah, a fish on the loose and a missing ring.

Beyond Tarantino, there are moments that feel like film noir and others that reference Jim Jarmusch. Remember when Crash or Magnolia or any of those post-Quentin movies where everyone’s connected seemed to be every other movie? Sure, this is like that, but it also has an episodic nature and fun edge that makes it stand out from also-rans like Eight Heads In a Duffle Bag.

I know that Mokri made shorts before this, but it’s pretty amazing that this was his first full-length movie.

Invasion (Hojoom)(2017): I can honestly say I’ve never seen another movie like this and it was absolutely astounding.

The sales copy for this describes it as “a science-fiction/detective/vampire story, with nods to stylized 1980s New Wave-era films like Liquid Sky” and yeah, that’s almost as close as I can come to figuring out how to explain it to you.

At some time somewhere in the future, teams of tattooed athletes play a never explained sport in a foreboding and dangerous stadium where a murder has already taken place. The police have been trying to reconstruct the crime over and over again, using the vampiric twin sister of the married man in his place. There’s also a way too long eclipse and a global pandemic happening all at the same time.

I mean, this movie also has the one shot technique of FIsh & Cat while also looking like a grimy 70s science fiction horror movie — Thirst maybe? — along with way too much fog and the red-eyed, face-tattooed and androgynous female vampire Negar gliding through all of this. Did Ali kill her brother, his best friend Saman? What’s up with the way he poses in front of the mirror in the beginning? What’s up with all those no gender mixing warning signs? Were Saman and Negar the same person when it comes down to it or were they really just switching lives and souls? How can an Iranian film made in 2017 feel so much like Jean Rollin or Jess Franco?

And most importantly, why did it take me so long to find this? Absolutely essential.

Bachelor Party 2: The Last Temptation (2008)

Made 24 years after Bachelor Party and having nothing at all to do with it, this was directed by James Ryan and written by Neal Israel, Pat Proft and Jay Longino from a story by Bob Israel.

Ron (Josh Cooke) is going to marry Melinda (Sara Foster), as long as he makes it through the bachelor party. Her brother Todd (Warren Christie) thinks Ron isn’t good enough for his sister, so he makes sure that that party gets Ron in trouble. Maybe he’s right, because all of Ron’s friends are pretty dumb: the do-nothing Jason (Greg Pitts), nerdy Seth (Danny Jacobs) and three-time marriage failure Derek (Harland Williams).

That said, nice girl dancer Eva (Emmanuelle Vaugier, Addison Corday from Saw II and Saw IV) is really the right girl. But whatever — this movie is so set in its ways. Audrey Landers is the mom, so that’s kind of cool, I guess. You could do better and watch her and her sister Judt in Deadly Twins.

I mean, the height of wit in this is that the guys end up sleeping with Aryan strippers. Should I expect anything of a past its expiration sequel to Bachelor Party? Yeah, I should. That movie had not just. Tom Hanks, but Tawny Kitaen, Michael Dudikoff and Ginger Lynn. Come on, Israel and Proft. You guys made, well, Moving Violations and Surf Ninjas. Ah, never mind, Neal. But Pat, you wrote Police AcademyReal Genius and Naked Gun. Come on, dude.

DISMEMBERCEMBER: The Children (2008)

Directed and written by Tom Shankland from a story by Paul Andrew Williams, The Children is a low budget British holiday horror movie that stunned me: it takes no prisoners, it goes places few movies are brave enough to defy cringe and convention.

Casey (Hannah Tointon) wanted a holiday away from her mother (Eva Birthistle), stepfather (Stephen Campbell Moore) and their children Miranda (Eva Sayer) and Paulie (William Howes) as they go to visit her aunt (Rachel Shelley), uncle (Jeremy Sheffield) and cousins (Rafiella Brookes and Jake Hathaway). Now, she’s stuck somewhere in the country with low reception. As the snow begins to isolate everyone, a virus takes over the children, making them black bile-spitting pure evil incarnate.

If you are upset at all by violence done by — or to — children, stay far away. This is a toddler version of Night of the Living Dead and I don’t just mean the violent attacks on humans. It has a real feeling of menace and dread that many movies try and fake. This gets it perfect.

I really enjoyed the way this film juxtaposes the strangeness of extended time with extended family along with violent horrific imagery. I never expected Who Can Kill a Child? the holiday edition, but here we are and it’s incredible, a film that when I saw the title and heard it was a seasonally relevant horror movie I wrote off for a long time. I was wrong.

You can watch this on Tubi.

Lost Boys: The Tribe (2008)

There had been plans to make a sequel to The Lost Boys since that movie opened and original director Joel Schumacher had wanted to do a sequel called The Lost Girls before the announcement of this film, one he had nothing to do with and thought was a bad call.

Hans Rodionoff originally wrote a script about surfing werewolves called The Tribe which was turned down by studios — including Warner Bros. —  because it was pretty much The Lost Boys. Then there was an idea…what if it was the sequel and they made werewolves into vampires.

Corey Feldma, who came back to play Edgar Frog, told MTV “Warner Bros. has further developed the script — they brought on a great writer, Hans Rodionoff, who came up with a great story line. In the script, as it is today, I am one of the leads. My involvement is very close to what my involvement was in the first one. So I’m pretty much scattered throughout. Edgar was always an outcast, but here his close-knit family have drifted apart. They’ve had a major problem, and because of that problem, Edgar today is working alone. The film is about him trying to still carry the torch as it were, without the aid and assistance of his partners. That leaves him in an even lonelier and even more delicate place than he was in the first film being the outsider that he already was.”

I really want to see the movie that he was talking about.

After watching some surfing vampires kill old man vampire Tom Savini, we meet former pro surfger Chris Emerson (Tad Hilgenbrink, who would be in another direct to video sequel, American Pie Presents: Band Camp) and his sister Nicole (Autumn Reeser) have movied to Luna Bay to live in the home of their aunt Jillian (Gabrielle Rose). Chris wants to surf again, so he reaches out to a surfboard shaper — Edgar Frog — and then meets Shane Powers (Angus Sutherland, who is, you know, Keifer’s half brother) and gets all wrapped up in the world of Billabong bloodsuckers.

Nicole gets turned, Edgar helps out and many vampires die horribly. The end, however, give you what you want, as you learn that Sam Emerson (Corey Haim) is now a powerful vampire. Or maybe in the other version, you see Sam warn Edgar that his vampire brother Alan (Jamison Newlander) is coming to kill him.

Shockingly, the credits for this movie use The Hold Steady’s “Knuckles,” which kind of freaked me out, because my love for that song is in direct inverse to this movie.

Director P.J. Pesce also was behind another direct to video sequel, Smokin’ Aces 2: Assassins’ Ball.

PITTSBURGH MADE: Two John Russo make-up docs

Man, Tubi is filled with the work of John Russo, including these two docs:

Monster Make-Ups With Dick Smith (1989): Dick Smith is the godfather of monster make-up and best known for his work on Little Big Man, The Godfather, The Exorcist, House of Dark ShadowsTaxi Driver, Scanners and Death Becomes Her. He was an early pioneer of combining make-up with on-set “practical” special effects to make movie magic. This video, however, is just him doing simple make-up on a willing subject, giving him vampire fangs and then going absolutely wild and making him into a monster. While Smith’s work is dynamic, he’s soft-spoken and this video will show you technique but if you’re watching it as entertainment, you won’t get much. That said, it’s intriguing for horror movie fans. You can watch this on Tubi.

Horror Effects with Tom Savini (2008): Not released until 2008 but probably shot sometime in the 90s, this is less learning the techniques of Savini and more he and John Russo taking a trip down memory lane, talking about the movies they had worked on together and new films that Savini is just starting on like Two Evil Eyes, so yeah, this was around 1990 or so.

When it was shot, this would be the only way that you could see Heartstopper and I’m so glad they left the scene in where Tom keeps doing sets in his home gym while his wife begs him to put a baby in her.

This was directed by Paul McCollough, who shot The WinnersThere’s Always VanillaThe Booby HatchFleshEater and Midnight, as well as edited The Booby Hatch, FleshEater, MidnightThe Majorettes and Heartstopper. He also composed the music for remake of Night of the Living DeadLegion of the Night and Santa Claws.

Russo is a total carny and you know, I kind of love that. I’ve given him money for posters covered in coffee stains and don’t feel bad at all about it.

You can watch this on Tubi.

MILL CREEK DVD RELEASE: Through the Decades: 2000s Collection: Baby Mama (2008)

Kate Holbrook (Tina Fey) is a woman who put her career above her life. Angie Ostrowski (Amy Poehler) has a life that’s a party that she plans on only slowing down to make money by giving birth to Kate’s child.

The truth is that Angie never planned on having that baby and was going to run off with the money. But now she’s actually pregnant thanks to her common law husband Carl Loomis (Dax Shepherd), all while Kate is falling for juice bar owner Rob Ackerman (Greg Kinnear), whose business is being eyed by her boss Barry Waterman (Steve Martin) and his Round Earth Organic Market.

Director and writer Michael McCullers started his career at Saturday Night Live and has made a pretty good run of writing comedies like Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged MeAustin Powers in Goldmember and The Boss Baby.

It’s a fine comedy, but obviously Fey and Pohler were meant for bigger things. Good news: they succeeded.

The Mill Creek Through the Decades: 2000s Collection has some great movies for a great price like Nurse BettyOne Night at McCool’sSpy GameThe Emperor’s ClubThe Shape of Things21 GramsState of PlayThe Hitcher and Cry Wolf. You can order it from Deep Discount.

Anvil! The Story of Anvil returning to theaters!

EDITOR’S NOTE: Utopia, Abramorama and Portobello Electric have partnered to release the remastered documentary, Anvil! The Story of Anvil for a special one-night engagement in 200 theaters nationally on September 27th with select extended theatrical runs through October at National Circuits including AMC and Regal Cinemas. The rerelease is timed to the film’s 13th year anniversary and features remastered picture and sound, as well as a new exclusive epilogue interview, only available in theaters, with director Sacha Gervasi and Anvil’s Steve “Lips” Kudlow and Robb Reiner moderated by former MTV host Matt Pinfield. The documentary will be available for digital pre-order on iTunes and Vudu starting September 27. 

This first ran on September 22, 2020.

Super Rock ’84 in Japan was a touring rock festival that had Bon Jovi, Whitesnake, Scorpions, Michael Schenker Group and Anvil playing. Of these bands, Anvil had the least success, but it wasn’t for lack of effort. At the time of this movie, Steve “Lips” Kudlow is working for a catering company and Robb Reiner is in construction. Their real lives are in constant juxtaposition with what being a rock star promised them, which is the story of this film.

Sacha Gervasi wrote the Tom Hanks movie The Terminal, but two decades before, he had been a roadie for Anvil. Who knew that someday he’d make the movie about them that would let the world know they existed, as well win an Independent Spirit Award and an Emmy?

It seems like every time the band gets close to their dreams, things go wrong. It always makes me think, when I wonder what it would have been like to be a rock star instead of having a day job, exactly how it would all turn out. This movie is a sobering reminder that not everyone makes it. Until, well, they do.

I kind of love the moment where Kudlow and Reiner nearly kill a promoter for not paying them. I had a similar moment happen when I first started in pro wrestling. A promoter wanted to pay us in checks and I didn’t know any better. That’s when I learned to always get paid in cash. A vet taught me that, as he grabbed that promoter, shoved a revolver in his face and demanded that the two of us get our money right now. I was kind of shocked by it all, but it was nice to drive home with actual cash, even if a man’s life had to be put in jeopardy. I remembered all of that when I watched this.

MILL CREEK BLU RAY RELEASE: George Clooney Double Feature – The American / Leatherheads (2010/2008)

The American (2010): Based on the 1990 novel A Very Private Gentleman by Martin Booth, The American finds George Clooney playing Jack, a gunsmith and contract killer, who is also known as Edward when he gets spotted, a fact that he finds him killing his lover Ingrid (Irina Björklund) to keep from being found out.

He leaves for Castelvecchio, a small town in the mountains of Abruzzo, where he begins a relationship with two women: a prostitute named Clara (Violante Placido) and Mathilde (Thekla Reuten), who asks him to build a special rifle. Yet at every turn, others are hunting him.

Jack/Edward regrets his life and killing Ingrid, so he confesses to Father Benedetto (Paolo Bonacelli) and tries to imagine a world where he can be with Clara, all while Mathilde readies to use the gun he made to kill him.

With allusions to the films of Leone and Don’t Look Now, director Anton Corbijn and writer Rowan Joffé have created an intriguing film with no real heroes.

Leatherheads (2008): Directed by star George Clooney from a script by Duncan Brantley and Rick Reilly, Leatherheads is about the start of American football. Clooney plays Jimmy “Dodge” Connelly, the captain of the Duluth Bulldogs, who is trying to save his team and football as a whole as it struggles to catch on He convinces war hero and college football star Carter “the Bullet” Rutherford (John Krasinski) to the team. He’s a combination of University of Illinois football star Harold “Red” Grange, who signed to a contract with the Chicago Bears the day after his last football game and Alvin York, the controversial Medal of Honor winner whose fame led to Sergeant York, the Gary Cooper movie.

The team and the league succeed as a result of this, but when reporter Lexie Littleton (Renée Zellweger) learns the truth, she feels duty bound to report it. The entire world doesn’t believe her until Dodge plays a prank — much like Clooney in real life — and gets Carter to speak the truth.

This movie speaks to the truth of media heroism, how football became an organized and reputable — well, somewhat — sport and the men that played the game. It’s also really well done.

You can get the Mill Creek George Clooney Double Feature of The American and Leatherheads from Deep Discount.

Anaconda 3: Offspring (2008)

Originally airing on July 26, 2008 on SyFy, this movie gives us what we always wanted: David Hasselhoff in a big snake movie.

Shot at the same time as Anacondas: Trail of Blood in Romania, a place where you may say, “Where the fuck are the anacondas?” and “Did they make every sequel in the former Soviet Union?”

Remember that blood orchid? Well, a serum made from it and an anaconda taken from the Amazon River have somehow ended up within crawling distance of the Danube thanks to a project that God himself will smite and destroy the life of rich fool Peter Murdoch (John Rhys-Davies, who was on SyFy like all day every day) and man, his assistant doesn’t even make it to the first commercial.

Now the queen anaconda is loose and Dr. Amanda Hayes (Crystal Allen) and snake hunter Stephen Hammett (Hasselhoff) must stop the snakes before they eat everyone in Bucharest. The truth is — I mean, do you even care if I keep you from watching this, I mean spoil this for you — is that Hasselhoff is trying to get a baby anaconda that has been given special powers thanks to the experiments Dr. Hayes has done and give it to Murdoch.

If you ever wanted to see a movie where Hasselhoff gets swarmed by baby snakes and blown up, this would be it.

Director Don E. FauntLeRoy worked with Victor Salva on Jeepers Creepers, Jeepers Creepers 2, Rosewood Lane and Dark House, so now I hate that I watched this even more. He was also the director of photography on Munchie and The Skateboard Kid, which may or may not be worse than the above issue.

You can watch this on Tubi.

GiAnts (2008)

Meteors have hit the Earth, but everything worked out. Well, it did until giant ants that sleep inside the planets core are awakened and make their way to the surface. Or maybe they were all in blocks of ice and needed thawed out. Despite a long spoken introduction even this movie isn’t all that sure.

A rich industrialist brings in bug expert John Caine (Mel Novak) to check out the giant insect they’ve captured, but he’s rich and therefore bad and tries to kill our protagonist just as ants begin attacking all over the world. Luckily, John’s daughter Audrey (Tina-Desiree Berg) is able to help the military battle those monstrous picnic ruiners.

If you’ve a fan of bad CGI, tones shifting between gore and a child movie, characters that you actively hope will die, bad editing and a story that never even tries to make sense, you may find something here.

Director and writer Carribou Seto is actually David Huey, who made a whole bunch of movies with Gary Daniels in the 1990s. You know, the dude from the live action Fist of the North Star.

This is on YouTube but I don’t even want to share the link because if you’re like me, hearing how bad it is will make you watch it.