How does one get the werewolf fever? What are the symptoms? Is there testing for it? Should we wear a face mask around those that have it? These are all important questions, so I’ll give you one answer: do not eat any werewolf meat.
Donny the delivery boy is the low man on the Kingburger Drive-In totem pole. Yet when he’s bit by a strange animal while out delivering burgers, he finally has a chance at revenge.
Look, you’re only going to give an hour of your life to watch Brian and Mark Singleton’s labor of lupine love. Brian wrote and directed it, while Mark produced it and plays Ronny, Donny and the Werewolf. How can he fight himself? Well, you’ll just have to watch this.
The Kingburger Drive-In is an actual drive-thru restaurant in Renfrew, Ontario. It might not have a website or Facebook page, but it does have a 4.8 out of 5 score on Facebook and 4.5 on Google reviews, so they must be pretty decent. I mean, just watching this, I could see how those kids on the way to the Grand Canyon were dying to, pardon the pun, wolf down some of those burgers.
New Hampshire’s Brett Piper is a self-made screenwriter, director, and special effects artist who shoots most of his films in Pennsylvania, most notably in the western and northwestern counties of Cambria and Tioga County. He’s also a self-professed purveyor of “schlock” who eschews modern CGI for “old school” special effects, such as matte paintings, miniatures, and stop-motion animation.
And we, the staff of B&S About Movies, love Piper for it: For if Piper had been around during the regional era of Drive-in exploitation, we’d be warmed by the crackle of a speaker hanging on our car window. We’d rent every one of his VHS ditties from the ‘80s home video shelves, warmed by the cathode ray tube’s glow.
Piper’s resume is extensive, there’s a lot to watch: he’s directed 18 films, wrote 19, and created special effects for 22 films—for his own films as well as the films of his frequent brothers-in-arms collaborator, Mark Polonia (Empire of the Apes).
So if you’re nostalgic for the works of Ray Harryhausen, but burnt out on repeat viewings of that stop-motion master’s works; if you’re burnt out on today’s green-motion tracking and After Effects computer-animated extravaganzas; if you want aliens cast well-made masks and full-body suits and actors emoting alongside in-camera effects, then the films of Brett Piper are just what the VOD streaming doctor ordered.
Ice up that Orange Crush and defoil that burger . . . five, four, three, two, one!
Movie 1: Queen Crab (2015)
We’ll start off our Friday Brett Piper festival with my favorite of his films: one with best character development, acting, and special effects—and one that we have not yet reviewed at B&S About Movies. While there’s a soupçon of Ray Harryhausen in the crab pot (ugh, sorry!), this is a full-on Bert I. Gordon homage to his (very loose) 1976 H.G Wells adaptation of Food of the Gods (with an honorable mention to the Robert Lansing-starring Island Claw from 1980).
What causes the crab to go “gigantic”? A little girl brings home Pee-wee, a baby pet crab from the lake behind her house—and feeds it grapes infused with her daddy-scientist’s plant growth hormone. After her parents die in a freak lab explosion and she’s adopted by her uncle-sheriff, Melissa grows up into a tough-as-nails teenager, aka Queen Crab, who serves as protector to Pee-wee and her clan of babies—complete with a psychic link. Shotguns n’ rednecks, tanks n’ planes (well, one of each) ensues as the misunderstood crustacean who, like King Kong before her, didn’t ask for any of this sci-fi ruckus.
And speaking of misunderstood: There’s poor little Melissa, stuck in the middle of the sticks of Crabbe County with no friends and parents that constantly bicker and ignore her. She’s practically a latchkey kid with only a crab as her friend. So, do we root for the crab? Damn straight. Kick ass, Pee-wee, for Melissa is Queen in this neck of the Pennsylvanian countryside.
When a TV producer’s (Piper acting-mainstay, ‘80s metal drummer-cum-actor Steve Diasparra; also of Amityville Death House, Amityville Exorcism, and Amityville Island*) career disintegrates on live TV when his report on a legendary backwoods demon haunting Pennsylvania’s Pine Creek Gorge is exposed as a fraud, he’s hell bent on redemption. When he convinces a cable TV mogul to back his quest, Mickey O’Hara heads back into the swamps with a sexy TV personality. Only, this time, there’s no need to “fake it” as the gooey, tentacled Muckman shows up—and he’s not only got the love jones for film crew member Billie Mulligan, Mucky’s brought along a tentacle sidekick of the Queen Crab variety.
Just a good ‘ol fashioned, campy monster romp from the analog days of old.
You can watch this as a free-with-ads stream on TubiTV.
The snack bar is open . . .Intermission!
Thank you, Vinegar Syndrome for honoring the works of Brett Piper! Now back to the show!
Have you ever wondered what would happen if Bert I. Gordon produced a Ray Harryhausen-directed mockbuster of Independence Day? Well, wonder no more with Brett Piper’s most recent, eighteenth and best-produced film of his resume. And, bonus: we also get a throwback to all of our beloved ‘80s Italian apocalypse flicks** in the bargin!
Blake is the resident Trash-cum-Parsifal (known your ‘80s apoc heroes!) who teams with Kay, a radiant, supermodel bow-hunter, to help a crusty elder scientist discover the key to save the Earth from the invading alien hoards and their otherworldly “hunting dogs” in the form of giant, stout lizards.
A fun, something fresh and new watch filled with the nostalgia that we love in our films.
You can watch Outpost Earth as a with-ads-stream on You Tube.
We confessed our perpetual love for this debut feature film from Brett Piper during our two-week December Star Wars blowout*ˣ in commemoration of the release of Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker.
Pipers’s Star Wars-inspired take-off of Jules Verne’s Mysterious Island—by way of Ray Harryhausen’s classic 1961 film of the same name—concerns a “wretched hive of scum and villainy” band of mercenaries crash landing on an uncharted planet after a space battle. Adopting a jungle girl into their fold, they battle prehistoric snails and dragons as they make their way into a final showdown with the planet’s ancient ruler: a super-intelligent computer ˣ*.
The bottom line: Brett Piper overflows with that same Tommy Wiseau-heart (The Room) and John Howard-tenacity (Spine) as he gives us a special, endearing quality with his films that’s absent from most—if not all—major studio offerings.
So strap on the popcorn bucket and ice up the Dr. Pepper and Doc Brown back to the Drive-In ‘70s with one of the greats of the retro-cinema. Keep ’em coming, Brett. We love ’em!
* We went nuts on Amityville and all of its sequels, rip-offs, and sidequels, etc. back in February with our “Exploring: Amityville” featurette. Uh, Sam? You’re the resident Amityville authority in this neck of Allegheny County. Time to get crackin’ on the newest, latest entry in the series: Amityville Island . . . and Amityville Hex, Witches of Amityville Academy, Amityville 1974, and Amityville Vibrator.
** Be sure to join us for our two-part September blowout as we explored the Italian and Philippine apocalypse of the ‘80s with our “Atomic Dust Bin” featurettes.
Finally, eight years after The Fast and The Furious we get a direct sequel. This time, Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) and Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) must work together again to avenge the murder of Toretto’s lover Letty Ortiz (Rodriguez) and apprehend drug lord Arturo Braga (John Ortiz).
It’s rare that a series of movies finally finds itself in the fourth installment, much less gets that many chances. But here you go — these movies really start becoming beloved right here.
Sung Kang shows up as Han Lue, Dominic’s right-hand man, bridging the last Japanese side of the franchise, while also introducing Gal Gadot as Gisele Yashar, a liaison for the evil Braga. Laz Alonso also shows up as Fenix Calderon, Braga’s right-hand man who murders Letty and sets this whole movie’s story arc in motion.
This movie paved the way — pardon the road pun — for the other movies in this series. In fact, it outgrossed The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift in its first weekend.
Of course, Letty wouldn’t stay gone long. But we’ll get to that soon enough.
I’ve seen giallo from all over the world, but this would be the first Hong Kong version I’ve ever seen. It was created by Julien Carbon and Laurent Courtiaud, whose Black Mask 2: City of Masks I had seen, but had not prepared me for this delicious offering.
It features Hong Kong starlet Carrie Ng (Naked Killer, Sex and Zen), who practically smolders the screen as Carrie Chan, a woman devoted to the sexual release of death and using her jade talons to render flesh into works of art.
During the reign of Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of China, a torturer invented a special drug that paralyzed muscles yet increased the sensitivity of nerve endings. Sometimes he used this for erotic pleasures, but mostly it was used to extract pain from his victims. Yet he always wondered what the drug would be like for his own use, so he killed himself under its influence.
Now, the jade skull that contains this rare substance has been found by Catherine Trinquier (Frederique Bel, The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec) and she sees it as a way to gain a fortune after murdering a lover to acquire this treasure.
Meanwhile, the demonic Carrie is staging a play all about the famed executioner while conducting her own psycho-sexual experimentations of pain and pleasure.
Known as Red Nights in the Western world, this movie has no slavish devotion to the 1970’s giallo style while somehow feeling that it could rightly take its place within it, uniting the world of the exploitation anti-heroines like Olga and Ilsa while at the same time dipping a green clawed digit into the respective private parts of the best parts of the works of Martino and Franco, pausing for a moment to be bathed in the lights of Argento and basking in the sounds of a Morricone.
There are moments when I was worried that this film would descend into the depths of torture porn, but it righted itself many times. This is why I watch films, to discover new and delirious highs. Consider this a must-watch.
Jouko Ahola, who was the World’s Strongest Man for 1997 and 1999, is Jacob van Oppen, a pro wrestler who is filled with unending rage that can only be sated by the song “Lili Mateen.” He’s managed by Prince Orsini, who has been taking him on a tour of small South American towns, doing shoot matches against local toughmen. Now, their journey has taken them to Santa Maria.
This town is starved for entertainment and strangely ready for this match, working with the duo to find a suitable opponent. The town’s newspaper thinks they know the secret to defeating this unbeatable pair, however.
This is an odd film, as it’s hard to place where the story takes place and even what year it’s happening in. I love the days of carnival wrestling, when worked and non-worked matches made money for fighters.
Whatever fighter can last three rounds with Oppen will win a thousand dollars. Yet he’s flat broke, seems sick and can’t stop coughing. How will he be able to defeat a local hero at this rate?
It’s easy to make fun of the guys in this movie who are making $20 a show struggling to matter as pro wrestlers, much less grapplers for God. Except, well, I know one of them. I trained at the Dory Funk Jr. dojo with Jason Jett, one of the main characters in this, and he’s a forthright guy who was a solid hand in the ring and good at putting a match together.
This movie makes me admit the real truth of wrestling. The biggest marks aren’t those in the seats, but in the ring. Most of never realize that we will never get anywhere. We’d never work this hard at any other job for this much money or this little respect.
So when I hear Rob Vaughn — the guy who is the top star and owner of the Christian Wrestling Federation — saying that changes are coming or hurdles need to be cleared but the big time is close, I’ve heard this same story with a slightly different script but the same overall meaning so many times that it kind of made my heart hurt a bit. That’s because I was only talked to about money and heart and how much better it was with the old crew and didn’t have to deal with the neverending war between the forces of Satan and God for my wrestling soul.
Seriously: everything bad that happens to the CWF is Satan’s fault. Trust me, Satan loves wrestling, even when guys that start off as untrained backyard wrestlers happen upon a great gimmick and start using God as the ultimate program.
There are some really interesting moments here, like where the wrestler Apocalpyse talks about his wife leaving him in the hospital as he lies there as a potential quadroplegic or when the others all discuss Rob’s indiscretions. I nearly wanted to yell at the scren that these moments deserved more of a follow-up than nearly all of the movie.
By the way, if you’re shocked by the amount of religious and diversity intolerance in this movie, let me remind you that this is a movie about religious pro wrestlers. That said, I’ve met all manner of guys in the wrestling game that have political and sexual affiliations all over the place. These would not be those people.
I used to wrestle on shows with a guy who was a preacher and he’d always yell at me about my gimmick, which is pretty much me being a1970’s occult bad guy from a horror movie. I patiently listened and then asked, “What good is having only good people in wrestling if there isn’t someone like me to give you a foil to glorify God against?”
If the Lifetime cable channel decided to make a zombie movie, it would be this low-budget attempt at grafting Danny Boyle’s post-apocalyptic zombie film 28 Days Later (2002) with Oliver Stone’s Talk Radio (1998).
“Hey, wait a minute . . . dude, I know this movie . . . but Dead Air? Is this an alternate title for the Canadian horror film Pontypool (2008)?
That film—and if you’re into radio station zombies, it is clearly the better film (and not by much, to be honest)—starred Steven McHattie (Crown and Anchor, Watchmen). This one reteams Bill Moseley and Patricia Tallman from Tom Savini’s 1990 Night of the Living Dead remake—which was used as a major selling point to sucker us into renting this dead bore. (They’re a bickering divorced couple who still work together as a host and producer team.)
As with Pontypool, a Los Angeles late-night talk show host, Logan Burnhardt (Bill Moseley), and his production team are trapped inside a radio station during a zombie outbreak—this one instigated by a terrorist attack of “dirty bombs” ignited at major sporting events across the United States. Burnhardt’s crew stays on the air and takes calls and feeds information to listeners as the chaos unfolds. Then the terrorist responsible for the L.A bomb hijacks Burnhardt’s show to feed false information to the listeners and “stoke the fires of hatred.”
Lost somewhere in the dead boredom is a “message” about mob mentality and xenophobia, but by that point in the film, you just don’t care about the political propaganda Dead Air is selling. There’s no suspense or thrills. No threat of terror. No fear of violence. Not even a soupçon of horror. The “zombies” are nothing more than a bunch of flailing, petulant children from Central Casting, utterly devoid of violence and gore, with a splash of stage blood on their kissers sent on their way to run and growl. They’re actually not even zombies; they’re just human versions of rabid dogs prone to violence from the bomb’s toxins.
And the equipment in that radio studio! Logan Burnhardt is supposedly the #1 syndicated late-night talk host in the nation broadcasting from Los Angeles, the #2 rated media market in the country—and the studio is equipped with a recording studio audio mixing board as an on-air board? A reel-to-reel deck set on a counter top? This is 2009! All radio stations—especially in the major markets—converted to digital platforms and ditched analog recording over 15 years ago.
But it’s cool, Bill. We know it’s not your fault and we still love you.
Dead Air isn’t incompetent. It’s not awful in a George Romero Italian-green grease paint rip-off zombie kind of way. All of the various film disciplines have checked off all the right boxes. But that’s just it. It’s just “box checking” and everything is flat. It just lays there—and zombies can’t rest. They can never rest. They need to be on the move. But, one must consider that $500,000 budget the film was up against—and you can only do so much with a half million. So the question is: Will your passion for Bill’s work or your passion for cheesy, b-horror films from the video fringe give this a pass. But it’s Bill, right? You can check it out for free on You Tube.
About the Author: You can read the music and film reviews of R.D Francis on Medium and learn more about his work on Facebook. He also writes for B&S Movies.
Tony Gilroy has written some pretty interesting films, including The Cutting Edge, Dolores Claiborne, The Devil’s Advocate, Armageddon, the Jason Bourne films, Michael Clayton (which he also directed) and Star Wars: Rogue One.
Duplicity is all about the relationship between M16 agent Ray Koval (Clive Owen) and CIA agent Claire Stenwick (Julia Roberts), whose first meeting ended with her drugging him and stealing classified documents.
Years later, Ray and Claire spend several days together at a posh hotel and discuss leaving their government jobs for work in corporate espionage, specifically cosmetics and personal hygiene. Throughout the movie, the couple remains wary of one another since they’re both experts in deception.
The film moves back and forth through time, often showing the same conversation multiple ways, all to share motivations that weren’t known the first time you heard the same dialogue.
Beyond Roberts and Owen, Tom Wilkinson (Michael Clayton), Paul Giamatti, Christopher Denham (Argo) and Happy Anderson (Bright, Mindhunter) all appear.
If you like twists and turns, as well as inter-company intrigue, this is the movie for you.
Russell Bayne (Jeremy London, T.S. Quint from Mallrats), is bitten by a werewolf and finds himself in the middle of a supernatural war between vampires, werewolves and the human hunters who want to stop them. So, you know, Underworld. There are some magic amulets that are needed to stop a vampire named Lilith from rising to power and lots and lots of exposition.
Wolvesbayne premiered on October 18, 2009 as part of SyFy’s 31 Nights of Halloween.
This comes directly from ex-members of The Asylum under their new name Bullet Films. If you’ve seen an Asylum movie, you know exactly what to expect.
Christy Carlson Romano appears as Alex Layton. She was on Even Stevens and was the voice of Kim Possible. Mark Dacascos, the American Iron Chef chairman and one of the many reasons why Brotherhood of the Wolf is so good appears as Von Griem. Then there’s Yancy Butler, who was on the Witchblade TV series, who shows up as Lilith, plus scream queen Stephanie Honore (The Final Destination and the never released Spring Break ’83).
This is another film — the Savage Nature and Hosues of Hell Mill Creek sets are fill of them — involving Griff Furst and Leigh Scott. Good for them getting sold to SyFy and then keeping them relevant on digital platforms and re-released on DVD.
Mill Creek Entertainment’s Savage Nature set has this movie and three other films all about the evil side of Mother Nature. You also get a code for all four films on their MovieSPREE service. Want to see it for yourself? Then grab a copy right here.
An adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s The Dunwich Horror, this movie is all about Wilbur Whateley (Jeffery Combs, Re-Animator, The Frighteners) as he tries to find the Necronomicon, an ancient, diabolical manuscript that will help him open a doorway to a dimension inhabited by unspeakable creatures known as the Old Ones.
Otherwise known as The Darkest Evil and Witches, this first played on the SyFy Channel on December 13, 2009.
In Louisiana, a single mother delivers a baby boy — and a monster — in the cursed Whateley House. Ten years later, Dr. Henry Armitage (Sean Stockwell!) and his assistant, Professor Fay Morgan (Sarah Lieving, who shows up in plenty of this director’s films) discover that every single copy of the Necronomicon is missing page 751.
Oh yeah — the Black Brotherhood has also summoned the gatekeeper of the ancient ones, Yog-Sothoth, to open the portal to the walls beyond sleep. Meanwhile, Professor Walter Rice (Griff Furst, who was in the remake of The Magnificent Seven) tries to translate the book. And oh yeah — Lavina’s son, Wilbur Whateley(Combs), is aging quickly and needs the missing page to save himself.
Written and directed by Leigh Scott, who created The Baron Trump Adventures and wrote several movies based on The Wizard of Oz, this film has a pretty great cast and moves quickly enough.
Nearly all of the various symbols and diagrams shown in this film come from the “Simon” version of the Necronomicon. Although Lovecraft insisted that the book was pure invention — it came to him in a dream and he allowed other authors to refer to it and use it in their stories — it’s not a real book.
That hasn’t stopped many from claiming that it was, with Lovecraft himself sometimes getting letters from fans asking about it. Several of them pranked large university libraries by adding it to card catalogs and even requesting it from large libraries like the Vatican.
The Simon book actually has little to no connection to Lovecraft. After a limited edition hardback printing, the paperback version of this book has never gone out of print, selling more than 800,000 copies. I mean, I have one. It’s right next to The Satanic Bible and Hollywood Babylon on my shelf of mystic related works. The tagline for this book states that it could be “potentially, the most dangerous Black Book known to the Western World.”
The book deviates from Lovecraft’s intent to have the Ancient Ones be forces beyond good and evil. The idea that mankind is locked in a war between opposing forces comes from the Judeo-Christian beliefs inserted into the Cthulu mythos by author August Derleth.
There’s also a section of the intro given over to Richard Grant’s theory, as espoused in his book The Magical Revival, that there was an unconscious union between Aleister Crowley and Lovecraft. In short, they drew on the same occult forces from different paths: Crowley through actual rites, Lovecraft through the dreams that inspired his stories. Grant goes on to claim that the Necronomicon exists as an astral book as part of the Akashic records and can be accessed through both ritual magic or in dreams.
There’s also a 1978 Necronomicon, edited by George Hay with an introduction by Colin Wilson, that was supposedly created from a computer analysis of a discovered “cipher text” by Dr. John Dee, the man who coined the term British Empire. He was an intensely religious Christian that studied sorcery, astrology and Hermetic philosophy, all with the goal of communicating with Enochian angels, so that he could learn the universal language of creation and achieve what he referred to as the pre-apocalyptic unity of mankind.
Anyways, back to the Simon version. Two members of the Magickal Childe scene — a New York City book store that was the major focal point for American magic/magick from the 70’s until the 90’s — Khem Caigan (the Necronomicon‘s illustrator) and Alan Cabal claimed that the book is a known hoax. My theory has always been that Peter Levenda, an occult author who wrote the book Unholy Alliance, is Simon, as the copyright notice for this book is in his name. Ironically, the name of Levenda’s latest book? Dunwich.
This is one of four movies on Mill Creek Entertainment’s Houses of Hell set. It’s an affordable way to get some scares that you may not have seen otherwise. Plus, you get a free code to save these movies digitally on Mill Creek’s MovieSPREE! site. For more information, check out their site.