SLASHER MONTH: All Cheerleaders Die (2013)

Directed and written by Lucky McKee (May) and Chris Sivertson (I Know Who Killed Me) in 2001 — then remade in 2013 — All Cheerleaders Die is about the very dangerous world of cheerleading which takes its first victim early as one of the girls — the subject of a documentary — is killed when she isn’t caught in time.

Maddy, who was filming that documentary, joins the team and begins a series of machinations that leads to the accidental death of the entire team. Using magic, she brings them back to life and they begin getting their revenge.

What I liked about this movie is that it promises what guys have always gotten out of horror movies — attractive women being killed or doing the killing — but it subverts expectations and makes its viewers confront that very same objectification.

Plus, that moment in the woods, where the villainous Terry confronts the girls? That feels like real tension.

I kinda wish they’d make the teased sequel already.

You can watch this on Tubi.

2021 Scarecrow Psychotronic Challenge Day 7: WNUF Halloween Special (2013)

7. IT CAME FROM THE SCREEN: One where a TV is a major part to the story.

I grew up directly between Youngstown, OH and Pittsburgh, PA, which meant that growing up, I got to see UHF channels from Cleveland, Wheeling, Stuebenville and everywhere in between. There are still local jingles that I know by heart — Youngstown’s Remnant Room — and when I see the staticky look of this ancient television, it warms my heart beyond belief. Beyond Superhost and Chilly Billy, I can remember characters like Barnaby and the local news teams that had no hope of ever working for the networks.

The WNUF Halloween Special could have been horrible, but I get the feeling that its creator Chris LaMartina grew up watching plenty of Baltimore TV* (he probably knew Captain Pitt as Captain Chesapeake on WBUF (but we both may have not known that he was also Ghost Host), because this is so authentic that I thought that I went back in time.

A home recording of WNUF’s Halloween special that aired on October 31, 1987, this tells the story of Frank Stewart’s investigation of the Webber House, the site of the Spirit Board Murders. He’s brought along a priest and Louis and Claire Berger, psychic investigators who use a cat named Shadow to speak to the dead.

By the end of the night, the evil inside the house will show itself. And no one is safe.

The story may have been told before, but its the entire package that is perfect. There are references to Dust DevilR.O.T.O.R. and so many more movies, plus it captures that strange moment of the pre 90s when UHF stations would air just about anything, when major bloopers happened almost every day and something like a series of occult murders could happen live while you watched.

You can watch this on Shudder or grab the amazing new Terror Vision blu ray.

*Producer Jimmy George confirmed that WNUF TV28 was inspired by Baltimore’s WNUV TV54, a similar TV station that was independently owned until the mid-90s.

The Strange Color of Your Body’ Tears (2013)

You know that scene in Tenebre where the camera keeps flying back and forth across the roof of the apartment building that seems to break the film’s narrative or the moment in Opera where the bullet explodes out of the hole in the door? Argento is the master of these set pieces yet — for a while at least — he was able to make them work within his plot instead of being style over subtance.

For anyone that wanted all the style and very little substance — is it even worth saying that a giallo story makes no sense when that feels like one of the most essential parts of the form — may I recommend the Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani (AmerLet the Corpses Tan) film The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears. If you want a narrative film that tells a story, you will hate this will all your heart. But if you want to go on a kaliedoscopic ride, well, this one has plenty of visual horsepower.

If you need a thread to hold on to, Dan (Klaus Tange) is the protagonist, a man who comes home to find his wife missing. His journey to find her takes him through the dwellers in his apartment complex, who all have their own stories to tell.

Look, it’s a gorgeous movie with a missing woman named Edwige, an awesome poster, an even better title and music from movies like All the Colors of the DarkTorso, EyeballSo Sweet…So PerverseThe Black Belly of the TarantulaShort Night of Glass DollsMaddalena and The Violation of Emanuelle. So by all rights, I should love this. It’s like watching a supercut of out there moments and feels like it would be perfect to put on at a party where people don’t get offended by knives coming out of sexualized wounds (I mean, I’ve never been to this kind of party, but I figure they exist and people wear paper dresses and Ivan Rassimov shows up looking all sinister).

Yet it all kind of leaves me cold. The films of the past that this references, while strange to our American eyes, still had a beating heart. This feels like a cool move from set piece to set piece. And while I can’t say that I didn’t like it, it’s not going to knock The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh or The Fifth Cord out of my blu ray player.

For another view on this film, check out Dianna Koch’s Giallo of the Month Club.

The Dead Reborn (2013)

Alright, I’m fascinated by these Full Moon remix affairs. This one tries to cash in on the zombie trend — no shame there — but at least one of the films is actually pretty well-known and you’d think it would sell more copies than just changing the name. But hey — I don’t run the house that puppets built.

That well-known movie is The Dead Hate the Living! but here it’s called “Zombie Apocalypse.” This movie was a film I’d see all the time back in the magical days of the Kennywood Hollywood Video, a place that I dream of today, a gigantic paradise filled with tons of movies. Written and directed by Dave Parker, it’s the story of a movie crew being trapped inside a real zombie outbreak. The fact that the crazy doctor is named Eibon should give you an idea that this movie was made for fans of zombie movies by fans of zombie movies.

“Undead Sentence” is Prison of the Dead, which was directed by Victoria Sloane…err…Dave DeCoteau. I recognize you anywhere, my friend. I feel as if I’ve seen the plot to this before — rich kid invites his friends to a funeral for himself but its all a ruse — but hey, Full Moon is a LEED-certified organization. The prison below the funeral home was known as Blood Prison, built by Puritan extremists specifically for the torture and execution of witches and heretics. Can you imagine how scary it would be if the executioners came back to life? And what if this also appeared on the Horrific remix DVD meaning that I watched the same movie three times in one week?

“Shallow Graves” was released in full-length form as Hell Asylum. The reality show Chill Challenge has charged five models with surviving for one night in an abandoned building if they want to win a million dollars. Hey — Brink Stevens and Joe Estevez are in this and it wasn’t Prison of the Dead 2 despite having that title while it was being filmed.

Look at that baby stroller on the cover of this. Are you scared yet?

You can watch this on Tubi.

The Haunted Dollhouse (2013)

Man, I’ve just spent about a week watching these Full Moon cut down remixes — taking full-length movies and shortening them to thirty minutes each with no connecting story, no concerns about aspect ratios and really no care at all toward quality — and then will be spending another week doing even more Full Moon movies. My OCD and ADHD are paying off for you, dear reader, so I can see how many of these movies I can cross off my list.

“Protectors” is really 2009’s Skull Heads AKA Devious, which was written, produced and directed by Charles Band. It stats with cute little Naomi Arkoff (Robin Sydney, who seems to be in nearly every 2000s Full Moon movie) being is tortured on a rack by her father Carver (Power Rangers voiceover artist Steve Kramer) for having a cell phone. Supposedly, a bunch of filmmakers are trying to get into the Arkoff home to make a movie, but they really want to steal some artwork. Luckily, the house is protected by the Skull Heads, which are — if you know Charles Band like I know Charles Band — little tiny killers.

“Worry Dolls” is 2008’s Dangerous Worry Dolls and I have to give this one credit for not only being a movie with killer dolls, but for being a women in prison movie unafraid to have an evil trans guard get pegging by our heroine once she unleashes the tiny little worry doll that has burrowed its way into her brain. Yes, Eva (Jessica Morris, who has 115 IMDB credits and will probably have 119 when I look back tomorrow) may be abused by every woman in the prison, forced by that aforementioned guard into doing amateur pornography and continually creeped on by the warden, but once she lies down at night and the dolls go inside her ear and then out of the middle of her forehead, things get much better for her.

“Dangerous Toys” is not just a band from the 80s, but also the last chapter which is really Dollman vs. Demonic Toys, which was a pretty big movie at the time of its release. Band really pushes the idea of a Full Moon universe here, as recycled footage from DollmanDemonic Toys and Bad Channels ended up making a whole new film. Yes, Brick Bardo (Tim Thomerson) from Dollman, Nurse Ginger (Melissa Behr) who was shrunk in Bad Channels and Judith Grey (Tracy Scoggins) from Demonic Toys all get together to battle Baby Oopsy Daisy, Jack Attack, Mr. Static and the evil G.I. Joe called Zombietoid. The best part of this one being cut down so much is that all of the flashbacks have also been removed.

I’d give this one a solid review as it definitely made me want to watch the full versions of each film. I think that that is more due to the originals than anything this cut and paste treatment did to improve their stories.

You can watch this on Tubi.

Animosity (2013)

Mike (Marcin Paluch) and Carrie (Tracy Willet) Bonner have just been married and move into a secluded forest home. Of course, it takes but a few weeks until the other people who live in the area start to upset Carrie, which leads her to believe that their new hometown is filled with the supernatural. Mike blows it all off, but you know, if a house tells you to get out, you should get out.

Animosity was originally filmed in 2012 as a thesis project at the School of Visual Arts with professor Roy Frumkes (Street Trash) acting as the film’s executive producer. It faded away until Brendan Steere, the movie’s director, had a hit with Velocipastor.

I was surprised that this is a film closer to Let’s Scare Jessica to Death — credit for that theory goes to Jim Morazzini on Voices from the Balcony — than the goofball gross-out action that Steere has become known for. Despite some audio issues and being too dark to see in places — hey, it had a $14,000 budget — there’s enough in this to warrant a serious watch for any horror lover.

We interviewed Brendan Steere in August 2019 on the eve of the release of Velocipastor. Animosity makes its debut on digital streaming platforms on July 20 via Wild Eye Releasing. You can learn more on the official Facebook page.

Drag Racing Week: Snake & Mongoose (2013)

Editor’s Note: Thanks for joining us on our three-day “Drag Racing Week” tribute to the funny cars and rails speeding down the quarter mile during the ’60s and ’70s. Let’s wrap it up with this bioflick on the two biggest stars of the sport. Search for “Drag Racing Week” to find ’em all.

Courtesy of Vectezzy.

Don “The Snake” Prudhomme and Tom “The Mongoose” McEwen were gods to the wee-lads of the ’70s. I was, myself, funny car crazy, with centerfold tear outs of “The Snake and The Mongoose” on my walls, right alongside magazine rips of champion motorcrosser Roger De Coster. I had the draggin’ duo’s matching Hot Wheels cars. I had their respective model kits: both funny and rail. When the ABC Wild World of Sports held one of Prudhomme and McEwen’s drag or funny car races on a Saturday afternoon, the neighborhood streets cleared: everyone sat in front of the TV. In terms of asphalt sports idols, The Snake and Mongoose were matched only by Richard Petty and Evel Knievel. They were the “Muhammad Ali” of racing. Everyone loved them.

But why did Hollywood never produce a film about the famed racers? Well, they did, finally, or you wouldn’t be reading this review. But it’s not the film an ol’ racing fan, such as myself, wanted. I expect this from a dramatic B-Movie dragger of the Crown International variety, like Burnout. But not this.

Now, you think those battling asphalt warriors would be ripe — like daredevil cyclist Evel Knievel, who had not one, but two movies about his life: the first, Evel Knievel (1971), starred George Hamilton; the second (and worse) dramatization, Viva Knievel (1977), starred Evel as himself — for a ’70s era theatrical film. Drag racing was so hot, so hip, and so trendy, the industry pumped out the early ’70s documentaries Funny Car Summer, Wheels of Fire, Wheels on Fire, and Seven Second Love Affair, and dramatic pieces, such as Drag Racer. Even exploitation coming-of-age drive-in flicks, such as the The Young Graduates, which wasn’t even about drag racing, tossed in a drag racing subplot to get us rubber-burning fans into the speaker and mosquito coil farm. Even George Lucas tossed in a drag racing subplot in the box office flounder that is More American Graffiti. If Elvis hadn’t gotten out of film, we probably would have gotten a hip swingin’ drag racing film — complete with Prudhomme, McEwen, Muldowney, and Garlits cameos — to go with his stock car racing flick trio of Viva Las Vegas, Spinout, and Speedway.

You need more rubber burnin’ action? Then check out our “Fast and Furious” tribute weeks with reviews to over 100 films. You can check out those “round ups” HERE and HERE.

You’d also think that after producing a hit film about Shirley Muldowney (Bonnie Bedelia), the First Lady of Drag Racing and the first woman to receive a license from the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) — and even having “Big Daddy” Don Garlits (Billy McKinney) portrayed — in the film Heart Like a Wheel (1983), Hollywood would have responded with an ’80s theatrical film. Not even after David Cronenberg gave us the 1979 drag drama, Fast Company.

Nope. Denied again.

Instead: We got this years-too-late-TV movie (with a limited, 20-city theatrical release that failed to catch a box office upwind) starring Jesse Williams (star of TV’s Grey’s Anatomy and Station 19) as Don “The Snake” Prudhomme, and Richard Blake (guest roles on TV’s NCIS: Los Angeles and CSI: Crime Scene Investigations) as Tom “Mongoose” McEwen. Rounding out the cast are the always serviceable TV faces of Noah Wyle (who, I always felt should have been on the A-List with his fellow ER castmate, George Clooney) and the always game for-anything-the-SyFy Channel-throws-at-him, Ian Ziering. Also on deck are the always on point Tim Blake Nelson, Fred Dryer, and John Heard.

As you can see from the trailer, it’s all put together well enough. But this is a TV movie, after all, and it’s not Days of Thunder starring Tom Cruise. So, there’s lots . . . and lots . . . of stock footage spliced into the film — which was the same production weakness that plagued those Evel bio-flicks all those years ago. Honestly, if I wanted to watch old, classic clips of the races, I can pull those up on You Tube, ad nauseam. If I am pulling up a pop corn bucket, you have to give me more than old ABC Wild World of Sports clips in what ends up as a companion piece to the lightweight Disney Channel drag racing bio, On the Right Track (which, again, is serviceable enough, but it is an against-the-budget cable flick with TV actors). Even updated CGI cars would have been better serving than grainy ’70s clips. At least the CGI draggin’ would have matched to the rest of the dramatic footage.

But if you need a quick way to get down and dirty into the tale of the mutual friendship (and fake rivalry) and marketing brilliance of two guys — who put this kid on a hook and took him for several hundred laps on the bright orange track — then this is worth your time. It’s a serviceable B-Movie that, while too late to the track, it — finally — gets is all on record. (All the Hot Wheels images of the Snake and Mongoose you can handle are a Goggle click away.)

If Hollywood only made this bio-racer during the prime of Tom Cruise and George Clooney as the Snake and Mongoose, we’d have something special.

Oh, well. Que rubber, oil.

About the Author: You can learn more about the writings of R.D Francis on Facebook. He also writes for B&S About Movies.

Credits: Poster Banner Top: All courtesy of Garage Art Signs. Center: Left (Lions): Binnza Henzhi Amazon, (Big Daddy) 1-79 Supersport Tumblr. Poster Banner Bottom: From Left, courtesy of American Hertiage USA, Garage Art Signs, Landis Publication Etsy, Repo Racing Posters.

Pleased to Meet Me (2013)

When it comes to musicians as actors, John Doe is the “Bruce Campbell” of the profession. Campbell has stated in interviews that he accepted his lot as an actor, in that he’d never be a leading man (after losing out to Billy Zane for The Phantom), instead getting smaller support roles in A-List pictures and leading man roles in B-Movies.

And this seems to be the lot rolled by John Doe. Not that John cares: he’s always a musician first and an actor second. So, like Ash, we’ll see John in the supporting cast of a bloated Hollywood project mixing it up with the likes of Ryan Reynolds Ben Affleck and Sandra Bullock (Forces of Nature*) and Patrick Swayze (Road House*), then see him as a leading man in an indie project (his upcoming, 82nd film, D.O.A.: The Movie, and the-2002-still-can’t-find-a-copy Under the Gun co-starring Christopher Atkins).

In this Kickstarter-financed, shot-in-two-week-mostly-on-the-first-take film named after an old album from ‘80s college radio darlings the Replacements, John Doe leads a pleasurable cast of veteran musicians thespin’ for the cameras. In his support are Aimee Mann (yes, the Til’ Tuesday “Voices Carry” girl),’70s folk singer Loudon Wainwright III (of the 1972 novelty hit “Dead Skunk (in the Middle of the Road)”), and ’80s college rock folkie Joe Henry. More current indie-rock fans will recognize Whispertown’s Morgan Nagler, Over the Rhine’s Karin Berquist, and the Broken Spurs’ Adam Kramer in the cast.

Doe is somewhat playing himself: Pete Jones, a legendary rocker at a personal and professional crossroads. The muse has left him. He can’t seem to get his long-in-the-studio album finished. He’s dodging bankruptcy, foreclosures, and lawsuits from his record label. He needs help.

That help comes in the form of his ex-wife and former producer Laura Klein (Aimee Mann) who now works as a National Public Radio reporter. Referencing her inner, old studio producer, she believes Pete’s artistic rut is the result of losing his “musical purity.” So, for an episode of her syndicated radio program “World Café, she devises a 24-Hour experiment where she’ll place an online classified ad to form a one-day eclectic band of six random musicians to record a new Pete Jones tune.

This mostly ad-libbed, improvisational comedy project that comes off as a more serious, Spinal Tapish mockumentary is based on a 2002 episode of the National Public Radio program “This American Life.” In that program, a group of strangers were recruited from classified ads to enter the studio for one day to craft a cover of Elton John’s “Rocket Man.”

If you’re a fan of Louisville Kentucky’s indie-rock and folk scene (where this was shot) and hep to obscure references to early ‘90s college rock bands like Sleater-Kinney and Pussy Riot—along with Loudon Wainwright III as a socially maladjusted Theremin player and seeing John Doe in a leading-man role (check all those boxes for moi)—then there’s something here for you to watch.

This one is hard to find and is only available for streaming on the Vudu platform. Sorry, Amazon Prime users: there was a streaming copy, but it’s no longer available. But keeping checking back to see if it returns.

About the Author: You can learn more about the writings of R.D Francis on Facebook. He also writes for B&S About Movies.

* Look for our full reviews of Forces of Nature and Road House, this week.

Zombex (2013)

Look, we’re not going to sugar coat: the reviews on this one ain’t good. But when you have a film with a cast headlined by Malcolm McDowell and Sid Haig, with Corey Feldman along for the ride, and Slayer’s Tom Araya and X’s John Doe in tow, you cut generous amounts of CGI-slack for this, the writing and directing debut of musician Jesse Dayton. Dayton is a Texas musician best known for his soundtrack collaborations with Rob Zombie (Halloween II ’09 and The Haunted World of El Superbeasto).

How can you not want to at least try to watch a film with this cast—regardless of the fact that there’s no in-camera effects and all of the gun fire and headshots (to kill the zoms) are cheap CGI-boondoggles? Malcolm McDowell, as always, is good in his role and giving it his all, but we sure wish Zombex gave us more of him, Sid Haig, John Doe, and Tom Araya. Also stepping up to the plate is Lew Temple (the real star of these proceedings)—who we all know as Axl from The Walking Dead—as a conspiracy-spouting talk radio DJ out to expose the cover up.

Dayton gets bonus points for injecting a sense of reality into the undead tomfoolery with a zombie outbreak infecting a post-Karina Louisiana. Ol’ Mal is, of course, the greedy pharmaceutical boss distributing a new anti-stress drug that triggers the outbreak.

You can watch Zombex on Amazon Prime and Vudu as a VOD, but we found a free stream (without an account sign up) on Roku Online. The film’s Facebook page is still active, so you can check out stills from the film.

You can learn more about the life, career, and discography of Jesse Dayton at his official website. Fans of HBO’s True Blood also know Jesse for his songs “Coming Down” and “One of Them Days” appearing in the series. And I really dig Dayton’s countrified take on the Cars’ “Just Want I Needed,” complete with lap steels and mandolins. Give it a listen.

About the Author: You can learn more about the writings of R.D Francis on Facebook. He also writes for B&S About Movies.

L.A. Macabre (Amazon Prime Series, started in 2013)

Fifteen episodes of the series L.A. Macabre are now available on Amazon Prime (season one, season two) and we were lucky enough to get a sneak peek.

Originally starting as a found footage web series on YouTube. the second season of the show turned it into a single camera drama with more locations throughout Los Angeles, as well as expanded characters, stunts and scares. Now, the Amazon Prime version has been cut into fifteen 30-minute episodes.

The series starts with three filmmakers — show host Ryan (Ryan Hellquist), director Colin (Aidan Bristow) and Ryan’s younger sister Jamie (Ryan Bartley) — getting the opportunity to interview Callie (Corsica Wilson), a former member of a cult called The New Family. After the first episode of L.A. Macabre with her in it airs, Callie begins to get stalked by someone or something who just could be from her old life. Or is she everything that she seems?

If you’re a true crime fan or someone missing Supernatural, this show has something to offer you. It starts off smart and quick before somehow picking up steam from there. I really like that the show moves away from found footage and becomes more of an action-adventure by the second season, while concentrating on the romance between Ryan and Callie, as well as the worry that she may be brainwashing him with the techniques that were once used against her.

You can learn more about this series by visiting its offical Facebook and Twitter pages. You can also watch the show on YouTube.