Mill Creek Zombie Collection: Attack of the Killer Donuts (2016)

By no stretch of the imagination should a movie called Attack of the Killer Donuts be any good, but somehow, someway, I found myself liking this. It’s definitely the best undead donut or pastry movie I’ve ever seen, but that said, it’s also the only one.

Also — I have no idea how they got C. Thomas Howell to play a cop in this, but they did, and then they also made the donuts look vaguely like vagina dentata, which is very horrifying and somehow, as bad as the effects are, I found them kind of charming.

I usually hate the Troma films that are so aware of how stupid they are, but you know, sometimes I am very forgiving. This would be one of those rare times, so…get a dozen and watch this with someone understanding.

The Mill Creek Zombie Collection has four different comedic zombie films, including Attack of the Lederhosen Zombies, Granny of the Dead and Harold’s Going Stiff. You can learn more on the official page and buy it at Deep Discount.

Mill Creek Zombie Collection: Attack of the Lederhosen Zombies (2016)

Sure, you’ve seen it all in zombie movies, but have you seen them attack a snowy mountain resort? If so, let me know, because this is the first movie of its kind that I’ve seen. It moves fast — 78 minutes — is filled with geysers of frozen and unfrozen bloody appendages, green glowing snowmaking chemicals that make zombies and an old woman packing tons of firepower.

I guess Dead Snow and Dead Snow 2 qualify as wintery mountain undead movies, but this one also embraces the goofy humor of a sex comedy and it kind of works. I mean, this isn’t going to dethrone a Romero movie from its throne, but on a snowed-in winter day, it passed the time and made me laugh a few times.

Shot as Alpine Zombies and filmed in Italy, let’s called this movie by director Dominik Hartl a success.

The Mill Creek Zombie Collection has four different comedic zombie films, including Granny of the DeadAttack of the Killer Donuts and Harold’s Going Stiff. You can learn more on the official page and buy it at Deep Discount.

Kindergarten Cop 2 (2016)

Don Michael Paul has made a ton of sequels like Jarhead 2: Field of FireSniper: LegacyTremors 5: BloodlinesSniper: Ghost ShooterTremors: A Cold Day in HellDeath Race: Beyond AnarchyThe Scorpion King: Book of SoulsJarhead: Law of ReturnBulletproof 2 and Tremors: Shrieker Island.

So if Arnold Schwarzenegger doesn’t want to be Detective John Kimble anymore, I guess you get Dolph Lundgren to be an FBI agent, team him with Bill Bellamy and just make the entire movie over again.

At one point in his life, writer David H. Steinberg served as editor-in-chief of the Duke University law review. This prepped him for writing American Pie Presents: The Book of Love I guess. We can all agree that making sequels is more fun than being a lawyer.

But seriously: This is the same movie, minus the tumor line, in a fancier school, with Dolph in it. I really can’t believe that this was made and that anyone outside of me would watch it. Perhaps by reading this, I’ve sated your curiosity. I know that you lay awake at night with all of the unanswered questions that Kindergarten Cop left you with.

You can watch this on Tubi.

Christmas Twister (2016)

Casper Van Dien plays a meteorologist haunted by…oh man, just let me say it. I will honestly watch anything obviously. I mean a Christmas movie about a tornado with the star — such as it is — of Starship Troopers? I did it. I did it for you, like Rudolph in the foggy night trying to save Santa and the reindeer who had previously ignored him to the point that he decided to go die on an ice floe in a world of toys missing eyeballs and appendages. I did it like Frosty, trying to keep kids happy despite knowing that soon the Earth would suffer global warming and things like floods through New York City would soon become commonplace but fighting back icy tears and gamely putting on that stupid scarf and magic hat that’s tainted by the blood of a long-dead magician. I did it like a man ready to jump off a bridge because I lost all your money and wanted you to forget I ever lived because at their heart Christmas movies are dark and horrifying affairs as we scream into the sun and try to cling to a planet where gravity is the only thing keeping us from being launched out into the vast cold void of space.

So yeah, a tornado brings a family together and no one wants to believe that the Earth is changing and that things like tornadoes out of season can be a thing, so the one-time husband of Catherine Oxenberg, who is a legitimate princess — 3,936th in succession to be Queen of England no less — and a woman was once married to Robert Evans for nine days, can not only save people but save his family…at Christmas.

This was also called F6 Twister which is a horrible name and I’d never watch it because I’m a strange man and I like the idea of an act of God happening during the season of His Son’s Divine Birth and for some reason, Casper has fought tornadoes before in 500 MPG Storm and Fire Twister and why do I know this?

Did you know the F in F6 stands for the Fujita Scale? Now you do. Happy holidays.

Also — Creighton Duke shows up if you’re the kind of person who cares about those things and you know that I am.

Maybe I cried a little during this movie.

You can watch this on Tubi.

Ballad In Blood (2016)

On the day after Halloween — and a debaucherous party that takes up the beginning of this movie — Duke (Edward Williams), Jacopo (Gabriele Rossi) and Lenka (Carlotta Morelli) all wake up to not only a hangover, but the dead body of Elizabeth (Noemi Smorra) who has videotaped everything.

This description may have you saying, “Oh, maybe I’ll see that someday.”

But what if I told you the Ruggero Deodato — yes, the same man who made Cannibal HolocaustAtlantis InterceptorsHouse on the Edge of the ParkCut and RunDial: Help and Live Like a Cop, Die Like a Man — made it?

I’ll bet you’re interested now.

The first movie Deodato directed in 23 years, this was inspired by the Meredith Kercher murder. On November 1, 2007, the British exchange student was assaulted and killed in an apartment with her boyfriend, her roommate and a burglar all unable to explain exactly what happened. And by inspired, I can report that Deodato read about this sensation case that was in the media and said, “I can go nuts on this one.”

It’s like he packed this movie with drugs, nudity, orgy scenes, more drugs, toilet usage, violent sex, torture, murder, more sex, some more nudity and a little more drugs, too. It’s like he’d been freaking out directing for TV and wanted the world to know that he was, after all, Mr. Cannibal still.

A character even listens to the song “Sweetly” from House on the Edge of the Park and Deodato shows up only to get carried out on a cart. So there’s that.

But if you’re the kind of person who dislikes movies where there’s nobody to root for, where everyone is a horrible person and…wait a second, if you feel that way, why would you even watch a Ruggero Deodato movie in the first place? Know what you’re getting into.

While this may not be his best work, it’s still nice to see a somewhat more recent movie — Deodato also made a segment in 2019’s Deathcember — from an old friend.

This is one of Severin’s Black Friday titles, but until then, you can watch it on Tubi.

SLASHER MONTH: The Windmill Massacre (2016)

Look, if there’s going to be a Dutch slasher, it’s going to have a windmill in it. Those are the rules*.

Also, the windmill has to be haunted and Amicus-style lure people to it, upon which it will send out a scythe-carrying demon that makes people face their fears and then die. There’s also a bus fill of these people whose sins need to be punished and they walk right into a cabin filled with symbols of their past misdeeds. And there’s no escaping the demonic miller.

There’s a cool trick of showing the past of what each victim before they’re killed with some decent practical effects. One by one, they all pay, and then one assumes the next bus comes in. I also learned that bone meal can close up a cut and that director Nick Jongerius grew up next to a frightening windmill, which explains so much.

*I’m lying. Amsterdamned doesn’t have any windmills in it.


SLASHER MONTH: The Greasy Strangler (2016)

I guess that this movie is a slasher if it’s anything. I mean, I have no idea how to really categorize this film, which tells the story of Big Ronnie and his son Big Brayden who run a disco walking tour for a living when Ronnie isn’t eating food that’s filled with grease and then covered with grease. And then he goes out into the dark night and strangles people, then gets naked and cleans off all that grease in the car wash.

Look — if a movie where people’s eyes cartoonishly being popped out of their head and then cooked, as well as numerous gigantic cocks, offends you, perhaps there are many more movies to watch.

For some reason, Ronnie loves to inflict misery on his son, killing his friends, taking his girl and making fun of his dream of being a science fiction author. The only way that they can bond is, by the end, covering themselves in grease, strangling people and being killed by a firing squad.

Yeah, it’s not for everyone.

Somehow, director and co-writer Jim Hosking followed this up with an even more impenetrable movie, An Evening with Beverly Luff Linn. That’s an incredible accomplishment.

2021 Scarecrow Psychotronic Challenge Day 4: She Kills (2016)

4. WHEN THE TABLES TURN: Victim becomes stalker, hunter becomes the hunted etc. 

Sadie’s husband has been murdered and she’s been assaulted by a gang called The Touchers on the day of her wedding. That attack has unleashed a horrific power deep within her and an insatiable desire to get revenge with the newfound power of, well, her lady business. Satan himself has laid claim to her sex but she’s learned how to harness its powers to be some kind of orgasmic Ghost Rider.

Written and directed by Ron Bonk (House Shark), this movie has something to offend nearly everyone, from cats used as nunchakus to a casual disregard for every person in the film. It also has the kind of bad acting that is trying to be bad, which usually turns me off on a movie. But hey, the challenge was revenge and this is the one that I picked.

This movie will probably split people. There will be a “How transgressive!” group of people. Equally, there will be folks that say, “What a badly made movie.” And then there will be people who say, “Instead of watching a movie inspired by Thriller: A Cruel Picture, why don’t I just watch that movie?”

I leave it to you to figure out just how much I love Christina Lindberg (actually, I can’t measure it).

You can watch this on Tubi.

Exploring: Neil Merryweather on Film

Neil Merryweather, left, James Newton Howard, right, with the Space Rangers/Neil Merryweather Facebook.

Canadian rock singer, bass player and songwriter Neil Merryweather, born on December 27, 1945, recorded and performed with musicians including Steve Miller, Dave Mason, Lita Ford, Billy Joel, and Rick James.

He passed away on March 29, 2021, in Las Vegas, Nevada, after a short battle with cancer.

Neil Merryweather, influenced by David Bowie with his Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars project, achieved his low-selling, yet critically acclaimed creative peak of seventies excess with two heavy-psych space-rock albums from his Space Rangers project, released in 1974 and 1975.

Devotees of early-seventies glam-rock and proto-metal obscurities may note the similarities in artwork and sound on the Space Rangers to that of the later, John Entwistle-fronted rock opera of the Flash Fearless vs. the Zorg Women (October 1975) project featuring Detroiter Alice Cooper; the album itself inspired by Bowie’s Ziggy persona.

A Canadian singer and bassist, Neil Merryweather got his professional start with the Just Us, which released 1965’s “I Don’t Love You b/w I Can Tell” on Quality Records (the label had a major Canadian and U.S. chart hit with “Shakin’ All Over” from the Guess Who). Merryweather eventually joined Rick James (later known for his 1981 disco-funk smash, “Superfreak”) in the Mynah Birds (which featured Neil Young and Bruce Palmer, who had already left for Buffalo Springfield) and recorded the August 1967 single, “It’s My Time,” at Detroit’s Motown Studios. Upon the departure of Rick James, Merryweather kept the Mynah Birds active with fellow Canadian Bruce Cockburn (later known to U.S. radio and video audiences for the singles “Wondering Where the Lions Are” from 1980 and 1984’s “If I Had a Rocket Launcher”; Neil and Cockburn also played together in Flying Circus).

Neil’s bandmate in Mama Lion — and its harder-edge version, known as Heavy Cruiser, sans Lynn Carey — keyboardist James Newton Howard, became a go-to Hollywood soundtrack producer. You’re heard his work since the early ’80s — most notably with Wyatt Earp, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, I Am Legend, and Red Sparrow.

Merryweather then established Mama Lion with lead vocalist Lynn Carey and signed with Ripp’s Family Productions (also the home to Billy Joel). After issuing two Janis Joplin-inspired, psychedelic-blues n’ soul efforts with Preserve Wildlife and Give It Everything I’ve Got (both 1972), Mama Lion — sans Carey — became the harder, blues-rocking Heavy Cruiser. Their critically acclaimed, two album stint with Heavy Cruiser and Lucky Dog (1972) attracted the attention of a more industry-reputable managerial suitor, Shep Gordon (he also attempted to sign Iggy Pop; he lost to Danny Sugerman). Gordon wanted to sign and book Heavy Cruiser as Alice Cooper’s opening act. Sadly, Artie Ripp and Shep Gordon didn’t get along, and the Gordon-Cooper deal soured. Along the way, Merryweather was offered — and turned down — the bassist spot in Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.

After assisting Billy Joel in the studio on an early demo of “Piano Man,” which led to Joel signing with Columbia Records, Merryweather devised the glam-inspired, proto-metal Space Rangers project around the then high-tech Chamberlin keyboard, also electronically augmenting the band with a then-groundbreaking use of Octivators and Echoplexes. Initially recording with Capitol, Merryweather issued Space Rangers (1974), then Kryptonite (1975), on Mercury.

Billy Joel, with Neil Merryweather and Heavy Cruiser (Rhys Clark and Alan Hurtz) jamming on “Heart of Gold.”

After losing Iggy Pop and Merryweather, Gordon signed Detroit guitarist Dick Wagner, formerly of the Frost, with his new endeavor, Ursa Major, which featured Billy Joel in its embryonic stages.

Ursa Major became Cooper’s opening act and Wagner wrote “Only Women Bleed.”

Tim McGovern, the drummer in Mama Lion and the Space Rangers, would find success as a guitarist. Starting with the L.A new-wave band the Pop, and then with the Motels, McGovern found MTV success with “Belly of the Whale,” as the frontman for the Burning Sensations. They placed their cover of Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers’ “Pablo Picasso” on the punk-influenced soundtrack for 1984’s Repo Man.

Merryweather, sensing the changing times, adopted a pop-rock, new-wave sound with Eyes, a Holland-based band featuring ex-members of the Nina Hagen Band* and Herman Brood’s Wild Romance*, which released Radical Genes on RCA Records. However, Merryweather returned to his heavy-metal roots — inventively streamlining and glamming the “old sound” for a wider, commercial appeal — as the manager, bassist, and chief songwriter for the solo career of ex-Runaway Lita Ford on her progenitive hair-metal debut, Out for Blood.

Leaving the industry after the Ford project, but not leaving his creative side behind, Merryweather forged a career as an award-winning painter, sculpture, and photographer and worked in the creative department for the City of Los Angeles Department of Public Works. As the calendar flipped to the 21st century, Merryweather returned to the music business, composing music for teen-oriented television shows and, with ex-Space Rangers Mike Willis and Jamie Herndon, made plans to enter the studio for a new, third Space Rangers album. His other music projects — formed with ex-Space Ranger Jamie Herndon and ex-Lita Ford drummer Dusty Watson were known as Hundred Watt Head and The La La Land Blues Band.

His last project, prior to his passing, was a third album with Janne Stark, formerly the guitarist with Swedish New Wave of British Heavy Metal upstarts Overdrive, which released the classic hard rock albums Metal Attack (1983) and Swords And Axes (1984). You can learn more about the Merryweather Stark band — and their albums Carved in Rock (2018) and Rock Solid (2020) — at their official Facebook page. You may leave condolences at Neil Merryweather’s personal Facebook page, which will continued to be managed by his survivors.

Neill completing one of his many artworks/courtesy of Neil Merryweather Facebook.

And, with that, let’s roll the films — and TV series — of Neil Merryweather!

The Seven Minutes (1971)

Leave it to Russ Meyer — of Beyond the Valley of the Dolls fame — to be the only filmmaker to realize the soundtrack potential of the musical scope that is Neil Merryweather. And the potential behind the well-researched, sexually-charged novels of screenwriter Irving Wallace (his early ’60s books, published by Simon & Schuster — The Chapman Report, The Prize, The Man, and 1976’s The R Document — were all adapted, as was The Seven Minutes, by others).

While Russ Meyer’s name immediately says “sex,” the film carries a deeper meaning on the effects of pornography and its relationship to issues regarding freedom of speech: it’s also a meta-movie: about a book, The Seven Minutes, purported as the “most obscene piece of pornography ever written.” A district attorney on the political fast track for a senatorial seat uses the book’s erotic infamy to indict a college student for a brutal rape and murder, as well as the book store owner who sold the book to the student.

Typical of a Meyer film, while it lacks his usual “tits and ass” (demanded by the studio), the casting is B&S About Movies-crazed: In addition to Meyer’s wife and 20th Century Fox Studios’ contract player Edy Williams, the cast features Yvonne De Carlo, John Carradine (the last decent film he was in), the always-welcomed Charles Napier, a self-playing Wolfman Jack, and in another early role, Tom Selleck (Daughters of Satan).

As for Neil Merrryweather: “Midnight Tricks,” from his pre-Mama Lion joint album with Lynn Carey — Vacuum Cleaner (1971) by the concern Merryweather & Carey — appears in the film. (Neil’s works with Heavy Cruiser and Mama Lion were distributed by the Paramount Studios-imprint, Family Productions.)

The duo’s relationship with Meyer goes back to the smut-auteur recruiting Lynn Carey for the Stu Phillips-produced soundtrack to Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (Battlestar Galactica ’78 is one of his many); Lynn sings (“Find It” and “Once I Had You”) for that film’s character in the faux band, The Carrie Nations, along with Barbara “Sandi” Robison. While Lynn’s voice appears in the film, for legal reasons, she does not appear on the subsequent, original soundtrack album.

As a child actress, Lynn appeared in the ’60s series The Man from U.N.C.L.E and Lassie; in the early ’80s, she had a stint on the U.S. daytime drama, Days of Our Lives. She made her lone film appearances in Lord Love a Duck (1966; with Roddy McDowall) and How Sweet It Is! (1968; with James Gardner). Lynn’s attempt at moving into ’80s AOR (think ’80s glam-bent Heart) led to her songs appearing in I Married a Centerfold (1984), Challenge of a Lifetime (1985), Radioactive Dreams (1985) (“All Talk” appears in the film, but on the soundtrack), Hollywood Harry (1985), and Combat High (1986).

Lita Ford: Out for Blood (1983)

By the mid-70s, Neil resided in the Netherlands, where, through Chrysalis Records in London, he set up an imprint, Clear, in cooperation with the Dutch company, Dureco. While developing new acts out of Chrysalis’ studios in Miami and Los Angeles, he released his 12th album, his three-years later follow up to Kryponite (1975) by the Space Rangers, with the solo album, Differences (1978). He then formed the more timely, new-wave outfit Eyes, which released their lone album, Radical Genes.

Then, with new wave and punk on the downward stroke and glam metal on the rise: a new musical adventure called forth. . . .

You know the story: Lita Ford was a member of the Runaways (duBeat-e-o). Joan Jett was fed up with Cherrie Currie (The Rosebud Beach Hotel) as the frontwoman. Currie was tired of being pushed on back burner. Joan wanted to take the band in a punk vein (which she did: with members of the Clash and the Sex Pistols, which morphed into her solo debut, Bad Reputation). Lita wanted to take the band in a metal direction, which Joan hated.

So, Neil, as he did with Lynn Carey, first with the Vacuum Cleaner duo project, and their two albums with Mama Lion, found a new muse for his next musical direction: a creative detour that returned to his ’70s hard-rock roots first explored in the bands Heavy Cruiser and the Space Rangers.

As the mastermind behind a new, full-metal Lita, Neil served as her manager and producer (Billy Joel’s ex-Svengali, Artie Ripp, co-produced). In addition to playing bass — his career instrument of choice — Neil wrote four of the albums nine cuts: the album’s title cut song (posted above), “Ready, Willing and Able,” “Die for Me Only (Black Widow),” and “On the Run.” If you know Neil’s artistic side: he designed all of his own albums covers, costumes, and stage shows throughout his career: Out for Blood for blood was no exception: he constructed the chain-web, the cover, and the band’s outfits; he also designed the MTV video single.

Sadly, his partnership with Lita Ford was short-lived. The experience was such that Neil retired from the business to work as a graphic artist — his second biggest love — for government agencies in Los Angeles and Las Vegas. He went on to win numerous awards for his paintings and multi-media pieces.

Ash vs. Evil Dead (2016)

What can we say about this Equinox (1970) inspired franchise from Sam Raimi that hasn’t already been said? Well, we finally worked up the courage to say something about the film that started it all, Evil Dead (1981) — at least Sam “the Bossman” Pacino did — of the highly-influential “Midnight Movie” splatter fest.

As for the series, itself: we touched base with the Bruce Campbell-starring series as part of our “Lee Majors Week” tribute blowout — as Lee appeared as Brock Williams, Ash’s pop, in the second and third seasons of Starz’s Ash vs. Evil Dead.

As for the Neil Merryweather connection: “Star Rider,” from the Space Rangers’ 1975 second and final album, Kyrponite, appears in “Home”; the first episode of the series’ second season, it served as the introduction to Lee’s character.

So, wraps up our exploration of Neil’s all-too-brief connection to film.

This feature’s intro-obituary originally appeared in the Medium pages of R.D. Francis: “Neil Merryweather: Rock’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Space Ranger, Dies.” Portions also appeared in the article “Other Musical Phantoms: Neil Merryweather and Jim Gustafson. Who? (Then You Don’t Know William Kyle Eidson II or Lori Lieberman, Either).”

You can discover and listen to Neil’s catalog on his official You Tube page. There are also numerous uploads of his albums by his many, worldwide fans.

We previously explored the soundtrack work of the late Eddie Van Halen — as well as his lone acting gig — with our “Exploring: Eddie Van Halen” on Film” feature.
To learn more about another obscure, musical “phantom” of the ’70s, be sure to visit with the article: “Arthur Pendragon: Jim Morrison’s Doppelganger.”

* We reviewed Nina Hagen and Herman Brood’s dual-acting roles in the film Cha-Cha (1979).

About the Author: You can learn more about the writings of R.D Francis on Facebook. He also writes for B&S About Movies and publish music reviews and short stories on Medium.

Holidays (2016)

Some people love holidays and decorate their homes based on them. Others, well, they pretty much hate the idea of celebrations that bring people together. My wife would be the former, I’d be the latter, but we both agreed that we didn’t enjoy this.

In the first story, Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer (who made the wonderful Starry Eyes and the not-so-wonderful Pet Sematary as a team) tell what feels like an unfinished story about Valentine’s Day, specifically one young lady’s love for her coach and hate of those that bully her. My major issue — well, one of many major issues, including an over-reliance on gore, a lack of a connective story and too many short films that should be on their own and not part of an overall portmanteau — with modern anthologies shows up here: this story could not exist on its own. Maybe so much of my love of these stories remains rooted in the EC Comics structure: someone is hurt, revenge occurs and the close is poetic justice (which is not just the name of a story in Amicus’ EC Comics masterwork Tales from the Crypt).

Gary Shore, who made Dracula Untold, directed the St. Patrick’s Day story, which is a pretty basic tale: girl gets strange gift from student, student’s dad has sex with knocked out girl, girl gives birth to a snake and loves it as if it were a human child. As the stories go in this movie, this is probably as good as it gets.

Nicholas McCarthy, the director of The Prodigy, made Easter, in which a young girl catches the bunny of said holiday, who ends up being a horrific crucified Christ figure. There’s not really anywhere else the story can go after that. If you’re into shocking visuals without much substance, by all means, enjoy.

Sarah Adina Smith made Mother’s Day, which has nearly every witches trying to get a woman pregnant cliche there is. Again, I’m sorry to be a broken record, but nearly every story in this has left me beyond cold.

Anthony Scott Burns made the film Come True recently and his Father’ Day segment gets close to what I demand from anthology horror: a story with a beginning, middle and end that doesn’t forget that it should build some tension and not just be all about gross out scenes or being transgressive (which trust me, has its place). Plus, Michael Gross is always great and Jocelin Donahue has been a favorite — and will always remain there — after The House of the Devil.

Kevin Smith made Mother’s Day and it has all the hallmarks of his oeuvre: female empowerment, offensive humor and strange situations. It is, however, not good at all. Would you cast your daughter in a story where a man is given a knife and told to make his penis into a vagina? If the answer is yes, thank you for reading our site, Mr. Smith. Chasing Amy should not be in the Criterion collection, but you seem like a nice enough fellow.

Scott Stewart directed Priest and Legion before making the Seth Green-starring Christmas segment, in which a father struggles to get his son virtual glasses that show what is really inside someone. A cute idea, somewhat well told.

Kölsch and Widmyer wrote the final New Year’s Eve segment, which was directed by Adam Egypt Mortimer (Daniel Isn’t Real). It’s a meet cute about two serial killers finding one another and only one surviving their first date.

Do yourself a favor and just watch the Father’s Day segment and don’t subject yourself to the rest. Life is short and if you’re just living for the next holiday — or to watch this — you’re wasting your time.