Junesploitation 2022: Blood on Méliès’ Moon (2016)

June 26: Junesploitation’s topic of the day — as suggested by F This Movie— is free! We’re excited to tackle a different genre every day, so check back and see what’s next.

Man, Luigi Cozzi. StarcrashContaminationPaganini Horror, Cannon’s Hercules, his remix of GodzillaSinbad of the Seven Seas, the remix remake ripoff weirdness that is Demons 6 De Profundis, The Killer Must Kill Again, writing Four Flies on Grey Velvet and even just being a fan of film and running Argento’s Profondo Rosso store and museum — I just love the man. Like, I wish I could buy him dinner and drinks and just pick his brain for hours about the history of film.

I think this is as close as I’m going to get.

Cozzi originally came up with the idea — or at least the title — for Blood on Méliès’ Moon when he was working for Cannon in the 80s, but had no idea how it could be made. As much as we hate on modern technology, it did make this happen, as the Cozzi said that it was like when he “decided to become a publisher, until then, to publish a book you had to print at least one or two thousand copies. That meant a lot of money and often your storehouses were full of unsold copies. After the advent of digital, you could print even only thirty copies of a book and so I decided to start publishing books and novels.”

Let me try and summarize this absolutely berserk movie.

Inventor Louis Le Prince — a real artist could possibly have been the first person to shoot a movie of any length using a single lens camera and a strip of film; he also disappeared after boarding a train in September of 1890 on his way to demonstrate the camera, but there are theories that he was killed by Edison, disappeared to start a new life and celebrate his homosexuality where he would not be judged, that he committed suicide due to multiple failures or that his brother killed him to get their mother’s will. The case has never been solved — create a device that the Lumière Brothers would eventually call The Cinematographer.

Luigi Cozzi, playing himself, finds a book called The Roaming Universe that was left for him when Barbara (Barbara Magnolfi!) is killed by the statue of the Blood and Black Lace killer within Profondo Rosso’s Argento museum basement, a book that she received during a seance during which an old woman violently puked it into existence.

A man has also sent Cozzi a lamp fashioned after Le Voyage dans la Lune and claims that a shadow version of La Prince in the guise of a masked magician has left the doorway open to a dark dimension that will soon doom our reality using film as his weapon.

It’s a little like La rage du Démon, in that one of Méliès’ movies causes chaos, but it’s also a lot like a conspiracy tract you would have found in the 80s all Xeroxed and left in a payphone booth or a strange YouTube channel that at first you giggle about but then you say, “Well, that makes sense.” It’s baffling and brilliant and corny and silly all at the same time, a messy final message from an auteur who can’t help but be entertaining no matter what he does.

There’s also a trickster named Pierpoljakos (Philippe Beun-Garbe) who takes Cozzi through other dimensions, a severed head that can speak, Cozzi’s wife reacting to him telling her that he has to save the world by just rolling over and going back to sleep, Cozzi in fuzzy pajamas, Ben Cooper level masks, monsters and effects, as well as Lamberto Bava showing off his dad’s book collection, Dario Argento at an autograph signing and a nightmare that has critic Paolo Zelati claim that Cozzi is the Italian Ed Wood, which should upset him, but just ends up making him happy.

There’s also a discussion of the volcano sequence that Cozzi ripped off for Hercules and asks, “Did Cozzi choose the images or did the images choose him?” He also gets to fly on a rocket and when he lands, gets a smile from his own creation, Stella Starr from Starcrash.

This movie reminds me of the Profondo Rosso store itself, a cramped small place with a few books, some DVDs and goofy masks, all standing above a shrine to the genius that is Italian exploitation cinema in the catacombs below. It doesn’t make a lot of sense, it doesn’t have to and it’s wonderful.

I have in my office a Profondo Rosso mug and it’s one of my prized possessions. It’s like some alchemical object, something I hold and hope that the inspiration and madness and love of cinema that Cozzi has always had stays within me. I also am happy to report that when I mentioned his name to Caroline Munro, she lit up and said, “He really is the most wonderful man.”

You can get this movie directly from Profondo Rosso.

A Mother’s Revenge (2016)

Jennifer Clarke (Jamie Luner, All My ChildrenMelrose Place) already thinks that she’s finished her Lifetime movie, one in which she went overboard after being gaslit for decades by her horrible husband Richard (Jason-Shane Scott) and turned her life around, becoming an in-demand corporate exec while he’s married to a woman the same age as their daughter Katey (Audrey Whitby) and dealing with diapers. Yet she made the biggest mistake anyone in a movie can make. She grabbed the wrong suitcase, which brings the maniac named Conner (Steven Brand) into her life.

Also called An Accidental Switch and Killer Switch, this movie works because Steven Brand actually feels menacing and gets off some really sinister dialogue that makes this veer toward the weirdness that this needs more of. I realize it’s a Lifetime movie, but that doesn’t mean that a little bit of sleaze can’t come on down.

Next time you’re in the airport and they ask if you’ve had your bag the whole time, make sure you did. You don’t want a killing machine stealing your child and killing your ex-husband who you hate — maybe you might — and making you confess over the phone that you’re a bad girl. Actually, maybe you do want all of that. So you know, set that bag down and see what kind of adventure creeps into your life.

You can watch this on Tubi.

Sniper: Special Ops (2016)

Segal and Van Dam — together for the first time.

Steven Seagal and…Rob Van Dam weed-loving pro wrestler.

Also this is not a Sniper sequel despite the story of Master Gunnery Sergeant Tom Beckett taking place over eight movies.

Seagal is Sergeant Jake Chandler, an expert sniper, one so good that he’s rarely — if ever — in the same shot with his co-stars, shot like Jamie Lee Curtis in an Activia commercial.

The rest of the team — Van Dam, Tim Abell, Jason Shane-Scott — have been given the goal of rescuing a U.S. Congressman who has been kidnapped by the Taliban.

While I’d love to believe the IMDB fact “In preparation for this role Steven Seagal at fast food for a year straight while living with a family in Wisconsin,” I do appreciate the silent warrior who has been watching Fred Olen Ray movies and posting their military inaccuracies on the site, such as  “The sniper rifle makes the “phew” sound typical for suppressed gunfire in movies. High-powered long-range rifles are impossible to fully suppress because the bullets travel at over twice the speed of sound and make a loud sonic “crack” as they travel downrange. Although the suppressed muzzle blast makes it difficult to ascertain the position of the shooter, combatants in the target area will still hear the rifle fire and realize they are being fired upon.”

That’s the kind of obsessive movie writing that I adore. If that’s you, please write for this site.

Segal is in this movie for ten minutes. You can understand him for about three of those minutes.

At the end of this movie, the NATO reporter (Charlene Amoia) along with the crew takes photos of each of the soldiers.

RVD does his pose as if a crowd of dissidents would soon shout “Whole F-N Show!”

I laughed for about forty minutes.

You can watch this on Tubi.

Catacomba (2016)

Beyond the fumetti neri, Italian vietati ai minori (prohibited to minors) comic books go beyond the violence and sex that showed up in 80s exploitation movies. There were titles such as VampirissimoJacula (a female seductress married to both a vampire and human), Maghella (a witch character who was translated into an unreleased 1974 movie by Francis Leroi starring Playboy Playmate Jennifer Liano), Lucifera (a demoness from the Middle Ages who torments men and woman alike), Biancaneve (the erotic Snow White which was made into 1976’s La principessa sul pisello, directed by Piero Regnoli (the writer of Cry of a Prostitute) that features Susanna Martinková and 1982’s Biancaneve & Co which was directed by Mario Bianchi (Satan’s Baby Doll) and starring Michela Miti), Vartan (a Native American heroine based on French singer Sylvia Vartan), Zora the Vampire (which was made into a film by the Menetti Bros) and Sukia (a female vampire based on Ornella Muti).

Lorenzo Lepori (Beyond the Omega) and Roberto Albanesi, who co-wrote the script with Antonio Tentori (Island of the Living Dead), have taken those horror comics and adapted them into this anthology, which is just as concerned with violence as it is with sex. It starts with a man waiting for a barber, so he sits down and starts to reach the Catcaomba comic book.

In “Evil Tree,” Tentori plays a man who meets two biker women under a tree where they take physical advantage of him before murdering him to bring Satan into our world. It’s not much of a story, but the effects by Davide Bracci (Mother of Tears) and Sergio Stivaletti (The Wax Mask, which he directed, as well Demons) make this better than average.

“Alien Lover” concerns a wife’s infidelity with a stab happy alien, a fact that her husband was not ready to confront.

“Una Messa Nera per Paganini” may bring to mind Paganini Horror, but it tells its own story about the composer and the discovery of several of his hidden scores. Perhaps the remembrance of that Cozzi film is because that movie also had Pascal Persiano in it.

“La Maschera della Morte Rossa” has assisted suicide, occult rituals, necrophobia and rebirth, so basically something for everyone in the family.

Imagine if Creepshow went harder. Trashier and bloodier, too.

APRIL MOVIE THON DAY 16: Sweet, Sweet Lonely Girl (2016)

Adele (Erin Wilhelmi) is the girl of the title, a lonely teenager caring for her agoraphobic aunt Dora (Susan Kellerman, who played Latka’s mom on Taxi), a woman who won’t even leave her room and only leaves messages slid under her door. However, Adele’s life changes when she meets her exact opposite, Beth (Quinn Shephard), whose behaviors and mannerisms she begins to absorb.

The problem is that Beth convinced Adele to slowly begin buying cheaper versions of her food and eventually her heart medicine, which kills her. Adele takes her green ring and calls for an ambulance. She’s sure that Beth loves her after a moment of brief passion, so she leaves the jewlery for her, but it isn’t taken. Despondent, she starts selling all of her aunt’s belongings and frequenting bars, followed by Beth, who of course is in no way what she appears.

Obviously, this movie’s poster is based on The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane and this aims for the same 70s feel. Throw in a flipflopped Vestron logo in the beginning and the mood of films we adore from that era — Brownrigg, Let’s Scare Jessica to Death — and this is what I want more of in today’s horror: an understanding of what has worked and a build toward something new. Sure, the end is a bit abrupt and you can see it coming, but director and writer A.D. Calvo is someone more than worth watching. The lookbook for his next film, Here Comes the Night, proves that he’s absolutely on the right wavelength and I can’t wait.

You can watch this on Shudder and learn more on the official website.

APRIL MOVIE THON DAY 12: My Uncle John Is a Zombie! (2016)

After being drafted into the army for a two year tour, John Russo came back to Pittsburgh and started working with The Latent Image, making commercial films but always planning a feature someday. Russo crafted a rough idea about a young man stumbling upon a host of ghouls feeding off human corpses, then George Romero wrote forty pages of a story based on that rough concept.

When Russo and George A. Romero parted ways after the movie that ensured — Night of the Living Dead — Russo retained the rights to any titles featuring Living Dead while Romero was free to create his own series of sequels. Russo’s book Return of the Living Dead became the movie. And before that he was already making his own films like MidnightThe Booby HatchHeartstopper and The Majorettes, which was directed by Bill Hinzman, the Cemetery Zombie in Night who also directed Flesheater.

Directed by Russo and co-written with Robert Lucas, this film can at least claim that while Russo may not be the father of the modern American flesheater movie, he’s definitely at least an uncle. Or Uncle John, the somewhat still-human undead main character of the film, a zombie who becomes a celebrity in a world that now treats the undead like a different ethnic group.

Shot in the same Evans City cemetery as Night, as well as locations in Clairton, West Mifflin and Braddock, this takes place a half-decade after the canon real events of the first film and now, Uncle John is a horny old man protected by his niece Cy-Fi (using her real name, she’s also in Crucifvixen and the documentary Pola in she plays herself as a rave DJ) and nephew Oscar (Gary Lee Vincent, the 2020 remake of Midnight). Meanwhile, zombie hunter Reverend Hotchkiss (Russell Streiner, the man who once said, “Barbara, they’re coming to get you.”) is hunting him down and a cop named Jane Smart (Sarah French, Art of the Dead) wants to know how he stays alive if he isn’t eating people.

There’s also a right wing hunting camp that wants to protect the Second Amendment and also kill as many zombies as possible. Also, if you love commercial breaks within the film, this has them. It also has Debbie Rochon, Tiffany Shepis, Felissa Rose and Lloyd Kaufman with the Toxic Avenger and Sgt. Kabukiman, which was enough to make me want to shut this off but I got through it.

Jizmak the Gusha from Gwar is in this, out of makeup, as is George Kosana, who played Sheriff McClelland in Night and who is finally called to task for shooting more black zombies than white ghouls. I mean, this film has John Russo in zombie makeup on a sex swing somewhere at a rave party in Braddock along with social commentary and if you’re willing to take that ride, it’s here.

You can watch this on Tubi.

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.