One Cut of the Dead (2017)

Kamera o Tomeru na! (Don’t Stop the Camera!) features a 37-minute-long continuous shot that took six takes and makes the entire movie. In fact, as boring as zombie movies have become, One Cut of the Dead makes me forget just how bad things have been the last few years.

Like a charming animal-destruction free version of Cannibal Holocaust, the movie has three different ways that the story is told, changing with each new telling of the tale. Higurashi, the director, is losing money and needs to finish his film, but he hates how it kooks. So he makes a blood pentagram that activates real zombies that start biting his crew and actors while he keeps screaming for them to keep shooting, no matter what.

And honestly, if I tell you anything that happens after the actress Chinatsu kills him and stands inside the pentagram in a trance, it will ruin what was one of the best movies I’ve seen in some time.

This small movie went on to earn a thousand times its budget. That’s incredible and if a film is deserving of that success, it’s this one. You can check it out on Shudder.

Mill Creek Zombie Collection: Granny of the Dead (2017)

Craig Tudor James directed, wrote, produced, edited, shot, did the effects and sound, as well as acted as Corey in this movie, a film in which a guy named Ed learns that his grandmother has gone on to her just reward only to come back as a shambling zombie who is gained power with each moment.

In fact, everyone old has become a zombie, which means that elderly care is about to change for all of us.

Sometimes, your zombie movie is Shaun of the Dead and sometimes, it’s Hard Rock Zombies.

This one is, well, the latter. A funny idea that maybe will make a few laugh, but probably the weakest of the films on this set.

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

Frankenstein in a Women’s Prison (2017)

I mean, if we can have Dracula in a Women’s Prison and Werewolf in a Women’s Prison, I guess we can have this. Jeff LeRoy also made Giantess Attack vs. Mecha Fembot, so keep in mind that you aren’t getting a movie you can discuss with anyone normal out of this.

Victoria Frankenstein (Tasha Tacosa, who was also in LeRoy’s Predator World and Giantess Attack, which is a different movie than the one above) has taken over a prison and thanks to the bloody riot that just happened, she has a whole bunch of new bodies to experiment on. There’s also a reality show trying to expose all the human rights abuses, but are you coming to something with this title with anything other than hopes of shower scenes with bolts in nubile necks?

Victoria De Mare, Betty Boop from the Killjoy movies, is in this. So is Elissa Dowling from We Are Still Here and Girl on the Third Floor. And several others, like Diana Solis, Maggie Sanchez, Li Zheng and Carissa White appear in more than a few LeRoy movies. And hey — that’s Jin N. Tonic — playing Kat in this — who was Lilith in Amityville Vampire.

Truly, I have seen too many movies.

Menendez: Blood Brothers (2017)

World of Wonder Productions, founded in 1991 by filmmakers Randy Barbato and Fenton Baile — who both directed this movie — got their start managing RuPaul and producing RuPaul’s Drag Race, as well as Inside Deep ThroatParty Monster, The Eyes of Tammy Faye and, well, whatever this is.

Because sure, you may know the story of Lyle and Eric Menendez. You may have seen movies about them. But have you seen Courtney Love — yes, Hole frontwoman Courtney Love — play Kitty, their mother?

No, you have not.

Their father Jose Menendez worked at both LIVE Home Entertainment and Carolco  Pictures — and who may allegedly have been the Menudo manager who abused Rikcy Martin — and supposedly pushed the boys hard. And maybe he also allegedly did things to them as well. But man, 1996 was their year. It was everywhere — not just tabloids and Inside Edition either.

So when you have a plastic surgery fabulous Courtney saying things like, “I can’t believe Lucille Ball died. I really did love Lucy,” well you’ve got me front and center for your movie.

Also, as you can imagine, her character dies pretty early on in the story. What you may not guess is that Courtney then plays a ghost for the resy of the movie, which is something that I endorse beyond endorsement.

Why were we not told that Courtney Love is in a Lifetime movie? This feels like the kind of information that people would get excited about. Why did it take me nearly three years to find this movie when I should have been having a premiere party complete with cupcakes, festive dips and a signature cocktail?

The movie is horrible when Courtney isn’t it, but you knew that. I just wish that the Italian exploitation industry was still around, because she’d be awesome in a remake of So Sweet…So Perverse.

Leatherface (2017)

If we’ve learned anything from sequels that don’t matter, it’s that they’re all made in Eastern Europe, so the fact that Texas took so long to move to Bulgaria surprised me.

Back in the mid 50s, Betty Hartman and Ted Hardesty are driving down a Texas road when they’re lured to a barn by the nascent Leatherface, now just Jedidiah Sawyer, and Betty is murdered by his family. When her father Sheriff Hartman (Stephen Dorff) finds her body, he makes sure that Jedidiah goes to a mental institution. Of course, his family busts him out and now Hartman is a Texas Ranger who is possibly just as messed up as the Sawyers.

This movie sat on the shelves of LionsGate and felt like it was never coming out. I don’t know who was dying to see it — well, I mean, I’ll obviously watch every sequel, so me? — but it finally came out on DirectTV more than a year later.

That said, Doriff is always great and Lili Taylor is one of my favorites. Yet this feels like the movies Chainsaw influenced and not a movie trying to influence future films.

Directors Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo made Inside and nearly made a reboot of Hellraiser and a sequel to Rom Zombie’s Halloween. Their film The Deep House got some mentions this year.

JOE D’AMATO WEEK: Omega Rising: Remembering Joe D’Amato (2017)

Created by Eugenio Ercolani (Aenigma: Lucio Fulci and the 80sBanned Alive! The Rise and Fall of Italian Cannibal Movies) and Giuliano Emanuele (Italy Possessed: A Brief History of Italian Exorcist Rip-offs), this film was originally included with the 88 Films release of Buio Omega.

Thanks to interviews with George Eastman, Michele Soavi, Claudio Fragasso, Ruggero Deodato, Al Cliver, Rossella Drudi and more, this film gives a rich overview of the life and times Aristide Massaccesi, the man who is known by so many names, but also Joe D’Amato. It confirms what I’ve always believed: sure, D’Amato made some disreputable movies, but he also had a lot of heart and treated everyone he worked with incredibly well.

In some way, I wish this was more than just talking heads dryly discussing D’Amato, but I think somewhere, he’s smiling realizing that they put exactly as much effort into a dissection of his life as he would into theirs. And as always, George Eastman says incredibly horible things about someone and then says, “But I loved the guy.” I kind of feel the same way about that incredibly tall Italian grump.

Lilith’s Hell (2017)

Lilith’s Helli would like you to know that Ruggero Deodato invented the found footage film.

Ryan (Marcus J. Cotterell) is a film director and Ruggero Deodato superfan who has come to Rome to work with Marco (Vincenzo Petrarolo, who also directed this) and Alberto (Federico Palmieri). He doesn’t want to make a horror movie, but yeah, he kind of wants to make a horror movie

Maybe things will get better when Michelle (Manuela Stanciu) and the other actresses arrive, right?

Of course, Marco and Alberto are more into sleeping with the girls than making a movie and when something overtakes Michelle, she ends up biting off more than Alberto had in mind. This movie should teach you not to hire actresses off the internet, ply them with drugs and then treat them as if they were in a Rocco Siffredi movie when a demonic force is nearby. Shouldn’t you know that already?

As the rest of the crew — which also includes makeup artist Sara (Joelle Rigollet, Inside) — wakes up to screams in the middle of the night, they soon learn that this home and this movie was probably no accident. Some dark fate awaits everyone.

I mean, the house has a secret ritual chamber for Lilith, who was cast from Eden because she would not follow Adam. And now, she wants to return to our world. So yeah — a feminist demon attacking the crew of a Ruggero Deodato movie shot in found footage style, but it looks way better than it should and despite the bad acting from much of the male cast, I still found myself enjoying it, particularly the ending where despite the real dead bodies — I mean, within the movie and with Italian movies you really do need to explain that — Deodato arrives and tells the cameras to shoot everything.

If it didn’t have so much to do with Deodato, I doubt I’d have even seen this film, so the stunt casting is a success. Luckily, the movie for the most part — particularly the occult reveal — worked enough to keep me for the entire running time.

You can watch this on Tubi or buy the DVD from MVD.

Black Holler (2017)

In 1989. street-smart Laquita Johnson is forced into a camping trip with a bunch of ridiculous white students on her first day at a new school. You know what happens when people go into the woods? If the movies on my shelves have anything to say about it, people die.

Of course, the anthropology class at O’Fish Community College is doomed. And unlike all the slashers we watched as kids, this time the final girl gets to be black. And she’s up against magic rocks, underwater zombies and the woods themselves.

If you’re ready for a satire of slashers that plays smart instead of dumb, this one is ready for you to enjoy. There’s not much of a budget, but you know, I think that’s a large part of why I found it so charming.

Director Jason Berg hasn’t done anything before but I really hope he has another movie in him. Same to his co-writers Heidi Ervin (who also plays Rebecca O’Sunnybrook) and Rachel Ward Heggen (who is Megan). They know the right side of the clever and stupid paradigm, which trust me, is not always so simple.

Sometimes, I think, “This movie looks like it was fun to make. ”

This would be one of those movies.

Black Holler is available from Wild Eye Releasing.

The Black Gloves (2017)

I mean, if you’re going to name your giallo something, The Black Gloves isn’t bad. The movie that this is a prequel to — Lord of Tears — and the connected film — The Unkindness of Ravens — both have even better titles, however.

Finn Galloway is a psychologist obsessed with a patient who is haunted by an entity known as the Owlman. Now, he’s discovered another subject with the same fear, a ballerina who has hidden herself away from the world. If Finn treats her, he’ll get the answers he needs. And he’ll probably die at the claws of the Owlman.

Based on the 70s reports of an owl creature called the Cornish Owlman or the Owlman of Mawnan, this movie references the gothic horror of the past while pushing toward something new.  And if you have a title that references black gloves, you need some identity issues and psychotic madness too, right?

Director Lawrie Brewster and writer Sarah Daly have created several horror films together and if they’re all like this, it’s time I start hunting them down.

You can watch this on Tubi.

Ghost Stories (2017)

Based on the stage play, Ghost Stories is a movie that redeems the horror anthology after years of poor direct to video and screaming excuses for entries in the canon. It’s written and directed by Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman, who stars as Philip Goodman, a famous professor and television personality who is obsessed with outing fraudulent psychics and explaining away the paranormal.

Now, he’s been invited to meet his inspiration, Charles Cameron (Martin Freeman*), who was once an occult investigator just like Philip, but now is a poor man living out his last days in a trailer. He asks him to investigate three cases, which form the stories of this anthology.

The first case is that of a night watchman named Tony Matthews, whose wife has died of cancer and daughter has locked herself away from the world. Now, he’s haunted by a young girl while he works. Then, a teenager obsessed with the occult accidentally runs over a demonic creature in the woods. The investigator becomes more and more unnerved by the cases, ending with the story of a banker whose wife has died in childbirth as she unleashed an inhuman child upon the world.

That’s when reality falls apart and Philip can no longer explain the unknown and must face down whatever he is enduring. I don’t want to give away the rug pull in this movie, but trust me that it makes sense and gives this story even more dramatic heft.

I love how the opening of this movie was inspired by faith healer Peter Popoff being exposed by skeptic and magician James Randi. It’s almost exactly the way the real life incident happened.

If any movie made in the last few years deserves to be compared to the heights of Amicus, this would be it.

*Freeman and Nyman told the cast, crew and media that this role was played by Leonard Byrne, even getting Freeman to wear a prosthetic mask to further game everyone involved.