SLASHER MONTH: Bonehill Road (2017)

Emily (Eli DeGeer) and Edith Stevens (Ana Rojas-Plumberg) go from one bad moment to another in this.

Terrified and alone, they are stranded in the woods, hunted by a werewolf. When they find shelter in a nearby home, things only get worse. They must work together to get out alive as a family of werewolves close in for the kill.

I kind of love the perils of these characters, where things just keep getting worse for them throughout the movie. Even finding three women inside the house of Coen Anders (Douglas Epps) — including Linnea Quigley — and having Edith’s father Rhett (Gary Kent) heading off to save them might not be enough to protect them.

Some people might be put off by the fact that this movie is advertised as a werewolf story and that’s only part of it. As for me, I was excited because I really had no idea where things were spinning out of control to next. It’s always a treat to watch one of Todd Sheets’ movies, because you know you’re getting some wild ideas, practical effects and a creative force who truly cares about entertaining his audience.

SLASHER MONTH: Puppet Master: Axis Termination (2017)

Directed by Charles Band, who wrote this with Neal Marshall Stevens, Puppet Master: Axis Termination  has Blade, Tunneler, Jester, Six Shooter and Leech Woman teaming up with Dr. Ivan Ivanov (George Appleby), his clairvoyant daughter Elisa (Tania Fox) and sex magic priestess Georgina (Alynxia America) to battle the Axis, who have Doktor Gerde Ernst (Tonya Kay), the Elder God worshipping Sturmbahnfurher Steiner Krabke (Kevin Scott Allen), Freddy hyperdermic glove ripoff artist Oberheller Friede Steitze(Lilou Vos) and puppets Bombshell, Weremacht and Blitzkreig within their ranks.

It also kills off Danny and Beth, the good guys from Axis of Evil and Axis Rising about a minute in. Hope you weren’t didn’t like them all that much.

This also has a total Italian horror look as it’s packed with color gels. There’s also plenty of blood and gore, perhaps the most in this series for a long time.

It’s not the best movie you’ve seen, but it’s the third puppets against the Third Reich movie and the twelfth overall movie in the series, so the fact that it’s even halfway decent has to be some kind of small victory.

SLASHER MONTH: Killer Karaoke (2017)

One of the best nights of my life was singing in a karaoke bar somewhere in Osaka. I mean, they had the entire Ramones catalog. Not just one song. Everything. Yes, in Japan you’re in a small room with friends, but we may have as well been on a huge stage singing, smoking cigars and drinking kiwi juice.

Premika comes from Thailand and it’s about — you probably figured this out — a haunted karaoke booth that kills those who can’t sing well. As each person is killed, they become part of the room, a place filled with bad singers and Premika herself, a girl killed before her time, one who attacks with axes and toilets that spray bloody showers of gore.

Everyone that sings ends up confessing their lives through the song picked for them. We learn Premika’s sad life through her song, which shifts this movie from a ludicrous slasher to true emotional territory. I kinda love this movie just for having the balls to try and pull that off. I totally love it because they succeed in doing exactly that.

Who knew a movie called Killer Karaoke would address human trafficking, homophobia and trans identity without preaching and also within the same movie that has heads rolling and a giant swan show up.

You can watch this on Tubi.

SLASHER MONTH: Cult of Chucky (2017)

Four years after Curse of Chucky, Andy Barclay (Alex Vincent) has been torturing the head of Chucky and Nica Pierce (Fiona Dourif) has been trapped in a mental ward after being framed for Chucky’s crimes. At this point, she thinks that she was the killer and Chucky doesn’t exist. As part of a therapy group, each is given a Good Guy doll and before you can even think it, multiple people are somehow possessed by Chucky.

This is the seventh film in the series but director and writer Don Mancini is completely unafraid to change it up, having Chucky find a voodoo spell online that allows him to start his own cult of followers that he can use to take out his chosen victims. It even leads directly into the Chucky TV series, as that takes place two weeks after the end of this story with the series having Jennifer Tilly as Tiffany Valentine, Alex Vincent also back as Andy Barclay, Christine Elise as Kyle (who comes back from Child’s Play 3 to appear at the end of this to torture the Chucky head) and Fiona Dourif as Nica.

I went into a week of these movies and had the idea that they were only good until the second film but this series has surprised me. I’d say it might be the most consistent slasher franchise of them all.

 

Arnold Week: Aftermath (2017)

Directed by Elliott Lester and written by Javier Gullón, Aftermath is based on the 2002 Überlingen mid-air collision of a passenger airliner with a cargo jet with Arnold Schwarzenegger playing the part of Roman Melnyk, who is based on Vitaly Kaloyev, who lost his wife and two children in the actual accident and then tracked down air traffic controller Peter Nielsen and killed him in front of his family.

Aftermath is perhaps not the Arnold movie you were looking for, as this is a movie in which he struggles with the lost of his family and attempts to figure out how to deal with Jacob “Jake” Bonanos not being punished.

Unlike the real air traffic controller — who Vitaly claims never showed remorse and actually was nearly rude about it — Jacob’s life has been destroyed by the accident as well. The cycle of pain continues with his son dreaming of killing Roman.

This movie was filmed in the perfect place for Arnold: Columbus, Ohio, the home of his Arnold Classic. Roman’s construction site is actually the parking garage for the Greater Columbus Convention Center.

10: The Secret Mission (2017)

When the daughter of the American ambassador is abducted and held for ransom on a secret island off the Indonesian coast, Colonel John (Jeremy Thomas) and Major Cathy (Karenina Maria) decide to take ten models, train them to be commandos and then save face for the U.S.

Sure, alright, whatever.

The terrorists are named Paul (Hans de Kraker, which is a better name than the character he is playing) and Jane (Svitlana Zavialova, allow me to say the same thing) and honestly, do we even need a story? We somehow have supermodels who were experts in being snipers before they even got into this black ops deal.

The end of this decides that this should be violent — kinda out of nowhere — and I’m all for that.

It’s no Andy Sidaris movie, but come on. Nothing will be that perfect again.

You can watch this on Tubi.

Chattanooga Film Festival: Interface (2017)

Originally a web series, each segment of this tool two months to make, created by Canadian YouTuber and animator u m a m i, whose real name is Justin Tomchuk. You can see a collected version of the first part of the series here and the second part here.

I guess the thing to realize is that The Philadelphia Experiment is a real event and it caused a phenomenon called Cerebral Energy to be revealed, changing the color of the sky and unleashing ghosts and giving the blue guy named Henryk immortality. He’s joined by a character called Mischief, who is kind of a trickster god who likes to go on about man’s nature and then transform himself into something silly.

There’s also something about ghost stories and myths becoming reality, all while numerous pieces of famous art form the cartoon that you are downloading through your eyes. You’ll get to see everything from René Magritte’s “The Son of Man,” Dali’s “Birth of The Geopoliticus Child” and Edward Hopper’s “Nighthawks at the Diner” and dialogue like “If what you want is to live with the memories you cherish most, live here within the Interface” is read in monotone.

It’s not for everybody. I mean, your chance of loving it is just as high as hating it. But you should at least check it out.

Remember — this weekend, you can buy a back half half price badge to watch all of the awesome movies at the Chattanooga Film Festival and see them until 6/29!  Get yours right here!

Gun Caliber (2017)

20XX: Skulldier is taking over Japan but only one man stands in their way, the pachinko parlor employee by day, gun shooting vigilante by night known as Gun Caliber. And yet somehow, this Japanese tokusatsu action-comedy was really made by Filipino-Canadian director, writer and star Bueno.

It’s got a funny concept — superheroes all sell out to a corporation except for the scumbag Gun Caliber who is the only man left to save the world — but it doesn’t all completely come together. There’s so much CGI that it gets distracting at times, but through this movie, the superior sequel Strega emerged.

Basically, if you ever wanted to see Kamen Rider make sweet love and shoot people so much they explode, this is the movie for you.

You can buy the DVD from SRS Cinema or watch it on Tubi.

APRIL MOVIE THON DAY 29: The 13th Friday (2017)

Justin Price also directed The Mummy Rebirth, AbominableElvesWrong Place, Wrong Time and more, all direct to streaming or the shelves of WalMart films that you may not have noticed.

The movie starts with these words: “Somewhere in Texas is a house said to be so haunted that a church was built on the property and the family that lived on the house was never heard from again.”

Sounds good, right?

Then a puzzle globe shows up, plus monsters in a cave, plus a grim reaper-dressed villain and the idea that if the kids gathered in that very same Texas house years later — which looks totally clean with no dust at all — must sacrifice 13 people or they themselves will die.

That said, as much as this movie takes from every possession movie and tries to be a Hellraiser movie — a good idea, because a lot of movies that didn’t intend to be Hellraiser movies ended up being Hellraiser movies, so hey let’s try and be a Hellraiser movie and see what happens —   but man, that onepossessionn scene is really great looking and has some awesome effects. If that energy existed for the entire movie, I would have loved this.

There are two IMDB facts for this movie: “It’s been said that Justin Price is very difficult to work with” and “Deanna Grace Congo regrets doing the movie.” I’m willing to bet that Deanna Grace Congo supplied those facts. Then again, she’s been in multiple Price-directed projects after this.

You can watch this on Tubi.

A Fancy Piece of Homicide (2017)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: A.C. Nicholas, who has a sketchy background and hails from parts unknown in Western Pennsylvania, was once a drive-in theater projectionist and disk jockey, Currently, in addition to being a writer, editor, podcaster, and voice-over artist, he contributes to Drive-In Asylum. His first article, “Grindhouse Memories Across the U.S.A.,” was published in issue #23. He’s also written “I Was a Teenage Drive-in Projectionist” and “Emanuelle in Disney World and Other Weird Tales of a Trash Film Lover” for upcoming issues.

Bingo O’Malley was one of Pittsburgh’s greatest stage actors. For decades, he was the go-to guy for Pittsburgh’s best theater directors, with leads in Death of a Salesman, Bent, The Man in the Glass Booth, Glengarry Glenn Ross, and The Ruling Class. When folks shot movies in Pittsburgh, Bingo was in them: Dominick and Eugene, Wonder Boys, Out of the Furnace, Lady Beware, Bob Roberts, Love and Other Drugs, and so many others. He was also in Pittsburgh-shot TV series and TV movies. But to horror fans, he will always be remembered for the remake of My Bloody Valentine and three George Romero films: Knightriders, Creepshow, and Two Evil Eyes. In Two Evil Eyes, he played the titular M. Valdemar in Romero’s segment. He was born in the Pittsburgh area, and despite his formidable talent, he never left his hometown. For this, he was beloved by Pittsburghers. Thus, it gives me great pleasure to feature the crowning glory of his long career, a little-known Pittsburgh indie film called A Fancy Piece of Homicide.

In 2016, before Bingo’s health took a sharp decline, young local director Joseph Varhola cast him as the lead in something original, a Yinzer noir. Varhola’s screenplay harkens back to the noirs of old with a flawed, but honorable, lead trying to unravel the most complex of mysteries, a mystery that ultimately is inscrutable. The difference, though, was that these mean noir streets were those of the Steel City.

In A Fancy Piece of Homicide, Bingo plays a gumshoe who, years before, had taken the fall for a murder he didn’t commit. Now he’s been released from prison and determined to set the record straight by writing his memoirs. But the past returns to haunt him when he begins to receive cryptic photos and messages. Soon he’s in way over his head as he looks for closure in his life. 

Bingo himself received closure, passing away in 2019, two years after the release of A Fancy Piece of Homicide. It was to be his last acting triumph. Watching the film was a bittersweet experience. Here he was at the height of his powers, giving a performance that, had it been in a studio film with a multi-million-dollar budget, would have received raves, if not awards. He’s compelling as a man determined to understand bewildering events from the past—and now the present—not within his control. He’s also a rare lead: a smart, independent octogenarian, out to solve one last mystery before the final curtain. 

The film is almost completely in Bingo’s capable hands. It’s a nearly no-budget affair (I’m pretty sure everyone brought their own wardrobe to the shoot), which, despite an excellent score, some competent tech credits, and an intriguing plot, tends to meander as a slow-burn with some travelogue padding shots of the Pittsburgh suburbs. And when it gets to its Dashiell Hammett-like revelation, you might be inclined to ask yourself: Is that all there is?  Apart from another Romero regular, Mark Tierno (Knightriders and Day of the Dead), who plays a weasel pretty well, the rest of the cast ranges from serviceable to awful. 

But ultimately, none of this is important. What is important is that A Fancy Piece of Murder memorializes the performance of one of the best of Pittsburgh’s homegrown talent, the likes of which we may never see again, in a film merging the unique Pittsburgh sensibility with a classic genre. May we all be so lucky to go out on such a high note.