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.

Herschell Gordon Lewis’ BloodMania (2017)

16 gallons of blood went into making the last thing that Herschell Gordon Lewis would direct which would be this movie. His two tales — “Gory Story” and “The Night Hag” — aren’t great, but they have lots of blood and Lewis hosting them.

“Attack of Conscience” is completely unrelated to the feel of the movie, particularly when you contrast its tale of a woman dying over and over at the hands of her abuser with “GOREgeous” in which a man who can no longer get it up kills women with objects like high heels.

In the same way that many of Lewis’ films are celebrated because they’re the first of their kind, this is the last of its kind. That said, you won’t enjoy this anywhere near as much as his more well-known material such as Two-Thousand Maniacs! or Blood Feast.

You can watch this on Tubi.

Suicide Club (2017)

Just in case you were confused, this is not the Japanese movie Jisatsu Sākuru (AKA Suicide Club and Suicide Circle), but the story of Liz, a young woman who has been trapped in her apartment, when she finds a web community called the Suicide Club that really should have been called the Kill People Club.

Once a user joins, they’re asked to pick someone they want to be killed or they themselves get killed for not nominating someone. The club then sends masked killers to do the actual wetwork and then records it and sends everyone the video.

The first part of this movie is really decent, setting up a Rear Window voyeur vibe. Sure, the film doesn’t really deliver on that promise, but it’s not a bad movie.

Klariza Clayton, who plays Liz, is really great though. She imbues the character with a spark that feels real. And writer/director Maximilian von Vier really sets up the mood that works so well in the first act. I’m interested in his next two projects, The Kaiserfeld Rule, in which a woman in a concentration camp plays chess with real lives on the line, and Magick.

You can get Suicide Club from Wild Eye Releasing.

Axecalibur (2017)

Originally known as The Legend of the Mad Axeman, this film tells the story of an urban legend who just may be true, an insane man with an axe who has killed in the past and has now returned to murder again. I mean, that new title — Axecalibur — and the poster art totally got this on in my DVD player before everything else in my to watch stack.

 

A young reporter and an author work together to discover if the Mad Axeman is real. Spoiler warning: If he were a hoax, we wouldn’t have this movie to watch.

There’s some great synth in this and a fair amount of padding, but I’m for more movies with possessed axes. Come on, filmmakers!

This was written and directed by Russ Gomm and Phillip Means, who started this movie off with a shorter version filmed in 2014. They’ve also made The Welcoming, Star Wars: Force of Evil and Beacon together.

You can watch this on Tubi or get the DVD from Wild Eye Releasing.

KAIJU DAY MARATHON: Kong: Skull Island (2017)

The second film in the Legendary MonsterVerse, Kong: Skull Island reboots and remakes King Kong for a new generation that would see the 70’s remake as silly, the Peter Jackson film as old and if that last statement is true, would think that the 1933 original was some kind of archaeological find like the Shroud of Turin.

In 1944* and 1973, Kong has made his presence known as war continues to intrude on Skull Island. This leads Bill Randa (John Goodman), head of the U.S. government organization Monarch, to send a team to that island to find out exactly what’s going on with the monsters that have emerged.

Once there,  Lieutenant Colonel Preston Packard (Samuel Jackson), former British Special Air Service Captain James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston), photographer Mason Weaver (Brie Larson) and seismologist Houston Brooks (Corey Hawkins, playing the younger version of the character from Godzilla: King of the Monsters) begin dropping seismic explosives and mapping the island before Kong attacks.

The battle separates the scientists and soldiers, with Packard wanting to kill Kong and the others meeting the natives and discovering that the big beast is the last of his kind, protecting the island and its natives from the Skullcrawlers that wiped out its entire family.

By the end, Kong is victorious and has proved his true good nature. Monarch recruits Conrad and Weaver, while revealing that Kong is not alone, revealing cave paintings of Godzilla, Mothra, Rodan and King Ghidorah.

I’m excited to see what happens next, as the films have placed both Kong and Godzilla on the same emotional playing field. They’re both the last of their kind, dealing with the loss of their race to an enemy (the Skullcrawlers and the Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organisms) and are absolute predators. However, Godzilla has no interest in human beings while Kong serves as their protector.

Who knew that a modern King Kong movie would reference seventies films like The Conversation and Apocalpyse Now, somehow becoming one of the best films in the series?

Here’s to being pleasantly surprised.

* I love that John C. Reilly’s character has been on the island since World War II. He also has on a jacket that references Kaneda’s in Akira: “Good for your health, bad for your education.”

The Theta Girl (2017)

Gayce (Victoria Elizabeth Donofrio) deals a drug called theta when she isn’t trying to get people in the club to see her friends’ band play. But when they’re murdered, the mind-altering substances that she’s selling turn out to be so much more than just your average LSD.

That’s because everyone in the club has been dosed with Theta as that band, Truth Foundation, hits the stage, including a group of Christian zealots that need just one fix to go completely off the rails and start killing for God. As everyone emerges from a shared trip, bodies line the flood with blood and guts spilled out occult symbols.

You know what? So often I make excuses for movies having low budgets, as do the people that make them. This thing cost $14,000 and that’s exactly what it needed to get made. If it had a huge budget, it wouldn’t be so amazingly grubby and vital and in your eyeballs.

Shane Silman is a force of nature as the obsessed Brother Marcus, the leader of the religious gang. And man, just look at that poster. Donofrio looks — and acts in the best of ways — like the spiritual heir to Christina Lindberg, which is one of the highest compliments I can give.

You can learn more at the official Facebook page. You can watch it on Amazon Prime or order the DVD from Amazon.

Check out Christopher Bickel’s other film, Bad Girls, for more greatness. And oh yeah, those Thetas were totally Lemonheads.

You’re Gonna Miss Me (2017)

No, this isn’t a docudrama about the creative, sad soul that was Roky Erickson and his band the 13th Floor Elevators (although there’s a 2007 documentary about Roky with the title). This is a dramedy written and produced by Eric Brooks (who’s eight films deep in the TV movie realms, including two Hallmark Christmas flicks*) that’s co-produced by his pops, country-legend Kix Brooks (who appears here as Uncle Elmer, Colt’s brother).

A modern-day western with motorcycles instead of horses, You’re Gonna Miss Me tells the story of the unexpected death of country music legend Colt Montana (John Schneider who, while top-billed, isn’t here much), which serves as a catalyst in reuniting his two estranged sons. Before they can claim their large family inheritance, they have to fulfill their father’s final wish: take a motorcycle-based scavenger hunt through the American Southwest. And they agree to “the ride,” as both have their own demons and motives for needing the financial windfall — but they discover so much more.

As you can see from the one-sheet, there’s a large ensemble cast headed by Leo Howard (who got his start as the “younger versions” of Snakes Eyes and Conan in G.I Joe: The Rise of Cobra and Conan the Barbarian ’11, respectively) and Justin Deeley (Mike Trimbol from Fear of the Walking Dead). We also have the-never-ages Morgan Fairchild (Shattered Illusions) and William Shockley (a noted country music radio host who got his start in Howling V: The Rebirth and a five-year run on TV’s Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman), along with our beloved Eric Roberts (who, like Schneider, isn’t here much, natch). And for the wrestling fans (yeah, we’re talkin’ to you, Paul Andolina of Wrestling With Film, who also writes for B&S About Movies), there’s WWE’s John Hennigan, aka John Morrison. And for the John Doe fans (moi), there’s a helping of John Doe (sportin’ a Plissken eye patch), but he’s here about as much as Eric Roberts. (I want an Eric Roberts-John Doe marquee co-starring film . . . with them as out-of-retirement mercenaries . . . or two ex-rock stars making amends, now!)

If you haven’t also guessed from the one-sheet, there’s an Easy Rider vibe to the proceedings helped by another country-cum-western (and Christmas flicks!) TV movie stalwart, Dustin Rikert, who — despite the film’s bad reviews — made Phil Pitzer’s sequel-passion project, Easy Rider: The Ride Back, work (seriously, it’s not that bad).

Sadly, even with the name of Kix Brooks on the package, this “John Doe Week” entry couldn’t be more obscure and hard to find. There’s no online trailers, no streams, and Vudu — who had it as an exclusive — no longer offers the film in their catalog. But if you’re into The Dukes of Hazzard** ephemera, or need to complete your collection of John Doe flicks, or satisfy your watch-everything-with-Eric Roberts fetishism, you can find (pricey) DVD’s on Amazon Prime that are also currently “out of stock” at Walmart.com. So, Kix, buddy. If you’re reading this, get You’re Gonna Miss Me uploaded as a free-with-ads stream on Tubi TV. We, the fans of Eric Roberts and John Doe, demand it!

* Eric Roberts has made eight Christmas flicks (we’ve reviewed A Husband for Christmas), so how is it that Eric Brooks or Dustin Rikert haven’t made one with Roberts? We want an Eric Roberts X-Mas flick from each of you, stat!

** So you want more The Dukes of Hazzard ephemera, Hoke? Then check out that CBS-TV series’ theatrical precursor from 1975, Moonrunners, which we reviewed as part of our August 2019 “Redneck Week” tribute to Hickplotation cinema.

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 publishes short stories and music reviews on Medium.

Derelicts (2017)

We’ve talked about Thanksgiving horror films before — see our list right here — but now there’s a new one. Directed by Mark Newton and Matt Stryker*, Derelicts is all about a dysfunctional family suffering a home invasion on the day that people eat too much, watch football and pass out.

There’s an actor in here named David Lee Hess, which might give away the home invasion inspiration for this movie. Actually, it seems to have a fair bit of Rob Zombie in it, if you like that kind of thing. But this does a fine job with a $150,000 budget, with really interesting flashbacks, flashforwards, long moments of silence and plenty of gore.

I mean, there’s a killer with a stuffed animal mask. That alone should probably give you a reason to watch this.

*IMDB lists the director as Brett Glassberg, in case you are wondering.

You can watch the entire movie on Kings of Horror’s YouTube page. To learn more, visit the movie’s official Facebook page.

Beast Mode (2017)

When they call this an 80s throwback, they mean it. Beast Mode stars C Thomas Howell (The Hitcher), Leslie Easterbrook (Police Academy), Ray Wise (Twin Peaks), James Hong (Big Trouble in Little China) and James Duval (Gone in 60 Seconds).

This one’s all about a has-been Hollywood producer who accidentally kills the lead in his next movie, which means that — of course — he must use an ancient herbal elixir and ends up releasing shapeshifting beasts onto the streets of Los Angeles.

This is directed by Chris W. Freeman, who made 2012’s Sorority Party Massacre, and Spain Willingham, who also acts in this movie. The effects are pretty solid, so it has that going for it. A Hollywood insider werewolf-ish movie. The last one I saw like that was Howling 3: The Marsupials, which this would pair well with.

Beast Mode is available on demand and on DVD from Devilworks Pictures.