Bloody Hell (2021)

EDITOR’S NOTE: This was originally on the site on January 30, 2021 but now that the film is on Tubi, I wanted to inform you, dear reader, as this is a fun one.

Bloody Hell is an absolute blast.

I have no fancy words to add, really — I’ll try — but I was absorbed by every twist and turn of this movie.

From its description, “A man with a mysterious past flees the country to escape his own personal hell… only to arrive somewhere much, much, much worse,” I wasn’t expecting all that much. Imagine my surprise when I was on the edge of my seat from frame one.

Rex (Ben O’Toole, Nekrotronic) is a hero to some and a villain to others. That’s because when fate literally fell into his lap during a bank heist, he went over the top wiping out all of the masked criminals, which may or may not have led to the death of one innocent bystander. So imagine his surprise when he has to spend five years in jail, which all seems to lead him to a horrific destiny somewhere in Finland. After all, he wants away from the press and the constant attention he gets everywhere he goes.

Well, the attention doesn’t stop once he arrives. That’s because he’s become the next meal of a family of cannibals that are more Von Trapp than Sawyer family. They’ve already taken one of our hero’s legs and if he stays around too long, that would be all they eat.

Rex has two people on his side — maybe. One is the voice inside his head, which is sarcastic and cruel at times, but does have a vested interest in both of them getting out of Helsinki alive. The other is the black sheep of the family who has kidnapped him, Alia (Meg Fraser). But can she escape the family she has cared for her entire life? And will she run off with a man she barely knows who only has one good leg?

Bloody Hell is a movie in love with film, referencing and quoting so many other movies along the way, but in a way that celebrates the joy of movies instead of making you want to go back and watch something else.

WELL GO USA BLU RAY RELEASE: Death Knot (2021)

When your film starts with a woman walking into the forest and hangs herself, you know that in no way is this going to be an easy ride. That woman was the mother of Hari (Cornelio Sunny, who also directed and co-wrote this with Ike Klose) and his sister Eka (Widika Sidmore) and she’s been showing up every night in their dreams and telling them to stay away from the small town where she lived and died. But yeah, you know how it goes, as we wouldn’t have a movie if they stayed put.

Death itself seems to stalk that town in the form of black magic, the black magic their mother gave birth to and everyone in this village hates them the moment they arrive. Look — if you go back home and your neighbors set your family home ablaze, you should probably leave.

When Eka’s boyfriend Adi (Moran Oey) gets possessed, again, it seems like time to go back to the city, but it’s too late and they’re too drawn in. This movie takes its time getting to where it needs to go but it’s a pretty dark ride and well made for a director’s first effort. The only real negative I have is that man, the footage looks beyond dark in some moments, but I can say that for so much out there today.

Death Knot is available on digital, DVD and blu ray from Well Go USA Entertainment.

Amityville Hex (2021)

I don’t put my wife through my Amityville obsession, but she was home for my watch of Amityville Hex and it stopped when she told me that she was going to divorce me if I didn’t shut it off.

Tony Newton, who also made The Amityville Exorcist, is to blame for this. It’s less a movie than a series of people speaking directly to the camera and repeating the Amityville Hex. Then, we see what happened to them. Those people include Shawn C. Phillips (who co-wrote this and has a rambling swear word-filled rant while fondling a hammer; he also takes off his hat at one point and somehow adds decades to how old I thought he was), Pool Party Massacre director Drew Marvick, the excoriable  Lloyd Kaufman, Mike Ferguson (who was also in Amityville Uprising), Marciah Vales, Luna Meow, Mercedes, Ken May, Kyle “Moviebuff1” Rappaport, Erik Anthony Russo, Tony Newton, Rheanon Nicole, Veronica Ricci, John R. Walker, Jaclyn Passaro and Danny “Cinestalker” Filaccio.

George Stover is also in this and really deserves so much better. He steals the show but that’s kind of sad.

My biggest problem — other than the project as a whole, the unbalanced audio, the scenes of people talking that are at the level of indy wrestling promos and that this dared to use an audio clip of Lon Chaney Jr. singing the theme from Spider Baby — is that there’s a scene where a woman goes through a Paranormal Activity evening as her cute and chubby chihuahua sleeps nearby. As the owner of a cute and chubby chihuahua, this scene is unrealistic in a movie about a viral curse. Cubby, our dog, flips out at the slightest provocation. The wind may pick up speed, someone a few blocks away may open a door, a car may drive two miles from our house and he has an apoplexy. This dog just sleeps through an entire evening of the paranormal.

I’ve watched a lot of Amityville movies, but man, I don’t know when I’ve seen a worse one. The box art is pretty great and you’d think I’d learn my lesson, but the real Amityville curse is that I can’t stop watching these movies.

You can watch this on Tubi.

Rickshaw Girl (2021)

Based on the novel by Mitali Perkins, the Rickshaw Girl of the title is Naima (Novera Rahman), who may not have been much of a student yet is an incredible artist. Her father (Naresh Bhuiyan) encourages her to develop her talent by allowing her to paint his rickshaw, but seeing as how they live in a poor area of town and her father only pulls other and more successful men in his rickshaw, the chances of her escaping to become a fine artist are quite limited.

That goal moves even further away when her father gets ill and a loan shark (Nasir Uddin Khan) takes back the rickshaw. As her father needs medicine to live, she eventually finds her way to working in the very same business, hiding her sex under restrictive clothing so that her boss (Ashok Bepari) believes that she’s a boy. A boy with a brightly painted rickshaw that gets her noticed by movie star Siam Ahmen — playing himself — and a role in his next movie. Yet when her secret is revealed, perhaps things won’t work out.

Director Amitabh Reza Chowdhury’s film moves quickly and tells a story that is relatable to anyone, no matter where you are from in the world. It’s issues of class, debt and gender make sense anywhere.

Those Who Call (2021)

Shot in Magnolia, TX and based on a Cuban folk tale, director and writer Anubys Lopez’s first film finds sisters Ana (Angie Sandoval) and Sandra (Yetlanezi Rodriguez) taking a roadtrip to reconnect and going through Whispering Pines, the kind of town where even the gas station owners try to attack you when you want to fill up. Does this seem like the kind of place where you take a nap in your car? No, of course it isn’t. But you know what I always say. We wouldn’t have a movie if they didn’t make these mistakes.

There’s a bit too much arguing and way too much abject stupidity on the protagonists’ part to get me to recommend this to you, but for those that like backwoods horror, dark rituals and — you guessed it — family secrets, well, then this is certainly for you.

The one part that did work for me, however, is when they went into an abandoned house and discovered a room filled with missing posters with their information and photos on them. That’s a striking and something haunting thought, to discover your own fate in that way, and if Lopez follows that path, his next movie — Aged — will be much better.

Those Who Call is now available from Uncork’d Entertainment.

Last Night In Soho (2021)

Director Edgar Wright, who also co-wrote this with Krysty Wilson-Cairns, said, “Something that I find truly nightmarish — and I guess there’s an element where I’m sort of giving a sharp rebuke to myself — is the danger of being overly nostalgic about previous decades. In a way, the film is about romanticizing the past and why it’s … wrong to do that.”

He based this on the stories his parents told him of growing up in the 60s, how their albums made him feel and that his mother said that she was once chased through Soho, which wasn’t always very nice. As much as this film feels giallo, it also feels very Pete Walker, which makes this other quote by Wright make sense: “A lot of films of that period are about the darker side of Soho or of show business. You still have to question where they’re coming from, because there’s a lot of them, which are more the sensationalistic ones, that take this kind of punitive approach to the female characters. There’s a lot of movies where it seems that the genre is “Girl comes to London to make it big and is roundly punished for her efforts.”” Come on, Edgar, just say the movie you’re talking about: Walker’s Cool It Carol!

Then again, it’s so giallo that it was originally titled Red Light Area and The Night Has a Thousand Eyes. Wright also explained the influence to Rue Morgue by saying, ” I’ve always enjoyed that genre; I’ve found it really entertaining throughout my life. Probably the first ones I saw as a teenager were The Bird With the Crystal Plumage and then Deep Red. I think Deep Red is actually the best of all of them, in fact. SUSPIRIA is fantastic, but I believe Deep Red is Dario Argento’s best movie, maybe because the story is just brilliant. And over the years, I’ve gone on a deeper and deeper dive of trying to watch all of them. But in a way, with this movie, I was sort of going backwards, being just as inspired by the movies that inspired them. I’d say that the Italian giallo movement is their interpretation of movies by Alfred Hitchcock or Michael Powell, so when writing this, I was more looking back at the inspirations for that movement, some of which are British films.”

Well, it does have a lot of the trappings of giallo, what with the predominate bright red and blue color hues in the more horrific scenes, as well as its stranger in a strange land heroine Eloise “Ellie” Turner (Thomasin McKenzie) who has left behind a small town to study fashion — not dance, that would be too simple a steal for this story — in London, the place she has dreamed of and also where her mother lost her grasp on reality and committed suicide, leading to her being raised by her grandmother (Rita Tushingham, who was in the giallo Il nascondiglio).

What moves this away from giallo and into the fantastic is that she’s always been able to see her mother’s ghost, so when the dead world of today transforms into 1960s Soho, a gorgeous world of gigantic movie theater marquees and dancing escape sequences, it isn’t out of the ordinary for her.

At night, she sleeps in her single room in the rundown flat owned by Ms. Collins (Diana Rigg!) and dreams of singer Alexandra “Sandie” Collins (Anya Taylor-Joy) who has been brought into the dark orbit of manager Jack (Matt Smith). As the dreams grow more sinister, Ellie does what giallo heroines do: she tries to solve the murder of Sandie, a death she is sure that has happened. And that’s when she suffers the fate of so many of those Italian psychosexual heroines: she has missed a very vital clue and the truth is not what she believes it to be. That means that she must stand by in silence — at least she doesn’t have needles under her eyes — and watch murders happen before her eyes.

The bars of the past, gorgeous dancehalls and showplaces, are now the squalor and ordinary pubs like the one she works at, the place where she fears the silver haired man (Terence Stamp!) who has to be Jack, who has to be a murderer, who has to pay. Meanwhile, she struggles in school until taking the fashions of the past into today, battling with rival student Jocasta (Synnøve Karlsen) and falling for John (Michael Ajao).

What I love about this film is the feeling that nostalgia is dangerous and will come to destroy you if you do not escape it. Somehow, it can be about that and also be a movie that has an entire dance sequence made with nearly all practical effects despite having magical moments where a dreamming character can switch places with a woman from before her birth. The dangers of said nostalgia are not lost on me, someone who mostly watches Italian movies from the 70s and recognizes that the Vesper drink that Sandie orders (gin, vodka, lillet blanc and a twist of lemon) was invented by Ian Fleming for the character that Ursula Andress played in Casino Royale. Also: I think Wright loves Don’t Look Now as much as I do. And yeah, that alley that gets run through is where the first murder in Peeping Tom happens.

This is the kind of movie that I can — and already did — go on and on about. I get that I’m supposed to hate all the CGI at the end and that this is a movie made in 2021, but I’m trying to remain open that the movies of today can be as good as the ones I have seen so many times.

WELL GO BLU RAY RELEASE: The Ambush (2021)

Directed by Pierre Morel (Taken) and written by Brandon and Kurtis Birtell, The Ambush is the story of Emirati soldiers caught in an ambush which has destroyed their armored vehicle patrol, but its all a trap to take out more soldiers and an Apache chopper that is coming to rescue them.

Morel is great at getting across the action in this, as the troops have to avoid rocket fire, a sniper and landmines if they want to survive. It looks like someone will have to make a sacrifice if anyone wants to survive and if more losses won’t be added to the day.

If you’re looking for a modern war film, this will definitely fit the bill. It’s not anything groundbreaking, but the action is pretty thrilling and I was biting my nails watching the helicopter avoid all that rocket fire!

The Ambush is available on blu ray and DVD from Well Go USA.

Clean Slate (2021)

Two friends — Joshua Litton and Cassidy Detmer — in a Southern drug recovery program decide to express themselves and try to escape their addiction and mental illness by making a short film about the pain they’ve caused their families. They are in an 18-month, zero-tolerance program sponsored by A Better Way Ministries that will give them access to professional filmmaking equipment to make their film. Yet Cassidy relapses and the film they plan on making is now in danger.

Cassidy has reached a level so low that he can’t get a janitor job because of his record and his mother matter of factly says that she knows he will just go back to doing drugs again. One wonders if making his movie On the Fence will be enough.

Director Jared Callahan worked with both men and along with making this film. As for Josh, he relapsed twice before they make the film. The future is unclear for both men but at least this film exists to be a document of them trying to escape the life that they have created for themselves which is no easy task.

AMANDO DE OSSORIO WEEK: Scream of the Blind Dead (2021)

Director, writer and musician Chris Alexander has taken what most remember from the Blind Dead films — synth-driven slow motion moments of a gorgeous woman being chased through the Spanish countryside by undead Knights Templar — and turned it into forty minutes of fright for Betty (Ali Chappell) who runs through the Canadian countryside in an attempt to avoid a Knight played by Thea Munster.

Imagine if Amando de Ossorio loaned out his creatures to Jess Rollin while allowing Jess Franco to shoot the Sapphic flashback scene of our heroine. As a nice addition for Eurohorror fans, Lone Fleming   (Tombs of the Blind DeadReturn of the Blind DeadIt Happened at Nightmare Inn) is the voice that speaks over the film.

This isn’t a movie that I’d recommend to people who haven’t fallen in love with the Blind Dead or European horror where there’s no attempt at all in creating a story, just a mood that endlessly loops into your brain. This isn’t perfect but it gets the idea right. I’d love to see more of what Alexander can do in this definitely acquired taste of a genre.

You can watch this on Tubi.

DISMEMBERCEMBER: Home Sweet Home Alone (2021)

Dan Mazer, who directed this, is the production partner of Sacha Baron Cohen and co-wrote Borat and Bruno with him. The writers of this were Mikey Day from Saturday Night Live and that show’s head writer Streeter Seidell. If you’ve seen the quality of what’s airing at 11:30 on Saturday nights lately, this movie should be no surprise, as it’s a soulless approximation of something that some people once loved shoved in your face.

It has Rob Delaney and Ellie Kemper as a couple trying to keep the holidays happening despite money issues, the strange antique doll they have and the kid next door named Max (Archie Yates from Jojo Rabbit) who gets left home and battles them when they try to sneak into his house and get the doll back because they think he stole it. It doesn’t even get Home Alone right as with the couple being good people, we don’t want to see the pranks painfully stop their invasion.

Seidell is remaking Inspector Gadget and SpaceCamp as well. It’s Christmas and I shouldn’t be upset about these types of things.

At least Devin Ratray gets some work here and plays Officer Buzz McCallister, who is, of course, Kevin’s brother.

Chris Columbus, the director of the original, said of this movie “Nobody got in touch with me about it, and it’s a waste of time as far as I’m concerned. What’s the point? I’m a firm believer that you don’t remake films that have had the longevity of Home Alone. You’re not going to create lightning in a bottle again. It’s just not going to happen. So why do it? It’s like doing a paint-by-numbers version of a Disney animated film — a live-action version of that. What’s the point? It’s been done. Do your own thing. Even if you fail miserably, at least you have come up with something original.”