DISMEMBERCEMBER: Falling for Christmas (2022)

Lindsay Lohan was once on top of the world, but over the last few years, her career has struggled. From Georgia Rule all the way back in 2006 up until The CanyonsLiz & Dick and I Know Who Killed Me, she’s been more involved in the tabloids than starring in films. On the advice of Oprah, she got back to work and made the reality show Lindsay, did stage work in London, was a judge on the Australian Masked Singer and started opening beach clubs in Greece where she did another reality show, Lindsay Lohan’s Beach Club. Now, Netflix has given her a multi-movie deal and it’s already paid off, as Falling for Christmas has had great ratings for the streaming platform and the next film she plans on doing is another romantic comedy, Irish Wish.

I may have said it before, but my dream for Lohan is to follow the career of Carroll Baker and head to Italy to make giallo movies with Umberto Lenzi, but sadly this is no longer an option. And if you read my review of I Know Who Killed Me, you already know that she’s done well in a psychosexual murder mystery.

That means that Falling for Christmas is a let-down for me, but I get it. It’s a more successful career path making tried and true romantic holiday movies than it is having a masked killer haunting you through Rome, catching light across your eyes with the glint of a razor blade.

But hey — Lohan does well as spoiled heiress Sierra Belmont — daughter of ski resort owner Beauregard (Jack Wagner from the soaps and the singer of “All I Need”) — and when she’s in a skiing accident and loses her memory, she goes Overboard on ice with nice guy Jake Russell (Chord Overstreet from Glee).

Speaking of singing soap opera stars, this was produced by Michael Damian.

The debut movie from director Janeen Damian, thsi was written by Jeff Bonnett and Ron Oliver, wjho wrote Prom Night II: Hello Mary Lou and wrote and directed Prom Night III: Last Kiss. That’s probably the one surprise of this movie which delivers exactly what you want it to, including Lohan recreating the time she sang “JIngle Bell Rock” in Mean Girls and, much like Just My Luck, overflowing a washing machine and falling in love with a guy named Jake.

I don’t begrudge Lohan getting to get a comeback. Here’s hoping that one of these Netflix movies is a remake of So Sweet, So Dead.

ARROW BLU RAY RELEASE: The Leach (2022)

Father David (Graham Skipper, the director of Sequence Break) is a devout priest who has never missed a Mass, never eaten meat on a Good Friday and never misses the opportunity to speak on God’s love, including when he invites Terry (Jeremy Gardner, the director of After Midnight and the man who told his mother not to watch this movie) and Lexi (Taylor Zaudtke, Gardner’s real-life wife) to stay during the holidays.

It starts as a simple act of kindness and nothing can go wrong, right? But throw in a game of never have I ever, then have a good man — in his head if perhaps not as much in his heart — get tempted and things are ready to go off the rails.

Director and writer Eric Pennycoff also made Sadistic Intentions, which starred Gardner and Zaudtke, and he puts together a movie with a small cast, a smart script and a mix of madness and black humor as the priest finds himself in a place — and perhaps a position — that he had never prepared for.

I also loved Rigo Garay, who plays RIgo the organ player, perhaps the only character brave enough to tell Father David that he hasn’t had a parishioner attend Mass in weeks and that he’s just been giving sermons to an empty church. But if that’s true, who are the prophetic — and perhaps Satanic — voices who come to confession? And what’s with the young padre’s frequent confessions of his own to that horrifying painting?

There’s an incredible moment near the end where an off-the-deep-end Father David throws on his vestment and rants on the altar while arguing with a red-lit Terry — or a vision of him — before learning that — and this is the biggest spoiler warning I can give — that the real Terry has beaten his wife and snorted David’s mother’s ashes.

I mean, this is a movie that has a priest with his head wrapped up straight out of Threads losing his mind and a last shot that will make you think long after the Christmas carol-scored credits run out.

The Arrow Video blu ray release of The Leech has two commentary tracks, one with with writer/producer/director Eric Pennycoff and producer Scott Smith and the other recorded live at the Chattanooga Film Festival; a virtual Q&A with director Eric Pennycoff and the cast at the 2022 Chattanooga Film Festival; Preaching to the Void, a brand new visual essay exploring The Leech and Pennycoff’s earlier films by critic Anton Bitel; The Voice of Reason, a brand new video interview with Pennycoff and actor Graham Skipper; an introduction and Q&A from the film’s international premiere at FrightFest 2022; exclusive introductions to the film by Pennycoff and Skipper; The Making of The Leech; Rigo’s music video; three short films by Pennycoff, Unfortunate, The Pod and Phase II; a trailer; a reversible sleeve featuring newly commissioned artwork by Haunt Love and an illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Julieann Stipidis. You can get it from MVD.

You can also stream this movie on the Arrow player. Visit ARROW to start your 30-day free trial. Subscriptions are available for $4.99 monthly or $49.99 yearly. ARROW is available in the US, Canada, the UK and Ireland on the following Apps/devices: Roku (all Roku sticks, boxes, devices, etc), Apple TV & iOS devices, Android TV and mobile devices, Fire TV (all Amazon Fire TV Sticks, boxes, etc), and on all web browsers at https://www.arrow-player.com.

 

ANOTHER HOLE IN THE HEAD FILM FESTIVAL 2022: Shorts take three

Here are some more shorts from the Another Hole In the Head Film Festival.

Ringworms (2022): A sinister cult looks to gain occult power through cursed worms and find the perfect host within Abbie, a young woman with commitment issues hours away from receiving a marriage proposal from the boyfriend she doesn’t even think she likes. Faye Nightingale, who plays the lead, is absolutely supercharged awesomeness; so is the direction by Will Lee. A splatter relationship movie that ends with a double blast of garbage disposal and black vomit mania, then topped by a head graphically splitting open to reveal a hand? Oh man — I loved every moment. I want more. So much more.

The Sound (2022): Two years ago, Lily (Sabrina Stull) experienced an incident that caused her to spontaneously start bleeding and lose her hearing. Now, two years later, she attempts to relax with her sister Alison (Emree Franklin, War of the Worlds: Annihilation) but worries that the strange phenomena that impacted has come back.

The Sound is a quick film that has some really well-done camera work and builds suspense nicely, even if it doesn’t let you in all that much on what’s happening. That said, the ending is definitely something and I’d like to know even more of what’s going on.

Directed by Jason-Christopher Mayer (who edited the films American ExorcismThe Doll and Coven; he also did “The Devil You Know” video for L.A. Guns) and written by Mayer and Emree Franklin (she was also in War of the Worlds: Annihilation) from a story by Gage Golightly, this short makes the most of its locations, runtime and budget, leaving you begging for just a little bit more.

Spell on You (2021): Salomé is ten years old and has a wart on her nose. This — and the way her father treats her — leads to her being disgusted by her own reflection. At night, she spies on her parents through the keyhole. And there’s weirdness all around her. I was surprised — I should have studied that English title as this was originally called La Verrue which means the wart and doesn’t spell it out — to discover that Salomé is destined to be a witch and escape the pain of her childhood, the ways that her father treats her — shoving her from his embrace and screaming that she’s infectious with her wart — and embracing who she is truly meant to be. Director Sarah Lasry has created a gorgeous looking film that stands between our real world and the world of the occult.

While Mortals Sleep (2022): Susan’s (Carie Kawa) has had her career as a cold case writer fall apart, so she’s hiding out at a friend’s remote vacation house. When she gets there, she meets Eddy (Will Brill) and Abby (Grace Morrison). He’s digging sludge out of the backyard; she makes a spot of tea a strange and not altogether pleasant affair. They’re the caretakers of the home, or so they say, but then Susan hears a baby cry a room away.

Trust me, that’s no normal baby.

Director and writer Alex Fofonoff may only have two other sorts on his resume, but this tense and well-acted piece points to him as a person of interest. If this was longer — it totally could be — it would be a movie plenty of people were talking about.

Alchemy (2016): Director Brandon Polanco said of this film, “The title, Alchemy symbolizes a cinematic concept designed to give a person who watches this film his or her own experiential transformation. We want our audience to ask themselves how they see the world and their own reality. There is a magical aspect to our film that reflects the viewer’s own personal experiences as they engage with our narrative journey. The film is not meant to be a piece of realism. Through sound and emphasizing color in the production design, we’ve created a visceral and symbolic film to help broaden the audience’s interpretation about the reality of life around us.”

Ian Kevin Scott plays a man who starts with a job interview and ends up discovering a place between multiple worlds, both familiar and otherworldly, exciting and terrifying. It’s really gorgeous and actually quite mind expanding.

ANOTHER HOLE IN THE HEAD FILM FESTIVAL 2022: Swallowed (2022)

Directed and written by Carter Smith, Swallowed starts with the last night together of friends Benjamin (Cooper Koch) and Dom (Jose Colon). Benjamin is leaving for California to be a porn star and Don is convinced he’ll forget him and their friendship when he’s gone. To make sure his friend has enough money — he doesn’t trust the porn company who promises to pay for everything — Dom makes a stop to set up a drug run that’ll get his friend some money.

Except that Alice (Jena Malone), who they are to get the shipment from, seems off. The drugs seem weird, having to be kept at a specific temperature. And swallowed, because they need to cross the border to Canada with them. They try to back out, she sticks a gun to their head and the decision has been made.

Whatever is now inside their bodies is making Dom fall into a state of pain mixed with pleasure. The platonic love between two men, gay and straight, is tested in this film and along the way, they deal with deadly situations. And that’s before they meet the dangerous crime boss on the other side of this adventure, playing with snarling menace by Mark Patton.

Shot often in close up, which jams up the tension, director and writer Carter Smith has made a story that can be taken as survival or body horror, depending on the time of the story, but the idea that a drug that might be a living thing going inside — and needing to be pulled outside — of your body is beyond upsetting. This is a movie that really gets into your head and I want Smith to keep making more personal and smaller films like this other than the only of his movies I’ve seen, the mainstream horror movie The Ruins.

This movie was part of the Another Hole in the Head film festival, which provides a unique vehicle for independent cinema. This year’s festival takes place from December 1st – December 18th, 2022. Screenings and performances will take place at the historic Roxie Cinema, 4 Star Theatre and Stage Werks in San Francisco, CA. It will also take place On Demand on Eventive and live on Zoom for those who can not attend the live screenings. You can learn more about how to attend or watch the festival live on their Eventlive site. You can also keep up with all of my AHITH film watches with this Letterboxd list.

ANOTHER HOLE IN THE HEAD FILM FESTIVAL 2022: Regicide (2022)

Regicide was inspired by The Thing, Night of the Living Dead and Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Directed and written by Daniel McLeod, it was shot in nine straight days, almost entirely in and around an abandoned farmhouse with no running water. How rough was it? A single portable toilet was brought to the set for the entire cast and crew.

Daniel (Steve Kasan), Caleb (Michael Masurkevitch), Seth (Kevin Reitzel), Jamie (Nicole Marie McCafferty), Ruth (Esther Rogers) and Sandra (Ashley Sametz) are trying to start their lives over as their work in a remote farm. But when they’re confronted by The Stranger (Mark Starratt), they come face to face with an entirely new terror that they may not survive.

Regicide has an interesting take on science fiction horror and I love how the cast and crew came together in difficult circumstances to make something different.

This movie was part of the Another Hole in the Head film festival, which provides a unique vehicle for independent cinema. This year’s festival takes place from December 1st – December 18th, 2022. Screenings and performances will take place at the historic Roxie Cinema, 4 Star Theatre and Stage Werks in San Francisco, CA. It will also take place On Demand on Eventive and live on Zoom for those who can not attend the live screenings. You can learn more about how to attend or watch the festival live on their Eventlive site. You can also keep up with all of my AHITH film watches with this Letterboxd list.

ANOTHER HOLE IN THE HEAD FILM FESTIVAL 2022: Dickhead! (2022)

When his daughter is threatened by kidnappers, a deadbeat detective (Joseph Graham) sets out to investigate a cryptic note left behind, one that finds him investigating a case that involves time, space and a kitchen sink. Directed by Justin Perry (Nothing Really Happens), who co-wrote it with Amy Anderson — who also plays Jane — this movie is quite simply a ton of fun. Setting itself as a time, teleporting or magic kind of thing, this creates a Schrödinger’s cat situation out of that strange note and messages delivered to people saying things like “Don’t buy a sword.”

It’s strange in all the best of ways and moves at a rapid clip that never gets tired or plain. In fact, I kind of want to watch it again right now.

This movie was part of the Another Hole in the Head film festival, which provides a unique vehicle for independent cinema. This year’s festival takes place from December 1st – December 18th, 2022. Screenings and performances will take place at the historic Roxie Cinema, 4 Star Theatre and Stage Werks in San Francisco, CA. It will also take place On Demand on Eventive and live on Zoom for those who can not attend the live screenings. You can learn more about how to attend or watch the festival live on their Eventlive site. You can also keep up with all of my AHITH film watches with this Letterboxd list.

OTHER WORLDS FILM FESTIVAL: Snatchers (2020)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joseph Perry writes for the film websites Gruesome Magazine, The Scariest Things, Horror Fuel and Diabolique Magazine; for the film magazines Phantom of the Movies’ VideoScope and Drive-In Asylum; and for the pop culture websites When It Was Cool and Uphill Both Ways. He is also one of the hosts of When It Was Cool’s exclusive Uphill Both Ways podcast and can occasionally be heard as a cohost on Gruesome Magazine’s Decades of Horror: The Classic Era podcast.

When you’re not laughing out loud at director John Kingman’s science-fiction comedy Snatchers (2020, not to be confused with a film of the same name from 2019), you’ll at the very least be smiling. With spot-on — but generally good-natured — skewering of hipsters and gentrification, Kingman, working from a sharp screenplay by Guy Patton, delivers a fun send-up of the alien body snatcher trope.

Todecky (Blaine Kneece) is an FDA inspector who dreams of becoming an FBI agent. He pines for the Brooklyn he once knew, which is becoming increasingly gentrified, as well as the home to twenty- and thirty-somethings who do such things as run a food cart that cater exclusively to other food cart employees. There is also the time-honored pretentious struggling artist who lives off of his significant other. Brie (Brielle Cotello) once went out on an ill-fated Taxi Driver-themed date with Todecky. Now an aspiring documentary filmmaker working as a janitorial staff member, Brie must team up with Todecky as they try to get to the heart of a mystery involving purple corn with alien mutation that turns people into whatever the purple alien corn equivalent of pod people might be. 

On their wild journey, Todecky and Brie will meet such characters — in the broadest sense of the word — as flamboyant gang leader The White Duke, the lesbian couple who owns the aforementioned specialty food truck, a Mennonite farmer who saw how the alien invasion began, a man and woman who work together but are too shy to admit their mutual affection for each other, and plenty of pod — er, corn — people. 

Snatchers keeps the jokes coming at a rapid pace, and Kneece and Cotello lead an ensemble cast in which the members all nail the quirks of their eccentric characters. It’s a blast, and comes highly recommended. The setting may be Brooklyn, but the targets of the jokes could be from pretty much any city. Also, you’ll have a hard time finding more pickle-related puns in a film than this one.

Snatchers screens as part of  Other Worlds Film Festival, which runs in Austin, Texas from December 1–4, 2022. 

ANOTHER HOLE IN THE HEAD FILM FESTIVAL 2022: TRAP (2022)

Director and writer Anthont Edward Curry told the Asbury Park Press, ““I always felt that TRAP was a story that needed to be told,” Curry said. “It was a movie that found itself over years of production because it was constantly morphing — because the real-life characters, they were evolving before my eyes. So I was constantly re-writing. Every day I was changing because the characters are changing in front of me.”

The title means The Real Asbury Park and it’s a story that Curry originally wrote when he was 17. How true to life is the film? Curry made national press when a video confession from former Neptune High School classmate Liam McAtasney was secretly recorded in 2017 was a key piece of evidence leading to McAtasney being found guilty of murder.

According to the New York Post, “In December 2016, artist Sarah Stern, 19, went missing and her car was found abandoned on a bridge in Belmar, NJ. In the aftermath of her disappearance, Curry remembered his high school friend Liam McAtasney, who was close with Stern, pitching an idea for a movie in which he killed a girl. He came to the shocking realization that this wasn’t a tale that simply lived in his friend’s imagination — and he went to the police, who helped him set up a sting. Curry filmed McAtasney’s chilling confession — leading to his conviction and a life sentence.”

With a cast made up of some actors, some real street people and the director himself, TRAP tells the story of a young criminal about to face life in prison and the dark path that got him there. It’s really uncompromising and if it feels lived in, obviously it is. It might be playing in this festival surrounded by horror genre films, but it truly might be one of the more frightening movies playing.

This movie was part of the Another Hole in the Head film festival, which provides a unique vehicle for independent cinema. This year’s festival takes place from December 1st – December 18th, 2022. Screenings and performances will take place at the historic Roxie Cinema, 4 Star Theatre and Stage Werks in San Francisco, CA. It will also take place On Demand on Eventive and live on Zoom for those who can not attend the live screenings. You can learn more about how to attend or watch the festival live on their Eventlive site. You can also keep up with all of my AHITH film watches with this Letterboxd list.

Amityville Christmas Vacation (2022)

Steve Rudzinski directed CarousHELL and CarousHELL 2 so I’m giving him a pass on this one, because we all have an Amityville movie in us somewhere and hey, at least he made one that defies the mold. Along with co-writer Bill Murphy, he’s telling the story of Wally Griswold (Rudzinski), the same character he plays in the Meowy the cat series of movies.

Wally has won a trip over the holidays to Amityville and to stay overnight at a Christmas-themed bed and breakfast which is, you guessed it, the former home of the Lutz and DeFeo families. He falls in love with someone else in the house who ends up being a ghost, a fact that he is absolutely clueless about and we have a combination Amityville and Hallmark Christmas romantic comedy all at the same time.

Ben Dietels from Neon Brainiacs is in it and it’s only fifty minutes long. These are both quite good reasons to watch this movie. It’s fully aware of how silly it all is without being so in on the joke that it gets lame. It’s also relatively family safe with none of the usual insanity of these movies. I’m just happy that it’s a real movie, that it’s fun and that I got to watch it.

You can watch this on Tubi or order it from the filmmaker.

ANOTHER HOLE IN THE HEAD FILM FESTIVAL 2022: Pig Killer (2022)

Robert William Pickton is a Vancouver-born serial killer and former pig farmer who may be the most prolific serial killer in Canadian history. He left a butcher’s apprenticeship to begin working full-time at his family’s pig farm and eventually inherited it. He started killing in the early 80s and may have killed as many as 49 women before he was arrested in 2002.

Why did he become a killer? One theory is that he was strangely devoted to his mother Louise despite her loving the pigs more than he and his brother David, sending them to school in clothes that smelled of pig feces. Once their parents died, the brothers stopped worrying about the farm and more about their charity, the Piggy Palace Good Times Society, which really was just a front for raves and parties in a converted slaughterhouse that were filled with Hells Angels and sex workers.

In 1997, he was charged with the attempted murder of Wendy Lynn Eistetter, stabbing her multiple times before she could get the knife off of him. He was eventually cleared of charges. The police started watching him at this point, noticing that some women never came back from the farm. Today, they think that he may have fed their bodies to his pigs or worse ground them up and sold them to the public.

He wasn’t convicted of first-degree murder — I mean, the cops found a gun that had a dildo with a hole in it so he could literally shoot a cock gun and videotape testimony of Robert talking about injecting washer fluid into women — but was convicted for second-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison, with no possibility of parole for 25 years. This was the longest possible sentence for second-degree murder under Canadian law at the time he was sentenced. Canadian courts also decided not to charge him for the other murders and stayed his case.

Pig Killer has Jake Busey as Willy and Lew Temple as his brother David. We meet Willy as he unwinds at a bar, then picks up an Asian hooker (Bai Ling!?!), kills her and then has sex with her. The film does not pull a single punch, including showing male members but not in any way that anyone normal could be turned on by. While he’s doing this evil deed, he imagines his mother (Ginger Lynn Allen) berating him.

Seriously, if the title and that intro and the above paragraph didn’t stop you, turn back and run.

Two cops, Oppal (Michael Paré) and Scneer (Robert Rhine) are on the trail of this serial killer but can’t connect the dots. While they’re searching, Willy is planning a big party and also killing women left and right, ending up on a colision course with Wendy (Kate Patel), a runaway who has already overdosed, barely survived and left her family for the streets.

Busey is really great in this, creating a character that is in no way sympathetic but is riveting to watch. However, this movie in no way flinches from the violence of this story, whether that means feeding bodies to Willy’s prize pig Balthazar or injecting a victim in the eye with cleaning fluid while assaulting her from behind in a scene that had to make Fulci try to sit up straight in his grave and say, “Wow. Really?”

I haven’t had to take a shower after watching a movie in some time, so this is some kind of feat. Instead of the true crime films that we can just walk away from and not consider the horrors that have been committed, this shoves your face in the mud and blood and pus and starts stomping on it.

This movie was part of the Another Hole in the Head film festival, which provides a unique vehicle for independent cinema. This year’s festival takes place from December 1st – December 18th, 2022. Screenings and performances will take place at the historic Roxie Cinema, 4 Star Theatre and Stage Werks in San Francisco, CA. It will also take place On Demand on Eventive and live on Zoom for those who can not attend the live screenings. You can learn more about how to attend or watch the festival live on their Eventlive site. You can also keep up with all of my AHITH film watches with this Letterboxd list.