Diabolik – Ginko Attacks (2022)

Danger: Diabolik! may be my favorite movie of all time, so I was nervous when Diabolik came out in 2021. It wasn’t perfect, but it wasn’t a disappointment. The strange all on a soundstage feel of the movie was quite exciting. Yet I feel that the sequel abandons that to feel more like it fits into our world. Well, it does also have time for Bond-like video segments like the incredible opening number that turns into the credits and the first action scene without ever slowing down.

Directed yet again by Antonio and Marco Manetti, this replaces Luca Marinelli as the antihero Diabolik with Giacomo Gianniotti while smartly keeping Miriam Leone as Diabolik’s lover Eva Kant and Valerio Mastandrea as his nemesis Ginko.

After that aforementioned dance/singing/music video/Bondian intro, Diabolik steals the Crown of Armen and the Armen Jewels in short order. Yet he doesn’t realize that it’s all part of Ginko’s plan, as the jewels have been coated with a radioactive tracking substance that permits Ginko and the police to infiltrate one of Diabolik’s secret bases.

As Diabolik and Eva escape, she hurts her ankle and the master criminal abandons her to sneak away. The police now have all of Diabolik’s wealth, the way that he makes masks and his girl, who Ginko is trying to convert to his side so that he can finally stop Diabolik.

Now, before you come into this cold, you have to realize that Diabolik is kind of a James Bond level character in Italy. Created by sisters Angela and Luciana Giussani, he’s a master thief and cold blooded criminal who often steals either for the thrill or because he wants to outdo another criminal. Just as often, he’s doing something to upset Ginko, who can never seem to hold him for long.

Based on the sixteenth Diabolik story Ginko All’Attacio, this is a strange movie to introduce an audience unfamiliar with the comics to. It’s more about Ginko and his quest than it is Diabolik, who remains in disguise for most of the film. Also, because of how they’re kept apart, this has less of the draw of Diabolik and Eva, which at heart is always the reason why I love the series and characters.

This film also introduces Duchess Altea, Inspector Ginko’s secret companion, who is played by Monica Bellucci. She’s always a welcome sight and having her gives Ginko a near equal partner to Diabolik and Kant.

There’s already a third movie and I’ll definitely watch it, mostly because I want to see if it also makes a shift in look and feel as this one did. This is shot well, has a pretty exciting soundtrack and sure, it may not be as perfect as Mario Bava, but what movie released in this time has his genius? It’s unfair to expect anything to live up to that.

The other thing some may miss is that in the comics, Diabolik went from being a killing machine who didn’t care about human life to one with his own code of honor. This didn’t happen from story one to story two, but over a few years. There is an abrupt change in here where our lead doesn’t kill a police officer that make it feel like he made that leap perhaps too quickly.

Again, maybe I’m still too jazzed over Bava when it comes to this movie or perhaps its that all modern movies seem to be TV movies shot with a little better color balancing and budget, but while this looks like it used its budget, it also struggles to find intriguing camera angles or even attempt to bring a comic to film life. I’m being unfair, but I want a Diabolik movie to knock my eyes out of my head. Not to say this isn’t pretty in parts, but broken record, there’s so much I want for this movie.

That said — if you’re a fan of the whole Diabolik series, it’s nice that the world of superheroes on film is a little less America-centric and that we can get three new movies in as many years.

The end of the story, well, you’ll see coming, but here’s to where this can go next.

SHUDDER EXCLUSIVE: Spoonful of Sugar (2022)

Millicent (Morgan Saylor) is taking a semester off of college and making money by caring for Johnny (Danilo Crovetti), a mute child whose allergies are so bad that he has to wear something that looks like a spacesuit. Meanwhile, the kid’s mom Rebecca (Kat Foster) is a self-help sex positive guru obsessed with being a perfect mother yet cursed with a philandering handyman husband named Jacob (Myko Olivier) who walks around with his shirt off in front of his son’s new live-in companion.

Millicent has never had a family before and the foster dad she does have is played by David Yow from the Jesus Lizard as exactly the kind of character you’d expect he’d play. And her therapist Dr. Welsh (Keith Powell) has the hypothesis that LSD can make her less childish and awkward.

If tripping can fix her, maybe it can fix Johnny. Right?

Like every movie about a nanny ever except probably the one it references in title, Mary Poppins, Spoonful of Sugar is about a strange young woman trying to work her way into a family and take it over.  Isn’t that what she’s done with every family she’s been part of — spoilers coming up — which always ends with her killing them? She’s also a woman in a young girl’s body, something men seem to want to sully, and they all pay for it.

But that’s not the only twist, which is appreciated. And that one, well, I won’t reveal.

Directed by Mercedes Bryce Morgan and written by Leah Saint Marie, this has some intriguing turns and looks interesting, but man, who would bring someone like this around their family? It isn’t until that final surprise that it all makes sense.


Hunter White (Alicia von Rittberg) started her life as a baby, abandoned in a cemetery, left in a blanket covered with occult symbols. After a DNA test determines that she’s all Scandinavian, she leaves her adopted father Raylan White (Clarence Smith) behind and heads to Norway to learn the truth and oh man, never ever go home in a horror movie, right?

If you’re going to Norway, you’re going to get into some metal, right? Hunter meets a singer of a band named Cecilia (Ellen Dorrit Petersen) who she thinks is her mother. She’s not, but leads her down the path to finding out who they really are. Hunter is really the daughter of her old bass player Kristian and his partner Anna. Anna had her when they were on tour in America and left her in that cemetery.

After that, Anna went missing and when Kristian found her, he locked her inside a church and set it on fire. This led to a jail sentence of 21 years — the maximum sentence, pretty much, because that’s how long Varg Vikernes got for burning churches and killing Euronymous — before he was sent to a mental hospital.

The truth of it all is that her mother’s family has been involved in some dark business for years and she probably never should have sought them out. They go the opposite way of the darkness of Black Metal to true Christian darkness. Actually, they’re Calvinists. Cecilia keeps seeing visions of a woman being set on fire who warns her to give up, but she feels that she must know the full truth of where she came from.

Directed by Alex Herron and written by Thomas Moldestad, this movie promises some Satanic Panic and gives you very little of it. Ah well — we can’t always get what we want.

Country Gold (2022)

EDITOR’S NOTE: This was on the site on September 29, 2022 when I watched at Fantastic Fest. Now it’s playing on a roadshow with director and writer Micker Reese in attendance on the following dates: 

3/29 – Chicago, IL (Alamo Wrigleyville)
3/29 – Denver, CO (Alamo Sloans)
3/29 – San Francisco, CA (Alamo New Mission)
3/29 – Yonkers, NY (Alamo Yonkers)
3/30 – 4/3 – Oklahoma City, OK (Rodeo Cinema)
3/30 – 4/3 – Tulsa, OK (Circle Cinema)

It will be released digitally April 4 on Fandor in North America. 

Visit linktr.ee/countrygold to learn more.

Mickey Reece makes a movie a year and every time, it’s something different. Like the exorcism movie Agnes or Climate of the Hunter, a movie that plays with horror and age. This time, he’s made a comedy — kind of, as always the genre isn’t always absolute — about Troyal Brux (Reece), a country singer on the rise who pretty much seems like Garth Brooks, seeing as how this was made in 1994. In fact, it was Garth until the Oklahoma film commission took away the tax rebates they promised; when the name was changed, those rebates came back. Brooks is from Tulsa and his real first name is Troyal, so you understand.

In the middle of his rise to fame, Troyal gets a written invite from George Jones (Ben Hall). Jones is on the opposite side of life as Troyal and he wants to spend one night out in the world before he gets frozen the very next day.

This is the night they spent together.

Reece has already made Alien, a film about Elvis, but this one is about the gulf between country of old and modern country. The outlaw world of Jones and the commercial world of Troyal. Is Jones trying to make fun of the new family man who is trying to be a star? Or does he see something of himself at the start of his career, when he could see into people and write songs that connected to people?

I grew up in a town with one radio station, all country, so Jones’ songs — “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” “You and Me and Time,” “She Thinks I Still Care” — mean so much more to me than anything country has had to say for itself in decades (and don’t tell me that Sturgill Simpson and today’s presented alternatives are any more authentic country than Garth was). The songs that played on WFEM — well, with the exception of “The Bird” — were raw expressions of life gone off the rails. The life of Jones parallels Brooks in that they both had marriages to fellow performers — Jones famously with Tammy Wynette, who sang “Stand By Your Man,” and Brooks to Trisha Yearwood — but while it took Jones until 1999 to get sober and stop blowing off concerts — “No Show Jones” — Brooks has been a steady superstar. Well, except for that whole Chris Gaines thing, which this movie hints at.

I loved that this movie has asides about Tasha Yar and Denise Crosby coming back to be on later seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation, as well as fantasies — or maybe not? — of Jones killing people for organized crime figures or destabilizing anti-government officials. I’m of the feeling that the best stories don’t have to be true if they’re entertaining.

Sure, this is a movie of basically two men in a room talking. Yet it’s that conversation and where it goes that make for an incredible tale, ending with perhaps the strangest baby reveal and musical number I’ve seen in a movie. That pushed this way over the victory line for me.


Christine (Eva Green) designs clothing for children and one day, at work, she has a breakdown after receiving a phone call. Then, a ghostly dog appears and shakes ticks and fleas all over her with one lodging at the nape of her neck. Her life is destroyed, her work suffers and she must take multiple drugs and sleep with a mask on just to keep some semblance of health. That’s when her new caregiver Diana (Chai Fonacier) — who she doesn’t remember hiring — comes to save her. Then again, as we’re in the realm of folk horror, much less Filipino folk horror and more specifically Bisaya/Cebuano folk horror, a lot can and will happen.

Her husband Felix (Mark Strong) distrusts Diane yet she’s able to return the spirit and health that Christine lost while being able to find a way to bond with Bobs (Billie Gadsdon), their unreachable daughter. Of course, that’s because she’s an ongo, a sorcerer of sorts who was given her powers when she watched an old woman die and her powers — in the form of a bird — flew into her mouth. While her power allowed her to heal the people around her, they also feared her and stayed away.

Felix finds Christine’s drugs, which have been hidden away, as well as an altar in Diane’s room. They make her leave the house but by then, the spell has been cast. The illness inside Christine is directly related to her destroying — man, spoilers on, obviously — Diane’s life when she demanded that the sweatshop that makes her clothes — the same place Diane made her living — increase production and be locked so that people can’t leave with her product. A fire soon destroys everything and because the door was locked, everyone dies, including Diane’s daughter while she watches helplessly outside, clutching the coconut water that her daughter had asked for.

Sadly, that tragedy in the factory is based on reality. The film’s credits have the Filipino song “Pugon” by The General Strike, a song all about the 2015 Kentex slipper factory fire that killed 74 people. The lyrics state:

They died at work This box caught fire Imprisoned and buried They were burned there In the factory that became a furnace

The credits feature the words “Justice for all Kentex fire victims.”

Sadly, it will have to be in this movie.

Directed by Lorcan Finnegan and written by Garret Shanley, the surprises may be easy to see, but to see capitalism destroyed in such a final way by someone that has been forgotten makes this a film worth watching.

SHUDDER ORIGINAL: Attachment (2022)

If anything, this movie has a relationship that you want to see make it. Maja (Josephine Park) and Leah (Ellie Kendrick) meet cute in a library and accidentally switch books. As they meet up again to trade, the two go for tea, which turns into wine, which turns into the kind of relationship that shuts out of the rest of the world. Everything is perfect until a night when Leah has a seizure that breaks her leg. That’s when all the missed calls from her mother and avoidance of her past life all make more sense.

Maja goes with Leah back to her home in London, in the same building as her mother Chana (Sofie Gråbøl), a woman who seems to believe that only she can take care of her daughter. As you can imagine, there are the worries of a new relationship, much less what could be a forbidden one within the orthodox Jewish community where Chana and Leah live.

It might seem strange for anyone. But then throw in all those symbols, talk of demons and meetings with bookstore owner Lev (David Dencik) who reveals that there’s even more going on — he’s also Leah’s uncle and gets pulled into this drama — and you have quite the predicament for young love.

Director and writer Gabriel Bier Gislason allows the leads time to win you over while also building the tension with Jewish mysticism and mentions of golem and dybbuk. It’s intriguing to see a side of possession film outside of Catholic religion and Lev makes both great comic relief, source of exposition and someone who is amazed when what he has only read of in books because horrifyingly real.

The Devil Conspiracy (2022)

The first time I saw the poster for this film, it looked like some kind of alien movie that should in no way be playing at the multiplex — where it did a two-day on demand run in my area — so of course, it fascinated me. Let me tell you, this movie lived up to what I wanted it to be, whatever it is.

What can we say about a movie that starts with a PS2-level cut scene of St. Michael the Archangel (Peter Mensah) defeating the rebel angels led by Lucifer (Joe Anderson) and chaining him in a pit. You have to love a movie where Lucifer looks right at the hero and asks, “Is this all necessary?”

Boom, the movie fast forwards to art student Laura Milton (Alice Orr-Ewing) studying the Shroud of Turin when an army led by Liz (Eveline Hall) breaks in, kills the kindly Father Marconi (Joe Doyle) and runs off with the fabric which is said to have an image of Jesus Christ on it. Dying, Marconi begs for the intercession of Archangel Michael who soon takes over his body.

Michael soon is given a prophecy: A wicked woman and a beast of the Earth are to bring a child into our world that will carry the spirit of Lucifer. That child will be the clone of Jesus, made through the DNA in the Shroud, and the blasphemy of the Son of God being used to carry the spirit of the First of the Fallen will bring about another War in Heaven.

Meanwhile, Lauren is taken to a facility where she and three other women — Sophia, Brenda and Mia — are tested to see who can handle the seed of the devil. Of course it’s Lauren, even if she tries to drink bleach to destroy the demonic child inside her. Michael attempts to save her but gets sent to Hell, where he learns that the demons there plan to run wild on Earth. Past sacrfices trapped there help him to find his holy sword and makes it back to the human world, where he lets Lucifer in on the fact that God already had his plan all figured out and Laura’s child is destined to destroy him.

There’s also a wacky ending that totally sets up a sequel that I will not wait for streaming and be in the first seat in the first showing. I mean, this is a movie where the evil devil people have figured out cloning and sell a new version of Michelangelo for ten million euros!

Directed by Nathan Frankowski and written by Ed Alan, this movie reminds me of the days when oddball stuff like Ultraviolet and Priest could show up in multiplexes for a week and then get discovered on cable and video. Sure, they weren’t great movies per se but are also films that were colored outside the lines. Often critically reviled, they’re also the movies I seek out.

I totally thought this was a religious movie, but it has so much gore, profanity and a moment where Laura  swallows all that bleach, straddles Liz and pukes directly into her face. Now that’s cinema.

Also: it has the two most obvious needledrops I’ve ever heard one after the other: INXS playing “Devil Inside” and Real Life’s “Send Me an Angel.” That’s the kind of ridiculousness I approved of.

CLEOPATRA RECORDS DVD/CD RELEASE: Kings Of Thrash – Best Of The West: Live At The Whisky A Go Go (2022)

If you grew up loving metal in the 80s, you probably were into the Bay Area thrash scene. This two CD and one DVD set has Megadeth guitarists David Ellefson and Jeff Young, along with Fred Leong and Chaz Aching, as well as an appearance by Megadeth bassist Chris Poland playing some of the best songs from that band.

The CDs include the following songs:


1. Last Rites
2. Rattlehead
3. The Skull Beneath The Skin
4. Good Mourning / Devil’s Island
5. Wake Up Dead
6. 502
7. In My Darkest Hour

1. Orange Light
2. Into The Lungs Of Hell
3. Set The World Afire
4. Killing Is My Business…And Business Is Good
5. Chosen Ones
6. Liar
7. Hook In Mouth
8. Mechanix
9. These Boots Are Made For Walkin’
10. Peace Sells…But Who’s Buying?

The live DVD has a set at the Whiskey-A-Go-Go on October 15, 2022 with the band blasting through the following Megadeath tracks:

1. Last Rites
2. Rattlehead
3. The Skull Beneath The Skin
4. Good Mourning / Devil’s Island
5. Wake Up Dead
6. 502
7. In My Darkest Hour
8. Orange Light
9. Into The Lungs Of Hell
10. Set The World Afire
11. Killing Is My Business…And Business Is Good
12. Chosen Ones
13. Liar
14. Hook In Mouth
15. Mechanix
16. These Boots Are Made For Walkin’
17. Peace Sells…But Who’s Buying?

Kings of Thrash have been touring and playing Killing Is My Business… And Business Is Good! and So Far, So Good… So What! — as well as some of Peace Sells… They’re also recording some of their own original music, which is exciting. If you’re into the music of this era and want to enjoy fast riffs without having to hear Dave Mustaine sing — a bonus for me — then you’ll enjoy this set.

Also, full disclosure, I know that Ellefson has had a controversial moment in 2021 yet it seems all charges were dismissed. Being a metal fan is rough — especially extreme metal — but I figure it should at least be mentioned before I get a bunch of comments about it.

You can learn more about the Kings of Thrash on their official site and buy this from MVD.

TUBI EXCLUSIVE: 10 Truths About Love (2022)

This isn’t just a Tubi original. This is the first Tubi original.

In the world of this movie — perhaps it’s science fiction — they still make magazines that are the most important way of information getting out into the world. Spark magazine is where Carina (Camilla Belle) works as a romance advice columnist but she’s unlucky in love. After all, she’s been with a lawyer named Tom (Karn Kalra) for five years and he breaks up with her instead of asking her to marry him. That’s when she meets new writer Liam (David LaFontaine) who offers to help her win him back, but if you’ve ever watched a movie, you realize that they’re meant to be together and there will be a third act that makes you think they won’t but of course they get together.

Camille Belle is a pretty big star for a Tubi film, as she was in Practical Magic when she was young, as well as the remake of When a Stranger Calls and, well, Dirty Dancing 3: Capoeira Nights.

This was directed by Brian K. Roberts, who also made An En Vogue Christmas and The Unauthorized Full House Story. It was written by Shannon Latimer, who has scripted several movies with the words wedding and Christmas and combinations of the two words.

You can watch this on Tubi.

SRS DVD RELEASE: Night of the Zodiac (2022)

Richard Gantz (Philip Digby) can’t keep a job or finish his film about the Zodiac Killer, yet somehow the Zodiac Killer finds him and convinces him to finish the movie, one that will help him collect new slaves for paradice, as he would scrawl.

Night of the Zodiac seems like an SOV movie from thirty years ago yet it was made now by director and writer Susana Kapostasy somewhere in the wilds of Hazel Park, Michigan. Beyond Mark Polonia showing up as well as Todd Sheets and Tim Ritter getting name dropped, there are so many posters and old VHS boxes that are all over this film, including Tales from the QuadeaD ZoneSplatter Farm and perhaps the best film of that era, The Abomination. There are also tons of kills, including a magician, the entire band doing the soundtrack, a karate battle that ends with a woman being impaled on a sprinkler that shoots literal geysers of blood and an issue of Gore Score read on the toilet.

This cost a grand to make and I assume that the budget went toward sending this backward in time so that it appeared to be made in the same time period as all those movies of the past that I love so much like BoardinghouseDay of the Reaper and Goblin. You can feel the love for those films while this is able to become its own unique film. It also remembers that an SOV film needs a metal soundtrack and this movie totally gets that right. Beyond worth your time. I want even more of this!

The SRS DVD also has a commentary track,  Blood Cannon Madness, a seance to reach Chas Balun for Gore Score, how the ciphers for the movie were made, a Tim Ritter interview and a trailer. You can buy it from MVD.