HK and Cult Film News's Fan Box

Wednesday, December 31, 2014


Just in case you haven't been paying attention, here's a tip: if the DVD cover says "SyFy Channel Original", then chances are it isn't the latest rival for 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY as "Best Science-Fiction Movie Ever Made." Or even "Best Science-Fiction Movie Made This Week." But whether or not it's worth watching anyway is subject to a number of amorphous factors that are in a constant state of flux.

For example, ZODIAC: SIGNS OF THE APOCALYPSE (2014) actually starts out looking like it might be an above-average entry in SyFy's ongoing effort to populate the world with staggeringly bland Canadian sci-fi flicks. When archeologists discover a stone-carved "astrology board" in a cave in Peru, they call upon the last surviving expert in such things to figure out what it means.

That happens to be semi-retired smarty-pants Neil Martin--played by old standby Joel Gretsch of GLASS HOUSE: THE GOOD MOTHER and "The 4400"--who's been out of circulation while raising his now-grown son Colin (Reilly Dolman), an irritating lad with a penchant for second-guessing his old man.

But when they join romantically-available female archeologists Kathryn Keen (Emily Holmes) and young, blonde Sophie (Andrea Brooks) at the cave, something weird happens as the astrology board somehow powers up and connects with a mysterious, newly-discovered ninth planet which has just appeared in front of the sun.

Soon after we learn that a strange stone also found in the cave possesses secret powers which react with the rogue planet and might possibly be needed to head off global calamity when Mother Nature herself starts attacking the human race Zodiac-style!

I know you probably can't believe you just read that--I can't believe I just wrote it, either. While it all sounds like a foolproof blueprint for solid sci-fi entertainment, it's at this point, believe it or not, that the movie starts to get a little silly. Basically a rehash of another SyFy end-of-the-world tale, 12 DISASTERS (OF CHRISTMAS), it's pretty much just another excuse to pile on several scenes of poorly-rendered CGI destruction (one for each of the 12 signs of the Zodiac) for which these movies are not only well known but celebrated by bad-movie fans.

As so often is the case, these calamities--which include a tsunami, a giant typhoon, a deadly meteor storm, mega-hurricane-force winds, and killer lightning bolts--all occur within a small enough area to menace our heroes, who must outrun them all in various minivans and other vehicles. So we get lots of scenes of the principal characters driving around haphazardly with crudely-rendered CGI doodles swirling around them.

Meanwhile, there's the inevitable government bad guy, Agent Woodward (Aaron Douglas, "Battlestar Galactica"), who wants the stone for its "weapons potential" and will stop at nothing to get it. Thus, the bickering father-and-son team and their lovely female companions must flee cross-country and track down reclusive billionaire Harry Setag (Christopher Lloyd), who has, for some reason, already built the giant mechanical device needed to stop the Zodiac apocalypse and which is powered by, you guessed it, the precious stone.

If this all sounds like nonstop edge-of-your-seat suspense and heart-pounding excitement, then rest assured--it isn't. As in most other SyFy disaster flicks, the worst of the ongoing global apocalypse is mainly referred to in the dialogue. Poor old Paris, we learn, has been obliterated yet again and this time we don't even get to see it. The Zodiac weather anomalies that we do see are pretty nutty since they're actually shaped like astrological signs--which is just goofy--and the CGI used to depict them is downright laugh-provoking at times.

When not strictly functional, the dialogue is similarly amusing. At one point government baddie Woodward is arguing with a junior agent who allows that Martin may be right about this Zodiac stuff since, after all, the last natural disaster, a massive volcanic geyser, did indeed resemble the sign for Aries. "Yeah, and atomic explosions look like mushrooms," Woodward retorts, "but I don't wanna put 'em on my pizza." Later, after yet another tense scene in which the good guys drive away real fast from some menacing CGI, Sophie exclaims, "I think I just crapped my third grade homework!"

The best parts of the movie are supplied by two of the characters Martin and company encounter during their adventure, the first being a crazed but lovable survivalist named Marty (Ben Cotton, STAN HELSING, THE CHRONICLES OF RIDDICK) who gives them shelter in his well-stocked underground bunker, and the second, everyone's favorite oddball Christopher Lloyd, who appears late in the story to eccentric things up for a few minutes while supplying some vital last-minute exposition.

The Anchor Bay/Starz DVD is in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen with Dolby 5.1 sound. Subtitles are in English and Spanish. There are no extras.

What it all boils down to is this--if you don't like bad movies even if they're fun, you're probably not part of the intended audience for this one. But veterans of the typical "SyFy Original Movie" who just keep coming back for more will happily lower their expectations enough to allow ZODIAC: SIGNS OF THE APOCALYPSE to come into their homes and entertain them. And chances are they'll be glad they did.

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Tuesday, December 30, 2014


Essentially a love letter to VHS and independent shot-on-video filmmaking, Wild Eye Releasing's HI-8: HORROR INDEPENDENT EIGHT (2013) gathers eight leading indy directors, arms them with low-tech equipment, and lets them loose to make the kind of blood 'n' guts "SOV" flicks they did when they were teenagers.

Of course, it all looks like it was shot on camcorder because that's exactly how it was done. Given that, it still looks pretty good and is anything but the unwatchable crap that some camcorder movies are.

Still, if LAWRENCE OF ARABIA is the visual bottom line for you as a film viewer, HI-8 definitely isn't going to cut it. This is mainly for those who are already diehard fans of this type of entertainment, even though there's no reason people who have never seen a shot-on-video feature in their lives can't have fun with it.

The list of rules that co-producer/co-writer/director Brad Sykes gave to the other participating directors (Tim Ritter, Donald Farmer, Todd Sheets, Chris Seaver, Ron Bonk, Tony Masiello, and Marcus Koch) included staying away from CGI, green screen, fancy lighting effects, or anything else not available to them during their formative years as filmmakers.

These limitations, however, only served to get their creative juices flowing in other ways, with an emphasis on both clever storytelling and wild, over-the-top practical effects. Much of the focus, in fact, is on gore, gore, and more gore.

Nostalgia for the good old days of VHS is evident in Brad Sykes' wraparound segment, "No Budget Films Presents...", in which we find three teenagers making their own camcorder horror movie which comes back to bite them in a big way by the film's end. Not much happens in this one, but the final scene has some downright wicked makeup effects.

"The Tape" offers another wallow in VHS nostalgia as two guys packing away the inventory of a going-out-of-business video store happen upon an unknown tape called "Bloodgasm." Tim takes it home and is thrilled to find that it's a lost SOV "masterpiece" with unbelievably realistic gore (well, you have to use your imagination there) and becomes obsessed with tracking down the filmmaker. When he does, he gets more than he bargained for.

The theme of "Switchblade Butchers" is that the couple that slays together stays together. When a woman discovers that her husband is a serial killer, her initial shock gives way to an unexpected desire to join in the "fun" and before long she's slashing away with equal abandon. Lots of squirty fake blood and a tongue-in-cheek attitude, along with a giddy performance by Kristine Renee Farley and a bit of a twist ending, make this one especially fun.

"A Very Bad Situation" begins with a (stock footage) meteor shower that brings some kind of space virus along with it, resulting in (gasp!) extreme tentacle carnage! This one takes place entirely within a barricaded garage but a lot happens in a short time with only four characters--including a very twitchy stranger with an axe--who remain at each others' throats until one of them monsters out big time with the help of some particularly wet practical effects that resemble a poor (but happy) man's version of Rob Bottin's work on THE THING.

But even that can't hold a candle to my favorite, "Gang Them Style." When a bargain-basement Snake Plissken named "Mongoose McCready" rescues his Nana (who wears an eye patch) from the old folks' home during the latest zombie apolcalypse, he finds himself saddled with an entire crew of old folks who just don't know how to behave in an action movie. The typical Hollywood tough guy is hilariously spoofed here as are some of the most popular zombie movie tropes.

"The Request" is a nifty tale in which a late-night deejay is haunted by the telephone voice of someone who's supposed to be dead. Poetic justice with an ironic twist ends this one in the vein of the old E.C. comics along with more nice makeup effects.

"Thicker than Water" presents a couple in which certain latent dysfunctions suddenly become overt when the woman kidnaps her boyfriend's former lover and insists that he prove his love by helping her force-feed his hapless ex a Drano cocktail. The most comical entry is "Genre Bending", a table-turning tale of stalkers and victims which searches just a little too long for its punchline.

"The Scout" finds an aspiring actress trapped in a Mojave desert nightmare when a director scouting film locations disappears, leaving her trapped in the middle of nowhere with a killer. And finally, "No Budget Films Presents..." returns just before the fadeout to wrap things up in chilling fashion.

The DVD from Wild Eye Releasing is in 1.33:1 widescreen with 2.0 sound. No subtitles. Bonus features include a commentary track with producers Brad Sykes and Josephina Sykes, the featurette "The Making of Hi-8", trailers and teasers, and a photo gallery. The film is also available, fittingly enough, on a special VHS edition at Wild Eye's website.

While HI-8: HORROR INDEPENDENT EIGHT may occasionally appear sloppy and slapdash, there's creativity behind this stuff and darn if it isn't a hoot to watch. There are no lofty artistic aspirations here--just a loosey-goosey conglomeration of horrors for us to have some morbid fun with.

Buy the DVD at
Buy the VHS edition at Wild Eye Releasing


Wednesday, December 24, 2014


It starts off just as you might expect, perhaps just as you want it to, with a bloody, brutal attack on an unsuspecting merchant vessel by screaming, war-faced, sword-slinging pirates who seem to have just come flying out of the gates of hell.

But for anyone waiting for this series to settle into an extended version of a "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie, BLACK SAILS: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON (from Starz! and Anchor Bay Entertainment) will confound their expectations by choosing instead to show us the (more or less) realistic everyday lives of pirates who care less for boys' adventure exploits than they do the bottom line. For them, piracy is a business complete with all the behind-the-scenes struggles for power and devious schemes to one-up the competition.

As such, much of the series takes place between voyages upon the dry land of 17th-century Nassau in the Bahamas, where Eleanor Guthrie (Hannah New) fences the stolen booty and, as per family tradition, pretty much runs the place as did Tina Turner's "Auntie Entity" in MAD MAX BEYOND THUNDERDOME. The pirates, meanwhile, drop their "Arr, matey" guises here and worry about the next profit-generating enterprise while deciding whether or not to elect a new captain.

The latter is currently the main concern of Captain Flint (Toby Stephens) of the pirate ship The Walrus, a tough but mysterious sea dog who is losing the trust of his crew by showing signs of a hidden agenda which threatens to lead them to ruin.

While motivating his mutiny-prone crew with a lofty new scheme to locate a wrecked Spanish galleon called the Urca de Lima, which is said to contain a huge fortune in gold, Flint gradually alienates his trusted second-in-command Gates (Mark Ryan, THE PRESTIGE, CHARLIE'S ANGELS) when evidence emerges that the captain's real motives involve a Puritan woman named Miranda Barlow (Louise Barnes in a fetching performance) with whom Flint shares dark secrets.

While the rift grows between Flint and his men, melodramatic machinations churn like a primetime soap opera amongst the denizens of Nassau's pirate island New Providence, with volatile rival Captain Vale (Zach McGowan, TERMINATOR SALVATION) and his cunning toady Rackham (Toby Schmitz) aiming to unseat Eleanor as the island's chief power whatever the cost.

Vale turns out to be one of the series' most interesting and unpredictable characters, his storyline adding zest when all the other dramatic complications vying for our attention threaten to bog things down.

Eleanor faces further conflict with both her own father Richard Guthrie (Sean Cameron Michael) and a former lover, exotic prostitute Max (Jessica Parker Kennedy), whose betrayal by Eleanor turns her into a dangerous enemy when she eventually joins forces with Vale and Rackham.

Behind it all, there's young John Silver, who survived that first furious attack with nothing but his quick wits and whom Flint now allows to live because he holds in his memory the key to finding the Spanish galleon Urca de Lima. How Silver not only stays alive but manages to gain status and potential for profit within his tenuous situation makes him a major player in the story.

What all of this ultimately amounts to, at first anyway, is a series that seems to take forever to get cranked up and is only occasionally enlivened by the kind of ship against ship pirate mayhem that this sort of story just naturally makes us want to see. Early episodes consist of hours of land-locked and not all that riveting exchanges about business, impending mutiny, and the inevitable romantic entanglements that never manage to achieve enough depth to really sustain interest.

Good dialogue would have helped, but it isn't really all that scintillating, either. While refreshingly adult in some ways, there are some aspects such as the jarringly crude sex scenes and artless overuse of profanity, which I found gratuitous. Way too many scenes end with someone simply saying "F*** you!", which usually means that the writers have run out of interesting ways for their characters to communicate with each other.

Fortunately, a major action setpiece on Flint's anchored vessel, which turns out to be, in its blood-splattered brutality, the antithesis of the standard swashbuckling swordfight, helps to spice things up while we're waiting for the show to finally grab us.

But only later on, around episode four or so, do things begin to heat up when the various dramatic threads finally weave themselves together in compelling fashion and begin to pay off big time, while that slow, teasing build-up to action suddenly erupts into a gloriously spectacular sea battle (especially for a television production) between The Walrus and another ship in order to steal its cannons. Even here, the growing conflicts between Flint, Gates, and the rest of the crew continue toward an ultimate breaking point.

After this, BLACK SAILS gains a watchability that carries it over even the less-than-thrilling stretches as our interest in both Flint's adventures and Eleanor's struggle to keep the island from falling into Captain Vale's hands grows more intense. Even the melodramatic stuff that I considered mere filler before starts heating up in ways that make it all compelling, while the characters I thought little of before gradually get more and more interesting.

This includes real-life (though highly fictionalized) figures Vale, Rackham, scrappy female pirate Anne Bonny, and perhaps a few others I'm yet unaware of, along with literary characters such as John Silver and Billy Bones from Robert Louis Stevenson's "Treasure Island."

The show makes an admirable attempt to lend an everyday realism to the world of the pirate as opposed to what we're used to seeing--peg-legged scoundrels with parrots on their shoulders spouting lines like "Avast ye!" and "Yo ho ho!"--although too often certain characters are overly modernized, which tends to make them both bland and anachronistic.

As for star Toby Stephens, he has grizzled nicely since DIE ANOTHER DAY and looks the part of a seething, scheming pirate captain who's more interested in the bottom line than the next swashbuckling adventure. He holds the screen well during his scenes and is an interesting protagonist although he sometimes underplays the part.

The production design is attractive and fairly convincing, save for the occasional fake-CGI shot and the sort of annoying Shaky-Cam that simply wobbles continuously for no apparent reason.

The 3-disc Blu-ray set from Anchor Bay Entertainment is in 1.78:1 widescreen with English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 sound and subtitles in English SDH and Spanish. Disc three contains the following bonus featurettes:

Black Sails: A Look Inside
Dress To Kill
Pirate Camp
Folklore Is Finished: Pirate Politics
A Place In History
Building The Behemoth

The final battle of the season is a real blowout while it lasts, nicely conveying a sense of disorienting chaos and mounting peril as enemy cannons blast Flint's ship (and much of its crew) to smithereens. It's intense and cathartic after such a long build-up, yet so brief that it leaves us wanting more just as the season nears its end. So I was left more or less eager to see season two but not really chomping at the bit as much as I should be. So far, BLACK SAILS: SEASON ONE isn't quite "must-see" TV--at this point, it's more like "might-see."

Buy it at




Tuesday, December 23, 2014


(NOTE: This review originally appeared online at in 2007.)

WANTED: DEAD OR ALIVE, SEASON THREE picks up right where volume two left off, giving us the 26 episodes that comprise the final season of this irresistibly entertaining Western series which ran from 1958-1961.

But unlike, for example, STAR TREK:THE ORIGINAL SERIES, which was running on fumes during its third and final season, WANTED ended only because Steve McQueen left to pursue a film career. Thus, the series finished stronger than ever with a season of episodes featuring better scripts, sharper dialogue, and roughly twice the amount of gunsmoke and flying lead. Even Rudy Schrager's original music is better this time around.

A distinctive new opening sequence begins with darkness punctuated by three gun flashes. As the title appears, McQueen's "Josh Randall" character steps into the light and holsters his gun with a steely-eyed glare.

As usual, Josh Randall is a decent, laidback sort who only shoots when it's absolutely necessary--he'd rather bring 'em in alive than dead. But if he's pushed too far, he lets the Mare's Leg, the sawed-off Winchester '92 that he carries in a clip holster, settle things in a definitive way. Josh doesn't tolerate rude behavior from bad guys ("You put down that blade or I'm gonna start blowin' off fingers") but will go out of his way to avoid violence whenever possible. Which, fortunately for us, is often impossible.

One episode in particular ("Journey for Josh") finds him falling in love with a female prisoner (Debra Paget's sister, the extremely hot Lisa Gaye) during their trek to another town. Something happens to her along the way which raises Josh's ire like never before, and, in an uncharacteristic moment of rage, he shoots the offending bad guy full of holes. The gunshot sound effects are turned up really loud in this series, too, lending more consequence to each shot fired. (Verna Fields, who handled most of the third season sound effects, went on to edit Steven Spielberg's blockbuster hit JAWS.)

Even more so than before, several of the stories break away from the usual bounty hunter formula in which Randall is either tracking someone down or bringing him in for trial. More and more, in fact, he finds himself being hired for all sorts of things, from keeping a prospective bridegroom on the wagon until his wedding day ("The Cure") to helping a young widow retain custody of her son while her domineering mother-in-law uses her wealth and political connections to take him away from her ("One Mother Too Many").

In a particularly exotic episode ("The Long Search"), he helps a Japanese mail-order bride locate her reluctant husband-to-be and not only finds himself participating in an elegant ancient tea ceremony in the middle of nowhere but also runs into an ill-tempered samurai intent on turning him into sushi.

Such a broad premise allows writers such as TV veterans Ed Adamson and Norman Katkov to come up with a wide variety of engaging stories, some of them intensely dramatic, which easily sustain interest throughout. Each 26-minute mini-Western is superbly rendered with movie-quality black and white cinematography by talented directors including Richard Donner (SUPERMAN, THE OMEN) and Murray Golden (ST:TOS' "Requiem for Methuselah").

There are even several comedy episodes which give Steve McQueen a chance to exploit his playful side. I actually LOL'd a few times at "Baa-Baa", the story of a distraught couple who hire Josh to find their beloved pet sheep, Baa-Baa. When news of his latest assignment gets around, Josh becomes a laughingstock at the local saloon and almost gets hanged by a couple of sheep-hating cattlemen for his trouble. It got to the point where I was laughing every time a character said the name "Baa-Baa." The final shot of Josh being chased across the prairie by a smitten Baa-Baa is just plain nutty.

As always, every time Josh Randall rides to a different town for which an indoor set is used, it's the same town that served as "North Fork" on another Four Star production, THE RIFLEMAN. It's fun to see how all the signs and certain bits of scenery are switched around in an effort to make it look different each time. In season two, you can spot a sign for North Fork's Doc Burridge, and in this collection Lucas McCain's favorite blacksmith Nels Svenson appears long enough to get murdered by some escaped outlaws. Even the interior and exterior sets for Lucas McCain's ranch are reused here and there, notably in "The Long Search."

The guest cast continues to offer a wealth of interesting character actors in addition to past and future stars. These include a young James Coburn (McQueen's co-star in THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN and THE GREAT ESCAPE), Paul Burke, Harold J. Stone, Tom Drake, RIFLEMAN regular Bill Quinn, Olan Soule', Don Gordon, director Mark Rydell (ON GOLDEN POND, THE COWBOYS), Cloris Leachman, J. Pat O'Malley, Frank Albertson, Richard Anderson, Gloria Talbot, Warren Oates, Howard Morris, Noah Beery, Richard Farnsworth, and an insanely-young Mary Tyler Moore.

Jeanette Nolan is unrecognizable in an incredible performance as a spooky Mexican witch woman in (what else?) "Witch Woman", while "The Choice" is a special treat for old-time horror fans as it offers an aging Dick Foran (THE MUMMY'S HAND, THE MUMMY'S TOMB) as an over-the-hill bounty hunter whose concerned wife hires Josh to make sure that her husband survives his final hunt for a desperate outlaw.

But it's the series star, Steve McQueen, who makes this show so much fun to watch. He's ever so cool, but not in a detached way. His Josh Randall character is warm, caring, funny, fallible--in other words, human. He loves money, but he values honesty and friendship even more. His love life consists mainly of brief encounters with the various dancehall girls he's gotten to know over the years, which are usually played for laughs. But when the situation gets dangerous, you can always depend on him to say something cool and go into action.

Add this to all the other elements that make WANTED: DEAD OR ALIVE one of the best Western series of all time, in addition to seven featurettes, and you've got a 4-disc DVD collection that provides a wagonload of pure entertainment. As Josh Randall would say: "Let's go!"

Buy it at




FEAR CLINIC from Anchor Bay Entertainment -- Accepting Appointments on Blu-ray and DVD February 10 (UPDATED WITH COVER ART)

Time to face your fears. What if your fears faced you?



Starring Robert Englund, Fiona Dourif, Corey Taylor, Angelina Armani and Thomas Dekker
Step Into The Fear Chamber Starting February 10, 2015 on Blu-ray™ and DVD

BEVERLY HILLS, CA After terrifying audiences from coast to coast Closing Night Event at ScreamFest 2014 Los Angeles and Opening Night Screening at 2014 New York City Horror Film Festival Fear Clinic, the latest excursion into unrelenting terror will be released on Blu-ray™ and DVD on February 10, 2015 by Anchor Bay Entertainment. The highly anticipated shocker stars horror icon Robert "Freddy Krueger" Englund, Fiona Dourif, Angelina Armani, Thomas Dekker, as well as Stone Sour and Slipknot lead vocalist Corey Taylor in his acting debut, and is directed by Robert G. Hall (Lightning Bug, Laid to Rest, ChromeSkull: Laid To Rest II).

With blood-chilling special effects by award-winning FX creators Robert Kurtzman and Steve Johnson, Fear Clinic will take viewers on an unforgettable journey into the very soul of terror itself. SRP is $26.99 for the Blu-ray™ and $22.98 for the DVD, with pre-book on January 7.

Co-written by Hall and Aaron Drane, the film is based on the critically acclaimed and fan favorite 2009 series. When trauma-induced phobias begin to re-emerge in five survivors a year after their horrifying tragedy, they return to the "Fear Clinic," hoping to find the answers they need to get cured.

Dr. Andover (Robert Englund), a fear doctor who runs the clinic, uses his "Fear Chamber" to animate their fears in the form of terrifying hallucinations. However, the good doctor soon begins to suspect that something more sinister may be at work, something that yearns to be more than just an hallucination...

Bonus features on Fear Clinic Blu-ray™ and DVD to be announced.

About Anchor Bay Entertainment Anchor Bay Entertainment is a leading home entertainment company. Anchor Bay acquires and distributes feature films, original television programming including STARZ Original series, children's entertainment, anime (Manga Entertainment), fitness (Anchor Bay Fitness), sports, and other filmed entertainment on DVD and Blu-ray™ formats. The company has long term distribution agreements in place for select programming with AMC Networks, RADiUS, and The Weinstein Company. Headquartered in Beverly Hills, CA, Anchor Bay Entertainment has offices in Troy, MI, as well as Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia. Anchor Bay Entertainment ( is a Starz (NASDAQ: STRZA, STRZB) business,

FEAR CLINIC Blu-ray™Street Date: February 10, 2015
Pre-book: January 7, 2015
Cat. #: BD62075
UPC: 0 1313 262075-6
Run Time: 95 minutes
Rating: R (pending)
SRP: $26.99
Format: Widescreen 2.40:1 1080p
Audio: Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

FEAR CLINIC DVDStreet Date: February 10, 2015
Pre-book: January 7, 2015
Cat. #: DV62074
UPC: 0 1313 262074-9
Run Time: 95 minutes
Rating: R (pending)
SRP: $22.98
Format: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.40:1
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

Buy it at


Monday, December 22, 2014

"ZOMBIE KILLERS: ELEPHANT'S GRAVEYARD" arrives February 3, 2015 on Blu-ray and DVD from Anchor Bay Entertainment (UPDATED WITH COVER ART)

Even in a world overrun with zombies, life goes on. But for how long?



Life Begins With Death

BEVERLY HILLS, CA – The rural town of Elwood has always been a "bubble" against the backdrop of an organism-based epidemic where infected humans don’t die, instead they roam to spread the infection in a grisly, horrific way. Those who escape must survive—by any means necessary. But at what price?

On February 3, 2015, Anchor Bay Entertainment presents Zombie Killers: Elephant’s Graveyard, an exciting survival thriller about a fallen world that’s provocative as it is chilling. Written and directed by B. Harrison Smith and with a stellar genre cast including Billy Zane (Electrick Children, Titanic, Dead Calm), Dee Wallace (E.T., The Howling), Mischa Barton ("The O.C.," Walled In), Felissa Rose (Sleepaway Camp, Satan’s Playground), and Brian Anthony Wilson (Law Abiding Citizen, Limitless), Zombie Killers: Elephant’s Graveyard is presented in an unrated version on Blu-ray™ and DVD with an SRP of $26.99 for Blu-ray™ and $22.98 for DVD. Pre-book is December 31, 2014.

In the film, the "Zombie Killers" are a small band of young adults, trained by military vet Seiler (Zane), who have sworn to protect the town and aim for the head if anything threatens Elwood's last survivors.

Bonus features on Zombie Killers: Elephant’s Graveyard Blu-ray™ and DVD include the behind-the-scenes featurettes "Bloodbath and Beyond," "The Look of Zombie Killers: Elephant’s Graveyard," and "Zombie Killers: Elephant’s Graveyard Behind the Scenes."

About Anchor Bay Entertainment
Anchor Bay Entertainment is a leading home entertainment company. Anchor Bay acquires and distributes feature films, original television programming including STARZ Original series, children's entertainment, anime (Manga Entertainment), fitness (Anchor Bay Fitness), sports, and other filmed entertainment on DVD and Blu-ray™ formats. The company has long term distribution agreements in place for select programming with AMC Networks, RADiUS, and The Weinstein Company. Headquartered in Beverly Hills, CA, Anchor Bay Entertainment has offices in Troy, MI, as well as Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia. Anchor Bay Entertainment ( is a Starz (NASDAQ: STRZA, STRZB) business,

Street Date: February 3, 2015
Pre-book: December 31, 2014
Cat. #: BD62596
UPC: 0 1313 262596-6
Run Time: 104 minutes
Rating: Not Rated
SRP: $26.99
Format: Widescreen (2.40:1) 1080p
Audio: Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

Street Date: February 3, 2015
Pre-book: December 31, 2014
Cat. #: DV62595
UPC: 0 1313 262595-9
Run Time: 104 minutes
Rating: Not Rated
SRP: $22.98
Format: Anamorphic Widescreen (2.40:1)
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish 

Buy the DVD at


Sunday, December 21, 2014

Yes, Virginia...


Our Season's Gift To You...
The Iconic 1897 Editorial That Continues to Bring Holiday Joy

On September 21 1897, the New York Sun published what was to become history's most reprinted newspaper editorial. The letter from eight-year old Virginia O'Hanlon of New York City and the quick response from veteran newsman Francis Pharcellus Church has appeared whole or in part in dozens of languages in newspapers, books, movies, on posters, stamps and the internet.


I am eight years old.

Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Poppa says "if you see it in the Sun it's so." Please tell me the truth.

Is there a Santa Claus?

Virginia O'Hanlon
115 West 95th Street
New York City, NY


They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age.

They do not believe except what hey see. They think nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's are little. In this great universe of ours, man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, Virginia there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist and you know that they abound and give your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas, how dreary would the world be if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus? You might as well not believe in fairies. You might get your Papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not vthere. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You may tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes that noise inside, but there is a vieil covering the the unseen world which not the strongest men, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance can push aside the curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all the world there is nothing else as real and abiding.

No Santa Claus?

Thank God he lives and lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.


This week's features:

It's simple mathematics, really. As the days leading to the holidays become fewer and fewer, stress levels become higher and higher. All the more reason to take a break with some of the most enjoyable films ever made. To name just four of the treats has in store.

Check Coming Attractions for dates and times (ET) for these features as well as for all the great free films on

Copyright © 20XX. All Rights Reserved.


An Open Letter to Supreme Leader Kim Jong-Un, from Lloyd Kaufman and the Troma Team

An Open Letter from Troma's Lloyd Kaufman to Supreme Leader Kim Jong-Un

New York, N.Y., December 19, 2014 - Greetings from Tromaville! We here at Troma Entertainment wish to publicly express our adulation for the supreme leader, Kim Jong-Un; Great Successor, Young Master, Brilliant Comrade, founder of the first ever "K-pop" girl band in North Korea (Moranbong), and our Lil' Kim. In light of recent events, Troma wishes to distance itself from Hollywood's unforgivable disrespect for the Great One.

Troma stands proudly with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and offers our sincerest apologies for this shameless, disrespectful, and tasteless terrorist film "The Interview". Do not worry--if the film is released, our box office analysts have projected at most a 20% success ratio for the film, much like North Korea's beloved space program.

Our political and social code stands in stark contrast to the evil imperialist lapdogs Sony Pictures, Universal Studios, Rupert Murdoch, Time Warner, and the like. Since our founding in 1974, Troma has only produced films that are of upstanding socialist values, such as 'Surf Nazi's Must Die' and 'The Toxic Avenger' (going as far as only including its 28 state-approved haircuts for all our actors).

For 40 years The Outstanding Leader and his ancestor Gods have been the role model for Troma Entertainment. This is evidenced by the fact that we have patterned our economic strategy of "no revenue" on the North Korean economic model. Kim Jong-Un has also inspired us (like his father before him, who learned to walk and talk at the age of three weeks and wrote 1500 books in three years) with how well he treats his loyal citizens and how happy he has made them... We can say with great pride that, likewise, our employees have not asked for any pay raises and are so happy in their work that they do not ask for Christmas bonuses or overtime pay, wholeheartedly enjoying their six-day work weeks as well as their enforced "volunteer" work.

Your researchers have concluded that North Korea is the second happiest country behind China, and we want to be happy too. If the People's Republic needs any of our private emails or passwords, we will fax them to you promptly. Any who refuse will be sent to a prison labor camp, along with their families, for three generations of punishment. We would also like to assure you and the state for the record that the dishonorable propagandists James Franco and Seth Rogen will not be cast in our upcoming film 'The Toxic Avenger 5: Toxie Goes to Chernobyl.' Most important, we pray that none of these recent obscenities have tainted your pure and chaste friendship with our greatest national treasure, Dennis Rodman.


Lloyd Kaufman and the Troma Team

Subscribe to TROMA:


For more information on Troma Entertainment or Lloyd Kaufman please visit: or

You can also "Like" and "Follow" Lloyd at and

Established in 1974 by Yale friends Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz, Troma Entertainment is one of the longest-running independent movie studios in United States history, and it's one of the best-known names in the industry. World famous for movie classics like Kaufman's "The Toxic Avenger", "Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead", "Class of Nuke 'em High", "Mother's Day" and "Tromeo & Juliet", Troma's seminal films are now being remade as big-budget mainstream productions by the likes of Brett Ratner, Richard Saperstein, Akiva Goldsman and Steven Pink. Among today's luminaries whose early work can be found in Troma's 800+ film library are Trey Parker, Matt Stone, Jenna Fischer, Robert De Niro, Dustin Hoffman, Kevin Costner, Fergie, Vincent D'Onofrio, Samuel L. Jackson, James Gunn and Eli Roth. Troma's latest productions are "Return to Nuke 'Em High: Volumes 1 & 2". Visit Troma at,, and


Thursday, December 18, 2014

Seasons Greetings from Tromaville! Lloyd Kaufman Presents "A Christmas Carol"

Seasons Greetings from Tromaville!

Lloyd Kaufman and the Troma Team
Thank their Fans for Four-Decades of Support with
Troma's "A Christmas Carol!"

New York, N.Y., December 18, 2014 - Greetings from Tromaville! In honor of Troma Entertainment's 40th Christmas, Legendary filmmaker Lloyd Kaufman is releasing another wonderful Holiday video - Troma's "A Christmas Carol." The video, shot and edited in the famous Youtube Space NY, follows the hugely successful "A Halloween Carol" from earlier this year. "The Holidays are all about giving, especially re-giving" said Kaufman, "and I think it's safe to say this is some of the best re-giving we've ever done."

Troma's "A Christmas Carol"

Watch Troma's "A Christmas Carol" now on Troma's YouTube Channel, Tromamovies. Troma has over 80,000 subscribers and is one of the only film companies to offer hundreds of full length movies to its subscribers free of charge.

Subscribe to TROMA:


For more information on Troma Entertainment or Lloyd Kaufman please visit: or

You can also "Like" and "Follow" Lloyd at and

Established in 1974 by Yale friends Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz, Troma Entertainment is one of the longest-running independent movie studios in United States history, and it's one of the best-known names in the industry. World famous for movie classics like Kaufman's "The Toxic Avenger", "Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead", "Class of Nuke 'em High", "Mother's Day" and "Tromeo & Juliet", Troma's seminal films are now being remade as big-budget mainstream productions by the likes of Brett Ratner, Richard Saperstein, Akiva Goldsman and Steven Pink. Among today's luminaries whose early work can be found in Troma's 800+ film library are Trey Parker, Matt Stone, Jenna Fischer, Robert De Niro, Dustin Hoffman, Kevin Costner, Fergie, Vincent D'Onofrio, Samuel L. Jackson, James Gunn and Eli Roth. Troma's latest productions are "Return to Nuke 'Em High: Volumes 1 & 2". Visit Troma at,, and


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

THE RED ROAD: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON Bows on DVD March 10, 2015 From Anchor Bay Entertainment

"Best New Series" --Rolling Stone


Two Worlds Collide on DVD March 10, 2015

BEVERLY HILLS, CA – Get ready for the powerful new series that has critics raving. On March 10th, Anchor Bay Entertainment releases SundanceTV’s tense and gritty drama "The Red Road: The Complete First Season" on DVD. Available as a 2-disc set, "The Red Road: The Complete First Season" contains all 6 episodes from the series the Philadelphia Inquirer says, "has a hypnotic power, a strange rhythm of dread that makes it far more interesting than most network dramas." The release also contains insightful bonus features about the making of the show, including behind-the-scenes footage and an introduction to cast and crew.

"The Red Road: The Complete First Season" is a gripping, dramatic thriller that presents two distinct visions of America today as played out through the conflict between two different men. The series revolves around a local sheriff struggling to keep his family together while simultaneously policing two clashing communities: the small town where he grew up just outside of New York City, and the neighboring mountains—home of a federally unrecognized Native American tribe. After a terrible tragedy and cover-up further divides these worlds, an uneasy alliance is forged between the officer and a dangerous member of the tribe.

As each of the two men find themselves increasingly compromised by the other and the emotional ghosts of their collective pasts begin to emerge, the lives of both quickly unravel, leading to terrible consequences.

The exceptional cast features Martin Henderson (Devil’s Knot, The Ring, Smokin’ Aces), Jason Momoa (Wolves, "Game of Thrones," the upcoming Batman v. Superman), Julianne Nicholson (August: Osage County, "Boardwalk Empire"), Tamara Tunie ("Law And Order: Special Victims Unit," "The Good Wife"), Annalise Basso (Oculus, Standing Up), Allie Gonino ("The Lying Game," Hidden Away), Kiowa Gordon (Twilight, Wind Walkers), Lisa Bonet (High Fidelity, "The Cosby Show") and Golden Globe®, nominee Tom Sizemore (Saving Private Ryan, Black Hawk Down, Pearl Harbor, Heat).

Bonus Features:
•Sundance On Set: THE RED ROAD
•Behind The Screen: THE RED ROAD
•THE RED ROAD: Cast And Crew

Here is the complete first season of the acclaimed new series all in one package! "The Red Road: The Complete First Season" is a compelling and addictive journey filled with twists, turns, thrills and surprises that will have you wondering where the next turn will take you…and where this road ends.

The second season of "The Red Road" will begin airing in the spring of 2015 exclusively on SundanceTV.

About SundanceTV
SundanceTV is making and celebrating television as distinctive as the best independent films. Working with today's most remarkable talent, SundanceTV is attracting viewer and critical acclaim for its original scripted and unscripted series. Launched in 1996 and owned and operated by AMC Networks Inc., SundanceTV delivers on the spirit of founder Robert Redford's mission to celebrate creativity. For more information got to

AboutAnchor Bay Entertainment
Anchor Bay Entertainment is a leading home entertainment company. Anchor Bay acquires and distributes feature films, original television programming including STARZ Original series, children's entertainment, anime (Manga Entertainment), fitness (Anchor Bay Fitness), sports, and other filmed entertainment on DVD and Blu-ray™ formats. The company has long term distribution agreements in place for select programming with AMC Networks, RADiUS, and The Weinstein Company. Headquartered in Beverly Hills, CA, Anchor Bay Entertainment has offices in Troy, MI, as well as Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia. Anchor Bay Entertainment ( is a Starz (NASDAQ: STRZA, STRZB) business,

"The Red Road: The Complete First Season" DVDStreet Date: March 10, 2015
Pre-book: February 4, 2015
Cat. #: DV62304
UPC: 013132623047
Run Time: 264 Minutes
Rating: Not Rated
SRP: $29.98
Format: 1.78:1/16x9
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH and Spanish



Monday, December 15, 2014

END GAME -- movie review by Porfle

(NOTE: This review originally appeared online at in 2006.)

1993's IN THE LINE OF FIRE gave us Clint Eastwood as a Secret Service agent on the trail of a wacko assassin whose goal was to kill the President. END GAME (2006) opens with the assassination of the President and then shows us how Secret Service agent Alex Thomas (Cuba Gooding, Jr.) discovers a dark conspiracy behind the "lone assassin" and puts his life on the line to find out who's behind it.

Both Eastwood's Frank Horrigan and Gooding's Thomas suffer from guilt related to a President's death; Horrigan, because he wasn't quick enough to take the bullet meant for JFK, and Thomas, because the assassin's bullet struck the President only because it changed direction after passing through his outstretched hand.

As Thomas takes some time off from the job to languish in his lakeside home and see how fast he can drain several bottles of hooch, investigative reporter Kate Crawford (Angie Harmon, GLASS HOUSE: THE GOOD MOTHER) starts digging into the killer's past.

She uncovers a link between him and a secretive government agency that may have been involved in the assassination, and is alarmed to find that everyone she is receiving information from is being systematically murdered by some bad guys in a black van.

When she goes to Agent Thomas' house for further help, the black van shows up there as well, and things get rather explosive. Thomas begins to buy Kate's conspiracy theories after he himself becomes a target, and together they work their way toward the truth as things get darker and more dangerous at every turn.

END GAME isn't quite a top-of-the-line Hollywood blockbuster but it's definitely worth watching. The production values are very good and the story kept me interested from start to finish.

There are plenty of great action scenes, too, especially when Thomas and a ten-man strike force invade a factory where the black-van guys are holed up and get into a furious shoot-out with them, which leads to a cool car chase in which the main bad guy (Peter Greene, who played "Zed" in PULP FICTION) attempts to discourage Thomas from pursuing him by machine-gunning oncoming vehicles off the road. At first Thomas is too determined to let even this slow him down, but the next vehicle headed toward them is a loaded school bus...

Everyone behind the camera does fine work here, and the cast is highly capable. Cuba Gooding has a talent for creating sympathetic characters without overplaying, which he demonstrates here with his deft performance. Former "Baywatch Nights" regular Angie Harmon is particularly good as well -- her intrepid reporter is likably tenacious and funny, and she and Gooding make a great team.

Old fave James Woods is excellent, as usual, but doesn't get nearly as much screen time as I hoped after seeing him on the DVD cover, though he makes the time he does have count. Familiar television veteran Jack Scalia gives us a likable President (for a little while, anyway), and his First Lady is well played by Anne Archer, who was the wife of Harrison Ford in two of the "Jack Ryan" movies.

The homeless man who first supplies Kate Crawford with information before being bumped off will be recognized by "Dark Shadows" fans -- he's David Selby, who played the werewolf Quentin Collins on that classic series. And the vicious killer who tries to terminate Agent Thomas's investigation, as I mentioned before, is played by none other than "Zed" from PULP FICTION, Peter Greene. ("Zed's dead, baby...Zed's dead.")

Not coming off quite as well, however, is Burt Reynolds as a retired Army general who still likes to keep his irons in the political fire. Burt's heart doesn't really seem to be in his performance here, and his alarmingly advanced state of cosmetic surgery (looking at his tightly-stretched face may give you a tension headache after awhile) distracts from what ultimately ends up being a pretty irrelevant character anyway.

After suffering through [a particularly bad movie] last night, I needed to watch a real movie to help me drag myself out of the depths of cinematic despair, and END GAME was just the ticket. It's not in the same league as IN THE LINE OF FIRE or one of the Jack Ryan movies, but I was certainly very well entertained for an hour and a half, and that's good enough for me.

Buy it at


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

"MUCK" arrives from Anchor Bay Entertainment March 17, 2015 on Blu-ray and DVD

The Lucky Ones Are Already Dead



With Kane Hodder, Lachlan Buchanan, 2012 Playboy PMOY Jaclyn Swedberg, and Lauren Francesca

The Race for Survival Begins March 17, 2015 on Blu-ray™ and DVD; Limited Theatrical Engagement starts Friday, March 13th!

BEVERLY HILLS, CA – This St. Patrick’s Day, Anchor Bay Entertainment invites fans for a little bit’o the green and a LOT of the red with MUCK, a chiller seething with the greatest fear of all: that nowhere is safe! The directorial debut of Steve Wolsh, who also wrote and produced, MUCK reads like a bloody love letter filled with just the sort of jolts horror fans have been waiting to hear – and see!

Shot in state-of-the-art 4K Ultra HD resolution, MUCK is packed with old-school effects, shocks – and yes, breasts – that stick with you, creating terror with effects and stunts without the use of CGI. MUCK arrives Tuesday, March 17th – uncut, uncensored, and unrated – available on Blu-ray™ for $26.99 and $22.98 for the DVD. Pre-book on February 11th.

For fans who like their 4K horror on the big screen, MUCK will also have a limited theatrical engagement starting Friday, March 13th.

After narrowly escaping an ancient burial ground, long forgotten and buried underneath the marshes of Cape Cod, a group of friends emerge from the thick, marshy darkness, tattered and bloody, lucky to be alive. They have already lost two of their friends in the marsh, presumably dead. They stumble upon an empty Cape Cod vacation house alongside the foggy marsh and break in to take shelter.

Whatever was in the marsh is still after them and soon after one of them goes for help, the rest of the group learns that the evil in the marsh is not the only thing that wants them dead. Something worse, something more savage, was lying in wait just outside the marsh, in the house.

What happens next is unspeakable horror that cannot be unseen. These unlucky travelers spend their St. Patrick's Day trapped between two evils forcing them to fight, die, or go back the way they came.

Featuring Kane Hodder (Hatchet, Jason Voorhees in four of the Friday the 13th films), Lachlan Buchanan ("Pretty Little Liars"), Puja Mohindra (Foreign), Bryce Draper (Bound) and YouTube Sensation Lauren Francesca (iwantmylauren), MUCK is throwback horror at its best.

About Anchor Bay Entertainment
Anchor Bay Entertainment is a leading home entertainment company. Anchor Bay acquires and distributes feature films, original television programming including STARZ Original series, children's entertainment, anime (Manga Entertainment), fitness (Anchor Bay Fitness), sports, and other filmed entertainment on DVD and Blu-ray™ formats. The company has long term distribution agreements in place for select programming with AMC Networks, RADiUS, and The Weinstein Company. Headquartered in Beverly Hills, CA, Anchor Bay Entertainment has offices in Troy, MI, as well as Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia. Anchor Bay Entertainment ( is a Starz (NASDAQ: STRZA, STRZB) business,

MUCK Blu-ray™
Street Date: March 17, 2015
Pre-book: February 11, 2015
Cat. #: BD62847
UPC: 0 1313 262847-6
Run Time: 98:27
Rating: Not Rated
SRP: $26.99

Street Date: March 17, 2015
Pre-book: February 11, 2015
Cat. #: DV62467
UPC: 0 1313 262467-9
Run Time: 98:27
Rating: Not Rated
SRP: $22.98


Sci-Fi Thriller "Alien Rising" on VOD & DVD



Breaking Glass Pictures and Pathfinder Films are partnering for the release of Dana Schroeder's sci-fi thriller Alien Rising starring Lance Henriksen (The Terminator, Aliens), Brian Krause (Charmed, Another World) and John Savage (The Deer Hunter, Hair). 

Alien Rising is the story of a savvy ex-homeland security agent and martial arts expert is forced to a remote island to help the military unlock the secrets of an extraterrestrial technology.

Alien Rising will be released on VOD (iTunes, Cable VOD, Amazon Instant) on December 2, 2014 and DVD January 20, 2014.

Lisa Morgan (Hathaway) is an ex-homeland security agent and highly competent martial artist who gets drawn into the nefarious plans of the egomaniacal Colonel Cencula (Henriksen). He runs a top-secret research facility, buried in an extinct volcano on an uncharted tropical island.

Cencula plans to use alien technology to build an army of drone soldiers. Morgan becomes an unwitting accomplice to the rogue Colonel's plans until she discovers the true nature of the research. She must stop him from succeeding at all cost.

Buy it at


Monday, December 8, 2014

DON'T LOOK IN THE BASEMENT -- DVD review by Porfle

Despite some seriously threadbare production values, DON'T LOOK IN THE BASEMENT, aka "The Forgotten" (1973), is wonderfully weird and deliriously demented. Lensed in Texas on a shoestring budget and in a single location, this dark madhouse shocker starts out messed-up and just gets more messed-up as it goes along.

Set in a large, seedy old house that serves as an insane asylum, the story revolves around a tightly-knit group of crazies presided over by Dr. Stephens (Michael Harvey), whose methods of treatment are somewhat unconventional.

This includes handing one of the nuttiest residents an axe and encouraging him to chop away his hostilities on a handy log out in the yard, which is great until the guy gives Dr. Stephens a nice big chop in the neck when his back is turned. Exit Dr. Stephens before the titles have even moseyed into view.

Next in charge of the place is the matronly Dr. Masters (Anne MacAdams in a solid performance), who regards the inmates as family and doesn't want to disrupt their routine with anything as pesky as a murder investigation. So she sweeps the whole matter under the rug (so to speak) right before the new nurse that he hired earlier arrives unexpectedly, ready to start work.

Although initially gung-ho about nursing and eager to delve into her new job, it doesn't take long before pretty, perky Nurse Charlotte (1972 Playboy covergirl Rosie Holotik, HORROR HIGH) regrets ever laying eyes on the place as she contends with a hostile and domineering Dr. Masters and meets the downright unnerving nutcases wandering around loose at every turn.

There's the insecure nympho constantly ripping off her clothes and begging every man she meets to "love" her (including the guy who shows up to fix the phone), the former army sergeant who's still fighting some war, the drug-pilfering Goth chick, the frizzy-haired nerd who keeps popping up everywhere like a giddy poodle, and the childless young woman pitifully coddling a doll as though it were real, having already offed a nurse whom she mistakenly thought had tried to steal her "baby."

Bill McGhee (QUADROON, THE TRIAL OF LEE HARVEY OSWALD) is gentle giant Sam, a likeable lug who seems harmless enough since being lobotomized by Dr. Stephens. (Or is he?) Giving HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL's Mrs. Slydes a run for her money in the "creepy old lady" department is a cackling hag named Mrs. Callingham (Rhea MacAdams) whose cryptic warnings to Nurse Charlotte to get out of there as fast as she can will later be proven worth heeding.

Worst of all, perhaps, is the guy with the axe, Judge Oliver W. Cameron (Gene Ross, THE GOONIES, THE LEGEND OF BOGGY CREEK), who seems to have presided over one nerve-wracking trial too many and now shows up at the least opportune times (including standing over Nurse Charlotte's bed in the dead of night) wielding whatever sharp stabbing or hacking instrument he can get his mitts on. When the nympho sets her sex-crazed sights on this wretched piece of work, they make quite a pair.

The screenplay by Tim Pope (who would become a major music video director during the 80s) moves along nicely from one unsettling situation to the next, aided by a capable directing job from former Larry Buchanan collaborator S.F. Brownrigg and a cast of actors who, while mostly unpolished, really throw themselves into their roles--often with surprising intensity.

Imaginative writing helps the story avoid getting too cliched while supplying plenty of scintillating dialogue and unexpected plot twists, with a surprise ending that you won't see coming unless you're one of those "I saw it coming" types.

The film's leisurely pace is punctuated by a few startlingly grotesque scenes--one in particular in which a patient is found one morning with her tongue having been cut out during the night--while building to a nightmarish free-for-all finale that pretty much pulls out all the stops. It all boils down to who kills who, who gets away and who doesn't, and who really is or isn't who we think they are. Oh yeah, and somebody finally looks in that basement, too.

The DVD from Film Chest is in 4 x 3 full screen with original mono sound. No subtitles or extras.

With an eerie atmosphere and weirdness to burn, DON'T LOOK IN THE BASEMENT transcends its meager budget to deliver the gruesome goods for the horror fan who appreciates a good B-movie with some imagination behind it. It may not be terrifying, but don't be surprised if you feel it warping your mind just a bit.

Buy it at


Thursday, December 4, 2014


It's the same old story...senator's daughter gets kidnapped by cannibals in the Amazon jungle, a group of hardened commandos armed to the teeth must go in to rescue her.

But with exploitation director Bruno Mattei (HELL OF THE LIVING DEAD, CAGED WOMEN, RATS: NIGHT OF TERROR, SS EXTERMINATION LOVE CAMP) at the helm--working under the name "Martin Miller"--that same old story has a cockeyed, oddball approach all its own, and IN THE LAND OF THE CANNIBALS, aka "Land of Death", "Nella terra dei cannibali", and "Cannibal Holocaust 3: Cannibal vs. Commando" (2003), will either bore you silly or have you floating on a cloud of bad-movie bliss.

Like his other cannibal epic from the same year, MONDO CANNIBAL, this was shot entirely in the Philipines and actually boasts some dandy jungle locations. It's also pleasantly passable in certain other areas such as nice camerawork, a rousing musical score, and an overall look that transcends what must have been a pretty low budget.

Unfortunately, this culinary curio also displays the usual wooden acting, horrendous dubbing, and richly dumb (but enjoyably so) dialogue that we expect from one of these potluck potboilers.

After we meet the two main characters--brawny head commando Lt. Wilson (Lou Randall) and his surly, know-it-all jungle guide, a local mercenary named Romero (Claudio Morales, co-star of MONDO CANNIBAL)--they and the rest of their trigger-happy team are transported via helicopter into a harrowing jungle nightmare festooned with flesh-eating, poisoned-arrow-shooting natives crawling out of the shrubbery at every turn.

Mattei tries to invoke an ALIENS atmosphere at first with cool-as-ice Romero napping peacefully in the chopper before they all rappel into the bush (an act described as "an elevator into hell") and stiff-necked Lt. Wilson being exposed as a novice whose combat experience has been mostly simulated.

There's also a tough-cookie female commando named, oddly enough, "Vasquez" (Ydalia Suarez) and a no-nonsense black sergeant, Sgt. Cameron (Silvio Jimenez)--as in "James Cameron" for those keeping score. The other two guys, Kruger and Smith, are pretty non-descript, although I think one of them is Irish. Anyway, any in-depth character development that may occur during this story is entirely accidental.

Once the commandos start nosing around in the jungle looking for the lost senator's daughter and her hapless entourage, things get rather boring (I found myself nodding off a few times) until they begin to encounter different tribes who respond to them with varying degrees of hostility. Mattei tries to shock us with close-ups of wormy, decaying bodies, several having been skinned alive, and people gorging themselves on some really nasty stuff.

What there's precious little of in IN THE LAND OF THE CANNIBALS, surprisingly enough, is actual cannibalism. It's hardly the gorefest that its counterpart MONDO CANNIBAL was, going instead for more of an action-packed shoot 'em up vibe.

Once our heroes locate and abscond with their prize, Sara Armstrong (Cindy Matic), now regarded by her superstitious captors as some kind of mystical creature due to her blonde hair (shades of KING KONG and no doubt scores of other jungle yarns), the film becomes a non-stop orgy of bullet-riddled fun as seemingly hundreds of cannibalistic creeps get mowed down by machine guns and grenades galore.

This furious finale, with everyone trying to "Ged to da choppa!" PREDATOR-style, is all pretty low-tech, no-squibs action--the extras simply pretend to get shot up all over the place and the commandos empty clip after clip into them while dodging arrows and spears. As is traditional in this sort of action flick, we see our favorite characters cut down one by one as we wonder who the final survivor or survivors will be.

The DVD from Intervision Picture Corp. is in full frame with Dolby Digital stereo sound. No subtitles. The only bonus feature is a trailer.

While taking itself seriously as an action thriller, IN THE LAND OF THE CANNIBALS is the kind of movie that's so dumb, it's almost indistinguishable from a deadpan comedy. Maybe that, in addition to the fact that it's well-made enough to be mildly watchable, is why I managed to derive a few palatable tidbits of entertainment value from it.

Buy it at


Which Film Scared the Pants Off William Friedkin? NYFCC Winner "THE BABADOOK!"

"I’ve Never Seen a More Terrifying Film than THE BABADOOK. It Will Scare the Hell Out of You as it Did Me." – William Friedkin, director of THE EXORCIST.


IFC Midnight

Written and Directed by Jennifer Kent

Young widow Amelia lives with her seven-year-old son, Samuel, who seems to get odder by the day.

His father’s death in an accident when driving Amelia to the hospital to give birth to him may have something to do with the boy’s unnerving behavior, which scares other children and perhaps even his own mother.

But when a sinister children’s book called Mister Babadook mysteriously appears—and keeps reappearing—Amelia begins to wonder if there’s a presence in the house more disturbed than her son.

Jennifer Kent’s visually stunning debut genuinely frightens us with the revelation that the things that go bump in the night may be buried deep inside our psyches, not just in the basement.

"The Babadook" is Now Playing in Theaters Across the Country
And on Cable VOD

Amazon Instant Video



Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Young Jane Fonda on Broadway -- See Clip Now From SundanceNow Doc Club

A young Jane Fonda rehearses for a starring role in a Broadway play, then opens to devastating critical notices.

JANE, directed by Drew Associates, captures a rare and oft forgotten piece of film and theater history. A young Jane Fonda prepares for her tumultuous starring role on Broadway in "The Fun Couple."

The Drew Associates filmmakers track Fonda's every move during the production as she strives to legitimize herself as an actress and remove herself from the shadow of her father, Henry Fonda.

The film follows Jane through demanding rehearsals, testing the play for out-of-town audiences and, finally, opening night in New York. Though the show opens to devastating reviews, Jane's love of acting, her determination and her resilience shine through the biting criticism.

YouTube link 


SundanceNow Doc Club is the member-based advertising free streaming video service dedicated to documentaries, providing the global community of doc fans a place to discover and watch unforgettable films they can't find anywhere else, handpicked by expert programmers with unique perspectives. Recent releases include the exclusive digital premiere of SHOAH and the powerful "Fight the System" program. Memberships for SundanceNow Doc Club begin at the low monthly price of $4.99 for an annual subscription or $6.99 per month for a month-to-month subscription. Viewers can watch via web, iPhone, iPad, Android and Roku platforms. Chromecast platform coming soon. For more information, visit