Monday, May 21, 2018

“I’ve Never Been Treated Like This Before! You’re a Vulgarian!” - The Suckling (1990)


Sometimes, it must be said, monsters are just monsters. Thus, it is remarkable and special when filmmakers with vision come along and show us that monsters can be more than just monsters. Francis Teri's The Suckling (1990) is an example of such vision; its monster is a metaphysical force that can shape the world in its image.

Some critics seem to focus on weak generalities rather than hard facts when viewing The Suckling. For example, reviewer Afollabi El-Sheikh Al Noor Mohammed writes, "Absolutely appalling....Don't even bother watching this, totally crap." Similarly, a reviewer with the highly trustworthy name lordzedd-3 writes under the witty heading "Suckling is the right name for it, because it sucks!" that the film's "lie about this being a true story and poor effects make this a poor movie." Reviewer Thanos Milios writes, "Even for a b-movie fan this movie can't be watched i don't know how i managed to watch that crap."

I must contradict Mr. Milios and assert that his movie can be watched. In fact, I will say it must be watched. Please read on...

Monday, May 14, 2018

"He's Trying to Stubborn His Way Out with His Fists" - Knife for the Ladies (1974)


In addition to monster Westerns (see for example 1973's Godmonster of Indian Flats and 1972's Curse of the Headless Horseman), the 1970s produced a small number of proto-slasher Westerns, such as 1974’s Knife for the Ladies (known on IMDB as "A Knife for the Ladies" despite the onscreen and poster title).

Predictably, your universe's critics are incapable of appreciating this pinnacle of Reviewer bensonmum2 writes incorrectly, "Overall, A Knife for the Ladies is one lousy movie. Neither the horror nor the Western elements work." Reviewer Michael_Elliott writes confusedly, "After watching the uncut version I must admit that I would have given anything to see it cut down....The film really kills itself because it just doesn't do anything right." Reviewer davannacarter writes uncharitably, "If it's trying to be a mystery, it fails because the movie gets so boring by the halfway mark that I fell asleep....Boring, boring, boring, even by 70s standards."

I do not mean to be contrary (read: I do mean to be contrary), but these reviews are objectively incorrect. In reality, Knife for the Ladies is a clever rumination on the differences between the modern world of the 1970s and the Western world of the 1870s. Read on for further insights...

Monday, May 7, 2018

"If You Need Anything, I Live at the Store" - Memorial Valley Massacre (1989)


It goes without saying that any film with the word "massacre" in its title is an instant classic (see Drive In Massacre, 1976) and Memorial Valley Massacre (1989) is no exception to that venerable rule. In fact, Memorial Valley Massacre features massacres of both reptiles and humans, so it is a doubly frightening example of the massacre subgenre. With its themes of city folks unable to survive in the wilderness, and its guest appearance by the great Cameron Mitchell, Robert C. Hughes's film is a fine late-1980s thriller.

Some of your universe's critics appear to disagree. For example, Rod Lott at Flick Attack writes, "The script is poor, the direction a notch below that and the acting even farther south." IMDB reviewer ResidentHazards writes, "The base concept behind the story isn't terrible, but since everything else was just done way wrong, there is no redeeming value." IMDB reviewer BaronBl00d writes, "But why make a film like this? It really has no message, little real humor, no great cinematography, and a real crummy story."

Read on for an unbiased look at the charms of Memorial Day Massacre...

Monday, April 30, 2018

"These Dreamers Must Be Stopped!" - She Killed in Ecstasy (1971)


While some of your universe's critics appreciate the films of Jess Franco, an alarming number are still not convinced of his formidable skills as a director. In order to correct such misperceptions, I present one of Franco's finest films, She Killed in Ecstasy (1971), which somehow underwhelmed several of your most prominent critics.

For example, Jason M of Cinezilla calls the film "a shambles of a movie, almost completely lacking of suspense, filled with terrible zooms back and forth, poor editing, corny dialogue, really lame scenes of seduction and sex scenes that are about as erotic as taking the trash out." On trashcity.org, a reviewer writes that the film "sent me to sleep inside twenty minutes, probably as a defence mechanism against what may be the most hideous smooth jazz soundtrack ever used." Mitch from The Video Vacuum writes, "The film runs only 73 minutes, but it feels a lot longer than that as it suffers from some seriously slow scenes."

Let us counter these obviously vapid criticisms by looking at Mr. Franco's film--in which he takes on the role of actor as well as director--in depth...

Monday, April 23, 2018

"It's What Farm People Do for a Present" - The House Where Death Lives (1980)


Films with self-contradictory titles are always fascinating, and The House Where Death Lives (1980), also known as Delusion, is no exception. We find out, in fact, that death does live in the house where death, along with some other people, lives.

Reviewer coventry writes, "There's not a trace of suspense, the supposedly ingenious twist-ending is hugely derivative and the murders are uninspired and bloodless....I've seen episodes of my mother's daily soap opera that were more exciting than this turkey. One to avoid at all costs, unless of course you suffers from a bad case of insomnia." Writer Rich Wright writes the "writer...writes dull characters and sets out the most boring set-pieces for murder imaginable, before that incomprehensible conclusion." Reviewer lemon_magic writes, quite uncharitably, "I will always remember the way 'The House Where Death Lives' seemed to suck the life right out of my body."

Needless to say, these criticisms are ridiculous. If anything, contrary to lemon_magic's statement, The House Where Death Lives may be said to blow the life right into the audience's collective body. Let us start from the beginning...

Monday, April 16, 2018

"Don't Forget to Change Your Drawers" - Primal Rage (1988)


Few horror movie genres are more entertaining than 1980s Italian films shot in the United States with American actors. Some representatives of this genre aspire to even more than robust entertainment, and Vittorio Rambaldi’s Primal Rage (1988) is one of them that is, like Romano Scavolini’s Nightmares in a Damaged Brain (1980) before it, a story of political intrigue ripped right from the headlines. Primal Rage is the story of animal experimentation gone wild on a university campus.

Perhaps it is the film's political frankness that has failed to endear it to your universe's critics. Leofwine_draca, for instance, calls the film "one of the worst Italian movies I've seen....Credibility goes out of the window right from the start, when we are introduced to a wooden cast of actors playing teenagers and 20-somethings who couldn't act their way out of a paper bag if their lives depended on it." At 10K Bullets, Michael Den Boer writes, "The direction is lackluster, the actors just mundanely go through the motions and the dialog is deliriously awful." At Blueprint: Review, David Brook finds the film "a bit slow. The horror scenes are pretty naff and infrequent, which was the main problem. It didn't help that the copy we saw was cut and clumsily so."

Of course, these critics are entirely mistaken. Let us look at the film in detail so we can correct their mistaken "opinions" about this classic horror movie.

Monday, April 9, 2018

"I'm Gonna Serve You Popcorn in Bed" - Drive In Massacre (1976)


At Senseless Cinema, we are partial to minimalist horror films (for example, see The Prey, A Day of Judgment, and Night of 1,000 Cats). Few horror films, however, are as committed to minimalism as 1976's Drive In Massacre, a near masterpiece of minimal locations, characters, and situations.

As usual, many of your universe's esteemed critics fail to see the genius of the film. Reviewer  BaronBl00d writes, "Dreadful film....The direction is sub-par as the lighting is barely able to illuminate much of the action at night. The gore is ridiculously inept in execution, and the editing is just as flawed." Coventry writes, "This is a truly abysmal low-budget horror flick, put together by a bunch of amateurs that know nothing about cinema." Thorsten-Krings writes, "This has to be one of the worst films I have ever seen in any genre."

Fortunately, I am here to defend the film from these cinematic taste-makers. Read on to see how Drive In Massacre should be--no, must be--appreciated...

Monday, April 2, 2018

"Continual Life Has Its Continual Ups and Downs" - Frankenstein Island (1981)


Let us now discuss the final film of Jerry Warren, Frankenstein Island (1981), made 15 years after his penultimate film, The Wild World of Batwoman (1966).

Reviewer angelynx-2 writes, "Nothing in it makes ANY SENSE AT ALL!" About the film's screenplay, humanresistor writes, "The dialogue seems to have been written by someone who's never actually heard a conversation between people before, and acted by people who've never participated in one." Dismissively, Paul Andrews writes, "How Jerry Warren had the nerve to film this rubbish I'll never know. Not bad in a good kind of way, just plain bad."

( do not know what Paul Andrews means by "Not bad in a good kind of way." There is only good and bad. And Frankenstein Island is in no way bad. Please read on to see the many ways in which the film is not bad at all...

Monday, March 26, 2018

"Did You Touch the Dumpster?" - Night Shadow (1989)


We have already covered the classic Werewolf Woman (1976) on Senseless Cinema, and we would not want to be accused of sexism, so it is time to turn to a male werewolf movie, 1989's Night Shadow, famous for pairing two titans of cinema: Aldo Ray and Kato Kaelin (though, unfortunately, neither is actually a werewolf in the film).

On IMDB, reviewer Paul Andrews writes, "I thought Night Shadow was not particularly great in any capacity." Reviewer Wuchak writes that Night Shadow is "akin to a modern Syfy creature feature, but with a production quality a notch below that prosaic level. The serviceable score, for instance, sounds like it was performed entirely on a Casio keyboard (and no doubt it was). There's also too much marking time." The well-named reviewer Dr. Gore writes, "Terrible. Awful. Retching. Nightmarish. Worst movie ever. I mean ever. I have seen some painful films in my day but this is the king. It still hasn't been dethroned."

On the other hand, I would like to (finally) include a positive review in my discussion of the film. A reviewer named ripsurf writes the following, which I include here in unexpurgated form:

"The entertainment value on this priceless and timeless movie is beyond words! The actors and actresses do a great job portraying the fear that gets lodged into the people's hearts and minds is fantastic!
"That actress that plays Beth could go on to do some superb work, if only someone gave her a chance. She has the look of stardom, and could easily pull off any hard rolls thrown her way. Just because this movie didn't get any awards, doesn't mean that it isn't a great film. The music, the acting, and that werewolf!!! are amazing! Hats off to everyone involved in this movie. I hope all of them go on to great careers in the movie business. Good luck to everyone who worked on this movie, you made a movie that is scary, fun, and exciting for everyone to enjoy. The night we rented this movie was something our family will remember forever, we had so much fun, and for days we repeated scenes to relive the great time we had while watching this movie together. I will always remember this amazing movie and the great time my family had with it! Thanks so much Night Shadow!!"
Thanks so much Night Shadow indeed. Mr. or Ms. ripsurf "gets it" and has my appreciation and respect. (Unfortunately, Night Shadow is the only film ripsurf has reviewed, so those looking for hidden gems identified through ripsurf's peerless critical acumen will be disappointed.) For those reviewers who do not "get it," however, I feel I must describe the wonders of Night Shadow, truly an American parallel to the wonderful Werewolf Woman.

Monday, March 19, 2018

"Remember Childhood Innocence and Freedom?" - Curse of the Headless Horseman (1972)


Even the most jaded critics must admit that one of the most artistically satisfying genres of film is the one that relies entirely on post-dubbed dialogue and sound. Such films remove the artifice of synchronized sound, allowing the filmmakers’ intentions to affect the audience directly. Leonard Kirtman/John Kirkland's Curse of the Headless Horseman (1972) is a fine example of this genre.

Not everyone appears to agree with my assessment, however. For example, on IMDB, reviewer Hitchcoc writes, "Whoever thought this up didn't know what he was doing. The acting is about as bad as you can get." Reviewer cameron-kills-it writes, "The dialogue is horrible, the acting even worse, and the thing doesn't even make any sense." Reviewer Chase_Witherspoon writes, "Amateurish and virtually incoherent with little sense, structure, plot development or solid narrative, there's very little to recommend."

Read on for a more sober appreciation of this clever film, which, contrary to the reviewers' "opinions," does make some amount of sense.

Monday, March 12, 2018

"The Government Doesn't Go Around Killing People" - Barracuda (1978)


While Senseless Cinema has not exactly steered clear of killer fish movies and nautical horror--see, for example, our treatment of the classics Tentacles (1977), Blood Surf (2000), or Creatures from the Abyss (1994)--there are, to coin a phrase, many killer fish in the sea. Today we look at 1978's Barracuda, a conspiracy thriller that employs killer fish to create effective suspense and horror.

Some of your Universe-X's critics look down on films like this (and specifically this film). For example, on IMDB, reviewer The_Dead_See writes, "it's incredibly bad on many levels: cheesy acting, bizarre plot twists, a hilariously inept police force." Reviewer coventry writes that Barracuda is "a textbook case of misleading – or even downright false advertisement, really." Finally, reviewer BA_Harrison, after cruelly (if cleverly) titling the review "Bore-acuda," writes, "Poorly directed, totally devoid of suspense or terror, and relatively gore free, this film will definitely disappoint those looking for a cheerfully cheap Jaws knock-off."

Nonsense! I believe Barracuda would not disappoint anyone looking for a cheerfully cheap Jaws knock-off, and I will prove this fact by diving into the details of the film to show what a classic it truly is.