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.


Monday, March 5, 2018

"The Worst Mother Fire in History" - The Prey (1984)


Let us now return to the wilderness for 1984's minimalist Colorado-set slasher classic The Prey, a film which, shockingly, is not well respected by many cineastes.

For example, on IMDB, reviewer fiecrier writes, "It is pretty boring, and filled with all kinds of pointless ridiculous stuff." Backlash007 writes, "Under normal circumstances, I can find something I like about the most reviled horror film. Not this time. The Prey is a horrible bore." Reviewer Kazoo-2 writes, blasphemously as well as incorrectly, "Even by the lowered standards of '80s slasher movies, this one stinks."

I must correct these uninformed misconceptions, so please read on for an unbiased view of The Prey.

Monday, February 26, 2018

"He's Dynamite in Bed, If That's What You Mean" - Beyond Evil (1980)


Can anything be more exciting to the filmgoer than the opening title "A Herb Freed Film"? Surely not.

Between Haunts (1977) and Graduation Day (1981), Mr. Freed directed Beyond Evil (1980), a supernatural thriller set in the Philippines starring the dynamic duo of John Saxon and Lynda Day George.

Surprisingly, such a pedigree is not enough for some of your universe's respected critics. On IMDB, reviewer coventry writes, "The story isn't exactly original, blending cliché horror premises like haunted houses, soul-possessions, spiritual tribes and witchcraft." Reviewer Whovian says, "This is really quite an awful movie." Reviewer The Bronson Fan writes, "Totally boring movie....Truly bad and stupid with special effects that are poor even for the time."

Needless to say, these reviews are nonsense. Read on for a more balanced portrait of this cinematic gem from the always reliable Herb Freed.

Monday, February 19, 2018

"He Probably Took Them on an Impromptu Picnic" - The Children (1980)


(Note: This post is a contribution to The Deadly Doll's House of Horror Nonsense's 8th annual The Shortening, which celebrates the shortest month by covering "films that deal with vertically challenged villains." This film, The Children, was covered on that blog here in 2010.)

We turn our attention to Max Kalmanowicz's The Children (1980), one of the most fondly remembered--and rightfully so--horror films of the early 1980s. Unfortunately, I have found that, inexplicably, not all of your universe's critics appreciate this suburban nightmare.

Here are some of the most blatantly ignorant reviews I have found of The Children. Reviewer schmecking writes, "The characters weren't interesting, the movie gets tedious and it didn't have any momentum." Reviewer duke1907 writes, "I couldn't believe that I had waited 26 years to see such a bad movie.... The effects are horrible. There wasn't a single scene that was scary." Reviewer trishaade writes, "The ending was so very predictable, made no sense within the context of the movie and was really a huge disappointment. Plot holes abounded and much was left unexplained. It definitely could have been better written."

Suffice it to say all these misgivings about the film are entirely incorrect. Let us look at the film in some detail to contravert such delusional fallacies.


Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Buster's Blockbusters: The Commercial Success of Buster Keaton's Features

This post is part of Fourth Annual Buster Keaton Blogathon hosted by Silent-ology.



The popularity of Buster Keaton's silent features has waxed and waned over the decades since they were created nearly a century ago, but how were they received when they were first released?

Monday, February 12, 2018

"I Have a Magnificent View of the Canyon" - Godmonster of Indian Flats (1973)


It is time to turn our attention to artist Fredric Hobbs's final film, Godmonster of Indian Flats (1973), a well mounted combination of Western and monster movie that for some reason is not as revered in your universe as it most definitely should be.

For example, reviewer emm writes, evocatively to be sure, "It's another no-budget creation that is by far remaining to be extremely unusual to this day....It also has what may very well be the looniest, dumbest ending ever recorded on film!" Reviewer PaJRJ writes, "This is an awful movie that takes itself way to[o] seriously." Reviewer Michael_Elliott writes, "Yes the acting, directing, cinematography, music score and everything else here is simply bad but you expect that out of a movie like this."

All of these reviews, and more, are entirely wrong about the film. It is clearly not a "no-budget creation," it does not take itself seriously as it is filled with humor, and the acting, directing, cinematography, and music are highly professional. I can only respond by pointing out the many positive qualities of this powerful and artistic film, so please read on...


Monday, February 5, 2018

"Here Comes the Busby Berkeley Quartet" - For Love or Murder (1970)


It is time to discuss Theodore Gershuny's existential crime film For Love or Murder (1970), known originally as Kemek, the only film as far as I know to combine the titanic acting talents of the great Al (David) Hedison and the even greater Mary Woronov.

It is difficult to find reviews of Kemek on the internet, so I will assume that it is considered a classic by most critics, who simply declined to review it because everyone considers it such. However, I did find one negative review on IMDB: Mike17 calls the film, "An exasperatingly bad film with a generic plot about a mad scientist's mind-controlling drug." (Although Mike17's conclusion is erroneous, I must give him credit for inferring that the drug in the film is a mind-controlling drug, as that is something I must have missed).

In any case, it is time to look at For Love or Murder in great detail so we may appreciate its excellence.


Monday, January 29, 2018

"Things That Go Beep and Buzz" - Death Spa (1989)


The late 1980s were a high water mark for devotees of neon-infused horror movies, and few films are as neon-infused as the remarkable Death Spa (1989), a combination of Hitchcockian suspense, American giallo, supernatural thrills, and 12-inch computer monitors.

Many of your universe's top critics fail to appreciate the qualities of Death Spa. For example, the renowned writer shark-43, on IMDB, writes that Death Spa consists of a "ridiculous script, bad acting, lame music and horrible directing." Similarly, revronster writes, "'Death Spa' is terribly made and is filled with bad acting, atrocious editing, a story that pretty much makes no logical sense and terrible practical effects and death sequences." Finally, adriangr writes, "Death Spa has forgettable characters (several of whom look the same), confusing motivations, a really silly true culprit, and really bad gore scenes." I must say this last sentence is unusual in that it is entirely wrong. None of the characters look remotely similar, their motivations are clearer than clear, the culprit is frightening, and the gore scenes are tremendous.

I suppose the only way to counter the critics' ridiculous assertions is to review the brilliant cinematic tour de force that is Death Spa.

Monday, January 22, 2018

"No Tricks, No Goober Dust" - Grave of the Vampire (1972)


We do not review many vampire films here at Senseless Cinema, in part because there are few that reach the cinematic heights of the classics we cover. However, some vampire films do display cinematic excellence, and at the forefront of that group is 1972's Grave of the Vampire, starring the reliable Michael Pataki of Graduation Day (1981) fame.

On IMDB, soulexpress writes, "a lame script, horrendous acting, cut-rate sets, ludicrous props, humdrum camera work, a grating (though occasionally effective) score, machete- styled editing, riotously bad sound effects, and one of the most predictable "surprise" endings I've ever seen." Reviewer mark.waltz, perhaps unfairly, writes that the film gave him "the urge to burn the four film DVD it is on to prevent this from getting into further hands." Reviewer GL84 writes that the film is "hindered by the inane and wholly illogical romance subplot that doesn't do the film any favors at all."

Of course, all these opinions are entirely misguided. We must recount the narrative of the film in order to demonstrate its classic qualities.

Monday, January 15, 2018

"I Got a Hang-Up About Your Hang-Ups" - Point of Terror (1971)


Today we look at an underappreciated drama classic from the early 1970s, Point of Terror.

Reviewer weho90069 writes, "Everything about this film is a howler: script, acting, production values (tin-foil sets), and the music...the music...oh, those songs!" Michael_Elliott says, "The film is bad enough to get a few laughs, especially the look at the bar, which seems to be decorated out of colored tin foil. Point of Terror fails on all other levels but I'd recommend you giving the soundtrack to someone you really hate." Reviewer Coventry writes, "Irredeemably bad & cheesy 70's horror (if you can call it horror...)....unendurably boring trash with a completely uninteresting plot."

As usual, these insults cannot stand. Prepare for the high drama and thrills of Point of Terror.

Monday, January 8, 2018

"My Sister Had Eyes Like Yours. She's Dead Now" - Graduation Day (1981)


One rule that holds across the universes is the fact that there are not many auteurs named Herb. Therefore, we need to cherish those we have. Perhaps the most accomplished of these unsung heroes is Herb Freed, director of Haunts (1977) and the topic at hand, the classic slasher film Graduation Day (1981).

As usual, many of your universe's top critics misunderstand Mr. Freed's genius. Reviewer capkronos writes, "GRADUATION DAY is not a 'good' or original film by any stretch." Reviewer FilmFatale writes, "Pretty lame and awful slasher about someone killing the members of a high school track team....Graduation Day fails to deliver on most counts." Finally, reviewer rott21, grading the film D-, writes, "This is one of the worst slasher movies that i have seen for a while....so slowwwww and boringggggg."

Let us now turn to an in-depth discussion of director Herb Freed's Graduation Day.

Monday, January 1, 2018

"Asking Picasso to Paint Your Car" - Nightmares in a Damaged Brain (1981)


While 1981's Nightmares in a Damaged Brain (aka Nightmare, but I will use the more evocative title) is a slasher film of some renown in many quarters, there are misguided critics who fail to see its sophisticated qualities. For example, reviewr preppy-3 writes, “There's next to no plot, no brains, no nothing! I was equal parts bored, sickened and just amazed at how STUPID this was!” Reviewer Prismark10 writes, “Its an ultra low budget, seedy film but also dull….A lot of it is just boring with the older George in white underpants distressed and having bouts of screaming. In fact there are a lot of guys in white underpants in this film.” Finally, Rich Wright says, “Yep, this is a disjointed effort indeed, with a meandering story full of weird goings-on.”

I will give Mr. Wright points for his use of the term "goings-on," but I must differ with these reviewers because Nightmares in a Damaged Brain is not only a superior slasher film but an incisive critique of American culture in the early 1980s, approaching the sophistication of The Bees (1978), though substituting that film's images of John Saxon in a karate gi with images of actor Baird Stafford in what are colloquially called tighty-whities. Please read on...