Monday, November 20, 2023

"Looking for a Needle in a Stack of Needles" - Spellcaster (1988)

We have done very little exploration of the prolific output of Charles Band's Empire Pictures here at Senseless Cinema, so it is time now to correct that oversight with 1988's Spellcaster, directed by Rafal Zielinski, the famous director of Screwballs (1983), Screwballs II (1985), and Screwball Hotel (1988). 

Some of your universe's critics fail to appreciate Spellcaster, and indeed Empire Pictures as a whole. For example, reviewer SlasherReviewer writes, "This movie was just plain junk, the only thing it had going for it is that it was shot in a castle over in another country." (The country is Italy.) Reviewer Sergiodave writes,"Avoid unless you are really bored." And reviewer BZinkeys writes, "The only true horror I see here is a nail in the coffin of the '80s being dead." (I confess I only half understand what BZinkeys is saying here.)

Please read on for the truth about Spellcaster...

Monday, November 6, 2023

"It Kind of Gives Me the Spooks" - Deadly Lessons (2006)

One genre we have never discussed here at Senseless Cinema is the category of films I like to call "four-wall messiah" films, named after the "four-walling" distribution practice in which an individual or company rents a movie theater in order to present their film. The four-wall messiah genre is a specific type of film in which a usually wealthy filmmaker creates his or her (never her) film and presents himself as a savior within the narrative of the film. Of course, filmmaker Neil Breen is the most famous practitioner of this type of film, but others include the writer/director behind today's classic, Stuart Paul. Mr. Paul's first film, Emanon (1987) was a film in which he played a homeless man who is literally believed to be Jesus. In the ensuing years, Mr. Paul has made various other films in different genres, but perhaps his most ambitious work is Deadly Lessons.

Of course, some of your universe's critics are ambivalent or worse about the film and the message that is Deadly Lessons. For example, reviewer monsieurcs writes, "The movie has no surprises at all, other than the continuing surprise that you'll have at every inept frame that is up on screen." (The same reviewer writes that Deadly Lesson's technical qualities are incompetent, which is objectively ridiculous.) Reviewer  daronhennessy writes simply, "This movie is in-your-face bad." And reviewer Chubbynluv writes, "It should be shown in every film class as an example of what NOT to do."

Read on for a fuller appreciation of the visionary and epic (i.e., 2 hours and 18 minutes long) Deadly Lessons...

Monday, October 23, 2023

"Your Head's Off Screwing the I.500" - Crosstalk (1982)

Let us now voyage to the island/continent/country known as Australia to investigate 1982's Crosstalk, an early computer thriller warning us about the dangers of computerized apartments. Directed by Mark Egerton (assistant director on 12 Monkeys) and Keith Salvat (not assistant director on 12 Monkeys), Crosstalk is an update of Rear Window for the early 1980s, in which the rear window is not a window at all but a computer monitor.

Some of your universe's critics fail to appreciate the visionary Crosstalk. For example, reviewer Jacob Knight writes, "Sadly, this...just sort of put-puts [i.e., putt-putts] along until an ambiguous anticlimax that suddenly makes it’s barely 80-minute runtime seem like an interminable waste in hindsight." Reviewer unclenugget writes, "This was pretty dull." And reviewer ItsLV calls the film an "Ozploitation snoozefest."

Read on for the truth about Crosstalk...

Monday, October 9, 2023

“Stories of Aztec Princes, Voodoo Rites, the Living Dead” - Crypt of Dark Secrets (1976)

It is time to investigate Crypt of Dark Secrets (1976), a Louisiana-set film directed by Jack Weis, producer of the great Mardi Gras Massacre (1978) and director of the erotic crime film Death Brings Roses (1975). Crypt of Dark Secrets does not, unfortunately, feature any crypts, but it does feature bayous, snakes, blood money, and voodoo dolls.

Some of your universe's critics are critical of Crypt of Dark Secrets. For example, reviewer Stefano Monteforte writes, "Nearly everything about this regional drive-in putrid." And reviewer Lou writes, "There are many drawn out scenes that are just padding for runtime." And reviewer P3n-E-W1s3 writes, "Crypt is one hell of a stinky film and if you ever smell its stench, run as far away as possible. Do Not Watch this garbage."

Read on for the truth about Crypt of Dark Secrets...

Monday, September 25, 2023

"Whoever Heard of Ghosts Showing Up in the Daytime?" - Ghosts of Hanley House (1968)

It is time to visit Louise Sherrill's minimalist haunted house film Ghosts of Hanley House (1968). Although an obscure 1960's film made by people with little filmmaking experience, the movie is atmospheric and suggestive, a low-key response to Robert Wise's The Haunting (1963).

Of course, some of your universe's critics are unmoved by films as subtle as this. For example, reviewer johnfrum2000 writes directly (if inaccurately), "This is a bad movie." Reviewer planktonrules writes analytically, "The folks who make 'The Ghosts of Hanley House' obviously had little idea of what they were doing." And reviewer artpf writes diagnostically, "The biggest problem with this film is that it just keeps going with nothing really happening."

Read on for an accurate appreciation of Ghosts of Hanley House...

Monday, September 11, 2023

“A Good French Dressing Is a Test of Anyone” - Final Cut (1980)

It is time for a trip to Australia for 1980's Final Cut (not to be confused with 1998's Final Cut, or 2004's The Final Cut, or 2000's Urban Legends: Final Cut), also known as Death Games (not to be confused with 1977's Death Game). Final Cut is an Australian film about a documentary filmmaker profiling an immoral rock promoter rumored to be responsible for pornography and snuff films.

Some of your universe's critics, as usual, are less than enthusiastic about Final Cut. For example, reviewer FieCrier calls the film "A dreadfully boring movie that doesn't make much sense anyway." Reviewer vertigo_14 writes that the film offers "much nonsense and relatively little bang." And reviewer videorama-759-859391 writes, "It's definitely without interest."

Read on for the truth about Final Cut...

Monday, August 28, 2023

"And Your Perspective on Adolf Hitler...Interesting" - Heartland of Darkness (1992)

Let us voyage to the wilds of Ohio to explore the complex and recently rediscovered Satanist film Heartland of Darkness (1992) aka Blood Church aka Fallen Angels. 

Of course, some of your universe's critics have tepid feelings about Heartland of Darkness. For example, reviewer El_Bustin writes, "Who would have thought that a satanic panic movie could be sooo boring." Reviewer D Edward writes, "It lacks the mystery to warrant so much lollygagging about." And reviewer hiruko writes, "I couldn’t figure out of this movie is just plain bad or a self aware goof."

Read on for a more nuanced appreciation of Heartland of Darkness...

Monday, August 14, 2023

"This Is a Super Van!" - Blood Song (1982)

While various musical stars have turned in excellent performances in slasher films (in particular, Tiny Tim in Blood Harvest and Mickey Dolenz in The Night of the Strangler), one might say the finest of these performances was gifted to the world by Frankie Avalon in Blood Song (1982). Let us look in detail at Blood Song, one of the few theatrical films directed by prolific TV director Alan J. Levi.

Of course, some of your universe's critics are unnecessarily unkind to Blood Song. For example, reviewer Aaron1375 writes, "Just not all that entertaining." Reviewer Leofwine_draca calls the film "a cheesy, low budget slasher film of the early 1980s." And reviewer ceejayred writes, "BLOOD SONG is an average thriller at best."

Read on to find out why Blood Song is most definitely not an "average thriller at best"...

Monday, July 31, 2023

“Why Don’t You Go Hide Your Salami Yourself?” - Death by Dialogue (1988)

Let us now return to the works of producer Joseph Merhi as we explore his 1988 mind-warping masterpiece Death by Dialogue, a film about a cursed screenplay that alters reality itself.

Some of your universe's critics, unfortunately, do not hail Death by Dialogue as the masterpiece it clearly is. For example,  reviewer dead_dudeINthehouse (almost certainly a nom de plume) writes, "I won't even talk about the storyline as it's very BORING -not to say stupid." Reviewer insomniac_rod (possibly a nom de plume?) writes, "Please, stay away from this trash and don't get fooled by the cover art or the premise, which is as dumb as you can get." And reviewer sfhjsth802 (clearly not a nom de plume) writes, "If I were to get technical, this is an awful movie, easily one of the worst ever made."

Read on for the truth about Death by Dialogue...

Monday, July 17, 2023

“I Forgot Today Was Your Night for Rounds” - Demented (1980)

It is time to discuss Demented (1980), a prototypical rape-revenge film that features what might be the most spectacularly powerful performance of all time by Sallee Elyse (aka Sallee Young) and written by actor/writer Alex Rebar.

As usual, some of your universe's critics fail to appreciate Demented. For example, reviewer alicespiral writes (under the clever but inaccurate review title "Gives bad movies a bad name"), "I only made it to the end because I was curious to how much worse it could get." Reviewer ofumalow writes, "This is one of those movies that's so bad it's just bad--too plodding, amateurish, gore-free etc." And reviewer jivinmutt writes dismissively, "This 'movie' is absurd, horrible, et al."

Read on for a more accurate description of Demented...

Monday, July 3, 2023

"This Will Make You Relax. Now Just Relax." - Love Me Deadly (1973)

It is time to explore one of the most sensitive and still taboo-bursting films of the 1970's: Love Me Deadly (1973), a film full of necrophilia, male nudity, and, of course, Lyle Waggoner.

Some of your universe's critics fail to recognize the importance of Love Me Deadly. For example, reviewer lobianco writes, "A total disaster of a film you can't even laugh at." Reviewer eddie-96492 writes, "Beware - this movie sucks! Bored me to death." And reviewer merklekranz writes, "Even uncut and uncensored, this is a real yawn fest."

Read on for a fuller appreciation of 1973's Love Me Deadly...