Monday, July 12, 2021

“Combining the Supernatural with Physics” - Fatal Exam (1990) - Film #207

Today's entry in the annals of Senseless Cinema is the St. Louis-set Fatal Exam (1990), directed by Jack Snyder, who would later direct several films and TV movies, and in fact claim in his IMDB biography that his first film was the St. Louis-shot Ghost Image (2007). Fatal Exam is a fine example of regional filmmaking made with character and intelligence and the presumably overwhelming urge to make sure the audience understands everything that is going on at every second, even if this requires characters to repeat the same information dozens of times.

Oddly, some of your universe's critics mistake the film's clarity for dullness. For example, reviewer itchy_cnp writes, "This movie is excruciatingly turned into an endurance exercise." Reviewer allentitinik-83208 writes, "No idea what I just watched." And reviewer Eric Cotenas of DVD Drive-In writes, "FATAL EXAM is "fatally" overlong and flat-out boring at 114 minutes."

Of course, a film like Fatal Exam is to be savored, and critics with taste would never complain about its length. Please read on for a proper appreciation of Fatal Exam...

Monday, June 28, 2021

"Ever Made It on a Grave?" - Hack-O-Lantern (1988) - Film #207

We have already explored Open House (1987) and The Jigsaw Murders (1989), so it is time to immerse ourselves in another of Jag Mundhra's finest films, 1988's Hack-O-Lantern, aka Halloween Night. Full of cult rituals and slasher murders (though, surprisingly, mostly free of jack-o-lanterns), Hack-O-Lantern fits comfortably and entertainingly in the tradition of late-1980s slasher films.

Some of your universe's critics are not as positive as they are required to be. For instance, reviewer LuisitoJoaquinGonzalez writes (in a sentence I confess I fail to understand fully), "What started as an engaging synopsis ended as a nonsensical mishap and the lack of any originality or flair for the macabre defined the movie to the ever growing video graveyard." Reviewer gwnightscream describes the film as an "80's horror/slasher flick with shoddy dialogue and cheesy acting." And reviewer yourmotheratemydog715 writes, "It feels super padded, even at 90 minutes, what with random five-minute glam metal dream sequences and a head-scratching, unfunny stand-up comedy routine that grinds all the Satanic action to a halt."

Read on for the truth about Jag Mundhra's classic Hack-O-Lantern...

Monday, June 14, 2021

“You Have Personally Seen this Toupee?” - The Jigsaw Murders (1989) - Film #206

After his first American film, Open House (1987), and his second American film, Hack-O-Lantern (1988), Indian director Jag Mundhra moved away from horror to begin a long and successful run of erotic thrillers, beginning with 1989's The Jigsaw Murders.

Some of your universe's critics are not sufficiently kind to The Jigsaw Murders. For example, reviewer BA_Harrison writes, "It's banal, unexciting, tedious, and trite." And reviewer Michael_Elliott writes, "we're pretty much left with a film that doesn't have any thrills and in most ways is pretty forgettable."

Read on for a proper appreciation of Jag Mundhra's The Jigsaw Murders...

Monday, May 31, 2021

"I Hope It's Not a Gingerbread House" - Zombie 5: Killing Birds (1987) - Film #205

Although it might not reach the cinematic heights of Claudio Fragasso's Zombie 4: After Death (1989), the follow-up film in the "series," Zombie 5: Killing Birds (1987, oddly), is a sober supernatural film about doomed bird-watchers that features the always reliable and always entertaining Robert Vaughn.

Your universe's critics are as harsh about Zombie 5 as about other post-Fulci films in the series. Reviewer movieman_kev writes, "Horrid acting, unsympathetic characters, lackluster plot, lack of action and insipid plot all combine to make this one to miss." Reviwer OnePlusOne writes, "In the end it's simply mind numbingly dull." And reviewer oskar-jungell-611-182266 writes, "I can't find anything that works here. The camera works, the audio, the plot, the acting, the effects... It's just not good. There is nothing good about it."

Read on for the truth about Claudio Lattanzi and Joe D'Amato's Zombie 5: Killing Birds...

Monday, May 17, 2021

"Everything Went When the Dynamite Went" - It's Alive! (1969) - Film #204

Before Larry Cohen's topical horror film It's Alive (1974) shanghaied the title, another Larry created a masterpiece and used the more lively title It's Alive! I refer, of course, to Larry Buchanan's 1969 dinosaur film, which features an extended role for the respected movie star Tommy Kirk.

Reviewer PaulCurt calls It's Alive! (1969) "dull and interminable and saddled with a startlingly low budget...most viewers will find it almost unwatchable." Reviewer preppy-3 complains, "the dialogue is lousy and the basic plot is pretty stupid." And reviewer BA_Harrison writes, "Technically shoddy from start to finish, this is a real test of patience."

Read on for the truth about It's Alive!...

Monday, May 3, 2021

“You Mean We’re Going to Turn into Something Weird?” - Shocking Dark (1989) - Film #203


It is something of a sad occasion to discuss the final collaboration between director Bruno Mattei and writer Claudio Fragasso (as well as his wife, Rossella Drudi, uncredited as usual), 1989's Shocking Dark (aka Terminator II). While the film is notable for its environmentalist and anti-corporate messages, its similarities to the far inferior James Cameron movies Aliens (1986) and The Terminator (1984) make it a case study in deconstructionism.

Some of your universe's top critics fail to appreciate the film, as usual. Reviewer bowmanblue writes, "There is really little here to recommend in terms of actually watching a decent film." Reviewer vinny_the_hack writes, "It's the kind of movie that you marvel at the thought that anyone connected to the project could possibly have believed that they were actually involved with a legitimate movie." And reviewer kempton_joshua writes, "This film is so objectively awful that I just...I can't even begin to describe it."

Read on for an appreciation of Mr. Mattei and Mr. Fragasso's interpretation of the classic monsters vs. marines story...

Monday, April 19, 2021

“It’s Fossilized. That’s Why It’s So Well Preserved." - Massacre in Dinosaur Valley (1985) - Film #202

Amid a plethora of films with the word "dinosaur" in the title aimed at children, Massacre in Dinosaur Valley (1985) stands out by featuring gore, copious nudity, and rape -- not to mention an absence of actual dinosaurs. Michele Massimo Tarantini's Brazil-set film is sometimes described as an Italian cannibal film, but I detected no cannibalism. Rather, I found the film to be another charming, innovative blending of genres, something at which the Italian film industry excels.

Reviewer serenity3000 writes, "Don't waste your time watching this crap." Reviewer bombersflyup writes, "It's silly and stupid with woeful dialogue." And reviewer BA_Harrison writes, "With a fraction of the gore that fans have come to expect from the genre...particularly dreadful acting, and a group of unlikeable characters you actually look forward to seeing being eaten alive, I found Tarantini's movie to be one of the weakest Italian cannibal films I have seen."

Read on for the truth about Massacre in Dinosaur Valley...

Monday, April 5, 2021

“Sailing, Tennis, Discoing Till Dawn” - Cruel Jaws (1995) - Film #201

It is time to revisit the well of quality that is the film factory of Mr. Bruno Mattei. This time, we will look at the master's shark film homage/remix from 1995, Cruel Jaws. 

Reviewer grkamerican1984 writes, "this movie is just so BAD, it's a wonder Universal Pictures didn't sue" (implying that in your universe a studio can sue because another studio makes a bad film). Reviewer camarossdriver writes, "There is not one good redeeming thing you can say about this train wreck of a movie." And reviewer jorgito2001 writes, "Cruel Jaws is just poorly made, overly long, and BORING!" While it is perhaps unfair to highlight reviewers for criticizing a film they clearly did not understand, please read on for the truth about Cruel Jaws...

Monday, March 22, 2021

“I’ve Lived Among the Woods All My Life” - Contamination .7 (1993) - Film #200

The oddly named Contamination .7 (1993) aka The Crawlers is the next cinematic gem we must discuss on Senseless Cinema. Perhaps a sequel or prequel to Luigi Cozzi's Contamination (1980) aka Alien Contamination, Contamination .7 was directed by Fabrizio Laurenti and Joe D'Amato aka Aristide Massaccesi. Filmed in Utah, the movie is possibly one of the finest examples of Eurohorror in the 1990s.

Not all of your universe's critics agree with my assessment, however. Reviewer Melaugh writes, "The pain felt while watching this movie is almost life changing. From the acting, writing direction, and god awful special effects, this movie failed on every conceivable level." Reviewer capkronos writes, "Though thoroughly inept, it's also boring, clichéd, slow-moving and far too tame to really be enjoyable." And reviewer tmccull52 writes, "This movie wasn't just bad, it was stupefyingly, mind-numbingly bad."

Read on for the truth about Contamination .7...

Monday, March 8, 2021

“What a Scurvy Looking Broad” - Angel of Vengeance (1987) - Film #199

Initiated by Ray Dennis Steckler and reportedly completed by Ted V. Mikels when Mr. Steckler was fired, Angel of Vengeance (1987) is a collaboration between two of the finest desert-based exploitation directors of the 1970s and 1980s. Of course, as usual, some critics fail to appreciate this revenge-oriented action film. For example, reviewer Leofwine_draca writes, "the awful execution lets this film's something of a chore to sit through, and definitely what you'd call Z-grade." Reviewer action film-2 writes, "The acting ranges from fair to poor." And reviewer Michael_Elliott writes, "There's no drama or suspense so add this to the fact that you don't care about the characters and it's hard to really hold any interest in the film."

Read on for an appreciation of Ted V. Mikels's Angel of Vengeance...

Monday, February 22, 2021

“Must Have Been Some Phone Pervert” - Shadows Run Black (1984) - Film #198

Following in the footsteps of The Zodiac Killer (1971) and to a lesser extent Another Son of Sam (1977), Shadows Run Black (1984, or 1981, or 1986?) is an exploitation slasher film that takes some of its contents from recent true-life serial killings, in this case the Night Stalker murders terrorizing Los Angeles in 1984, despite the fact that it begins as a deep-woods slasher film.

As usual, some of your universe's critics have reviewed Shadows Run Black poorly. For example, reviewer davido-2 writes, "The dodgy lighting and wooden sets are here in all their glory,obviously a very low-budget effort all round." Reviewer Angelus-16 calls the film "One of the very worst slasher films ever made." And reviewer Coventry writes, "'Shadows Run Black' is a misogynic, incoherent, clichéd, zero-budgeted and laughably inept slasher attempt."

Read on for the truth about Shadows Run Black...