Monday, December 13, 2021

"I Wonder If She Saw That Movie Pillow Talk" - The Hollywood Strangler Meets the Skid Row Slasher (1980) - Film #219

While we have already appreciated the creepy, minimalist Blood Shack (1971), the cinema of Ray Dennis Steckler includes so many gems it is impossible not to turn our attention back to his oeuvre, which also includes the Steckler-adjacent films Angel of Vengeance (1987) and Blood Frenzy (also 1987). Let us now turn to one of his horror films with an unusually long name, The Hollywood Strangler Meets the Skid Row Slasher (1980), a film that combines the two primary genres favored by Mr. Steckler, horror and sexploitation.

Some of your universe's critics are not keen on Mr. Steckler's body of work. For example, the respected critic R0SK0 writes, "This is probably by far the worst movie I have ever seen. I'm not even going to pretend that I enjoyed watching this piece of trash. This is quite possibly the worst movie ever made." Reviewer MartinHafer writes, "A terrible film in every way....It's just nasty and stupid--a rare combination." And reviewer acidburn-10 writes, "Stay well clear it just leaves a bad taste in your mouth and only seek out if you have to." I would add to Mr. Acidburn's review that even if you don't "have to" seek out Mr. Steckler's film, you would be well advised to do so.

Read on for the truth about The Hollywood Strangler Meets the Skid Row Slasher...

Monday, November 29, 2021

"You Have Some Degree of Choice Whether to Show Your Boobs or Not" - Bloody Murder 2: Closing Camp (2003) - Film #218

With the massive artistic and commercial success of Bloody Murder (2000), Hollywood had no choice but to develop a sequel, and Bloody Murder 2: Closing Camp (2003) might be an even better film than its predecessor. It is certainly a different film, eschewing the flat photography and minimal violence of Bloody Murder in favor of aggressive camera angles, murder scenes that focus on murder, and an extraordinary number of crop tops.

If we were to listen to the critics of your universe, we might skip Bloody Murder 2 altogether. For example, reviewer drownnnsoda writes, "The acting, for one, was still very poor. It felt like I was watching a soap opera (just as I felt during the original), and it was beyond unbelievable." Reviewer zombified_660 writes, "Bottom line is, this movie is total utter trash." And reviewer jmbo-jons writes, "Do not go through the trouble of getting or watching this movie unless you want to fall asleep like i did."

Read on for an unbiased appreciation of Bloody Murder 2: Closing Camp...

Monday, November 15, 2021

“Misery Comes in Lots of Different Forms. It’s All Miserable.” - Bloody Murder (2000) - Film #217

Connoisseurs of the summer camp slasher film were in for a treat in 2000, approximately 20 years after the heyday of that illustrious subgenre, when Bloody Murder was released to an indeterminate amount of fanfare.  

Reviewer cindy24_3 writes fashionably, " It was a waste of 4 bucks!! And to beat it all, the murderer wasn't even dressed like a real murderer. His outfit was too clean!! DON'T rent this movie!!!! Waste of your money!!" Reviewer Zantara Xenophobe writes helpfully, "My advice to anyone stupid enough to see this movie would be to give yourself extra time to watch it. You'll need it for the numerous times you have to stop the movie to beat your head against the wall." And reviewer gila_film writes incoherently, "Bloody Murder is definetely a so-called slasher movie. This movie is accurately below-average that makes it so underrated. There's no gore, scare, decent twist or blood."

Read on for the truth about Bloody Murder...

Monday, November 1, 2021

“You Know, That Occult Stuff” - Family Reunion (1989) - Film #216

Let's look at an under discussed supernatural horror film directed by the writer of One Dark Night (1982), the Christmas-set Family Reunion (1989), featuring a rare leading-man performance by the intense Mel Novak, best known for his roles as action movie villains.

Not all of your universe's critics appreciate Family Reunion, unfortunately. For example, prolific reviewer Leofwine_draca writes extensively, "It's all very convoluted and underwritten, with poorly-defined characters and a general lack of interesting performers to do justice in their roles. The pacing is all off too, which means this just sort of dawdles along aimlessly until the final twist at the climax. I found it a chore." Reviewer poolandrews writes lukewarmly, "Family Reunion is average at best, it was too long & just a bit too dull for it to do anything for me I'm afraid." And reviewer twisted_sista writes cryptically, "The fx arent up to scratch either. There are scenes in the film that drag a little so if your not the one with patience dont bother with this!"

Read on to experience the Christmastime wonders of Family Reunion...

Monday, October 18, 2021

“You’ve Quite a Repertoire of Chilling Tales” - Bloody Moon (1981) - Film #215

While Jess Franco is an acknowledged master of the horror genre, we have not paid much attention to him on Senseless Cinema, outside of our discussion of She Killed in Ecstasy (1971). We will remedy that in part by covering Mr. Franco's stylish blend of slasher and giallo film (slallo? giasher??), 1981's Bloody Moon, also known as Die Sage des Todes or The Saw of Death. Bloody Moon is not based on a Francois Truffaut film like She Killed in Ecstasy, as far as I know, but that should not be held against it.

Some of your universe's critics apparently hold something against the film. For example, reviewer paulgeaf writes, "Not scary or thrilling(apart from the odd breast), just absolutely horrible to watch." (For the record, I must state that none of the breasts appeared odd to me.) Reviewer tomgillespie2002 writes about Franco, "While I have only seen a small handful of his films (all pretty bad), this is undoubtedly the worst I've seen." And reviewer Horst_in_Translation writes, "As a whole, this was a failure with regard to almost everything. I absolutely don't recommend the watch."

Read on for the truth about Jess Franco's Bloody Moon...

Monday, October 4, 2021

“If I Could Teach Him to Place His Tongue in the Right Way...” - Maniac Killer (1987) - Film #214

While most movies are dull and lifeless affairs, Maniac Killer (1987) was destined to be a classic from the start. Not only was it directed by the legendary Andrea Bianchi of Burial Ground (1985) fame, it stars a trio of peerless gentlemen: Chuck Connors, Bo Svenson, and Robert Ginty. With such creative forces at the proverbial helm and in the proverbial crew, how could Maniac Killer be anything less than fantastic?

Some reviewers mistakenly believe Maniac Killer is less than fantastic. For example, reviewer Mathis_Vogel sums up the film thusly: "Nothing happens." And stalwart reviewer BA_Harrison (before referring to the film as "bottom-of-the-barrel horror") writes, "It's hard to believe that director Andrea Bianchi and his cast were actually working from a script when making Maniac Killer, such is the general slipshod nature of the movie. It bears all the hallmarks of a film made at speed with very little preparation and on the tightest budget possible."

Read on for the truth about Andrea Bianchi's Maniac Killer...

Monday, September 20, 2021

“Why Does the Barrier Keep Us In and Them Not?” - Dark Future (1994) - Film #213

We have never covered Greydon Clark's films on Senseless Cinema, a blind spot that we will not remedy as we discuss Mr. Clark's 1994 post-apocalypse film Dark Future.

As usual, your universe's top critics fail to understand the visionary film that is Dark Future. Reviewer bensonmum2 writes, "Dark Future is complete and utter garbage. Everything imaginable is about as bad as you'll find in a movie." Reviewer Aaron1375 writes, "So, it is not very good, just goes all over the place." And reviewer Mike-336 writes, "The directing, acting, production quality, and overall feel is not one of quality."

Read on for an informed opinion about Greydon Clark's masterful science fiction film...

Monday, September 6, 2021

“Just Talk it Over with the Axe Killer” - Edge of the Axe (1988) - Film #212

Now is a good time to review another of the later films directed by José Ramón Larraz, Edge of the Axe (1988). Here, Mr. Larraz abandons the supernatural mystery of the previous year's Rest in Pieces (1987) to create an atmospheric slasher movie with some gialloesque trappings, perhaps practicing for his somewhat more subdued slasher film Deadly Manor (1990).

Some of your universe's critics fail to understand Mr. Larraz's oeuvre. For example, reviewer movieman_kev writes, "This was one of the more forgettable slasher films from the late 1980's, having nothing special to distinguish it from any myriad of similar sub-par slashers." Reviewer bombersflyup writes, "Edge of the Axe is pretty damn awful, offering next to nothing, with a nonsense plot and any lack of reasoning." And reviewer barbell_28 writes, "The acting, although i expected to be sub par, was sub sub par, the story was boring and the kills were so cheesy i just didnt care. The characters are unlikable. Its just a bad movie all around."

Read on for a fair assessment of the slasher classic that is Edge of the Axe...

Monday, August 23, 2021

"A Monument to St. Bubba of the Demolition Derby" - Deadly Manor (1990) - Film #211

Continuing with our appreciation of the later career of José Ramón Larraz, who also directed Rest in Pieces (1987), let us turn to 1990's Deadly Manor, an innovative slasher film with almost no slashing.

Let us look at some of your universe's critic reviews. Reviewer benjithehunter writes, "Deadly Manor is one of the worst movies I've ever been unfortunate enough to view." Reviewer amandagellar-31077 writes, "Nothing about Deadly Manor makes any sense. Even the premise itself is silly." And reviewer michellegriffin-04989 writes, "Deadly Manor...happens to be one of the most boring movies I've ever seen in my life."

Needless to say, these reviews are entirely incorrect. Please read on...

Monday, August 9, 2021

“Pages of Dynamite Horrible Stuff” - Deadline (1980) - Film #210

Let us now discuss the 1980 Canadian horror film Deadline, a film that proves that self-loathing is good for the soul. Unlike most of the films we discuss here at Senseless Cinema, Deadline is a relatively well reviewed movie, but make no mistake -- it is still from a different universe than yours, a universe where horror movies can hate horror movies and still be horror movies. Because of the film's many good reviews, I will forego the usual list of misguided critical assessments and jump straight to my appreciation of the fascinatingly self-loathing film Deadline. Please read on...

Monday, July 26, 2021

“How Can We Leave With All This Money Just Lying Around?” - Rest in Pieces (1987) - Film #209


Although Spanish director José Ramón Larraz has received a fair amount of acclaim, his near-masterpiece Rest in Pieces (1987) is rarely included in a list of his best films. This is curious, as the film is a perfect example of the violent, supernatural, murder mystery with no mystery, one of the most underrated of the horror subgenres.

Some of your universe's critics dismiss Rest in Pieces unfairly. For example, reviewer TeenVamp writes, "Movies like this being released on blu ray makes my brain hurt. Why? It sucks." Reviewer soggycow writes, ""Rest in Pieces" is not a very good movie. In fact, I found this movie to be quite a bore." And reviewer In_tru_der writes eloquently, "This movie is not good, it's supposed to be horror, but it didn't frighten me at all."

Read on for a fair, unbiased appreciation of one of José Ramón Larraz's finest films, Rest in Pieces...

Monday, July 12, 2021

“Combining the Supernatural with Physics” - Fatal Exam (1990) - Film #208

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...

Monday, February 8, 2021

"I’m Tired of You Stumblebumming Around Here Day After Day" - The Night of the Strangler (1972) - Film #197

The legendary Mickey Dolenz was not, surprisingly, a prolific movie star. Four years after the end of his TV series The Monkees, however, he starred in Joy N. Houck Jr.'s The Night of the Strangler (1972), a hard-hitting, gritty drama that confronted 1970s racism head-on.

Not all your universe's critics appreciate such sharp drama. For example, reviewer Wizard-8 writes, “The movie is kind of slow and sluggish, padded out with a lot of filler, so much so that some characters are off the screen for significant portions of time."Reviewer AlsExGal writes, “The acting is bad, the script is worse, and the filmmaking comes in dead last.” And reviewer a-chinn writes, “It's a super cheap production without any real scares or suspense."

Read on...

Monday, January 25, 2021

“I’ll Come Looking For You to Feed on Your Intestines” - Zombie 4: After Death (1989) - Film #196

At the risk of covering only Claudio Fragasso films in order to pay appropriate tribute to the master, let us turn to Claudio Fragasso's Zombie 4: After Death (1989), part of the film "series" originated either by Lucio Fulci's Zombi 2/Zombie/Zombie Flesh Eaters (1980) or George Romero's Dawn of the Dead/Zombi (1978). As always, Mr. Fragasso and his wife Rosella Drudi effortlessly put their own stamp on a film that might be considered constrained by the expectations of the genre.

Some critics are uncharitable about Mr. Fragasso's film (one might even jump to the conclusion that critics are biased against Mr. Fragasso). For example, reviewer alanbill1074 writes, "Having been a huge fan of the original Zombie Flesh Eaters, this film was a bitter disappointment, bearing absolutely no connection to the first film. The acting and direction are below par, even for low budget horror, and the 'zombies' are laughable." Reviewer Maciste_Brother writes, "Anyway, it's only worth seeing if you're a horror completist, enjoy Euro horror or are a zombie freak. No one else should see this abomination." And reviewer RashaTheGreat writes, "This movie represents the absolute lowest point in Italian Zombie cinema."

Read on for the truth about Zombie 4: After Death...

Monday, January 11, 2021

“I Can’t Understand Why Things Like This Go On” - Another Son of Sam (1977) - Film #195

One subgenre that consistently contributes more than its fair share to the quality of world cinema is the protoslasher that references real serial killers. While arguably less focused on real-world crimes than The Zodiac Killer (1971), Dave Adams's Another Son of Sam (1977) is a sincere and successful attempt to scare its audience by showing them that dangerous killers can exist in even the most mundane places.

Some critics are oddly unimpressed with Dave Adams's vision of realism. For example, reviewer Wizard-8 writes, "For the most part this movie will test the patience of even the most forgiving viewers." Reviewer snicewanger writes, "I don't know whose idea it was to make this film, but they should be locked in a padded room." And reviewer jellopuke is so unimpressed, I will quote the entirety of their misguided review: "This is incredibly amateurish in all ways with a terrible script, terribly edited (with strange freeze frames everywhere), terrible actors giving terrible dialogue, and a beyond boring pace. STAY FAR AWAY. This is 75 minutes of your life you will never get back. Do ANYthing else with your precious time on this earth. PLEASE."

In actuality, one could hardly find a more productive use of 75 minutes than viewing Another Son of Sam. Read on to find out why...