“Fear No Evil”

fear-no-evil-1981-movie-4“The Exorcist” was one of the most shocking movies ever made at the time of its release, but as transgressive as it was, there were lines even it did not dare to cross. For example, you never got to see Satan’s wang. But where Friedkin dared not tread, Frank LaLoggia and “Fear No Evil” boldly stake their claim. “Fear No Evil” is a movie that not only is brave enough to combine supernatural horror with some elements of “Grease,” but also is unafraid to depict Lucifer’s junk on screen for the world to see at last. Continue reading

“The Vindicator”

vi1The Vindicator” is a movie about a man transformed into a cyborg killing machine, and yet the longest action sequence in the movie involves a pudgy loser manhandling and later attempting to rape a pregnant woman. But that’s the kind of movie “The Vindicator” is – it’s the cinematic equivalent of one of those “grim and gritty” superhero comics. There’s a man who’s half-robot who can lift a car over his head, but there’s also a lot of swearing and sexual assault to let you know that this isn’t for little kids or anything like that. Looking past the attempts at gruesome violence and “mature” subject matter, there isn’t anything in “The Vindicator” that’s any deeper than the average episode of “Power Rangers.” Continue reading

“Creepozoids”

creepozoidsThe first line of spoken dialogue in “Creepozoids,” said within the first two minutes of the movie, is this: “Is somebody out there?” Within two minutes of that, a giant cockroach bursts into the room. That’s efficient. I appreciate a movie that doesn’t waste time like that. I’ve seen way too many monster movies that labor under the delusion that people watch them for real human drama and character work. “Creepozoids” was made by David DeCoteau, a protégé of Roger Corman and Charles Band, the latter being the mind behind series such as “Puppet Master,” “Gingerdead Man,” and “Evil Bong.” DeCoteau is also a veteran of the porn industry, so as a filmmaker he’s experienced at cutting to the chase. Continue reading

“Eat and Run”

eat-and-run-movie-poster-1986-1020203726I didn’t realize “Eat and Run” had made any kind of impression on me at all until I saw the picture of its main monster on the VHS box recently. Years ago, when I was a kid and a voracious reader of movie reviews in the newspaper, certain movies just stuck with me because the critics’ plot descriptions made them memorable. That’s why it would be years before I ever worked up the courage to watch “Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge,” thanks to Gene Siskel’s description of Freddy tearing his way out of the main character’s chest.

The review for “Eat and Run” came complete with a picture of Murray, the movie’s alien maneater. Murray was fatter than any human being I had ever seen in my life up to that point, so much so that I assumed he was some kind of Jim Henson puppet, and his bald head and shark-like mouth made me imagine a movie in which this mountain of flesh and teeth would be tearing people into bloody ribbons. It terrified me for days. So when I found the movie this week, the plot sounded familiar, but the sight of that creature on the box made it official. I had to see this movie at last. Continue reading

“Sharkenstein”

small_1645952The art of movie making essentially is a sleight of hand trick. The filmmaker’s craft is convincing the audience that what they’re seeing is real, in a limited sense. What works in filmmakers’ favor is that they only have to make what’s directly in front of the camera seem real. The movie screen creates a very thin slice of reality that only exists as light and sound. By carefully selecting the evidence and manipulating it in front of the camera, a filmmaker can make an audience believe in something, even if that belief is fleeting. For example, Steven Spielberg knew the robotic shark built for “Jaws” wouldn’t be as convincing to an audience as he had hoped. But, by carefully choosing how much of that shark to show and when, coupled with John Williams’ music, Spielberg made an entire generation scared to even dip their toes into a swimming pool. Continue reading

“Gremloids” (aka “Hyperspace”)

5434676687_a4ca31a421_b“Star Wars” is about as big of a pop cultural phenomenon as you can get, but there are still some areas where its influence is practically non-existent. For example, even though the major characters of “Star Wars” are global icons with name recognition in even the farthest corners of the world, none of them have ever received enough votes to stand on the dais with the leading candidates for British Prime Minister. However, Lord Buckethead, main villain of the 1984 “Star Wars” spoof “Gremloids,” has. This past June, Lord Buckethead received more than 200 votes in the United Kingdom general election, which was enough to get him on a stage with the top vote-getters and the requisite attention from Twitter. So yes, “Star Wars” may have billions in box office revenue, the respect of high-minded critics, and a merchandising empire responsible for more plastic than Dow Chemical, but “Gremloids” has Lord Buckethead. Continue reading

“Bloodsucking Pharaohs in Pittsburgh”

bloodsuclking-pharaohs074We’re living in a time of uninspired movie titles. Part of that is because the major studios are so fixated on building franchises that they approach movie titles the same way McDonald’s approaches naming menu items. (“Jalapeno McChicken” vs. “Marvel’s Ant-Man,” for example.) Part of it is because streaming services’ recommendation algorithms do a lot of the studios’ marketing work these days. Part of it might also be because there’s just less creativity at work in the movies these days, although I hope that’s not the case. In any event, they don’t make movie titles or movies like “Bloodsucking Pharaohs in Pittsburgh” anymore. Continue reading