Blood Capsule #7


Up until yesterday, I had never seen this much-maligned rushjob. I have a thing for cheesy 80's sequels (you might call it a piquancy), so I owed it to myself to add The Hills Have Eyes Part II to ye olde Netflix queue. Wes Craven has disowned it. Most fans despise it. I was expecting a colossal scourge, and while it pales in comparison to the original, it wasn't the unpardonable waterloo that I thought it would be. It's a decent slasher. Nothing more, nothing less. I get the ubiquitous admonishment, though. The characters are drab, the gore is non-existent (the slit throat is hardly worth plaudits of any sort) and the villains - all two of them - are about as threatening as Squidward Tentacles.

On the "glass half full" side of the argument, I can't say that I was ever bored. I dig Michael Berryman, and the blind chick is somewhat likeable. With a little extra bite, this could have been a fun splatter reel. Alas, Craven was teething behind the camera. How did he go from A Nightmare on Elm Street to this muzzled turkey? Apparently, the reason why he agreed to shoot a sequel to The Hills Have Eyes was because he needed the coinage. Fine, but that doesn't explain Vampire in Brooklyn.


Matches That Time Forgot #31

It's that time once again. It's time for me to use this column as an outlet to vent on the current state of WWE's tag team division. I consider 1990 and 2000 to be the best years for said division, and today, we're traveling back to 2000. The Attitude Era was successful for a variety of reasons. It goes without saying that Rock, Austin, DX and the McMahon family had a hand in igniting a stale industry (as did the goofballs over at WCW), but in my opinion, the principal catalyst responsible for the wrestling boom of the late 90's is almost always overlooked. The entire card was relevant. The light heavyweight division? Stacked. The tag team scene? Stacked. The Diva's? Er, should I say stacked? Sable was godawful, but at least the crowd cared about her.

My point is that each and every talent was given something to do. The tag division was so festive, that the homely "c-teams" were utilized on a semi-regular basis. Here we have Kaientai versus Lo Down. It's the battle of the racist, yet highly entertaining gimmicks! This version of Kaientai was comprised of Funaki and Taka Michinoku. Their promos were dubbed. Indeed. This version of Lo Down (yes, there was more than one version) saw D'Lo Brown and former Headbanger Chaz being led to the ring by Tiger Ali Singh. They worked a Sikh schtick. Sikhism is a religion that was founded in the Punjab region of South Asia. Anyway, Lo Down donned gaudy turbans and pegged away in the salt mines (a.k.a. Sunday Night Heat) for several months before splitting up.

This contest determined the last entrant in the Royal Rumble. See, even undercard tag team bouts served a purpose. Nevermind the fact that the outcome of this match was later rendered null and void (the last spot in the Rumble was proffered to Drew Carey...gag me with a wooden spoon).


The Grapes of Death

If you recall, I expressed interest in surveying Jean Rollin's filmography when I read an interview with the late horror maestro in the most recent issue of Rue Morgue. Rollin was known for his lustrous vampire erotica, but I wanted to start with one of his zombie flicks. Even though there are a few to choose from, this was an easy choice. You'll have to forgive me for skipping Zombie Lake. 1978's The Grapes of Death was too intriguing a title to pass up. I've grown impatient with standard Romero-lite fare, so it was refreshing to sit down with an undead opus that outflanked customary depictions of apocalyptic raids and intestine-chomping. If I wanted to watch Dawn of the Dead, I would watch Dawn of the Dead.

The plot is unique. A vineyard situated in the bucolic countryside of France is sprayed with a noxious pesticide. Obviously, pesticides are noxious by design, but this defoliant is far too poisonous. The septic grapes are plucked from their vines to begin the fermentation process. Well, I'm not going to write a step-by-step tutorial on winemaking. Allow me to fast-forward to the part where droves of compatriots consume the toxic bubbly. Once infected, flesh rots. Your brain decays. Your face falls off. Your penis grows bat wings (this is only a rumor...that I started). Plus, you become a savage lunatic. Technically, these people aren't zombies.

They are not the walking dead, but if 28 Days Later is considered to be a zombie movie, then I'm tossing The Grapes of Death into the same pile. Besides, Rollin enthusiasts refer to it as such, and that's good enough for me. The film has a distinct European flavor. You know what that means. The acting is inconsistent, the pace is listless and the characters are frustratingly mercurial. But if you have a taste for overseas genre curiosities, those blemishes shouldn't sour your stomach. They are flaws, yes, but they aren't deal breakers. Overall, the pros eclipse the cons. What underlying factors tip the scales in favor of Mr. Rollin?

Gore and nudity. The positive comments don't end there, but I really like gore and nudity. It's fun to intellectualize the genre and probe the themes of certain films in a scholarly fashion, but I have to level with you. The scene in which a blind girl is decapitated sealed it for me. I was fucking sold. Couple that with Brigitte Lahaie's full-frontal frame-up, and you've got yourself a crowd pleaser. Rollin's straightforward camerawork makes the gratuitous stuff all the more enjoyable. On a less laudatory note, the editing is atrocious. A feral catfight is ruined by jumpy cuts, and by God, you don't ruin a catfight. Isn't that Exploitation Rule #1? Because it should be. Still, I recommend The Grapes of Death to advocates of Eurotrash and "old school" zombie romps.

I plan on covering more of Jean Rollin's work in the future, so keep your eyes gouged!


Album Cover of the Week


Is it too late to enter the slam dunk contest?

Watch out! Battle Kat is making his way down the aisle! He is an incredible athlete, a clandestine mat technician who can silence his opponents with...er, headlocks! And...um, dropkicks! Don't blink or you'll miss stealthy maneuvers like the...inside cradle...and...um, the suplex. Eat your heart out, Brooklyn Brawler?

So this is just a general update. Saturdays are usually reserved for Parts Unknown, but I'm holding off on the next installment of that column. It has to be special. Why, you ask? Because it will be the 100th edition of my world-renowned (or at least neighborhood-renowned) "wrestling review" series. I can't believe that I've penned 99 episodes of Parts Unknown. In the early days of Random Reviews Incorporated, I covered three different shows (Raw, Smackdown and even Impact). At present, I have pruned my diagnostic faculties down to one weekly blitz campaign. As much as I love the blue brand, it has been rather disappointing lately. That's why I continue to mix in auxiliary shows to keep things fresh (expect more WCW-centric columns in the future).

I'm not sure when Parts Unknown #100 will be posted, but next weekend would be a safe bet. Of course, this site tackles subjects other than wrestling. RR Inc. will always focus on horror entertainment. That's the bread and butter of what I write, and needless to say, I have plenty of movie reviews in the pipeline. In addition, I'll be drumming up a music review (gotta put those svelte Abbath ratings to good use) and a panel from beyond the grave. Stay tuned!


Another Plug

A friend of mine just started a horror blog. Being the nice guy I am, I thought I'd post the link. Click HERE! To give you an idea of what to expect from his reviews, I'm pretty sure that he has seen every Witchcraft film to date. Yowzers!


Vanity Scare #2


You probably haven't heard of this magazine, but that's okay. It's a fairly underground DIY-style publication. Obviously, it focuses on the horror genre, but at its azygous core, Lunchmeat is devoted to VHS. Editor-in-Chief Josh Schafer is a big proponent of physical media. He collects books, records and of course, movies. Younger generations will never understand the VHS fetish, but I can identify with it. I miss the medium myself. Above all else, each issue of this pious rag is a love letter to home video. That doesn't mean you have to be a "tapehead" to enjoy it, though. The majority of the pages deal with oddball cult/exploitation titles, so your average die-hard gore ghoul will find something to dig here.

Since I'm a first-time reader, this edition of Vanity Scare will slough off the format established in my Rue Morgue reviews. I don't know which articles are regular features. Let's just jump in, shall we?

~ The first 10-12 pages are reserved for standard film critiques. I'm assuming that these are movies that cannot be found on DVD (there might be one or two exceptions). Apart from a handful of typographical errors, I appreciated how the writing styles varied in tone and flow. The "kitchen staff" doesn't adhere to a concrete review formula. The best thing about this section is being able to discover obscure gems. For instance, I am now determined to find a copy of America's Deadliest Home Video, a handheld thriller starring Danny Bonaduce (!). Rockula is also covered...God, I never wanted to be reminded of that abortion ever again (read my review HERE).

~ A crossword puzzle!

~ Loved the spotlight on "sword and sorcery" box art. If only Deathstalker was half as badass as its cover.

~ Great interview with George Stover, prolific actor and former editor of gnarly monster fanzines. It makes me wonder how many underground genre gazettes I've missed out on. If anyone wants to send me an issue of Cinemacabre or Black Oracle, go right ahead. Really, I won't be offended.

~ Rob Hauschild's trash capsules are mind-bending in the sense that they ream your perception of forgotten VHS abnormalities. I mean, an instructional video on self-hypnotism? It's a mad, mad, mad world.

~ Schafer's in-depth look at VHS gaming is spectacular. If your only exposure to this nostalgic fad is Spoony's impersonation of The Gatekeeper from "Nightmare," you need to sit down and read this retrospective. I'm not knocking Spoony; I'm just saying that there were scads of other VHS board games produced from 1985 to 1995. Apparently, there even existed a WWF VHS board game. I must own it. I simply fucking must.

~ No page numbers? Ugh. I skipped a page without realizing it. Twice. That's why page numbers are a good idea.

If Lunchmeat sounds kind of awesome, that's because it is. Recommended for serious collectors.


Geek Out #45

Why don't they sell this shit year-round anymore? Modern day America pisses me off.


Johnny Firecloud

Back when I reviewed American Grindhouse, I ruminated on the definition of "grindhouse." It's a specific term, but genre fans tend to use it in a loose, all-encompassing way. Despite the fact that the meaning is somewhat nebulous, there is a smattering of films that can be identified as 100% "grindhouse." Pure exploitation, the kind of cinema that smells of menthol and rat droppings. From now on, when someone asks me to recommend an archetypal "grindhouse" flick, I will point to 1975's Johnny Firecloud. Every fixture of this species of filmmaking (and make no mistake; it's a species) is accounted for. Rape, revenge, racial injustice, a funky score, blunt violence...it's almost as if director William Castleman kept a list of "grindhouse" checkpoints in his pocket.

I'm tired of typing "grindhouse." The plot? Well, a Native American (Mr. Firecloud) returns from overseas to find his homestead rife with bigotry-charged unease. The reservation that he was born and raised on happens to be in the middle of a small town, a small town controlled by white rednecks. The sheriff is powerless. He was blackmailed by a pecunious rancher who threatens to broadcast his scandalous past, which would effectively mar his reputation. What do these self-serving rednecks do for fun? They humiliate minorities, namely Indians. Johnny's grandfather, a proud chief who drowns his sorrows in any liquor that is handed to him, is forced to perform a war dance at the local bar in exchange for booze.

Johnny's friend, a raven-haired schoolteacher played by Sacheen Littlefeather, is literally raped to death. But that's just the tip of the iceberg. Normally, I don't linger on a synopsis, but the actions of the intolerant denizens in Johnny Firecloud are important. They shock you into empathizing with the protagonists. Certain scenes are hard to watch, but the raw ugliness of the first two acts makes the third act that much more enjoyable. Johnny becomes a fucking man. "Comeuppance" would be an understatement. You know a film did something right when you're cheering at the appropriate times. In this case, I cheered whenever an empty-headed puritan met a smarting demise. Heh, smarting...that's definitely an understatement.

I'm surprised that Johnny Firecloud isn't more popular. The acting is believable, and Castleman does wonders with a piddling budget. Most of the flaws are inconsequential, although I wasn't fond of the ending. It's too easy. Plus, it leaves one of the baddies above ground. I won't name the culprit, but man, the viewer is screwed out of a major payoff. Still, it would be in your best interest to buy/download Johnny Firecloud. I don't watch this brand of exploitation very often (y'know, the brand that Quentin Tarantino has made a career out of parroting), but I can get behind sleazy tales of revenge when they are executed with poise. Johnny is poised. He's a fucking man!



A bud of mine just unveiled his new website, so I thought I'd plug it for him. Click HERE to check it out. Zombievictim Productions offers movie reviews and short films enveloped in a snazzy layout. Not bad for a guy named Tyler.

Album Cover of the Week


Parts Unknown #99: Smackdown/Chamber

I think every edition of Parts Unknown should include a picture of Sunny, regardless of the column's content. Instead of a traditional review, I'm going to list random thoughts I have relating to Friday's Smackdown and tonight's Elimination Chamber. They were both underwhelming, I must say.

~ Am I hallucinating or did the crowd rally behind The Uso's? Why didn't they win? Who else will Epico and Primo feud with over the titles? The tag team scene needs storylines in addition to matches. Let The Uso's talk. I want a real rivalry between these two teams.

~ Dear fucking Allah, ANOTHER feckless affray involving Hunico and Ted DiBiase??? How do they expect to reinforce ratings when they air glorified reruns?

~ I get that Santino is over in a massive way, but...don't. Just don't. I still can't believe that he pinned Cody Rhodes (the Intercontinental goddamn Champion) and Wade Barrett (the pedagogue of false starts) on a PPV. At this point, I'm convinced that Santino will win the World Heavyweight Championship in 2012.

~ I should mention that there are aspects of the current product that I dig, but on the whole, the WWE is boring the wildberry-flavored semen out of me. Case in point, the Ambulance Match pitting perpetual tweener John Cena against Kane. First of all, this could have been an Inferno Match. Y'know, Kane's signature match that Vince has forgotten about? Secondly, what kind of main event was that? I'm a firm believer that PPV's should conclude with either epic twists or title defenses. 2012's Elimination Chamber concluded with a safe, predictable iteration of the top draw's stranglehold on the rest of the roster. No twists, no surprise appearances (this was the perfect setting for an unannounced Rock/Cena staredown), no angle advancement (where was Eve and/or Zack Ryder?), no nothing...shit.

~ Sunny is still 100% bangable.


Blood Capsule #6


This schlocktail satiates my tastes in two ways, as it falls under two subgenres that I have a thing for. To begin with, it's an anthology. Seeing Creepshow at a young, impressionable age planted a propensity for omnibus genre nuggets deep within my Cimmerian soul (wow, a reference to Greek mythology...I'm on a roll tonight). The Basement was also shot on Super 8. As a teenager, I couldn't digest anything that wasn't filmed on either 16mm or 35mm, but here lately, I've developed a hankering for no-budget horror. I'm talking SOV titles. While this economical spooktacular wasn't captured with a camcorder, it does appeal to the same frothing crowd of fright fanatics. It's driven by the ardent zest that fueled SOV classics like Sledgehammer and Truth or Dare: A Critical Madness.

We get four vignettes and a limp-wristed wrap-around story (four strangers mosey around in a basement...why, where and how are fair questions that are never answered). The segments touch on swimming pool serpents, broomstick-mounting witches, tongue-eating mummies, fake zombies, real zombies, a haunted house and a J.R. Bookwalter cameo. Robert Z'Dar would approve. The make-up effects hold up rather well, and once you advance past the first story (it's dry toast, if you ask me), there is plenty of grisly fun to be had. A blithe, loving homage to Amicus anthologies. Seek it out.


Matches That Time Forgot #30

Prepare yourself for a deluge of useless information. Today's match that time forgot comes courtesy of The Fed circa 1997. Ah, 1997...the year that The Attitude Era exploded, propelling the first of many thorns into the side of Eric Bischoff. It's funny how nostalgia clouds sapience and sound judgment. Most wrestling fans don't realize how spotty The Attitude Era was. You can blame selective memories or short-sighted brand loyalty, but it doesn't change the truth. 1997 was just as inconsistent as any other year. Sure, the highs were high, but the lows...man, they were pretty damn low. Vince was still shaking off the residue of The New Generation. For every "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, there was a Salvatore Sincere (more on him later).

This match took place right in the middle of Bret Hart's heel turn. He needed a patriotic babyface to feud with, and since "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan sucked, Vince brought in The Patriot. Here, the star-spangled eidolon trades blows with The Sultan (Fatu repackaged as a generic foreign villain). Apparently, they were both undefeated, as evidenced by The Patriot's pre-match promo. It doesn't matter to the commentators. They ignore the finish as The Hart Foundation swarms the ring for a bit of angle advancement (speaking of "angle," check out The Patriot's entrance theme). Fun stuff.

Del Wilkes, the man behind the red/white/blue mask, retired in 1998 due to an injury. Ironically, The Patriot still wrestles on the indie circuit. How is that possible, you may ask? The current Patriot is played by Tom Brandi (a.k.a. Salvatore Sincere). Twist ending! Actually, Wilkes claims that Brandi never asked his permission to use the gimmick. Hell, maybe I'll make a few appearances as The Patriot. Don't be surprised if a masked cripple crashes your local gymnasium while humming "Battle Hymn of the Republic."

PS-Parts Unknown will be posted on Sunday, as opposed to Saturday.



What happens when a throng of George Romero's industry pals collaborate on a suspense thriller? Not a lot. I really wanted to like 1980's Effects. When I discovered that Tom Savini and Joe Pilato starred in a "lost" horror film, I figured that I was on the cusp of disinterring a rarefied bauble, a diamond in the rough. While the cast is adequate, the totality of Effects put my pulse out to pasture with the potency of an antihistamine. This is one slow flick. Substantial conflict doesn't rear its shuddersome head until the 60-minute mark. So what happens during the first hour? A bunch of nothing. Literally. I'm telling you, the exposition is aimless to a fault, and I'm not even comfortable calling it an exposition.

The basic premise could have worked in a more streamlined film (in fact, it did; see 2000's Shadow of the Vampire). We follow a director, a few actors, a cameraman, an effects technician and a gaffer as they shoot a low-budget shocker. As the project progresses, some of the crew members begin to question the mental stability of Lacey, the grand vizier (in transoceanic cultures, this figure is referred to as the "head honcho" or the "big cheese"). Eventually, we learn that Lacey is hellbent on engineering a snuff film. Holy shit. I just realized that this is a tame, suggestive version of A Serbian Film. Say what you want about A Serbian Film, but at least it's not boring. Effects is interminably bland.

Y'know, it's almost as if director Dusty Nelson was attempting to turn lethargy into an artform. As I said before, I wanted to dig this flick, but it's hard to become invested in an hour's worth of capricious, irresolute dialogue. Have I mentioned that nothing happens until the third act? Because nothing fucking happens. My God. The movie that the characters are shooting is more interesting than Effects, and I say that without a hint of sarcasm. You might be wondering where Savini and Pilato come into play. The former has a bit role as an obstinate cretin. He never gets enough credit for his acting chops, but he brings more to the table than prosthetic limbs. The latter gives a striking performance as Dom (hey, that's my name!), the sole protagonist.

I alluded to the talented cast in the opening paragraph, but I feel the need to expound on the acting. Everyone knows Pilato as the hostile, belligerent Rhodes in Day of the Dead. As many times as I've seen said zombie epic (at this point, I think I prefer it to Dawn of the Dead), it never crossed my mind for the duration of Effects. Dom and Rhodes are worlds apart, but here, Pilato proves that he can pull off the good guy. He's virtually unrecognizable. John Harrison is chilling as Lacey. There is a quiet menace in his stare that pervades each scene he steals. FACTOID: Harrison provided the score for Creepshow and Day of the Dead. In other words, he rules.

The finale is well-staged, but I didn't care what happened to these people. I was pooped as a result of the plodding pace. Still, Effects isn't universally panned. You may very well get more out of this film than I did, but I'm chalking it up as a daft novelty item.



I fell asleep during the movie. The last time this happened, the film in question received a less-than-favorable rating. Just saying.

Review coming tomorrow! For real!



Ain't love grand? Tomorrow, I'm posting a movie review. The rest of the week will involve a match that time forgot, a panel from beyond the grave, more movie reviews, a blood capsule and hopefully, I'll have another issue of Vanity Scare ready to go by the end of the month (it depends on various factors).

Remember, if you have a wonderful Valentine's Day, try not to gloat, especially on Twitter/Facebook. I'm pretty sure I speak on behalf of most singles when I say that we don't need that shit.


Geek Out #44

I don't care what anyone says. Half of the Leprechaun films (1, 3, 6) are rollicking shindigs, and I want a seventh chapter. Check out this clip from Entertainment Tonight that spotlights Leprechaun 2 with the help of MTV's John Sencio. Man, talk about nostalgia.


Album Cover of the Week

The new Kreator album comes out later this year. As you can see, the artwork is fucking METAL.


Parts Unknown #98: Thunder

I didn't want to sit through yet another match between Hunico and Ted DiBiase, so I'm taking a break from Smackdown (until next week, that is). This is a review of Thunder, WCW's topsy-turvy b-show. To be more specific, this episode aired on February 11, 1999. Woah, that was exactly thirteen years ago...my brain just imploded.

Thunder was wildly inconsistent. Some episodes seemed as if they were booked by Vince Russo on crack. Luckily, I chanced upon one of the "normal" episodes, though I use that word loosely. Since I'm dealing with vintage wrestling, I'll eschew the pros/cons format. And yes, that's a picture of Glacier. I couldn't find a suitable Thunder logo.

~ We're in the thick of a double-elimination tag team tournament? This could be interesting. By the time '99 rolled around, WCW's tag division was a bit of a mess. Most of the teams in this tournament were makeshift dyads comprised of singles stars. Our first bout pits Mike Enos and Bobby Duncum Jr. against Faces of Fear. Wait, Faces of Fear had a brief run in '99? With Jimmy Hart as their manager? The action is solid. Fuck, Meng is a bad, bad man. I love how he shakes off a piledriver like he was slapped in the face by Lord Littlebrook. If only the finish made sense. The Barbarian turns on Meng at the behest of Jimmy Hart. Why??? I assume that a push was in the cards, but guess what? This was the last time that The Barbarian was remotely relevant. There goes that idea!

~ Chris Kanyon (formerly known as Mortis) visits Raven at his sumptuous home. Raven has bamboozled his mother into believing that he is riding out a deep depression. Naturally, she is worried about him, so she asks Chris to watch him while she's gone. Raven proceeds to withdrawal funds from his bank account, and he treats Chris to an exorbitant shopping spree. We watch them shop for clothes. I swear to God. Maybe it's supposed to be an in-joke since Kanyon was gay in real life. I don't know. This is WCW's Thunder, kids.

~ Cruiserweights! We get an up-and-coming Lash LeRoux opposite Super Calo. This was a lively, kinetic match. They were given plenty of time, and I appreciate the clean pinfall.

~ In the funniest backstage segment that I've seen in quite awhile, we see Glacier trying to sell his gimmick to Ernest "The Cat" Miller. I mean, he pawns off the entrance music, the mood lighting, the ridiculous outfit...everything. Kaz Hayashi ends up buying the whole lot. Priceless.

~ Another tag match, this time involving Fit Finlay/Dave Taylor and Billy Kidman/Chavo Guerrero. A nice blend of styles, but it leads to the second partner betrayal of the night. This was WCW's biggest problem in the late 90's/early 00's (well, apart from short, meaningless title reigns). There were way too many turns, both heel and face. Every man and woman on the roster played the part of a backstabber at least once, and if they didn't, they were the ones being stabbed in the back.

~ Holy shit. That was an amazing video package. It built up the tag team tournament, it reviewed the paragon history of the WCW Tag Team Championship and it made the titles look prestigious. Why can't the WWE stitch a similar video package together to aid their dying tag division?

~ A Disco Inferno match. Next!

~ Wow. The main event could be featured as a Match That Time Forgot. Here we have Chris Benoit/Dean Malenko versus Kaz Hayashi/Van Hammer. Of course, Hayashi approaches the ring in full Glacier regalia. Surprisingly, this is a tight match. The fans go home happy.

I need to review Thunder more often.

College is kewl!

I just had to post this. You've probably seen this commercial, but if not, hold onto something. It's an advertisement for some website (a website that is largely useless for anyone who knows how to use Google), but that's neither here nor there. They're trying to appeal to teenagers, so they hired a desperate producer to write a catchy pop/rock number about college. They hired a desperate pop starlet hopeful to sing the jingle, and to make her look kewl, they dressed her in a trendy (as of 1990) jacket. To add insult to injury to statutory rape, they utilized the cheesiest video effects known to mankind.

Did they actually think that modern day teenagers would identify with this shit? This commercial would only work on people like Zack Morris and Samuel Powers.

PS-I'll be back later tonight with a special edition of Parts Unknown.


The Innkeepers

Look out for Ti West. In the past, horror journalists have been quick to peg aspiring auteurs as the next John Carpenter or the next George Romero. I distinctly remember Eli Roth being embrocated by Fangoria and Rue Morgue before Cabin Fever hit theaters. There was no point in debating it; he was elected as this generation's "master of horror," and that was that. Well, it's my turn to make a bold statement about the future of fright flicks. Ti West is one of several impious minds who is going to be panegyrized by those same journalists decades down the road. They'll call him legendary, eminent, illustrious. They might even use a fancy word like "lionized." Don't believe me? He already has a few fan favorites under his belt.

2005's The Roost served as my introduction to Mr. West, a protege of cult veteran Larry Fessenden (if that name sounds familiar, it's because Larry helmed Habit and Wendigo, among other independent chillers). It was a decent flick that centered around mutant bats. Nothing groundbreaking, but it was on par with Bats (it was definitely better than 1979's Nightwing). 2009's The House of the Devil generated a groundswell of buzz. I found it to be a plodding flatliner with loads of potential. I know what you're thinking. "Um, didn't you praise Ti West in the opening paragraph?" Yes, I did. In spite of the fact that neither Roost nor Devil floored me, I could tell that there was a supremely talented horror aficionado behind the camera. I knew that it was only a matter of time before West honed his skills and tightened his craft. He just needed a tune-up.

Which (finally) brings me to The Innkeepers. This is a simple ghost story, so I won't fidget with a synopsis. I'll start with the characters. Everyone is fleshed out. It's a testament to how West has matured as a writer. Sara Paxton is incredible as Claire, a role that could have easily been a throwaway heroine with flat dialogue and conventional personality traits. Thankfully, she is written as a three-dimensional human being. Kudos to Paxton for giving a performance that I didn't think she was capable of giving. I love the fact that West worked a role reversal into the script. Here, the female lead is nerdy and overanxious, while the male lead is cynical and reserved. Pat Healy is rock solid as Luke. Again, his character is extremely well-developed, and we learn more about him as the film progresses.

I'm stressing the significance of the characterizations for a reason. In my humble opinion, the attentive script is the best thing about this unearthly fable. That's not to say that The Innkeepers is visually destitute. I dug the oblique camera angles, the clever use of darkness and the disciplined style of editing. In terms of pacing, the film does skitter to the edge of "boring," but it manages to stay within the boundaries of "methodical." Any nagging issues? To me, the ending left too many questions unanswered. It wouldn't bother me if it was meant to be open to interpretation, but something tells me that wasn't the case. Also, I expected a certain character to be an emotional wreck during the epilogue, and he wasn't. That's all I can say without dropping spoilers left and right.

In conclusion, The Innkeepers is cool. Watch it.



So far, February hasn't been a very productive month at the offices of Random Reviews Incorporated. That should change soon. I'm thinking that next week will contain more movie reviews than usual. Maybe I'll post one tomorrow. Who knows? As for today, my pockets are empty. Keep checking back, though. This site tends to have a mind of its own.


I caved in...

I'm not proud of this, but I caved in and forcefully shoved The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim up my computer's ass. As a general rule, I try to circumnavigate nerd traps like World of Warcraft and Dungeons & Dragons. I'm too cool for that shit, aren't I? That's what some people want to believe, but at the end of the day, I'm the loser who sat back and watched everyone else have fun in High School. I'm a goddamn nerd. There is no way around it. Skyrim seems to be a rarity, an RPG that I would enjoy playing. So why not take the plunge?

Well, the cessation of my social life will have to wait because my graphics card sucks dragon cock. I'll buy a new one at some point, and when I do, I'll move mountains to make sure that I don't start slacking off on the site. I realize that Skyrim is addictive, but surely I can prioritize. Hey, you know what would help me prioritize? Donations! Click the "donate" button on the right-hand side of the page. You know you want to.


Blood Capsule #5


What do you get when you cross Jaws with The Exorcist? Easy! You get...a "killer snake" movie? Did this script ferment in a plashet of yeast-addled urine in the center of an opium den? Is the script even real? Because I'm still not convinced that I just watched a film about a Satanic cobra. You read that right. A small town (these things never happen in medium-sized towns) is blitzed by a rash of snake bites, and it seems that the censurable serpents are all slithering in the same direction. Father Farrow, a case-hardened preacher, believes that this rattlesnake rebellion could be a harbinger of evil. To his credit, he is skeptical at first, but after probing his family history, he realizes that he is being stalked by Lucifer himself.

Why Lucifer found it necessary to harass an insular whistle-stop under the guise of a snake is anyone's best guess. My guess? He needs a fucking hobby. Naturally, Jaws of Satan is a harmless, harebrained b-flick. I quite liked it. Fritz Weaver (more commonly known as Professor Stanley in Creepshow) holds up his end of the bargain as our reverent lead. The exposition is meatier than I expected, although the anticlimactic finale left a bitter taste in my mouth. It was either that or the stale croutons.


Matches That Time Forgot #29

I've used this column to talk about Bryan Clark in the past. He was known as Adam Bomb in the WWF before transposing himself over to the disarray of WCW. He debuted as Wrath, and he often tagged with Mortiis (most underrated gimmick of the 90's, says me). Eventually, Mortiis lost his mask, and Wrath was repackaged as a monster babyface. The crowd loved him. The powers that be obliged him with an auspicious push, but his momentum was extinguished by a self-seeking Kevin Nash. This match took place while Wrath was still ascending WCW's totem pole. His opponent? A post-ultimate Renegade.

What do I mean by post-ultimate? Some of you may be familiar with The Renegade, but for those blissfully unaware, he was rolled out in 1995 as The Ultimate Warrior Jr. The term "ripoff" would be a glaring understatement. Rick Wilson (the poor bastard beneath the tassels) was given a World Television Championship reign as The Renegade, but the character fizzled in 1996. Today's match that time forgot aired in 1998. At this point, Eric Bischoff had access to the real Warrior. Wilson kept "The Renegade" as his moniker, but he looked like any other generic musclehead. Relegated to jobber status, his career was on the skids.

Sadly, Wilson committed suicide the following year. Goodness gracious, I didn't realize how depressing this blurb would become. Enjoy the clip!


Album Cover of the Week

Thanks to Matt for the assist!


Parts Unknown #97: Smackdown

Hold up, playa. We're gonna have ourselves a Smackdown review! And it's gonna happen...next!


~ Cody Rhodes is good, but if creative had anything for him, he would be great. I loved how he upstaged Sheamus and made his Royal Rumble victory look nugatory. "I did all the work." His mic skills are improving each week, it seems. The resultant match was excellent. They worked in a number of fresh moves (I'm growing weary of established talents cycling through signature spots without introducing new offense), and their timing was downright scientific. Are my eyes deceiving me or did Sheamus cop David Otunga's finisher? Back to the drawing board, Mr. Hudson.

~ Daniel Bryan heeling it up. He doesn't have CM Punk's natural charisma, but his promo was entertaining.

~ I dig Tamina. Of course, that doesn't mean much. If Vince ever decides to have a real women's division, she could be a dependable workhorse.

~ I'll list the Orton/Barrett match as a pro by virtue of its smooth execution, but I'm sick of seeing these two brawl. What is this, their fourth encounter in less than a month? Also, I disagree with the clean pin. Why build up Barrett's "barrage" if you're just going to feed him to your pet snake?

~ A.J. sighting! More please.


~ Khali, huh? Yeah, I don't get that. I'd rather have Jinder Mahal in the Elimination Chamber.

~ Will Santino tag with a different goofball every week for the foreseeable future? If so, I'll take advantage of Microsoft Word's suicide note template. Oh, there isn't one? Well, I guess I can customize the cover letter template.

~ Mom, this isn't your fault. Oopsy-daisy! I thought I had switched over to the suicide note. Anyway, Natalya's fart gimmick strikes again. She's probably typing up her suicide note right now.

Fuck you, world. Damn, I did it again!


Screams of a Winter Night

Sometimes, I think that society wants us to break the law. How else can you explain the hapless circumstances surrounding a remote albatross like 1979's Screams of a Winter Night? If you're reading this review, chances are, you're a devout horror fan. It would stand to reason that you know how frustrating it is trying to find a copy of an obscure film. If it hasn't been released on DVD, obtaining the videotape can be a fruitless endeavor. When it comes to the subject of today's review, a used VHS would set me back upwards of $100. Bullshit, right? I am left with two options. I can bend over for some dickhead on eBay or I can resort to bootlegging. And I'm not talking about moonshine, although it was considered as a tenable alternative.

I'm off on a tangent (again), but I wanted to stress how obscure this film is. Screams is a low-budget anthology championed by the likes of Quentin Tarantino and Dom Coccaro. It never gets the credit it deserves for beating others to the punch with respect to immortalizing urban legends on the silver screen. It was also one of the first genre treats to milk the "camping getaway" motif, fireplace gatherings and all. However, my intention is not to hype this flick up as a horror landmark. Screams is faulty, but first things first. It's worth mentioning that there are three vignettes sheathed in a tense wrap-around story. This anthology is unique in that the wrap-around story occupies half of the running time.

Oddly enough, the anecdotes are presented as afterthoughts. The first segment, an effective Bigfoot yarn that was essentially reiterated in Urban Legend, lasts a mere ten minutes. "The Green Light" is more in-depth, but it's achingly simple. We only see two different sets. "Crazy Annie" could have evolved into a disturbing character study, but the script is in too much of a hurry to study any of its characters. Screenwriter Richard Wadsack (dude, that's why God invented pseudonyms) focuses on the people telling us these stories. That is both a positive and a negative. It's a positive because the bookend plot ends on a gratifying note. It's a negative because I was in the mood for a true anthology. None of the vignettes are as involved as "The Crate" or "The Raft."

On the upside, Screams is dripping with atmosphere. This is the movie that Campfire Tales wanted to be. It nimbly encapsulates the feeling of being alone in a forest in the middle of the night. I won't lie; there were scenes that creeped me out, and that's coming from the most jaded cinephile in North America. The last fifteen minutes are killer. Surprisingly, the cast is stellar (relatively speaking). Each actor tackles dual roles, which confused me in the early going. I didn't understand why Crazy Annie was a spitting image of Cold Bitch Jookie. Yes, I added the "cold bitch" part. What? She's a cold bitch! But I digress...if you luck into hunting down Screams of a Winter Night, don't pass it up.


Lazing on a Thursday Afternoon

Lazy day. Motion picture review tomorrow.


Geek Out #43

Mark Patton (of Freddy's Revenge fame) is one of my friends on Facebook. Obviously, we're not actual friends, but he does go out of his way to communicate with fans. In fact, he wished me a Happy Birthday when I turned 27 last September. That makes him a class act, in my book. At any rate, he posted this video a few days ago, and I knew instantly that it was Geek Out material germane to horror freaks.

What is it exactly? It's a retail promotional clip for A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors. These promos would be sent to rental joints and "places where videos are sold" to stir up circulation. I can't imagine why retailers would need convincing to stock a franchise as popular as Elm Street, but what do I know?