Movie Review: Blacula (1972)

Blaxploitation, Horror, Movie Reviews

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The majority of blaxploitation movies dealt with pimps, prostitutes, cops, revenge and action; but every once in awhile the umbrella extended to scares as well – or they attempted to anyway.  Blacula was the first of the horror hybrids and it set the standard for the camp, funky updates of universally beloved horror tales that followed; this basically consisted of rewording ”black” into the title, thus giving us titles such as Blackenstein (1973) and Dr. Black, Mr. Hyde.  But who loves blaxploitation for its subtly.  Now where as the other 2 were nothing more than trashy fun, the Blacula movies were lifted by a terrific central performance from William Marshall; an actor who made his name on the stage.  Blacula was never going to win any Academy Awards: it’s campier than being molested by a cub scout leader.  But Williams performance is strong enough to add depth, providing an emotional tragic love story to go along with the story of an cape wearing African American vampire visibly walking the streets of 20th Century New York.

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The film begins in the 18th century: William Marshall plays Prince Mamuwalde, an African prince who travels to Transylvania on a political mission to end slavery.  Count Dracula, however, is a cracker who doesn’t want to sign a treaty to end slavery, so he curses the Prince with the immortal life of a bloodsucking fiend of the night and locks him in a coffin, after bestowing him with the name Blacula, of course.  That wasn’t just a nickname he picked up along the way.  Skip to 200 years later and he wakes up in modern day Los Angeles; it’s a time of the funk and lots of punks with tasty blood to drink.  But he meets a woman who looks like his 18th century wife from Africa, so he makes it his mission to get her to fall in love with him.  However, with a police detective vampire hunter on his trail, he has a problem on his hands.

I’ve never been a fan a fan of the Dracula story, so once I got past the social commentary undertones and the African American vampire in modern times, my appreciation for Blacula ended.  It’s essentially a retelling of the classic tale; an undeniably smart, witty and fun adaptation in many ways, but overall it’s ultimately flat.  However, when you take it out of the context of its content, it can be viewed as a game changer.  As the first African American horror film, this was a case of breaking boundaries; but I don’t think that’s enough to warrant it a classic, because, at the end of the day, it lacked the scares to make it a horror film, and the laughs to make it a camp classic.  By no means is it a bad movie; it just doesn’t have enough of anything going on to make it effective or memorable, despite having a title and age old narrative you’ll never forget.  The rest is, quite frankly, rather bland.

The heart of Blacula is a love story; in horror love stories have often meant trying to survive in a world where you’re an outsider who has been shunned, maligned or hunted by those living by societies norms, and Blacula is no different.  Lt. Jack Peters (Gordon Pinsent) is the Van Helsing of the story who wants to put a stake through his heart and stop him from being with his reincarnated princess.  We can sympathise with Blacula because Marshall brings humanity to the monster.

To summarise: Blacula is a ground breaking film in many regards, and a smart idea.  There’s an underlying social message of prejudice, with Dracula representing the white man who condoned slavery and the inequality of African Americans; for which I applaud this movie and give it credit it where it’s due.  The performances from the entire cast are exceptional, especially Marshall; but the material they have to work with isn’t befitting to their efforts.  All in all, Blacula is an enduring experience with a few moments of camp fun; if you want to see a better movie with a similar vibe watch Eddie Murphy’s Vampire In Brooklyn (1995), but don’t take my word for it since everyone seems to love Blacula and hates Vampire In Brooklyn.  Hopefully the sequel will be more fun than this when I check it out, but Blacula didn’t tickle my boner like I thought it would.  5/10

Director:

William Crain

Writer:

Joan Torres & Raymond Koenig

Starring:

William Marshall, Vonetta McGee, Denise Nicholas

Running Time:

93 min

Movie Review: Original Gangsters (1996)

Action, Blaxploitation, Crime, Movie Reviews

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70’s Blaxploitation meets 90’s ghetto warfare in this urban shoot ’em up co-directed by exploitation legends Larry Cohen and Fred Williamson.  The streets are mean and running amok with criminal filth; after a young basketball starlet is shot down for being hustling gang bangers, a local store owner reports the crime, but he too is gunned down by the hoodlums, which doesn’t sit too well with the neighbourhood old guard comprising of Blaxploitation icons Pam Grier, Fred Williamson and Jim Brown; expect vigilante justice.

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Social commentary about the state of America’s ghetto’s is a prevalent theme in Original Gangsters, but don’t go in expecting to leave with a deeply profound sociological awakening; this is essentially a reunion for the legends of yesteryear to get together and have a nostalgic hurrah cleaning up the streets of the trash who litter it with their crime.  Kudos is given for reapplying the classic 70’s urban vigilante tale we’ve seen from these guys countless times before to fit the Zeitgeist of 90’s African American street life stereotypes; but when you strip it to the bare bones it’s the same old song and dance.  They might be older and wiser, but it’s like nothing has changed at all.

The cast includes the aforementioned legends of Blaxploitation cinema, along with Richard Roundtree (Shaft), Ron O’Neal (Super Fly) and Robert Forster (Medium Cool), as the unwelcome and not required police detective.  It’s like getting the old gang back together on and off screen to give fans what they want and expect.  However, with age comes maturity, and every performance is that of a seasoned veteran; but that doesn’t mean they can’t still throw down.  Fred Williamson’s bruiser martial arts lands many a hood rat on their ass.

Original Gangsters is a straight up throwback to the heyday of African American action machismo; only the gangsta rap has replaced the funky soul and the villains are inner city G’s as opposed to pimps and the honkeys.  However, it ticks all of the right boxes in terms of action, performances and popcorn social commentary, so all in all; fun movie.  7/10

Directors:

Larry Cohen, Fred Williamson

Writer:

Aubrey K. Ratten

Starring:

Fred Williamson, Pam Grier, Jim Brown, Richard Roundree

Genre:

Action, Crime, Drama, Blaxploitation

Running Time:

99 min

Interview: Steve Kasan (Actor & Producer, Wasted)

Interview

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Steve Kasan, star and producer of the stonerzomcom Wasted (reviewed here) is an up and coming Canadian talent, who along with his buddies at Retro Grave Productions, are about to unleash their awesome short film on the world.  Anyway, with Steve being the cool, awesome fella that he is, I was lucky enough to be able to sit down with him to discuss Wasted, future projects and Canada.  I urge you all to keep an eye out for Steve showing up on your screens in the future, because judging from what I’ve seen of him so far, he’s definitely a talent worth watching.

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1) Hi Steve, how are you today?

Doing well. This Cine Coup challenge its going to be hectic. What we are doing in 12 weeks it’s pretty much what a major studio does for 5 months. Making sure we establish our brand and get the word out. Quick decisions which we think will stick. It’s all in part of making a kick ass ride of a film.

2) For those who don’t know about Wasted yet, how would you describe it?

Wasted is a Zombie Stoner Geek Comedy. It is a fun, adrenaline filled ride where you see a group of friends have high adventures in the zombie apocalypse. Unlike most characters in all zombie films, our characters WANT the zombie apocalypse to happen. They are a reflection of today’s world. We acknowledge everything in the zombie genre in order to survive, and like most people I am sure who have got together with their friends and ask “What would we do in an outbreak?” This is for you!

3) Due to the abundance of zombie projects out there, many horror fans are quick to dismiss new ones.  What makes Wasted different from the rest?

First is our characters. You can relate to them because we are just like you and your readers. We have all thought about what we would do if an outbreak were to happen. Well, now we know. Most zombie films & tv, the characters dread the apocalypse. The Walking Dead, it’s a fine show but is it ever depressing. We want to show that you can have fun in this world. Everything is reset and can be who we want to be exploring our truer selves which we cannot do now.

4)  Wasted was hilarious.  I mean, it had me laughing out loud on more than one occasion.  However, you guys had great chemistry together.  How did you all start working together?

The best part about putting Wasted together is that the characters are a reflection of us. And, we all work in the industry in front and behind the camera. Acting, production, writing so it is a collaborative effort. I relate our characters, and us, to TMNT. Yes, they are all ninjas and turtles, duh, but each one of them are so different. Sid is totally different from me even though we both enjoy the same music. You can see that with the way we look, dress and our personal influence. It helps all of us knows each other and came together as a unit.

5) Were there any particular movies that influenced you guys during the making of Wasted?

There are tons. We are lovers of all types of film genres, but, also anime, TV, cartoons, video games. It’s a long list but I can say The Simpsons/Family Guy/Titus/Arrested Development cut away gags really helped a lot with our presentation.

6) I’d love to see Wasted as a full feature, so if the Cinecoup contest doesn’t work out, would you guys consider crowd funding? 

That is a possibility, yes. We also have our short film which we still are showcasing around for reviews and festival submissions. We saw Cinecoup as a really good shot at jump starting a feature.
We might also go the series route as well.  And, if there are any wonderful producers reading this interview who would like to help out well come on board the Killer Couch Potato/Wasted express!

7) Outside of Wasted, you’ve acted in a number of movies and TV shows.  What have been your favourite roles so far?

I like to apply and take different types of roles. Leads, supporting, etc. I can say this I didn’t attend my high school graduation but I did get the opportunity to experience that in a commercial. Yeah, its not real. Yeah, its fake, but, as an actor I have to make sure what the viewer is seeing is real. So even it was for a commercial, it was real to me and I got to experience it. Now I can say I know what a graduation ceremony feels like. Kinda boring to be honest.

8) Canada has been producing some excellent independent films these past few years.  What are some of your favourites?  Also, how do you feel about the state of Canadian film?

It’s the independent Horror films that is thriving in Canada. Raven Banner distributes some really awesome films. Black Fawn out of Guelph, Ontario makes some fantastic horror. And, how can we forget Wolf Cop. It is a fun movie to watch.

I feel that more and more Canadian film is getting exposed and with the talent depth found here. There are a lot of gems which are being made and with VOD releases everyone can easily experience. The internet, not just for porn its also discovery. Who knew huh?

9) What do you have in store for the future? 

Two awesome time travel based projects, but, both are different.
Out of Time, it is time travel, action, drama web series where I play one of the main leads. You can find that here: http://www.outoftimeseries.com/

Past Tense. It is 1990, a crazy professor has built a time machine with money from a loan shark who wants his money back. The Professor does not have the money and it is Sunday. Banks are closed on sunday.
It’s a fun throwback adventure comedy like Bill & Ted. You can see the trailer here and subscribe to that channel for more updates: https://youtu.be/4QOHAdgN274

10) Thank you for taking the time to speak to me.  Any final words before we wrap it up?

Yes, first THANK YOU for allowing me to talk about Wasted. To everyone reading this, Cine Coup gives filmmakers the opportunity, but, it is up to YOU who decides to move on. That comes by signing up to the Cinecoup site http://www.cinecoup.com/wasted/trailer Following our project.

Sharing it on social media, emails, to your friends & family. Give us a rating, leave comments and most of all Vote. When you sign up, it is free, you verify your account through your email. You will be notified when it is time to vote and there are different periods. First is the Top 60, Top 30, 15, finally, the Top 5. We want to make it all the way but it is only through your support.

We do not want Wasted to be just another generic zombie film. We want it to be unique. We want our Zombies to be different! We want to give you a fun and enjoyable time. We want to make something which you say, “Guys, have you seen Wasted? You got to check it out!”   Will it be the best ever, who knows, but, I can guarantee it will be the most outrageous, high octane film to come out smokin’!   Only you can get us there.

Movie Review: Trucker Turner (1974)

Action, Blaxploitation, Crime, Movie Review

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Isaac Hayes forever left his stamp on Blaxploitation – and film as a whole – with the theme song for Shaft (1971) and the 2000 remake, starring Samuel L. Jackson.  Even if you haven’t seen either of the movies, it’s inevitable that you’ve heard the song before; unless you’ve been living under a rock your entire life, that is.  However, when Sir Isaac wasn’t writing theme songs for iconic bad asses of cinema, he was playing bad asses of his own.  The Truck might not be as well known as John Shaft, but that doesn’t make him any less of a bad mother shut yo mouth.  Trucker Turner is, without question, a stonewall classic of the Blaxploitation boom period that deserves a seat at the table alongside Coffy (1973), Black Caesar (1973) and Shaft (1971).

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Isaac Hayes plays Mac ‘Truck’ Turner, a bounty hunter who is hired to track down Gator.  When they find him, a chase ensues and Gator ends up dead; this doesn’t sit too well with his woman, Dorinda, owner of a prosperous street escort set-up, so she puts a hit out on Mac and his partner, by offering 50% of her whore profits to whoever succeeds. With the criminals unable to take down Mac, the big bad Blue brings in his own guys to do the job; and Mac and his partner must fight to survive.

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 Isaac Hayes was never trained to be an actor, nor did he possess an innate knack for the craft; but what he lacked in range and ability he made up for in charisma and cool factor.  When he enters a room, grown women turn into horny school girls and men want to be him; much of the film is spent with Hayes running around shirtless, and there’s a comical scene where he chases a would-be assailant to a roof for interrupting his post-coitus nap with his lady friend, moobs jiggling and all.  His belly might not be equipped to roll a coin down, but there’s no questioning his appeal as a bonafide stud.

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Dorinda (played by Star Trek’s very own Uhara) commands her role as a psychopathic pimp out for vengeance.  Her rage levels are through the roof as she barks obscenities at her whores and everybody who crosses her path.  It’s a marvellously unhinged performance by her and even the cities high profile criminal kingpins are wary.

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The beauty of Truck Turner lies in the execution of its simplicity.  It has everything you expect from a Blaxploitation action flick: the body is high, the scenes are action packed, the soundtrack is funky and soulful, the talk is slicker than Rick.  There’s an excessive amount of violence, car chases and gun fights.  What’s not to love?

Truck Turner is a procedural actioner that doesn’t try to be anything else.  The protagonist is a bad ass and he’s always on the go; fighting, fucking and killing.  He’s a manly men of all men and deserves to be crowned as genre royalty.

Director Jonathan Kaplan would later go on to direct some of the most popular TV shows on network television, but the exploitation gems he made during the 70’s and 80’s remain his greatest contributions to his legacy.  Trucker Turner is a raucous, rowdy romp through the mean streets of the ghetto and it’s barrels of fun.  8/10

Director:

Jonathan Kaplan

Writer:

Oscar Williams & Michael Allin

Starring:

Isaac Hayes, Nichelle Nichols, Yaphet Kotto

Genre:

Action, Crime, Blaxploitation

Running Time:

91 min

Movie Review: Cotton Comes To Harlem (1970)

Action, Blaxploitation, Comedy, Crime, Movie Review

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Variety magazine credited 1971’s Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song as the first ever Blaxploitation film; but the first of its kind can arguably be traced back to 1970’s Cotton Comes To Harlem, directed by the legendary Ossie Davis, who some of you will know as the African American who played JFK in Doscarelli’s cult classic, Bubba Hotep (2003).  The fact is: Cotton Comes To Harlem has all the stylistic hallmarks of a Blaxploitation movie – music, lingo, action, etc – but many would argue that it’s a simple action comedy; but that’s irrelevant when the only thing that’s important is the movie itself, and Cotton Comes To Harlem is one sweet talkin’ soul brotha of a movie.

Based on the novel by Chester Himes, Cotton Comes To Harlem follows the head busting detectives “Gravedigger” Jones (Godfrey Cambridge) and “Coffin Ed” Johnson (Raymond St. Jacques) as they pursue the scamming conman, Reverend O’Malley.  Along the way they encounter gangsters, militants and a host of other characters who stand between them and their target.

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The biggest compliment I can give Cotton Comes To Harlem is that it’s never boring and that it’s aged extremely well; if there isn’t a car chase there’s a shoot out; if there isn’t a shoot out there’s a brawl; and if there isn’t a brawl there’s some smooth talking exchanges between the characters, making for many moments that shift between melodrama and comedy.  The novel is regarded as an important piece of American literature, as the author was a pioneer of African American crime fiction; social commentary about race and inequality are evident in the film too, but it never gets preachy at the expense of entertainment.

I think one of the reasons that Cotton Comes To Harlem still hits home to this day is because of its social themes; with race and class issues still a problem in America, this movie still connects with people.  However, it’s not like the action and comedy haven’t stood the test of time either; these types of movies continue to find audiences because of how much fun they are, and with the popularity of Black Dynamite and even Austin Powers: Goldmember, it’s plain to see that there’s new generations continuing to be inspired by them.  Cotton Comes To Harlem was a fitting start to one of the most influential subgenres of exploitation cinema, and it’s well worth tracking down.  7/10

Director:

Ossie Davis

Writer:

Chester Himes (novel) & Arnold Perl (screenplay)

Genre:

Action, Crime, Comedy, Blaxploitation

Running Time:

97 min

Movie Review: Blood Diner (1987)

Comedy, Horror, Movie Review

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When it comes to camp, silly horror comedies of the ’80’s you’d be hard pressed to find many that are as camp and silly as Blood Diner.  It might very well be an updated version of Herschell Gordon Lewis’ sleazy Blood Feast (1963), but it’s far more superior in every conceivable way.  I have a very dark sense of humour, and I appreciate goofy, tasteless approaches to the macabre; Blood Diner is the epitome of wacky, tastelessness cooked up in a tasty dish.  This ticks off all the superlatives one could ask for in a horror comedy: Bonkers?  Check.  Unhinged?  Check.  Demented?  Check.  Smartly stupid?  Check.  Obscene?  Check.  I could go on all night forming adjectives to describe the beautiful joy that is Blood Feast, but they wouldn’t do it any justice.  So, instead, I’ll just try to explain it as best as I can without falling into a coma of unabashed, unadulterated love.

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After an opening monologue which talks about blood cults, we cut to 2 young brothers playing in the safety of their own home, when, all of a sudden, a man bursts through the front door carrying a meat cleaver, with his clothes and skin stained with blood.  Not to fret though, it’s only their loving Uncle, and he’s there to give them ancient necklaces before the police gun him down.  Years later, the boys dig up their uncle and take his brain so they can set about resurrecting the ancient Egyptian goddess Shitaar.  With their dead uncles talking brain as their guide, they set out to collect the body parts required for Shitaar’s body and find a virgin for the ceremony.  The body parts are assorted from chopped up whores, with spare limbs and insides used to cook up a special feast, along with serving customers in their popular health food diner.  There’s also wrestling Nazi’s, a ventriloquist disgruntled chef with an African American cowboy dummy that likes to sweet talk women and a police detective with a dubbed Eastern European accent.  Did I mention that there’s Nazi wrestling?  Because there’s Nazi wrestling.

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Blood Diner has all the talking brains, Egyptian goddesses, full frontal bush Kung Fu, severed limbs, projectile vomiting and fascist wrestling superstars you could ever hope for.  If you had to write down a list of of essential requirements needed to make a perfect movie, those would be on there somewhere. But if that isn’t enough there’s also a punk rock band whose singer wears a Roman helmet, backed up by Hitler’s, performing for zombies and cultists as they wreak havoc during a summoning ceremony for Shitaar.  And if that’s not enough, we’re treated to a bouncer’s head being crushed by the wheel of a bouncing lowrider; this in itself feels like a small victory for anyone who’s ever been denied access to a nightclub.

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Jackie Kong only went on to make one more feature after Blood Diner, and even though I miss her work dearly, it’s safe to say she went out in style.  Every self-respecting director should aspire to make a movie like Blood Diner.  Stanley Kubrick wishes he made Blood Diner in 1987 instead of Full Metal Jacket.  John Boorman wishes he made Blood Diner too; instead of that sentimental Hope and Glory crap.  This is midnight movie madness at its most maniacally magnificent; within 88 minutes it cooks up more treats than an entire season of Ready, Steady, Cook and you’ll find yourself coming back for extra helpings.  An absolute masterpiece of low budget trash.  9/10

Director:

Jackie Kong

Writer:

Michael Sonye

Starring:

Rick Burks, Carl Crew, Roger Dauer

Genre:

Comedy, Horror

Running Time:

88 min

Short Film Review: Wasted (2015)

Comedy, Horror, Short Film Review

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Cinecoup is a Canadian project where independent filmmakers submit 60 second trailers for a chance to win 1 million dollars to make a full feature, and have it released at Cinecoup theatres across the country.  And the cool thing about it is that, we, the fans, get to take part and dictate the voting  It’s thanks to Cinecoup we have Wolfcop in our lives; but what will be the next cult classic in the making?

One of the entries in this years contest is Wasted, a slacker comedy with zombies.  It revolves around a group of deadbeat friends as they drink terrible Canadian beer, smoke the drugs and discuss how they’d survive a zombie apocalypse.  The star of the show is Mark, a stoned budding sociopath, who is not only convinced the zombie apocalypse is going to happen, but he’s actually looking forward to it.  His friends – Sid, Steve and Anthony – are a little more grounded (and sober) than Mark, but not nearly as equipped.

In order to survive the end of mankind as they know it, a Zombie Survival Kit is a necessity; this kit has to include essential items such as a first aid kit, with bandages, rubbing alcohol and so on.  Flash lights are also a requirement; as well as matches for light, cooking and smoking Mary Jane.  But, the most important item of all is condoms, just in case you bump into a hot survivor – or decide to have sex with the undead.  Personally, I’d take either at this point.

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Mark also plans to drive around with an AK47, a chainsaw and a samurai sword in the trunk of his car, which makes sense since he’s the weapons and hunting expert of the group.  Anthony, on the other hand will be their designated doctor because he ”looks like one”. due to him being Asian.  Moreover, Steve will need to learn to become a mechanic, and from what we see of him fixing cars in their hypothetical discussion, he’ll need to become a better one, should an outbreak happen.  Lastly, they’d need a builder, which would be Sid’s duty, and like his friends, he’s a fumbling mess of a man.

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Their discussion is accompanied by animated diagrams of their plan, and live action scenes of their potential scenarios.  There’s ample amounts of blood, explosions and walking undead to wet your appetite, but it’s the relationship between the characters that makes it engaging.  They’re a loveable bunch of goons who seem to have it barely figured out.

I was treated to an exclusive of the 12 minute short film, which will hopefully light up many a festival in 2015, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  The strength is in the characters: you could watch an entire movie of these guys just hanging out, getting drunk and talking nonsense and it’d be fantastic.  I don’t know what they put in the beer over in Canada, but whatever the magic ingredient is, it’s inspired some good humoured genre pictures the past few years, and I have no doubt in my mind the guys at Retro Grave Productions will make many valuable contributions in the future.  Just like the act of getting intoxicated, Wasted is mindless fun, filled with laughs, joy and imminent violence.  8/10

For more information, you can follow Wasted on Twitter and Facebook.  And if you like what you see from the trailer, pop on over to Cinecoup.

Written & Directed By:

Satheesan Nagenthiram

Starring:

Darrin Drugan, Steve Kasan, Samuel Lin, Satheesan Nagenthiram

Genre:

Comedy, Horror

Running Time:

12 min

Movie Review: Highway To Hell (1991)

fantasy, Horror, Horror Comedy, Movie Review

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The legend of Orepheus and Eurydice in Greek mythology is about a man who enters the underworld to reclaim his wife from the clutches of Hades, after her unfortunate death on their wedding day to a vipers sting as she danced in the meadow with her bridesmaids.  The movie Highway To Hell is about a bride-to-be (played by the luscious Kristy Swanson) who gets kidnapped and taken to Hell by Hell Cop as her husband-to-be (Chad Lowe) pursues.  Guess which one I prefer?

Rachel and Charlie are young lovers who take a desert back road on their way to Vegas, where they plan to marry before the night is out.  On the way they stop for gas, where the old attendant begs them to turn back, but when they refuse, he warns them not to fall asleep between 2 Joshua trees further up the road.  Of course, they fall asleep and a demonic police officer appears, kidnaps Rachel and takes her to Hell.  Charlie returns to the gas station immediately where the attendant informs him he only has 24 hours to enter Hell and get her back or else they’ll be trapped there for eternity.  Armed with a special car and a gun, he travels the highway into Hell and proceeds to get his woman back, while running into various hurdles on the way.

Hell itself is a vast desert highway with biker gangs, bad service diners, horny demons, obnoxious cooks, strip clubs and road service providers who like to insult stranded drivers down the phone.  It mirrors some of the real worlds most common everyday complaints; abusive police officers, busy traffic, poor restaurant service and obnoxious telephone workers are just a few of the real world lows represented in Hell to great comedic effect.  Furthermore, there’s a great nod to the old phrase, ”the path to Hell is paved with good intentions.”

Highway To Hell was written by Brian Helgeland, whose previous writing credits included A Nightmare On Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988) and 976-Evil (1988).  He would then go on to have writing credits on classics like L.A. Confidential (1997), Man On Fire (2004) and Mystic River (2003).  The director Ate de Jong directed the cult classic Drop Dead Fred (1991), before going on to mainly Dutch films after Highway To Hell.

I love this movie with all my heart: it’s a fun, smart, campy, romantic, action-packed adventure that jizzes imagination all over the screen.  This is a popcorn classic that’ll bring you a lot of mindless entertainment and joy on a dark, wet night or bright Summer’s eve as the sun is about to set.  I give this a… 10/10 

Directed By:

Ate de Jong

Written By:

Brian Helgeland

Starring:

Kristy Swanson, Chad Lowe, Patrick Bergin

Genre:

Horror, Comedy, Fantasy

Running Time:

94 min

Short Film Review: Tales of a 5th Grade Zombie Slayer: Day 1

Horror, Short Film Review

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Tales of a 5th Grade Zombie Slayer has enjoyed some moderate success on the festival circuit; having initially finished in the top 3 of the 2013 Scream Factory Competition, it’s went on to receive considerable acclaim, and the upcoming follow-up, Day 57, has already played before a sold out crowd back in October at the Horrible Imaginings Horror Film Festival in California.  At this time of writing, it is currently an entry in the Rue Morgue sponsored Horror Block Monstrous Movie Contest awaiting the results, but regardless of whether it wins or not, Carl Smith and Jeffrey McLaurin can be proud of their work.  This is going to bring a lot of smiles to the faces of horror fans.

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 Tales of a 5th Grade Zombie Slayer: Day 1 is the first of a prospective web series chronicling the adventures of groups of kids as they try to survive a zombie apocalypse.  Each episode will be based on a different day of the outbreak, and will follow a different group of kids every time.  During Day 1, we follow a group of kids as the outbreak is happening and watch them transform from Little Rascals to bat-wielding, brain bashing bad asses.  It’s The Sandlot meets Dawn of the Dead – and yes, it is as good as it sounds.

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Personally, I love movies where children are heroes; and I love movies where children get massacred.  Tales of a 5th Grade Zombie Slayer has children smashing zombie children with bats in a playground, so what’s not to love?  We don’t get a lot of horror adventures in this day and age where the kids are heroes, never mind the monsters, so it’s a pleasant change of scenery to see a universe without adults where the brats can run amok.

The performances from the young actors are fantastic and adorable.  Not only is it obvious that everyone involved is having fun, but the kids are very talented and I predict we’ll be seeing some of them crop up in movies and TV in the future.  There’s one iffy moment where a kid doesn’t react to finding his mother dead; but maybe he hated her so it’s not important.

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With more episodes on the horizon and a comic book companion, Tales of a 5th Grade Zombie Slayer has a bright future and long may it continue.  Zombies have been done to death in horror, but every so often they come along and bite you in the good way again – like a love bite.  I am happy to report that Tales of a 5th Grade Zombie Slayer is a hicky to be worn proudly without a scarf.  This has the potential to be an excellent ongoing adventure, full of exuberant charm and children being harmed. You can watch Day 1 below, so check it out, give it a like and a share, and support independent film.  8/10

Also be sure to follow on that Twitter and like on the Facebook

Written & Directed By:

Jeffrey McLaurin & Carl Smith

Starring:

Gabe Krut, Jourdan Jackson, Wyatt Chapman, Marco Baroudi, Tyler Desharnais

Genre:

Horror

Running Time:

10 min

Article: 5 Great Romantic Horror Movies

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Horror movies aren’t normally associated with romance; most of the time the goal of a horror movie is to cause unrelenting terror to the viewer.  However, as we all know, horror can be a very experimental genre that incorporates multiple elements beyond giving us the willies; and sometimes, they’ve told a love story.  In celebration of this years romantic horrific masterpiece, Spring, I have decided to look back on some of the others that have tugged on my heart strings throughout the years – and moulded me into the hopeless romantic I am today.  Now, if I only I could date a chick who isn’t my own dead grandmother… but I digress.

1 – Red, White & Blue (2010)

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By far the most disturbing movie on the list – and one of the most disturbing movies you’re ever likely to see – but the theme of true love is what drives it.  Erica (Amanda Fuller) is a promiscuous girl who likes to make the beast with two backs with any man she comes into contact with.  Nate (Noah Taylor) is a psychotic ex-soldier who falls for her, and a relationship ensues.  However, when that relationship is threatened, Nate goes on a rampage, and when Nate goes on a rampage, people get hurt.

If you can get past how incredibly messed up, unflinching and disturbing this movie is, what you’ll find is a love story between 2 outcasts drifting through life.  The lengths Nate goes to win back his girl are extreme, but it’s for love.  In a way, that’s kinda beautiful.

2 – Let The Right One In (2008)

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To put it simply: Tomas Afredson’s Let The Right One In is one of the most beautiful movies ever made.  Both to look at, but more importantly, the content of the story and themes, this is absolutely stunning.  It’s about a young boy who falls in love with his neighbour, who just so happens to be a vampire.

Let The Right One In is a tale of young love which explores the theme of alienation.  Oskar (Kare Hedebrant) is a loner who’s spent his childhood being bullied, and Eli (Lina Leandersson) has spent hundreds of years, moving around, trying to survive.  Not until they meet each other have they ever felt a strong bond with someone else.  It’s a masterpiece.

3 – Shaun of the Dead (2004)

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The tagline to Edgar Wright’s cult classic reads: ”It’s a romantic comedy.  With zombies.”  And that’s exactly what it is.  Shaun (Simon Pegg) is a slacker who likes to spend his free time getting drunk with his even lazier best friend, Ed (Nick Frost), to the irritation of his girlfriend, Liz (Kate Ashfield).  When Liz dumps him, Shaun sets out to win her back and fights through hordes of zombies in order to do so.

This was the first movie of the Cornetto Trilogy, and the cinematic womb that gave birth to the ”zom-com.”  Very few movies match Shaun of the Dead for hilarity and touching moments, but the core theme is a slacker becoming a grown up and fighting to win his girl back.

4 – Highway To Hell (1991)

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You know when people say they’d go to hell and back for their loved ones?  Well, that’s just what Charlie (Chad Stokes) has to do for the love of his life, Rachel (Kristy Swanson), after she’s arrested by Hellcop, and taken to the underworld to be the Devil’s new squeeze.

This is smart, offbeat, cheesy, charming and hilarious; Hell is presented as an open highway wasteland, paved with good intentions, and it’s filled with quirky characters.  On his journey, Charlie meets a cook (played by Ben Stiller), Hitler, Attila The Hun and a host of unforgettable characters based on historical figures and original quirkies.  This is a forgotten gem that needs a DVD/Blu-Ray release to be rediscovered.

5 – Return of the Living Dead (1993)

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Brian Yuzna’s Return of the Living Dead Part 3 is a departure from the comedic previous instalments into darker territory.  Curt (J. Trevor Edmond) and Julie (Melinda Clarke) are 2 rebellious young lovers with a case of, ”us against the world.”  It’s loosely inspired by Romeo & Juliet, in a way, with a little Re-Animator thrown in.  Anyway, when Julie dies in a motorcycle accident, Curt uses the Trioxin zombie gas to bring her back from the dead – but she’s hungry.

Much like David Cronenberg’s 1986 romantic body horror, The Fly, it deals with a couple clinging on to love as one of them loses their humanity; this is a representation of loving your partner through the sickness that comes with the whole ”sickness and health” spiel you hear at weddings.  Return of the Living Dead Part 3 is a Shakespearian love tragedy in the guise of a body horror, and it’s Yuzna’s most accomplished work to date.