French Horror: Inside

Directed by: Alexandre Bustillo, Julien Maury
Category: Horror

French horror. Gotta love it. I've only recently become acquainted with French horror, and one thing that I've noticed almost immediately, is that they don't hold back in the gore department. I'm guessing that there's no censorship over there, because of the few films I've seen, the gore content is insane, considerable and pretty damn impressive. And really, isn't that what we go to horror films for? Yet here in the states, the MPAA thinks they know what we should or shouldn't be able to see.

A recently widowed pregnant woman is home alone one night when she hears a knock on her door. When the conversation through the door with the strange woman on the other side of it turns hostile, things begin to take a turn for the worse and she may be ill-prepared for what happens next.

I've been hearing about this film for quite a while now, and having been blown away by Martyrs, and enjoying the hell out of Frontier(s) and The Horde - all French horror films I should add - I was excited to finally get the chance to see this. Also learning that the directors responsible for this are in the process of doing the Texas Chainsaw Massacre prequel gave me extra incentive to check this out.

I will say this. The French know how to do their horror. Though, I'd probably categorize this as more of a thriller, with an excessive gore content. While it starts off relatively slow in more of a drama sort of way, things change significantly in the second act and it's then that things spiral out of control. When a film can make even the most die-hard horror and gore fans squirm in their seats and in some cases, turn their heads away entirely, you know they're doing something right. And that's exactly what happened. There were a few scenes that were so cringe-inducing that many of the men in the group with me had to look away. That is saying a lot.

I honestly feel that I shouldn't say much of anything else regarding the film in fear of possibly spoiling anything for you. It's easily one of the best French horror films out there, bar none, and also one of the most violent and cringe-inducing. I would probably still consider Martyrs to be superior, but only slightly and in a completely different kind of way. Give this one a shot, if you can stomach it.


The Town That Dreaded Sundown (2014)

Directed by; Alfonso Gomez-Rejon
Category: Horror

I don't mind telling you that I found the original Town That Dreaded Sundown to be one of the dullest, most boring films I've ever seen. I find it so dull in fact that I struggle to understand it's cult status. I just don't get it. I like the idea of the film, but I have so many major issues with it's execution that I just couldn't find anything to actually love about the film, other than the cool look of the hooded villain.

But when I learned they'd be remaking that film, I have to admit, I got a little excited. As much as I generally don't enjoy remakes, if any film could benefit from one, it would be The Town That Dreaded Sundown. No contest. Then when I discovered that the team behind American Horror Story would be responsible, well you can say I was pretty much sold right then and there. But of course, as with most of these types of films, it didn't get a big theatrical release, or if it did, it sure as hell didn't make it down here to my crap little town. So I had to wait till Netflix began streaming it online this past month to finally catch it.

The Town That Dreaded Sundown is a mixed bag. It has some strong positive attributes, but also has some things about it that keep it from being awesome. It's hard to categorize it as well, since it's not really a remake in the general sense. Rather, it's more of a pseudo-sequel, if that makes any kind of sense. I'll just leave it at that though; the less you know, the better.

On the positive side, it's visually impressive. Director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, who cut his teeth directing television shows like Glee and AHS, offers up some really outstanding visuals, some solid camera work, and a sleek visual aesthetic that's sorely missing from new horror films these days. On the flipside though, you can tell he's done nothing but television work up until now as the camera is constantly moving. Not in the shaky-cam sense, but in the continuously flowing steadicam movements kinda way. I can't remember a single moment when the camera was not swooshing from one side to the other, or traveling on a steadicam rig. While a lot of the shots are pretty great, the constant movement of the camera proved to be a bit jarring from time to time.

Another plus is the cast. While not really casting that will knock your socks off, it's pretty solid overall. The effects work is also pretty impressive, of what little you get to see. My issues with the film in general come from a few angles. For one, the film is a tad too slow for it's own good. While mostly engaging, it slows down considerably in the midsection, and for a film that plays out more like a thriller rather than a flat out horror film, you need to keep the film moving at a brisker pace if you're going to excise over-the-top gore and scares. My only other real issue would be the constant camera movement, but you already know about that.

Not a bad film by any means, it's just too slow for my taste. I'm glad I saw it. It's very well made, with a strong visual aesthetic, but I'll probably never see it again. I can tell you one thing though, I'll take this one over the original any day.


Mail Call: Tron Japan Laserdisc

While I do some catching up on some reviews, I thought I'd share a post from my other site, Robo-Bit, in regards to a badass Laserdisc I recently scored. 

Recent awesome eBay score for me. I love Tron, probably more so than most of the die hard fans out there. There's just something about this original film that has always stuck with me. It's part nostalgia, but it's also a pretty damn great movie, and most importantly, waaaaaay ahead of it's time.

Sure it was a flop way back in 1982, because nobody had a computer, and nobody knew what the hell was going on. All that computer lingo was so foreign to everyone that it just sort of turned them all off. Today it's easily regarded as a groundbreaking film in the field of computer animation, even if they effects seem juvenile by today's standards. But that's why it's so damn charming. I love the effects work, and the whole look of this simple computer world.

Tron has and will always remain a classic. Today, it's probably more retro cool to love it more than any other.


Rambo III

Directed by: Peter MacDonald
Category: Action

I'm not sure why I've always dismissed this film. Seriously, it's taken me nearly 30 years to revisit this one and it's only because a fellow filmgeek encouraged me to do so. I think a lot of it has to do with it's reputation in general. We all know by now that it was a flop at the box office, and we all know by now that it had largely to do with just bad timing in general, with the story revolving primarily around Afghanistan and the fact that we were having some stuff going on back then in 1988 just didn't make for a pleasant reception. So even though I've owned the 3 film boxset for years, I never thought twice about watching Part III. But an Instagram buddy, who essentially shares the same tastes in films as I do, suggested that I give it another shot. Saying that I would be pleasantly surprised.....and he was right.

My initial feelings while watching this were how insanely badass this film was, and afterwards how much of an idiot I was for neglecting it all these years. Rambo III is undoubtedly one of the best examples of cheesy '80's action cinema, and a prime example of Badass Cinema. So much of this film is just spot on in terms of hitting all the right notes in what makes an action film badass and memorable, and while I'm sure the intent wasn't for it to be cheesy by any means, the result is that it is in fact cheesy, but in the best and most entertainingly possible way.

Second Unit Director Peter MacDonald (Batman, Rambo II) takes the reigns of first time director on this film, with Stallone and 80's action maestro Sheldon Lettich (Lionheart, Double Impact, Bloodsport) on writing duties. MacDonald, who cut his teeth on many an action film before and after this does an outstanding job on both a technical and visual level. It's hard to imagine how you can make a film stylish when most of it takes place in the Afghan desert, but he succeeds full-heartedly in that respect. This film looks amazing, and it's a testament to some top-notch choreography, camera work, and visual brilliance that makes it so aesthetically awesome. Yet, at the same time, it also carries a bit of a cheesy action vibe. It's really hard to pinpoint how or in what way, but it's just a simple fact, and in no way should the term "cheesy" be taken as a derogatory term in regards to this film. No sir. It's actually quite a breath of fresh air, because it works splendidly.

Speaking of cheesy, a good chunk of that can be credited to Stallone's and Lettich's script. While it is in fact meant to be taken as a serious action pic, and for the majority of it's running time, it is, there are so many insanely cheesy one-liners and quips that you just can't help but laugh at the audacity of these guys. I'm sure Stallone is responsible for those, as they are meant to make his Rambo character sound cool, but they just come so far out of left field that you are kind of taken aback when he snarkily replies with some smart-ass remark, even when he's facing certain death. Well done Mr. Stallone. Well done sir.

It's rare when I watch a film and feel the need to immediately sit down in front of my computer and throw down some words on what I've just experienced, but that's exactly what I felt when I finished this film, which happened literally just 5 minutes ago. I just couldn't get over how insanely badass this film was from start to finish, and I feel I need to let others in on this little secret, because from my point of view, it deserves a far bigger reputation than it currently has. It's pure 80's action gold, and I just couldn't put it any other way.

Even if you haven't seen the film, surely you know the story by now. Rambo is living a life of seclusion in Afghanistan (not sure why), and is asked to help on a mission by none other than Robocop bad guy Kurtwood Smith. When he refuses, his old commander, Col. Trautman does the job instead, getting captured in the process. So Rambo feels he's got no choice but to rescue his old commander and friend. And that's essentially the story in a nutshell. I know they try and show the plight of the Afghan people in this, but I'm more interested in the rescue storyline, and it's a pretty straight-forward one. 

Rambo III
is a technical marvel. The stuntwork in nearly every action sequence is awe-inspiring, with Stallone himself doing so much of the work himself that you start to wonder how the insurance company ever allowed it. I'm not talking just running away from explosions, which has been his forte in almost every action film. I'm talking about some seriously dangerous stuff on horses, helicopters, ropes, rocks, mountains, tanks, you name it. And it's clearly him; no CGI super-imposed face over a stuntman's body. This was 1988 after all. But insane stuntwork is all over this thing, not just with Stallone, and so much of it is over the top, which just feeds into it's excellent 80's vibe. For example, Rambo is fighting with a huge Russian on top of a mountain, right next to a hole he just crawled out of at the top that feeds into a huge cave inside the mountain. As they fight, Rambo manages to engage two grenades attached to the Russian's gear, then wraps a rope around his neck and throws him down the hole. As the Russian falls, he breaks his neck when the rope reaches it's full length. A split second later, the grenades go off, and even though he just died a second ago by having his neck snapped, his body explodes in a firey ball of blood and fire. Awesome. Rambo III is filled with over the top moments like this, and it's spectacular.

It's interesting to read on all the drama going on behind the scenes in this particular entry in the long and successful franchise. After two back to back flops with Cobra (I still can't believe that) and Over the Top, he needed a hit. And what better idea than to make another Rambo film, considering Rambo II was a huge box office juggernaut 3 years earlier. Yet there are reports that the films original director, Russell Mulcahey (Highlander, Razorback) left after 2 weeks over creative differences, as well as 3 different Cinematographers. Though you'd never know it. The film has a consistent visual aesthetic, and for an action film, it's very slick. Aside from it's awesome action and stuntwork, I think that's one of the biggest things I noticed immediately; how slick it all looked, even during the insane action sequences. It was also the most expensive movie ever made at the time. Not sure if that was the budget right from the start, or if it went over-budget due to problems, but all that money's on the screen and it looks amazing.

Rambo III surprised me at almost every level. It's an exceptional piece of Badass Cinema, and excellent example of what the 80's had to offer in the action genre. I'm shocked and pissed at myself for waiting so long to revisit this, or that it took someone to push me to do it. Don't be like me. If you love 80's action, give this another watch. You'll be glad you did.



Directed by: David A. Prior
Category: Action

Felony is a DTV flick written and directed by Deadly Prey legend David A. Prior, and starring a pretty incredible cast if you ask me. I'd never actually heard of this film before, which isn't a total surprise considering how many of these low-budget Z Grade films are released every year. But when the fine folks over at Comeuppance Reviews recently did a review on this and I saw all the talent involved, I jumped right in.

Man, I don't even know where to start with this one. I really don't. I guess I should start off by saying that this was just flat-out terrible in almost every way imaginable. But on the flipside, I found it so terrible that I enjoyed every minute of it, because I'm a huge sucker for bad movies.....and this one is pretty bad folks.

You'd think that with as many films as David A. Prior has made, he would have learned something by now about filmmaking in general. But no, here we are, with a film released in 1994, 24 films after the release of his first film Sledgehammer, and the this film looks and feels like something a first timer made. But before I get into all that, let's begin with the cast, which itself is an odd mix of well-known's and quite frankly a strange mix. First off, the star of this action film is none other than Jeffrey Combs (Re-Animator)....yes, that Jeffrey Combs. You'd never guess it since he's not even on the actual cover, but it's true. On the cover is of course Lance Henriksen, who stars as a very bad CIA agent, so he's the bad guy, not the star like the cover you leads you to believe. And Leo Rossi (Maniac Cop 2, Halloween II) is also on the cover, but he's just a cop in the film, and nowhere near one of the leads. I guess the studio didn't think Combs would be passable as an action star so they threw Lance on the cover to sell it? Perhaps. Funny thing is that Lance doesn't even look like this in the film. He never wears a suit, and his hair is black, not blonde. So......clearly some stock photo from somewhere else. But one things painfully apparent, Combs is no action star. Don't get me wrong, I love the guy. I mean, he's fucking Dr. Herbert West for christ's sake. But as an action star, he just don't fly. He's 100% unbelievable in the role.....so much so that it's painful to watch sometimes and horribly miscast. He tries his hardest though, so I gotta give the guy props for giving his all.

Image courtesy of Alcohollywood.com
The rest of the cast is bizarre to say the least. Ashley Laurence of Hellraiser 1 & 2 fame stars as a sympathetic nurse, with a who's who of regulars who round out the cast such as Joe Don Baker, Charles Napier, a gum-smacking and annoying David Warner (Tron) as a hitman, and even six time Miss Olympia Cory Everson, who's just severely wasted in this as nothing more than arm candy for Lance Henriksen. All of these people; big actors who have done some great things, yet somehow all converged to participate in this film based simply on the script. I just don't get it. Above all, practically everyone in this film is terribly miscast.

Every aspect of this film is lazy beyond comprehension. After 5 minutes, I knew exactly what kind of film experience I was in for. It's almost as if everything is completely half-assed. Like, Prior writes and shoots a scene without any thought to logic or believability. Scenes run awkwardly and painfully too  long, the dialogue is just flat-out awful and hilarious, the puns and one-liners are just so damn painful, and worst of all, there's just no sense of logic to anything. How the cast read this script and agreed to star in it is beyond me. And there's just so much wrong with this film on a technical level. The editing, the uninspired camerawork, lazy performances, and incomprehensible dialogue all make this quite an experience.

Here's a few examples:
- There's a scene where Bill Knight (Jeffrey Combs) - the real star of the film, has run back home after being attacked by hitmen, where he narrowly escapes. Of course while he's home they follow him there, and so he takes off.....naturally. Only, instead of running out the back door or maybe even possibly hiding in an area of his own house he knows they can't find him, he decides to run full force through his kitchen window to escape. The fuuuuck? Doing a mid-air flip in the process as he tumbles to the ground and makes his escape yet again. Why would he throw himself through  his own window?

- There's a scene where Laura (Ashley Laurence) is getting ready for bed. She lives alone mind you, and is in her short satin robe putting makeup on in the bathroom. Huh?? Why is she putting makeup on if she's getting ready for bed.....alone?

- There are 3 different scenes where, for absolutely no apparent reason, there is a huge car crash where a car will literally go flying through the air. For example, a guy, who up until this point was just a regular television camera operator, is being pursued by some hitmen who are after a video tape he has. So as he's attempting to flee, he suddenly decides to pull out a gun and shoot some random driver who passes by, to create a diversion, and the guy dies with his car going flying (somehow) through the air landing on another vehicle before they burst into a huge fireball. So now suddenly he's a murderer? Oh, and as he's fleeing, apparently nobody else on the street of at least a dozen people noticed this car crash, or the fact that he just murdered someone in broad daylight.

- These hitmen that keep going after everyone apparently can run around the city with their guns drawn shooting randomly and nobody on the street seems to ever notice or care.

- A cab driver is transporting his customer (Jeffrey Combs) as the hitman (David Warner) pulls up next to the cab and starts firing at least 6 shots, shattering windows and hitting the doors of the moving cab. Through all of this, again at least 6 shots or more, the cab driver doesn't even notice his car is being riddled with bullets, that is until he gets shot and dies of course.

- Early in the film, Bill (Combs) is shot in the right arm, essentially leaving his arm useless. Then later in the film he gets his left hand shot, making his left hand useless. Then miraculously his right arm is well enough to do all the running and jumping and climbing and shooting that is required of an action star. All within the span of a day.

Image courtesy of davidwarnerfilm.co.uk
Absolutely nothing in this film is plausible, which of course makes it so much fun. Yes, despite all my complaints, I really enjoyed this film because of how terrible and ridiculous it was. It was entertaining to say the least. and for that, Felony gets a passing grade. I just couldn't stop laughing or yelling "Oh come on!" at the screen. Then ending.....holy shit that ending. I thought I had seen it all in this film until that "you've got to be fucking kidding me" ending. If you thought anything that happened in the film was so far beyond the reach of reality, then you haven't seen anything until you see the last 20 minutes of this film. Just.....holy shit.

Felony is one great bad fucking movie. Oh, and Ashley Laurence is crazy hot in this.


Dead Snow 2: Red VS Dead

Directed by: Tommy Mirkola
Category: Horror

Thanks to Netflix finally offering this on their streaming service, I was able to check out the sequel to the now cult classic Dead Snow. What's more, the original star, writer and director have all returned to give us another go at some Nazi Zombie's. This time around, star Vegar Hoel, who is great by the way, contributes to the films script, along with the originals director Tommy Mirkola, and screenwriter Stig Frode Henriksen, who also plays a goth in this film.

So let's get down to it. Dead Snow 2: Red VS Dead is a helluva ridiculous fun ride. It's apparent nearly right from the beginning that they owe a lot of debt to Evil Dead 2, and as such, it carries a certain tribute to that particular film in it's execution and tone. When this finally hit streaming a short while ago, every review I read was essentially the same, that it was batshit crazy, fun, and much more insane and gorier than the first. That's all true. Yet, despite all this, I still find myself enjoying the first one more. I liked the buildup to the crazy as hell final act of the original, compared to the balls out insane pace from start to finish of this one. Don't get me wrong, this film is awesome and fun, but it's also not nearly as badass as I was hoping for. At times it felt a bit lagging. Lagging in what? I have no idea. It just didn't seem to flow as great or as effortlessly as it should have for the most part. And Tommy Mirkola's usual visual flair seemed to be tightly restrained this time around, which is surprising as he's quickly become one of the better visual horror directors out there. If the original Dead Snow proved anything, it was that while he was clearly influenced by Sam Raimi, he could certainly put a little spin on it and create his own specific style. Yet here, I was surprised to find a more restrained approach. Surely I would have expected some more of a kinetic vibe, but alas, that was not to be.

The gore content is considerable, as expected. The acting is much better than I was expecting to be honest. And the inclusion of American geeks into the story was somewhat surprising, but you know, it is what it is. You'll enjoy it, as did I. It didn't blow me away as much as I was  hoping, but for an all-out gorefest about Nazi Zombies, it's an entertaining ride.


Samurai Cop 2 Trailer is up!

If you're as big a fan of the terribly awesome Samurai Cop as I am, then you were more than tickled pink to learn that a Kickstarter campaign was started to help fund a sequel to the now legendary So Bad It's Good classic from 1991. Seriously, Samurai Cop is that fucking good and easily one of the best Bad Movies ever made.

But then when I started thinking about it and letting the idea of a sequel brew in my brain for a bit, I started to wonder if that was such a good idea after all. Let's face it, the original was awesome because the writer/director tried his damn hardest to make a legitimate kung fu action film, and the only reason it's as successful as it is in the first place is because he was completely inept in making that happen. Everything about that film is terrible; the acting, the dialogue, the editing, the directing, the fight sequences, the humor....basically every single aspect of the film in general. And of course, that's what makes it so great, especially with a group of friends.

The writer/director of the first film, Amir Shervan, has since passed away sadly, so a new team has come in to continue the Samurai Cop legacy, led by prolific producer and sometime director Gregory Hatanaka and writer Rich Mallery. When the filmmakers unleashed the first official trailer a few weeks back, my initial feelings remain about the same. My thing is that the filmmakers know that the original is great because the guy who made it didn't know what he was doing. Trying to duplicate that same inept vibe can be difficult, and the worst thing they could do is make it feel forced. I don't know, I'm still a little on the fence about this. First of all, it looks insane. Somehow they've worked a sci-fi angle into the story, and the majority of what we see in the trailer looks to take place on a space ship? And the use of the 2001 theme song threw me off immediately. It's great to see the two original leads return, and well, Tommy Wiseau as the villain is honestly just brilliant casting. So in the least, I hope it's entertaining, because it looks like it......so far. But you decide.

Ultimately everything about this is on purpose, and that's what worries me. But hey, that's just me. If the film is silly, ridiculous over-the-top fun, then maybe it'll be great in a different kind of way as opposed to the first one being so incredible simply because the filmmaker was terrible at it. I'll admit, Samurai Cop 2 definitely looks pretty. It's apparent that director Hatanaka handles vivid colors and cinematography well, so the film looks pretty cool aesthetically. I just hope the film can deliver.



Directed by: Kevin Smith
Category: Horror

Let's just get right down to it; you're either gonna love Tusk, or you're gonna hate it. It's just that simple. Tusk is one of those rare films that come out every so often and divides filmgoers right down the center....and for good reason. I'll just come right out with it. Personally, I didn't enjoy this, and for a number of reasons.

So, let me begin by saying that I was in fact very excited about this release. Though it didn't hit any of my local cinema's, I waited in high anticipation for the moment when it would eventually hit DVD and Blu ray. You see, Kevin Smith is a very particular type of filmmaker, and much like Tusk, you either enjoy his type of films or you don't. For the most part, I enjoy them. While not every film of his is a slam-dunk, the few that do work work effectively well, thus cementing his cult status as a hip indie director with a sharp wit, that's easily translated through to his dialogue in all his films. But then out of nowhere he comes out with Red State, his first horror film, and it literally blew me away. Not only was it much better than I could ever have expected, but it was also nothing like what I could have expected. No one could ever claim that Smith is a stylish director. He films everything pretty straight-forward, with no real eye for style or detail, yet not one single time during Red State did I ever think to remember that I was watching a Kevin Smith film. I'm sure the look of it had a lot to do with his DoP, but holy shit man, that film was stylin' to the max with some stellar camerawork.

So yea, I was excited at the prospect of another Smith horror film. Warning: Spoilers Ahead. Tusk is one seriously weird and fucked up movie. Now, I love weird and fucked up as much as the next guy, or maybe more so, but this one was just too weird for my taste, because it wasn't weird in a good way. It felt like he wasn't sure what tone he wanted to pursue. Sometimes it's a little light and funny, sometimes it's a little serious, and sometimes it's a little dark. But through it all, it's uncomfortable. Smith puts his characters through situations that make you cringe for sure, but in this particular case, his main protagonist, is just pretty much a dick of a human being. The way he interacts with every single other character in the film makes you realize that there are indeed assholes like this guy in real life. Viewing awkward after awkward exchange between Wallace (Justin Long) and basically any other character proves to be too much at times as his brash and sarcastic nature makes you wish horrible things upon him.....which is what ultimately happens.

He's a horrible human being, but that's not really what bothered me. He's a dick and makes his living off of being a dick to everyone, and he gets what's coming to him in more ways than one in the end. But the film as a whole is so uneven that I could never figure out what type of film it was trying to be. This is made all the more apparent when the retired detective character shows up halfway through the film. It's such a drastically different character from anyone else on screen, and such a caricature that it's almost as if he came right out of a Pink Panther film. It's at this point where the film takes yet another shift in tone and believe it or not, makes the film about 10 times weirder than it already was.

But being as it's being sold and marketed as a horror film, you naturally expect a bit of gore with your horror, but we don't get any of that here, which is a shame. Sure there's a good amount of makeup effects work from Robert Kurtzman, but when it comes to actual gore, there's not much here.

We all know the story by now right? Guy gets duped into an interview in Canada by a strange older fella, then gets turned into a walrus. Weird. But, I find that intriguing, because it's so far fucking out there that the possibilities are endless. I was really looking forward to this one, but when it was all over, instead of having a sensation of "That was awesome!", or "That was insane!", or "That was intense!", or "That was so fucked up and I loved it!", our immediate reaction afterwards was "That was weeeiiird".

I would never classify this as a straight up horror film, because most will undoubtedly walk away severely disappointed. I think I'd call it experimental horror, just to warn anyone who might be misled. It's weird and uncomfortable, with no real standard horror elements at play.


VHS Review: Strike Commando

Strike Commando Avid Home Entertainment VHS Slip

Directed by: Bruno Mattei
Category: Italian Trash

Strike Commando is what you get when you combine an International cast, an Italian production, literally steal characters and scenes from First Blood: Rambo Part 2, cast Reb Brown in the lead, incorporate real Vietnam War footage as filler, and mix it all together. The result? Fucking glorious.

This film has been following me for years now. It's apparently on a lot of "Must See" lists of Bad Movies, and while I actually grabbed a VHS of this on eBay years ago, I never actually sat down to watch it. As we have started screening Bad Movie Night's at our place recently, I felt it was as good a time as any to finally check this out and see if it was Bad Movie Night worthy, because we're always on the lookout. You never know, I may have had a gem sitting on my shelf all along and never knew it.

Well, as it turns out, I did in fact possess a hidden gem among my collection of VHS tapes, and Strike Commando easily ranks as one of the best low-budget Italian ripoffs I've ever seen. Not only is it a great addition to any Bad Movie Night, It's also a really badass action flick in it's own right. So right there it can work as either an excellent piece of Badass Cinema, or as an awesome addition to your Bad Movie collection. Either way, you're going to have a helluva fun time with this one.

Legendary Italian Schlock writer/director Bruno Mattei made this film in 1987, the same year he made a total of 5 films, and a year before he re-teamed for the now legendary Predator/Robocop ripoff Robowar. This guy is prolific to say the least, averaging anywhere from 2 - 5 films a year in all different genre's. With that being said, let's just say each film varies significantly in quality and entertainment value. Yet, in his massive filmography, he has quite a few notable standouts, chief among them the excellent Robowar, as well as Strike Commando and the Terminator ripoff Shocking Dark.

If you know anything about Italian Trash Cinema, then you know essentially back in the 80's they would just steal whatever big Hollywood film is currently lighting up silver screens - sometimes combining 2-3 for a single film - and make a low-budget version of it, in some cases, stealing direct characters and scenes right out of the films that inspired their low-budget version. More times than not, it's quite hilarious, which makes them so great, and Strike Commando is no exception. You'll literally be shocked at how blatantly they steal Rambo II scene for scene, and the results are both hilarious and awesome.

Here's the thing, while writer/director Bruno Mattei - using the pseudonym Vincent Dawn - is not an original director by any stretch of the imagination, when it comes down to it, the guy can film action rather well.......for a low-budget movie. So when you go in expecting gawd-awful visuals to go along with the insanely unoriginal story and script, you're more than shocked to find a film that's pretty badass in it's own right. That's not an easy thing to do my friends, yet Mattei and company pull it off rather well. So much so in fact that while you could easily classify this as a Bad Movie of the highest degree, this would also make excellent viewing material for a Badass Cinema Night, because it is quite awesome. There is a ton of action, exploding huts, fights, Oscar worthy speeches (kidding), and endless scenes of Reb Brown screaming hysterically as he shoots his machine gun. It's all gold.

Do yourself a favor, and track this baby down as soon as you can. While the first 20-30 minutes don't really offer anything in the way of excitement, the film really begins to take shape shortly thereafter and well, let me just say the second half of this just plain fucking rules, down to the very last frame of film.

File this under: Badass Cinema


French Horror: Frontier(s)

Directed by: Xavier Gens
Category: Horror

French horror is quickly starting to become one of my favorite horror genre's. While I haven't seen a lot of horror films from over there, the few I have seen are quite awesome. It seems they have a specific way of making films. A specific style and aesthetic, and the gore content doesn't seem to be as frowned upon by the MPAA over there as it is here. So in that regard, I've noticed French horror films are much more gorier than anything we see down here in the states.

I honestly knew nothing about this going in, which is sometimes the best way to go. I was told that the guy who did this also did one of the segments on ABC's of Death, the one where the overweight woman cuts off fat from her body to look thin. That....was such a graphic segment that I knew I'd be in for a treat.........and I was.

Minor Spoilers Ahead:
Frontier(s) as a total surprise. Not knowing what "type" of horror film to expect lends itself to a vast array of possibilities. Ultimately, I felt like this film played out more like a French version of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre more than anything, which was a total surprise. I won't get anymore into it, as you should experience it as blindly as possible, as I did. END SPOILERS

The gore is insane, and the films pace and vibe is intense, making for a truly unrelenting experience. This film went places I never saw coming, and for that, it's easily one of the better horror films I've seen in a while, not just in the French Horror genre, but from anywhere really. It's gritty atmosphere, coupled with writer/director Xavier Gens' raw visuals gives the film an air of constant dread.

I should note that the girl you see on most of the poster art is not the star of the film, the I did find one with the real lead of the film for this post. The real star of Frontier(s) is Karina Testa and she's magnificent. Watching what she has to endure both physically and emotionally as the film progresses is gut-wrenching. She is easily the driving force behind what makes a lot of this film so great and if Frontier(s) didn't have her intense and raw acting abilities behind it, it wouldn't have been half as successful as it is.

While not quite on par with the excellent and unrelenting Martyrs or Inside, this one sits more closely with High Tension, another excellent French Horror film, until the ridiculous twist ending. Absolutely worth a rental or purchase, and one of the more surprising horror films I've seen in a long while.


Innocent Blood

Directed by: John Landis
Category: Horror/Comedy

For some strange reason, John Landis's Innocent Blood is quite obscure. Nobody ever talks about it, and it's not a fairly easy film to come by. I had come across the Laserdisc some time back, and since it was cheap, figured "what the hell?". It had been ages since I saw it and I remember nothing about it. I did some quick searches for reviews and the majority of them were overwhelmingly positive, so I was excited to throw this bit of 90's horror nostalgia in the ol' Laserdisc player.

I had zero expectations going in, just that I had hoped that Landis would deliver. I mean, the guy is responsible for some really great pieces of cinema. With films like An American Werewolf in London, Animal House, The Blues Brothers, Three Amigos!, Trading Places, Thriller, Spies Like Us, Coming to America, it's hard to see how the guy can fail. Yet......he has.....repeatedly. Let's just say the early 90's was the last time he gave us a decent film, even though he's been working regularly since then. Looking back on his filmography, I'd have to say Innocent Blood is his last great film, and yes.......it's pretty great.

I can see how or why this didn't do so well upon it's initial release. It's a strange mix of genre's for sure, so I doubt the studio knew how to market the thing for mass appeal. It's essentially a horror film, a tongue-in-cheek comedy, a romantic comedy, an Italian mobster film, and a cop thriller all mixed into one insanely entertaining flick. That's not an easy thing to do, yet Landis and writer Michael Wolk do just that. I'll admit, the first 15 minutes had me a bit worried. It didn't start off how I was expecting it to, and it seemed like things were taking a bit too long to get going, but it was just a setup really. All these different genre's come into play, and you're kind of thrown for a loop thinking "how can they pull this off?". But they do my friends. Surprisingly, they all blend together perfectly for a film that defies categorization, with some clever writing, some solid direction from Landis, and an incredible cast to boot.

Anne Parillaud (La Femme Nikita) stars in the title role, and is just excellent. Cute, adorable, and sexy as hell, yet lethal, cunning and dangerous all at once. We also have a cast of Italian mobster "regulars", the same guys who play the same roles in every mob movie ever made, but it's Robert Loggia who steals the fucking show in this. If you love the guy when he's in crazy angry mode a la David Lynch's excellent Mulhallond Dr., then you'll love him even more in this because here, he's Robert Loggia turned up to 11, and it's glorious. I've seen him angry in plenty of films, but I have never seen him more animated, more absurd, and more menacing than he was in this. Loggia steals the fucking show. And of course, what movie would be complete without Landis throwing in as many cameo's as possible. Only true cinephiles will catch them, but they're there. Tom Savini, Dario Argento, Frank Oz, and Sam Raimi are all here, as well as a few other notables in the business.

I was quite shocked to learn a few things about this production afterwards. (1), that Landis didn't write the thing himself as it carries a lot of his specific style of horror and comedy mixed together. And (2), that he wasn't even initially set to direct. Jack Sholder (A Nightmare on Elm St. 2, The Hidden) originally had the gig, with Lara Flynn Boyle starring in the role of Marie, and Dennis Hopper in Robert Loggia's main villain role. While I could definitely see those two in the lead roles, I'm glad Landis chose who he did because they're pretty great. I would have loved to see what Sholder would have come up with, I'm not sure how well he could have handled the romantic comedy aspects of the story. I think Landis was a very wise choice in the end and he knocked Innocent Blood out of the park.

From what I understand, shockingly, Laserdisc is the only way you can see this film in widescreen. The only DVD release, which was back in 2004, is in dreaded full frame, with no special features. Such a travesty. Laserdisc seems to be the only way to go if you really want to enjoy Landis' full aspect ratio, which you can get surprisingly cheap on eBay. Just make sure you inquire whether it's in widescreen or not before buying.

Innocent Blood has everything you want in a horror comedy. Great visuals, stellar cast, excellent make-up effects, and an insanely infectious vibe that entertains from beginning to end. If you haven't seen this in a while, or ever, then you should get on that immediately.