Wednesday, March 31

New Weekly Poll...of terror: The Obvious Question...

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Even though this has been one of the hottest questions spanning all of horrordom for months, I'm curious what BoGD's meager readership think of Jackie Earle Haley taking the reins as Freddy Krueger. By the picture to your left, my stance is obvious. Robert Englund is Fred Krueger and will forever be the '80s horror icon. It seems Englund is okay with a new actor slipping into his knifed leather glove, but that doesn't make the situation any less of a fresh load of bullshit. It just doesn't make any sense to this uneducated horror blogger. Horror fans want Englund and average moviegoers probably haven't seen any of the original series with their only exposure being Freddy vs. Jason. Yes, Freddy was his usual one liners shot from the hip-self in that ultimately so-so wet dream mash-up, but said movie-goer isn't going to equate Englund with a "jokester" rendition of the character. They probably have the perception of the old films or at least Freddy in general being a frightening guy much like Jason or Leatherface irrespective of the man behind the mask.

Saying this, one could then say it doesn't matter who plays Freddy, but why not go with the man who can play the character in his sleep? Sure, Englund is getting up there in age, but Haley isn't a spring chicken. Krueger isn't known for big top acrobatics as he's slicing up Elm Street's hapless next youth generation anyway. Englund is an actor with underappreciated range, much like Haley, but you can't tell me you wouldn't relish the chance to see the man who is synonymous with Freddy re-interpret the core of the character--new make-up or not. I'm sure Englund would have gave it his all, like a damn swan song, and created a stir with longtime fans and critics alike. Yet no, we won't have that experience. I also vaguely remember a big horror news site making the editorial argument that every generation "re-imagines" endearing horror mainstays, like the ever-reoccurring golden age monsters of Universal Studios. Freddy Krueger is a bit different, being ingrained with such a high percentage of what Englund has crafted from his trademark voice to mannerisms, it's damn near impossible to make such an argument. Not to mention Englund still being very much alive and active as an actor. So why fucking not? Right?

Perhaps Haley will rain down the undead serial child rapist/killer who looks like a turtle domination on us all? Though given the fleeting, Bay trampstamped nature of these recent big horror franchise updates (what happened in the last Friday the 13th again?), it's not hard to figure Haley probably doing a couple Nightmares to diminishing returns while fading off into other genres for "real" fame and fortune. Yet, Englund has stayed with the genre and its slavish fans that made him what he is today. Fat chance of seeing Haley running the horror convention circuit for the sake of the franchise's fans in fifteen years...
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Tuesday, March 30

Truth or Dare: A Critical Madness - Custom Mike Action Figure

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Found this over at the One Sixth Warrior forum, certainly a horror custom you don't see everyday! The film is finally being re-released on DVD on June 29th with the extras of the previous out of print and insanely expensive Sub Rosa disc (studio link here). In the trailer below the mental patient that sticks a grenade in his mouth is Killing Spree's Asbestos Felt.


My First SECAM Format Tape Has Arrived!

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Happens to be my favorite Jean Rollin film, even though the cover bites off key art for Mario Bava's Twitch of the Death Nerve (seen here). Visit Fascination: The Jean Rollin Experience for a full scan of the cover.

Monday, March 29

$20 Wal Mart Horror Blu-ray Double Packs

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I just spotted Carrie/Child's Play, The Ninth Gate/See No Evil, The Silence of the Lambs/Mr. Brooks, Saw/Saw II, and Predator/Commando 20th Century Fox double feature Blu-ray packs for only $20 a pop at the Great Retail Satan. These aren't stripped down versions; just the normal existing editions shrink-wrapped back-to-back. Pretty cheap considering these where $25-$35 a piece a few months ago. I picked up Carrie and Child's Play since former looks decent yet bareboned while the latter looks great and is extra feature packed. Also for some reason Child's Play has the identical special feature-wise 20th Anniversary DVD included as well. Concerning the others, The Ninth Gate's transfer has been grain-scrubbed, The Silence of the Lambs could definitely look better, and Saw is extra-less. Also picked up the DVDs of Savini's Night of the Living Dead and a quad-feature pack of Pumpkinhead 2/Leprechaun/Wishmaster 1 & 2 for just $5 a piece....and some detergent.

The List of Horror, Cult, and Exploitation Movies "Enhanced" by VHS, Please Participate!

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With the end of BoGD's first weekly poll concerning VHS (new poll question Wednesday!), I started thinking about a participatory feature that would nicely fit the usual content of this blog. A kind of thing that could run the course of this blog with everyone welcome to add suggestions. Over the past few days I've taken in two horror classics, Dawn of the Dead and A Nightmare on Elm Street, in their original home debuts on the near universally discarded video tape format. This is one of the real pleasures of reliving VHS besides collecting for fun and profit. There's just certain horror movies and even certain tape releases of horror movies that really do make the experience something special. Almost something akin to a rekindling of what made you endeared to the given movie or your obsession with the genre in the first place.

Perhaps this feeling is buried in Horror being at its mainstream peak just as the explosion known as video rental first overtook the consumer market. There's a history and linage within these clunky plastic boxes that most dump off for the trash and completely forget the titanic shift of freedom they represented. The Horror genre was integral in helping in the format's breakthrough, much like the genre's "re-boom" on DVD, striving hand-and-hand with porno. Okay, maybe I'm going overboard, but there is a distinct magic one sometimes senses while in the middle of watching a tape. This vibe seems mostly unique to horror flicks, but it can bleed into various forms of exploitation and '80s action. Sadly, it's also lost in these digital days, and burning you fingertips to a freshly ripped open bag of popcorn just isn't the same without a VCR's quiet mechanical hum in the background.

You don't receive this mojo every time a tape noisily clangs into your VCR. It's not a guarantee and if present seems to only strengthen if the particular movie is good. And of course I'm not ragging on the many virtues of digital media; anyone who has been following this blog for any period of time knows I'm one to sing the praises of good picture and sound quality on DVD and Blu-ray. Still, they just aren't the same, and the hazy allure of VHS terrors goes beyond mere nostalgia. So I wanted to compile a list of select horror and exploitation that captures this feeling within their magnetic tape spools as a way of advice to fellow tapeheads and for those wondering what the hell I'm babbling about.

I've dug through my collection and looked back at viewings I've remembered possessing the right mix of bristling edges, soupy blackness, print flecks, and so-so sound to create a perfect lo-fi experience. The list below is just to start with and anyone is free to contribute titles. I do have some guidelines though to keep things within the tolerances of VHS's glory days. First, the cut-off point for both film and VHS (and Betamax) release acceptance into the list is 1995. This avoids joint DVD/VHS releases, you know, including The Sixth Sense below just ain't right, and also much the rush of cheap, really shitty EP-speed tapes that appeared in the final years of analog videos. There is no cut-off for films and tapes prior to 1995, anything from any country all the way back to the dawn of cinema, so long as it's horror, cult, or exploitation. Though I imagine the '80s will be the predominate decade. Every listing will mention title, year, and if possible the studio/year the tape was released. I'll be periodically contributing and you can too through the comments section. Just post your contributions and they will be added in alphabetical order. The titles/tapes listing is open to selections outside of America as well. If this feature gets a decent enough turnout I'll make up a permanent picture link in the right sidebar and every so often mention the list for new contributions. I'd like this to be fun and a little unique, so if you have any memories of certain cherished tape viewings or still like to re-visit certain genre flicks on tape, please participate!

  • 976-EVIL (1988) (RCA/Columbia Home Video)
  • April Fool's Day (1986) (Paramount Home Video)
  • Attack of the Beast Creatures (1985) (World Video Pictures)
  • Bad Taste (1987) (Magnum Entertainment)
  • Basket Case (1982) (Media Home Entertainment)
  • Blood Cult (1985) (United Home Video)
  • Blood Diner (1987) (Vestron Video)
  • Blood Rage (1987) (Prism Entertainment)
  • Blood Salvage (1990) (Magnum Entertainment)
  • Blood Stalkers (1978) (Vidmark Entertainment)
  • Bloodsucking Freaks (1976) (Vestron Video)
  • Bloodsucking Pharaohs in Pittsburgh (1991) (Paramount Home Video)
  • Blood Tracks (1985) (Vista Home Video)
  • Bloody Moon (1981) (Trans World Entertainment)
  • Burning, The (1981) (Thorn EMI)
  • Chopping Mall (1986) (Lightning Video)
  • Coffin Joe: At Midnight I'll Take Your Soul (1964) (Something Weird Video)
  • Coffin Joe: This Night I'll Possess Your Corpse (1967) (Something Weird Video)
  • Company Of Wolves, The (1985) (Vestron Video)
  • Creepers (Phenomena, 1985) (Embassy Home Entertainment)
  • Cutting Class (1989) (Republic Pictures)
  • Dawn of the Dead (1978) (Thorn EMI, also Republic Pictures)
  • Dead Alive (1992) (Vidmark Entertainment)
  • Death Race 2000 (1975) (WCI Home Video)
  • Death Spa (1988) (Gorgon/MPI Home Video)
  • Demons (1985) (New World Pictures)
  • Demon, The (1979) (United Home Video)
  • Demon Queen (1986) (MOGUL Video)
  • Doctor Butcher M.D. (Zombie Holocaust, 1980) (Paragon Home Video, also Thriller Video)
  • Don't Look in the Basement (1973) (Gorgon/MPI Home Video)
  • Doom Asylum (1987) (Academy Entertainment)
  • Driller Killer (1979) (Wizard Video)
  • Drive In Massacre (1977) (Magnum Entertainment)
  • Class of Nuke 'Em High (1986) (Media Home Entertainment)
  • Eraserhead (1976) (RCA/Columbia Home Video)
  • Evil Dead, The (1981) (Thorn EMI)
  • Evil Dead II (1987) (Vestron Video)
  • Evil Toons (1992) (Prism Entertainment)
  • Friday the 13th (1980) (Paramount Home Video)
  • Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981) (Paramount Home Video)
  • Friday the 13th Part III (1982) (Paramount Home Video)
  • Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984) (Paramount Home Video)
  • Friday the 13th: A New Beginning (1985) (Paramount Home Video)
  • Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI (1986) (Paramount Home Video)
  • Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988) (Paramount Home Video)
  • Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989) (Paramount Home Video)
  • Fright Night (1985) (RCA/Columbia Home Video)
  • Fright Night Part II (1988) (International Video Entertainment)
  • Gates of Hell, The (1980) (Paragon Home Video)
  • Ghoulies (1985) (Vestron Video)
  • Ghoulies II (1988) (Vestron Video)
  • Ghoulies III: Ghoulies Go to College (1991) (Vestron Video)
  • Hack 'O Lantern (1988) (Legacy Video, also Altas Video as "Halloween Night")
  • Halloween (1978) (Meda/Media Home Entertainment)
  • Halloween II (1981) (MCA/Universal Home Video)
  • Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982) (MCA/Universal Home Video)
  • Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988) (CBS/Fox Home Video)
  • Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989) (CBS/Fox Home Video)
  • Happy Birthday to Me (1981) (RCA/Columbia Pictures Home Video)
  • Hauntedween (1991) (Consumer Video)
  • The Headless Eyes (1971) (Wizard Video)
  • Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II (1987) (Virgin Vision)
  • Hellraiser (1987) (New World Video)
  • Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers (1988) (Camp Motion Pictures)
  • Humanoids From The Deep (1980) (Warner Home Video)
  • Inferno (1980) (Key Video)
  • Intruder (1989) (Paramount Home Video)
  • Ilsa, She-Wolf of the SS (1975) (American Video)
  • I Spit on Your Grave (1978) (Wizard Video)
  • Just Before Dawn (Paragon Home Video)
  • Last House on the Left, The (1972) (Vestron Video)
  • Lunch Meat (1986) (Tapeworm Video)
  • Necropolis: City of the Dead (1987) (Lightning Video)
  • Nightmare on Elm Street, A (1984) (Media Home Entertainment)
  • Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, A (1987) (Media Home Entertainment)
  • Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master, A (1988) (Media Home Entertainment)
  • Nightmare on Elm Street: The Dream Child, A (1989) (Media Home Entertainment)
  • Night of the Comet (1984) (CBS/FOX Home Video)
  • Night of the Creeps (1986) (HBO/Cannon)
  • Night of the Demons (1988) (Republic Home Video)
  • Night of the Living Dead (1968) (various distributors)
  • Nightmare (1981) (Continental Video)
  • Night Warning (1983) (Thorn EMI)
  • Mad Ron's Prevues from Hell (1987) (Off The Wall Video)
  • Make Them Die Slowly (Cannibal Ferox, 1981) (Thriller Video)
  • Maniac (1980) (Media Home Entertainment)
  • Manson (1973) (World Wide Video)
  • Mardi Gras Massacre (1978) (VCII)
  • Monster Club, The (1980) (Thriller Video, Elvira Presents)
  • Monster Dog (1984) (Trans World Entertainment)
  • Munchies (1987) (MGM/UA Home Video)
  • Mutilator, The (1985) (Vestron Video)
  • Parents (1989) (Vestron Video)
  • Penitentiary (1979) (Wizard Video)
  • Pieces (1982) (Vestron Video)
  • Popcorn (1991) (RCA/Columbia Home Video)
  • Possession: Until Death Do You Part (1987) (Marathon Video)
  • The Prowler (1981) (VCII)
  • Puppet Master (1989) (Paramount Home Video)
  • Raw Force (1982) (Media Home Entertainment)
  • Return of the Living Dead, The (1985) (Thorn EMI)
  • Return of the Living Dead Part II, The (1988) (Lorimar Home Video)
  • Ritual of Death (1990) (Complete Entertainment)
  • Rock 'n' Roll Nightmare (1987) (Academy Entertainment)
  • Rocktober Blood (1984) (Vestron Video)
  • Satan's Blade (1984) (MOGUL Video, also Prism Entertainment)
  • Scream Baby Scream (1969) (Regal Video)
  • Slaughter High (1987) (Vestron Video)
  • Slaughterhouse Rock (1988) (Sony Video)
  • Shock 'Em Dead (1991) (Academy Entertainment)
  • Sleepaway Camp (1983) (Media Home Entertainment)
  • Slumber Party Massacre (1982) (Embassy Home Entertainment)
  • Slumber Party Massacre II (1987) (Embassy Home Entertainment)
  • Silent Night, Bloody Night (1974) (Paragon Home Video)
  • Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984) (U.S.A. Home Video)
  • Snuff (1976) (Cult Video)
  • Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama (1988) (Urban Classics)
  • Splatter: Architects of Fear (1986) (North American Video)
  • Spookies (1986) (Sony Video)
  • Street Trash (1987) (Lightning Video)
  • Squirm (1976) (Vestron Video)
  • Terror on Tape (1983) (Continental Video)
  • Terror Train (1980) (CBS/FOX Home Video)
  • TerrorVision (1986) (Lightning Video)
  • Texas Chain Saw Massacre, The (1973) (Wizard Video)
  • Tourist Trap (1979) (Media Home Entertainment)
  • Toxic Avenger, The (1984) (Lightening Video)
  • Trancers (1985) (Vestron Video)
  • Trick or Treat (1986) (Lorimar Home Video)
  • Troll (1986) (Vestron Video)
  • Truth or Dare: A Critical Madness (1986) (Peerless Films)
  • Vengeance (1980) (Magnum Entertainment)
  • Video Dead, The (1987) (Embassy Home Video)
  • Videodrome (1983) (MVA/Universal Home Video)
  • Video Violence... When Renting Is Not Enough. (1987) (Camp Motion Pictures)
  • Video Violence 2 (1987) (Camp Motion Pictures)
  • Waxwork (1988) (Vestron Video)
  • Zombie (1979) (Wizard Video)
  • Zombiethon (1986) (Wizard Video)
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The Upcoming Blu-ray of A Nightmare on Elm Street looks excellent

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After the waxy, digitally noised reduced and overpriced Canadian Blu-ray, judging by this Blu-News.com review New Line's upcoming U.S. high def bow, coming on April 6th, looks a clear step up. Thank you New Line!
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Sunday, March 28

Swap Meet Finds: Today was Mainstream Bootleg and Karate Kid Day!

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Oh how my life is thrill-packed! Heh. Anywho, anyone who is a seasoned swap meet picker is probably quite aware of the following phenomenon. This doesn't happen every time, but there's certain days where you see the same particular yet random things again-and-again. Maybe a movie, book, or something strange like the same portable Technics radio or Dora the Explorer umbrella. Well, today I kept seeing sellers across different swap meets with a variety of bootleg tapes of '90s flicks and the old RCA/Columbia Pictures Home Video tape of The Karate Kid, Part II. Must have seen that one five times today.

The day started off with a bang...sorta. The first tape I found within minutes of the first place was Video Gems's big box of I Dismember Mama (gotta love this trailer). The only problem is that the actual tape is missing with the inner clamshell case having a big Continental Video sticker indicating Class Reunion Massacre. Blah, it was only a buck and I already have both tapes with I Dismember Mama being cut-up. The same guy had the common Anchor Bay Evil Dead 2 clamshell and a beat up Transmutations. Still want to check out the latter since my copy was unplayable with ribbons of mold invading the tape. Finally, the 1992 Columbia/Fangoria Films embarrassment, Severed Ties.

Though in what's the coolest buy of this weekend, I got a binder containing Fangoria #268, 270, 275, 277, 279, 280, 288, 290, 291, Horrorhound #20-22, Rue Morgue #95, and Heavy Metal Fall 2007 30th Anniversary Special for $14!?!


Saturday, March 27

Thift Store Finds: Just Some B-Sides

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Thifts and Goodwills seem very random and less dependable at cassette discoveries than swap meets. I assume unless one has really dumb luck; most collectors are smart enough to at least try selling them off first instead of donating. Usually, this type of shop yields racks stuffed with Disney clamshells, failed attempts at Abs of Steel, long outdated instructional videos on installing MS Word, and travelogues to India. You might find some horror flicks, but you'll probably be staring at beat-up copies of Misery or near-horror like Fargo. This morning was different. I didn't run across anything special; judging by the selection whoever dumped these knew what they were giving up. Though after striking out on my swap meet rounds, it was bitterly cold, I was pleasantly surprised by the finds.

The only one worth noting in the pic above is the bootleg of Lifeforce. I'm unsure what the story is on this one. It's the uncut European version, which has been available on video for years. However this record sells it like it's unique and even rips off MGM's art for the front. I'm showing the back since there's some nice pics of Mathilda May being all naked. Return of the Evil Dead is the second in the Blind Dead series using the British Redemption tape's art. The Wicker Man, Day, and NOES are cut-up, but I would feel bad if I would have left them. Day's label notes a 91 minute runtime, but is fully uncut and looks better than the Video Treasures EP-speed tapes that flooded the marketplace after Media lost the license. Imperial's Demons 2 is in good, glossy shape; yet this release is edited for an R-rating. South Gate's The Church was hot shit at one time, theeeen Anchor Bay's DVD was released. Not pictured are boots of the HK actioners City on Fire and High Risk.

As an additional ploy to friend me over at Facebook (profile here), I've put up an exclusive scan of Demons 2 in my photo album, so head on over to check it out!


Friday, March 26

Some quick thoughts on The Abomination (1986)

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A young man's dying mother believes she's been saved by a televangelist after coughing up a bloody tumor while watching. Later that night, her son (Cody, Scott Davis) arrives home from a date with his girl (Blue Thompson) and collapses into bed. The writhing lung lesion then wiggles from the kitchen waste bin into the sleeping Cody's bedroom and promptly down his throat. With his mother feeling great, Cody inexplicably finds himself more angered and sickened by the hour. Sick in bed, the lesion is vomited up again and Cody soon has uncontrollable bloodlust as the pulsing fleshy abnormality hungers for meat so that it may metastasize. Faced with a mounting body count of grisly murders, it seems Cody has no escape from his ghastly possession, but his girlfriend has yet to be introduced...

Here it is. The infamous, rare-as-hen's-teeth-in-a-haystack Donna Michelle VHS of Bret McCormick's The Abomination. The pact of filmmakers Bret McCormick and Matt Devlen along with actors Scott Davis and Blue Thompson (who looks to have been McCormick's wife at one point) spearheaded two Texan Super8 gore wonders in 1986. McCormick's The Abomination and the Devlen directed/McCormick produced Ozone: Attack the Redneck Mutants (thoughts here). Damn tough to locate on home video; these are often obscure even for horror veterans. Of course, they can be probably be downloaded online instantly, but what fun is that? These are to be savored as you hunt at yard sales and eBay hoping to walk on clouds upon finally snagging copies. Or you can cheat like a big game hunter on a ready made reservation.

Yet ultimately and somewhat disappointingly, The Abomination ends up like one of those loud and flashy used car commercials. The sell is vastly more verbose than the final product; which isn't anything unusual so I'm at a loss over why I'm bitching. From its catchy title and graphic cover art (seen here), Bret McCormick (credited in the film as "Max Raven") and whoever "Donna Michelle Productions" were certainly understood the hypnotic power these elements hold over the horrorhound renters back in the day. Well, this still holds true today, as most would gnaw the fingers off the guy next to them in order to wrench this tape into their grasp at a swap meet. At the same time, The Abomination holds more promise than the plethora of splashily illustrated, yet hollow genre tapes of yore.

You will come for the gore and stay for the gore. Unlike others who pussyfoot around or outright lie, McCormick lets loose like a quart of beer twenty minutes too late. Limbs are lost, throats are slit, craniums are violated, blood sprays like a crazed chimp with a shampoo bottle, and monstrous teethed tumors burst from kitchen drawers mimicking Audrey from Little Shop of Horrors. The tip of the hat goes to Dark FX, Ltd. for generating copious amounts of grue to the warm the cackles of your VCR. Nothing is technically great, this ain't Savini, but you won't want spaghetti with marinara for weeks after sitting through the lingering nature of the crimson moneyshots. For those who've seen Ozone, The Abomination is definitely wetter.

The acting is hard to gauge with all voicework dubbed in post production. Scott Davis just screams, sweats, or menacingly grins while sporting sunglasses a lot. Blue Thompson looks denim-clad pretty while inhabiting her handful of scenes; she saw a much larger role in Ozone. Like most of these two dollar productions, scenes tend to drag, with the padding of choice here being repeated driving sequences featuring old Ford pick-ups on the dirt paths of Zion Hill, Texas (Google Map here). The biblical slant of the abomination's need for human destruction is a nice touch, but never realized to any satisfying extent. McCormick is wise enough to save the literal tub o' gore for the climax and have a better little final twist than Ozone.

Donna Michelle's VHS presentation is solid. The picture and sound quality are clear and easily interpreted. There's no trailers either before or after the feature. Contrary to the IMDb, the film runs 90 minutes in length, not 100. Also there's a full minute of dead tape before the "real" video begins for all the distortion various VCRs can wrought on the beginning of the VHS. Also it's a good warning to heed that the very beginning of the movie spoils pretty much all the gory scenes in a dream sequence. Just close your eyes and fast forward to the titles.
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The Slime People (1963) - 1981 Video Gems "Vinyl Clamshell" VHS

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(factory sealed)

Thursday, March 25

Where's the damn mailman?

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I was going to do a little mail call entry since I was betting on getting at least one tape today. Bunch of stuff coming in. Yet nope, so I'm stuck having to do a little mostly self-serving odds and ends thingie. First off, and I feel terrible about this, but the fine and putrefied iZombie over at iZombieLover bestowed BoGD the great honor of a Zombie Rabbit award back in February. I'm extremely sorry for the all-too belated mention and gratitude. Be sure to take a gander at his March Contest where you just might win the opportunity to die, rot, and join the land of the living once more in photo-form...for free! I'd also like to thank everyone for the votes over at Zombies DON'T Run's Mr. Horror Blogosphere '09 contest.

In other newsy news, I've finally joined Facebook (profile here), so if you wish, you can become an interweb friend and such. I'm still trying to iron out some kinks with integrating BoGD there so hang tight. This is literally perhaps the third time I've ever even visited the Internet's omnipresent people info-aggregator.

Also updates might get a little more sparse here at BoGD. I'm starting to get back into cycling in the evenings after work; I need to get back into fighting shape. I'll try to throw up a little something daily and save the longer ramblings for the weekends. Nothing is concrete though. This weekend is open and if all goes well, I'll have some thoughts up either tomorrow night or Saturday on one of the most sought after horror tapes ever released in America (hint: the director is named after a bird). Also as stated the mail will hopefully yield the Video Home System goods. Plus the swap meet always beckons, so as usual, stay tuned!

RANDOMIZED VHS SCAN: The Devil Master (1976)


Wednesday, March 24

So I'm reading the newspaper this morning...

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...and see this in an ad for Burton's Alice in Wonderland:

Rated PG for fantasy action/violence involving scary images and situations, and for a smoking caterpillar.

Most of us probably know of the Caterpillar already from neither the book or Disney classic; though isn't the MPAA's little rating descriptions getting ever more stupid?
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Tuesday, March 23

Some quick thoughts in Survival of the Dead (2009)

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A rogue unit of military troops go AWOL in the rising chaos of the undead invasion during the alternate events seen in George Romero's Diary of the Dead. Led by 'Nicotine' Crocket (Alan Van Sprang), the soldiers pillage places and strangers as they seek safe refuge from the "deadheads" overtaking America. Meanwhile, the tumult between the figureheads of two long warring Irish families boils over dealing with apocalyptic situation on a small island off the coast of Delaware. Patrick O'Flynn (Kenneth Welsh) advocates direct extermination of the dead regardless of feeling to rid the plague from their isle sanctuary. Seamus Muldoon (Richard Fitzpatrick) staunchly disagrees with a conviction to uncover if the dead will feed off of other animals instead of humans. A standoff ensues with O'Flynn and his clan exiled to the ocean. Eventually, the troops and O'Flynn join together to travel back to the island in search of Muldoon and the banished leader's daughter (Kathleen Munroe).

It pains me to type the following, but Romero just needs to take a break from his "serious" zombies and give us something refreshing. I know what you just thought, who the hell is this thesaurus-lovin' idiot to say that? I get that, I'm sure I'd be a total lapdog if Lucio Fulci were still alive and granted a cinematic comeback from the widespread rediscovery of his work by horror fans in recent years. The thing is that Romero keeps preaching to the choir over the course Land, Diary, and Survival. We all love the jabs at tender societal conditions in his end of the world allegories, but as Survival's credits roll up, it's tough not to ponder if Romero took this praise too literally. At best, Survival of the Dead is a further concise honing of the overarching theme of both the living and dead being one in the same with the living too "whatever" to realize. At worst, Romero's latest effort is more pounding over the collective head of his legion with the usual ideas pioneered decades past in superior Dead films.

Survival seems tailored to a newer audience picked up with '05's Land, which might be the intention since this and Diary belong to a different track than his original series. If this updated perspective is indeed by design, Romero is some sort of genius, because Survival would challenge a newcomer or those used to the dregs of modern zombie DTVers. Almost as if Romero is purposely trying to maintain a real credibility to the subgenre. That's very admirable, but there's already throngs of fans that without question believe in this and Romero. Survival suffers from its story and gimmicky characters becoming damn near meaningless to Romero's minute-by-minute lectures on people, greed, petty quarrels, religion, jealousy, money, armed forces, etc., etc...

The director/writer no longer need to shoehorn globs of message into these adventures. Instead, let the message speak through the story and blend into his oeuvre. While being a better experience than the hollow Diary; Survival chokes on what some would call biting cultural awareness to such an extent it's seldom exciting and mostly forgettable. Romero provides no clear answers (yet?) and the final thrust of finding out if the dead will dine on animal flesh doesn't quite make sense. Survival mostly takes place at the most one month after the initial outbreak, which means there's still a long way to go until billions reach walking dead status and then (presumably) rot away. At this point the last thing the living survivors would be hoping for is a mass turn to the dead eating chickens and cows. In this respect, Day of the Dead's Dr. Logan possessed more sensibility, and would immediately exclaim such hope a logistical impossibility.

I also thought I'd never see the day when CG gore was more economical than practical effects. Most of the splatter is crafted by "okay" computer wizardry and can't stand with the likes of Savini's amazing work in Day. That said, there's one really cool flare gun gag that's a mix of both mediums that ends up being the standout. As for comedic bits, this might sound bad, but a lot of it is the kind of farce your grandpop would laugh at. An example being a charcoal-faced bad guy explosion directly lifted from a Looney Tunes cartoon that sticks out in what's otherwise Survival's best sequence. The characters and their quirks are undercooked, snapping into the same unrealistic comic book versions with goofy names seen in Romero's other recent Dead flicks. Still, it's nice to see Romero shooting in scope again.

Ultimately, if social commentary was a pencil, Survival of the Dead is Romero continuing to crank the handle on the sharpener. Though instead of suddenly jabbing the needle-like implement in the viewer's eye; the king of zombies seems more content with dumping the shavens over your head. Maybe I'll be proven wrong. Perhaps George A. Romero will one day unleash his final epic as a mixture of the two series and make the whole an astonishing epitaph to his lifelong career. To be honest, after surviving Survival, anything else would be just as welcoming...

Optimum's British DVD looks especially good despite being on a single layer disc. I'm fairly certain their Blu-ray is region-locked, so I'm out of luck. The disc has zero extras and this particular film probably wouldn't be benefited too much by a jump to HD being so dark and desaturated looking.
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Monday, March 22

Who shall be Demoner? Demonest? Demon to the 10th Power? Demon²?

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It has been an unspoken mini-quest of mine to defeat Ramen, Robots and Red Sauce's resident heresy, Drunketh, ever since it was revealed that he was in possession of one of the coolest DVD sets ever produced. You see, Drunketh has the highly prized Japanese DVD Box of Lamberto Bava's Demons and Demons 2 with the Demons mask replica from Imagica/SPO Entertainment. Seen here, this release was ridiculously limited, and shortly went the way of the dodo. I never snagged a copy myself thus committing the worst offense to my collection by not doing so. In a feeble attempt to overtake the blinding awesomeness in Drunketh's sullen grasp, I've scoured planet Earth in an attempt to find a release rarer and odder than this set. I've already found the Japanese Laserdisc, seen here, but the tape below just landed in the mailbox. Demonios released by "Paris Video Home" hailing from Argentina with cover art elements stolen from Amicus's Tales from the Crypt and The Evil Dead along with a incorrect note of Dario Agento being the director and Bobby Rhodes getting marquee credit.

Sunday, March 21

New Meaningless Feature: Weekly Poll...of terror

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Scroll down past Dusty Shelves to your left to find a new entirely meaningless BoGD feature, Weeky Poll...of terror. This week's question: Do you still actively watch VHS?

Some quick thoughts on Killing Spree (1987)

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Tom (Asbestos Felt) finds out that his wife Leeza (Courtney Lercara) has been sexing up a gamut of friends, repairmen, and essentially any guy who stops by while he's away through the discovery of a little black book explicitly detailing each encounter. Becoming ever more enraged every time he cracks the pages, Tom sets out to systematically lure back, viciously murder, and squirrel away each man mentioned in the hidden tome. The only problem is when Leeza takes her book across town and Tom's rotting victims decide to not rest in peace after all...

After detailing Tim Ritter's very first feature, 1984's Day of the Reaper, and his high praised third, 1986's Truth or Dare?: A Critical Madness, I figured I'd finally see his fourth, 1987's Killing Spree. Some call this feature Ritter's pinnacle as a filmmaker and I'd have to agree considering what I've seen so far. Ritter crafts a very tight little psychofest that's much less rough around the edges than Truth or Dare (TorD). There's more confidence behind the camera with a bevy of interesting angles, cleanly accomplished editing, and cheap flourishes like bright red light flooding the set whenever Tom opens Leeza's book and then suddenly snapping back to normal upon shutting it. The idyllic, eternally sunny Florida cul-de-sac suburb locale also doesn't hurt. Impressive considering Killing Spree was shot for not even half of TorD's cost ($75k vs. $200k).

Otherwise, Killing Spree is a blander tasting brew of ideas explored to better effect in TorD. Looking through Ritter's filmography, it's apparent nearly everything after TorD has been dictated by the concepts of sometimes-escaped psychos, philandering women, and the lawmen hot on their trail initially set forth in 1986. I guess that's okay, but once is enough, especially with the film that blazed that ground in Ritter's career being pretty damn good.

The desperately-in-need-of-a-haircut, Val Venis-sounding Asbestos Felt just can't reach the depth of psychosis seen in John Brace's T&D performance as a man also pushed over the brink by his cheating spouse. You genuinely believe Brace's Ted Bundy-like cunning and desperation; while Felt merely acts perpetually irritated, shouts loudly, manically laughs, and wears far-too-snug underwear. Killing Spree's gore quota feels oddly constrained and only gets truly messy in two splattery sequences of some gushing chainsaw action and hammer/face mutilation after about an hour passes. Also no boobies to speak of with one getting the sense of this being a direct stipulation in Courtney Lercara's contract; even though she went on to only two more outings of zero-budget mayhem (including 1993's Things). On a final note, the aspect of Tom's killings returning to life for revenge is nifty, but again, most of TorD's carnage took place in the lead madman's mind. This added extra resonance to the narrative and character; yet Killing Spree's unexplained corpse uprising isn't in Tom's mind, which only leads to confusion as to what the hell is going on at the conclusion...and something we've already seen in an earlier '80s horror anthology landmark.

If you like 16mm DIY genre backwash, Tim Ritter doesn't disappoint here.
Killing Spree isn't a waste of a slightly intoxicated, Dorito-engorged late night VCR adventure. It's one of those flicks that seems twice as tolerable if watched on ol' trusty VHS. Still, if you've seen Truth or Dare?: A Critical Madness, this lesser exercise isn't all that important. You've already bore witness to the better of Ritter's two looney with martial issues niche splatter classics. Though extra points for the several Fangoria magazine appearances, direct Truth or Dare references, a Sony Betamax machine in Tom and Leeza's den, and one hilarious tidbit involving the hammer smashed face trying to speak after the dead return.
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Saturday, March 20

NOTDOT (1991) - U.S. Jyvass Productions VHS

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(Night of the Day of the Dawn of the Son of the Bride of the Return of the Revenge of the Terror of the Attack of the Evil Mutant Hellbound Flesh Eating Subhumanoid Living Dead Part 2)
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Friday, March 19

The Deep End of Horror and the A-Hole Video Dealer

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I finally scored a copy of Prism Entertainment's VHS of Ken Wiederhorn's 1977 underwater Nazi zombies with a frazzled Peter Cushing opus, Shock Waves, in uncut clamshell form. Of course, the fine folks over at Blue Underground have had a great DVD out there for several years and the flick hasn't really ever been "rare" since the shittastic Starmaker unleashed a widely available EP-speed cheapie in the mid-'90s. So what made shell out $11 for this particular tape release? Just what the hell is so special about it?

Well, this whole thing traces back long before I got into tapes, but was knee deep in the boom days of indie horror/cult studios releasing titles by the truckload every month on DVD. Welcome to Videoland, at least that's what the guy dubbed his place at the swap meet almost a decade ago. Racks and racks of tapes higher than you're head smashed into an area a touch wider than stretching your arms out to your sides. Everything was neatly priced, categorized, and cataloged by genre with the filth cornered off in the back with a huge sign that read "NO CHILDREN!". Posters, Halloween masks, and banners adorned the walls and spanned across the "ceiling" by invisible wires. Near the door sat an old man with thickly rimmed glasses on a bar stool behind a blocky CRT monitor with papers littering the desk in front of him. You could literally spend days digging through the future A&E Hoarders episode he amassed for himself.

The problem was the guy behind it all was a supreme A#1 asshole. So much so from this point forward he will be referred to as Mr. Asshole. The computer on his desk was for constant trolling of Amazon and eBay for the "value" of tapes in this "store". Security cameras created an array around his shoebox of space to keep his precious tapes out of the hands of thieves. Hand written signs about stealing and Mr. Asshole knowing his prices and (in his head) every tape ever made were plastered around the makeshift cage-like door to the place. If any of this sounds a little familiar, it's because I've talked about this guy in the past. This was the same idiot who barked at me that since he'd been doing this for over twenty years, if he didn't know of a title, it never existed. Or that VHS copy of Chopping Mall for an absolutely insane price of $45 witnessed upon seeing him recently. At that time Mr. Asshole could be overheard the entire time shouting a story about some little kid supposedly walking off with The Little Mermaid. Yes sir, the same Little Mermaid you can buy for nothing on Amazon.

But what about Shock Waves? This was the one tape I really wanted from Mr. Asshole, but never asked because of everything I've already detailed. So after Blue Underground's DVD had been out for a couple months; I decided to actually ask and without hesitation a price of $80 was put forth. Even after I mentioned that the movie was readily available on DVD, Mr. Asshole refused to budge, guess he didn't believe me. "That's the price!" I walked away and left poor Shock Waves to continue to sit there and Mr. Asshole feeling like he won some battle even with no new cash in his pocket.

So finally getting a copy of the tape years later for a decent price is something of a small achievement in my collection. It's not the exact tape he owned (or is it?), but it's still nice to know patience paid off over some asshole video dealer continually trying to get one over on the unknowing. His copy is still probably gathering dust with that $80 price tag starting to peel from age. Not to mention Shock Waves being one of the first horror movies I remember as a kid because of my father regaling me with the awesome details of when he saw it God knows when.

Thursday, March 18

Remember when this video was like plastic gold?

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Wednesday, March 17

Fellow Galloping Cadavers...Time to Freak the Fuck Out!

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Via DVDTimes, Blue Underground just got served, hope Arrow doesn't muck up the transfer!

Region Free U.K. Blu-ray of City of the Living Dead in May

Courtesy of Arrow Video Lucio Fulci’s classic zombie film City of the Living Dead comes to UK DVD and Blu-ray Disc on 24th May 2010 fully restored and uncut and complete with a host of unique and exclusive extras and featurettes specially commissioned for this release.

Among the many extras are a newly recorded audio commentary with actor Giovanni Lombardo Radice, an introduction to the film by star Carlo De Mejo, ‘Carlo Of The Living Dead’, a 17-minute featurette in which De Mejo reflects upon his time working with the Italian master of splatter, Lucio Fulci, plus ‘Penning Some Paura’ in which the film’s screenwriter Dardano Sacchetti shares his recollections of writing an Italian horror classic.

The 50-minute ‘The Many Lives And Deaths Of Giovanni Lombaro Radice’ presents an extensive biography of the legendary screen victim, who guides viewers through the making of his most famous gut-crunching classics including ‘House On The Edge Of The Park’, ‘Cannibal Apocalypse’, ‘Cannibal Ferox’ and, of course, ‘City of the Living Dead’.

In addition to providing an alternative audio commentary to the main feature, legendary horror actress Catriona MacCall recalls playing the role of Mary in the film in ‘Dame Of The Dead’ and reflects upon the film 30 years on. Catriona also appears alongside Giovanni Lombardo Radice in a 20-minute retrospective Q&A session exclusively filmed live at the Glasgow Film Theatre following a recent special screening of the film.

Filmed in the Profondo Rosso shop in Rome, ‘Profondo Luigi: A Colleague’s Memories Of Lucio Fulci’ focuses on director Luigi Cozzi (Contamination; Starcrash; The Killer Must Kill Again) who talks about his own memories of Lucio Fulci and the Italian boom in zombie horror, while in ‘Fulci’s Daughter: Memories of the Italian Gore Maestro’, Antonella Fulci, the daughter of the legendary filmmaker, reflects upon ‘City Of The Living Dead’, the experience of visiting her father’s sets and about his enduring legacy.

Both the DVD and the Blu-ray releases of ‘City Of The Living Dead’ also come with four sleeve artwork options, double-sided poster, six postcards and a newly commissioned booklet, ‘Fulci Of The Living Dead’, written by Calum Waddell and featuring exclusive new interviews with Sergio Stivaletti (Wax Mask), Carlo De Mejo, Antonella Fulci and Ian McCulloch (Zombie) among others, providing an in depth career retrospective on the Grand Old Man of Italian Gore.

City of the Living Dead will be released on two-disc DVD (£17.99) and single-disc Blu-ray (£22.99). The full list of extras is as follows:
  • Newly recorded audio commentary by actor Giovanni Lombardo Radice
  • Audio commentary by actress Catriona MacColl and author Jay Slater
  • Introduction to the film by star Carlo De Mejo
  • ‘Carlo Of The Living Dead featurette
  • ‘The Many Lives And Deaths Of Giovanni Lombardo Radice’ featurette
  • ‘Dame Of The Dead’ featurette
  • ‘Fulci’s Daughter: Memories Of The Italian Gore Maestro’ featurette
  • ‘Penning Some Paura’ featurette
  • ‘Profondo Luigi: A Colleague’s Memories Of Lucio Fulci’ featurette
  • Catriona MacCall and Giovanni Lombardo Radice Q&A session at the Glasgow Film Theatre
  • ‘Fulci In The House – The Italian Master Of Splatter’ featurette.

Who says Hot Topic never has anything cool?

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Tuesday, March 16

Some quick thoughts on Blood Massacre (1991?/1988?/1987?)

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After a brazen video store robbery and shooting, a group of four criminals run out of gas out in the sticks while fleeing. They eventually flag down a passing car and demand the woman driving at gunpoint to take them to her place. The strangely defiant girl (a having-a-fun-time Robin London) takes the crew to her parent's country homestead where the family is held hostage for the night. Internal tension between the thugs, bloody sexual perversion (involving Dohler vet George Stover), and the discovery that one of the fam is a cold blooded murderer leads to the old adage of the hunters becoming hunted as their captives escape to the surrounding woods...then things get really weird.

The late Maryland-native Don Dohler homebrews a rather generic mix of cheapjack slasher aesthetics with an even more generic video shop eye catcher title in a feature that differs from his usual cumbersome sci-fi monster freakouts. With a title like "Blood Massacre", this feature will most likely disappoint gorehounds and alienate those not acclimatized to the quirks of Super8/shot-on-video marvels. This isn't a steamy entrail evacuation the likes of Ozone: Attack of the Redneck Mutants nor does it rise above the norms of zero budget schlock. There's pervasive poorly lit darkness, downpours of print damage, terrible sound, and lighting that often varies wildly from shot-to-shot. It's pure '80s SOV that wears cliff-noted influences of Last House on the Left, The Hills Have Eyes, and a direct homage to The Evil Dead on its stained shelve like a badge of honor.

Yet Blood Massacre's strongest asset is Dohler's sharp editing. It's funny, the director's Wikipedia entry states after a long hiatus Dohler returned in 2001 with Joe Ripple at the helm while he concentrated on the editing and cinematography end of the partnership. That's very clearly Dohler's strong suit, and doesn't make Blood Massacre look more expensive, but more importantly makes things much more watchable. Anyone who's a veteran viewer of these basement productions knows what really kills the enjoyment is the potential for scenes to drag endlessly. Dohler avoids this by crafting a brisk 72 minute feature with good coverage in every sequence. An example is when a detective ends up knocking on the family's door with the motley crew inside having a tense dinner. Instead of a simple wide shot of everyone's reaction, there's quick cuts to each character's freaked face upon the sound of the knock. Dohler also delivers a solid opening stunner with George Stover's Rizzo, a murderous Vietnam vet, brutally dispatching two argumentative patrons at a bar after hours. The man certainly knew how to cut tension on shoestring funds.

Otherwise, Blood Massacre isn't particularly memorable besides the final twist (Dohler couldn't avoid doing a nifty creature feature surprise), but it gets better overall with each viewing. The one time actors and Dohler regulars do a commendable job with no one giving off a "just pulled off the street" vibe. It's also cool to see Stover enter a video store and immediately pick up the Paragon VHS release of Dohler's masterpiece, Nightbeast. It's good stuff with a modest amount of grue that stands out amongst a sea of insomnia cures.

Blood Massacre is only available on a rare domestic VHS from "Star III" (pictured above) and a six-flick DVD set entitled "Serial Psychos" from Pendulum Pictures/Mill Creek. I watched the DVD for this review and all told the rough picture and sound quality probably isn't going to get much better. The film has a 2005 copyright notice by Don himself, so it's nice to know at least this release seems authorized. Also for version freaks, this DVD presentation has different, "updated" intro/outro credit sequences and title graphic than the VHS.
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...do you dare tread upon the staircase?
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