Cannibal: The Musical (C, 1996) AKA Alfred Packer: The Musical
Trey Parker and Matt Stone of South Park fame directed and starred in this silly and ridiculously gory musical about the legend of real-life old west cannibal Alfred Packer. Not really know where he's going, Packer (Parker) and his beloved horse Leanne (which is named after a finance who left Parker shortly before this film was written; he named the horse after her to get revenge. Which may be why the horse farts a lot) lead some miners into Colorado in search of gold, meeting some unfriendly trappers, a Confederate "cyclops" who keeps spewing pus out of his empty socket, and some Indians (who are actually Japanese... but they do have teepees!) and occasionally breaking into hilarious-but-catchy songs (TOO catchy, damnit - I can't get them out of my head and they're STUPID! You've been warned!), such as "It's A Shpadoinkle Day," "Hang The Bastard," and "Let's Build a Snowman" (which includes a tap dancing break unfortunately hidden by waist-deep snow). And mixed in it all is some pretty extreme (but comical) eye-gouging, neck-biting, arm-tearing-off, meat-eating (but not BUTT!), exploding head, cleaver-in-the-face-ness. This went largely ignored until South Park became a hit, and then it got popular and even got a theatrical release. It's pretty funny, and if you get the DVD you also get the infamous commentary track where Trey, Matt, and several of the stars get completely 'faced on booze and start making fun of their own movie. The commentary track alone has sold a lot of copies of this puppy. I usually hate Troma but this is worth getting if you get a decent price on it. -zwolf

Carnival of Blood (C, 1972) AKA Death Rides a Carousel
This movie has a terrible reputation. And it fought tooth and nail for it, don't get me wrong, but it's not really boring like some people say. The pace is pretty slow and it's pretty talky, but the ineptness of the filmmaking keeps it fascinating. It's a Hershel Gordon Lewis-type gore flick, but as bad as it is it's not quite as inept as HG's stuff. Anyway, obnoxious, nagging, blabbermouth women are getting butchered on Coney Island. First a girl is decapitated in the spook house. Then another is disemboweled under the boardwalk. Then a woman has her tongue and eyes inexpertly torn out, and her head is smashed in with a brick (which is shown in point-of-view shots of a guy swinging a brick at the camera... even though a POV shot is ridiculous in this situation since both her eyes have already been torn out! D'oh!) Who's doing the killing - the stressed-out D.A? The bald guy with dark circles around his eyes who runs the throw-darts-at-balloons stand? The gyp-sy gypsy who never quite finishes telling anybody's fortune? Or is it Gimpy, the scarfaced hunchback (played by Adrian's brother Paulie from the Rocky movies!)? Or, is it... someone else? The movie's not so hot at building suspense so I won't ruin what little it has by telling, but I will let you know that the gore effects are bad but quite graphic, and the camerawork and editing look like the work of a mental patient... and that kind of works for it, since the defiance of all common sense and logic of how-to-make-a-movie adds weirdness and kind of a bad dream quality. It looks like they shot a few scripted scenes and then weaved them together with a patchwork of unplanned wandering-around-Coney-Island stuff. The teddy bear stuffed with human entrails is pretty inspired, though, and the soundtrack of strange, incomprehensible music (that stops and starts as different footage is edited in) makes it even more schizophrenic. Yep, it's bad, but it's worth watching, and not just a borefest. You'll stay awake just trying to figure out what the hell they were thinking. -zwolf

Carnival of Souls
(B&W, 1962)
Very weird film following the shadowy, haunted life of one Mary Henry (Candace Hilligoss) following a car wreck in which she and her friends fell off a bridge into a river. Three hours later, while the police are searching for the car, Mary walks out of the river, acting cold and remote. She leaves town to take a job as a church organist in Salt Lake City, but she isn't very friendly and ends up alienating everyone around her. Worse, she sees a pasty-faced dead man (director Herk Harvey) following her. Also, she feels a compulsion to visit an old abandoned amusement pier near the lake. After suffering episodes where people can't see or hear her, she goes to the pier and wanders through the lonely old dancehalls and attractions. After being followed by more and more zombies, she returns to the pier again, where a dance of the dead (who rise from the lake) is being held... and Mary finds out she belongs there because, y'see, she died in that car wreck after all... A low-budget art-horror film that sometimes looks cheap, sometimes looks like Bergman or Cocteau (which was Harvey's aim), is sometimes hokey, and sometimes genuinely creepy. A unique film that slipped through the cracks for a while before being given a second life in the late 80's by a big re-release, and now is given privileged treatment on a nice dual-DVD set containing both the 78-minute theatrical version (which was timed to fit on double bills with The Devil's Messenger) and the 83-minute director's cut, as well as documentaries on the film and outtakes. The pace is sometimes a little slow, but it's definitely essential, atmospheric viewing, best saved for late at night, when it'll seem more dreamlike. Might make a good double-feature with Night Tide. -zwolf

Case of the Bloody Iris
(C, 1971) AKA Erotic Blue, What Are Those Strange Drops of Blood Doing on Jennifer's Body?, Perché quelle strane gocce di sangue sul corpo di Jennifer?
Italian giallo film with a typical masked maniac (he looks nearly identical to the killer in the granddaddy of all giallo, Bava's Blood and Black Lace) is going around killing women. He stabs one in an elevator (which gets a really mild reaction from the people who discover her body) and later drowns a girl in boiling water, after terrorizing her with tape recordings of her own nightclub act, where she wrestles men from the audience. The main potential victim is the scream queen of giallo, Edwige Fenech from Bava's Five Dolls For An August Moon and a bunch of Sergio Martino flicks). The killer may be her husband who was a member of a sex cult she belonged to, the symbol of which was an iris. Or it could be a pretty (almost a lookalike for Fenech)-but-sinister lesbian, or the crazy burn-victim son of an equally-crazy widow next door. Or even possibly George Hilton, who's got a phobia about blood. Or maybe none of 'em. The script was written by Ernesto Gastaldi, who also wrote Torso and The Whip And The Body. This isn't the best but it's not bad. -zwolf

Cathy's Curse (C, 1976)
Exorcist-inspired horror with a little girl becoming possessed by the evil spirit of a girl who died in a car wreck years before. Moving into an old house, young Cathy finds a dirty old doll with taped-over eyes, and becomes attached to it and starts demonstrating telekinetic powers, playing car-wreck games with her friends (and trying to poke their eyes out!), and getting cranky! She makes food rot instantly, gets old relatives drunk, summons snakes, rats, and spiders, causes blood and leeches to fill the bathtub, and her face gets covered in mud. There's not a lot going on plotwise, and characterization is negligible, but there's pretty much a constant barrage of supernatural activity right from the giddy. A lot of it is pretty silly, and there's a resolution that explains absolutely nothing, but if you're in the mood for grade-B 70's possession hijinks, this'll do. -zwolf

Cat O' Nine Tails (C, 1971) AKA Il Gatto a nove code
Dario Argento's follow-up to Bird With The Crystal Plumage (and the second of his trilogy of unrelated animal-titled movies -Four Flies On Grey Velvet was third) stars Karl Malden as a blind man who makes crossword puzzles for a living, and James Franciscus as a two-fisted reporter. Malden overhears a discussion about blackmail and, later, a break-in: someone stole a file from a genetic institute. Then one of the guys involved in the blackmail conversation gets pushed in front of a train. A newspaper lab worker developing pictures of the incident is strangled and slashed. Malden, his little niece, and Franciscus try to solve the killings, which involve a maniac who has the XYY chromosome (indicating a predisposition toward criminal behavior) and is trying to keep that fact suppressed. This leads to mayhem... which isn't as gory as some of Dario's later stuff but it makes up for that by being brutal and wince-inducing. This isn't one of Dario's better-regarded films - it's early and doesn't have the smoothness to the flashy style yet - but if you give it a chance without expecting Inferno or Suspiria, you might be pleasantly surprised by how good it is. Interesting score by Ennio Morricone. -zwolf

Cauldron Of Blood (C, 1967) AKA Blind Man's Bluff, Children of Blood, The Corpse Collectors, Death Comes from the Dark, The Shrinking Corpse, El Coleccionista de cadáveres
There's usually a certain charm to any movie with opening credits as cheesy as the cartoon skeletons and colored-gel-lit skulls that open this Spanish horror film, but you can't always trust that... Boris Karloff appears in one of his final roles, playing a blind sculptor who stays in a wheelchair most of the time, and who wears dark goggles. An obnoxious reporter (with even more obnoxious drunk friends - god, this one guy is just a total asshole, I mean, there are repeated shots of him jiving around and laughing and just being an asshole) charms his way into Boris's house. Boris's wife has a cabinet full of SM paraphernalia and has nightmares about whipping people, and Boris's (hilariously fake) head decaying. She also kills people, boils away their flesh, and gives the bones to Boris to use in his sculptures. In his defense, he thinks she gets them legally, from unclaimed cadavers. At a costume party she dresses up in an SM-type uniform that makes her look like The Green Hornet's sidekick, Kato. Then some running time is killed with conga lines before she kidnaps a girl (with some help) and prepares to boil her alive. The only real horror is that an actor as great and classy as Karloff had to end his career with total snoozefests like this. Very dull, with no payoff for your patience, other than a lame molten-arm gag. Perfect MST3K material. -zwolf

Challenge Of the Lady Ninja (C, ?)
Absolutely great kung fu/exploitation film. A talented female ninja has all kinds of cool skills, such as being able to spin around until her clothes change into a skimpy pink bikini to make opponents forget about fighting. Hey, it'd work on me - this woman is beautiful. A man in a rubber skull mask helps her fight villains such as a guy with blue tattoos all over his face. She forms an all-girl army to fight and seduce the enemy. Funny and sleazy training sequences include stretching bikinied girls over ropes, and mud wrestling. The camera always takes crotch or cleavage shots, sometimes so obviously it's hilarious. Ludicrous dialogue and fantastic stuntwork (with help from wires 'n' such) add to the greatness. No nudity, but it's about as sleazy as you can get with clothes on - catfights, hot-oil wrestling, and whores fighting over customers. Recommended. And if you like this, you'll probably want to check out Deadly Life of a Ninja, which has some of the same cast and attitude. -zwolf

Champ Against Champ (C, 1983)
Dragon Lee is a wandering spaghetti-wester type kung fu master who gets attacked for no reason a lot. This means more fight time with less pesky plot considerations! Plus it helped everybody keep warm, because this must've been filmed in a really cold area since you can see everyone's breath. Everybody's plotting resistance fighting against an evil tyrant and hiding a wounded rebel leader (who sounds just like Grandpa Simpson!). Mostly it's serious kung fu, but occasionally funny things happen, such as when one guy starts dancing with one of his opponents and a Strauss waltz swells on the soundtrack. The dubbed dialogue is more ridiculous than usual, with many variations on the classic "you must be tired of living!" line, and lots of hilarious insults. Dragon Lee gets hit by a poison dart and his process of dying is so bad that the moon appears in the middle of the day. Luckily a Chinese hermit (with a Texas accent) amputates his leg and saves his life. He's depressed about it for a while, but then he remembers a famous fighter called Steel Leg. When he tells his girlfriend about Steel Leg, she happily announces "He was my grandfather!" and gives Dragon access to all of Steel Leg's secret kicking tricks. After building a steel leg and practicing with it, he can kick down trees, and so he sets out on the vengeance trail... which is filled with clowns who whip him with ribbons and then turn into girls who can turn invisible. So, for a while, you get to watch Dragon Lee standing there jerking around, pretending somebody's hitting him. To make up for this awful "special effect," they bring in a guy who blows a continuous stream of fire out of his mouth; I'm not sure how they did that one but it's really dangerous-looking and impressive, no kidding. Then Dragon and another guy mystically project flaming flowers at each other and really bring down the house. It's all very strange... but it's interesting, you gotta give it that. Dragon Lee movies tend to have strange quirks in them... -zwolf

Changing Lanes (C, 2002)
Ben Affleck (perfectly cast as a self-serving, superficial yuppie lawyer) has a fender-bender with Samuel L. Jackson (cast against type as a guy who doesn't say "fuck" very much) and doesn't take the time to do things the right way, because he's in a hurry to get to court. He just leaves Samuel stuck on the highway and says "Better luck next time." But Samuel was in a hurry, too - he lost his wife and children because he was late for a custody hearing, so he isn't too predisposed to return a file that Ben dropped. But Ben needs the file; without it he may not only lose a case, but serve jail time. And so the two proceed to spend the day ruining each other's lives as much as possible, breaking all the unspoken rules that separate society from chaos. This will either destroy them... or do them both some good. Gets a bit "Hollywood" in its resolution, but pulls strong performances from the two leads and even though things get out of hand, they still seem plausible. Definitely worth checking out, and would probably make an interesting double feature with Falling Down. -zwolf

Chappaqua (C & B&W, 1966)
Do ya like the LSD-trip scene in Easy Rider? Do ya? What if it was stretched to a feature-length film, would you still like it? If so, look for this beat-hippie relic starring William S. Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, Ravi Shankar, the Fugs, Moondog, and the director-producer-writer, Conrad Rooks. Rooks plays a recovering alcoholic and drug addict trying to detox in Switzerland. There's a constant, Beatles-"Revolution 9"-ish barrage of images. A pretty girl in leather pants throwing LSD sugar cubes at the camera and then stomping on them while our protagonist grovels, licking up the crushed sugar 'til he's crosseyed. Neon Coca Cola ads. Allen Ginsberg and some other silly fuck taking up sidewalk space chanting some idiotic bullshit that must appeal to pretentious goons while Rooks chases joggers. Car and plane travel. Color and black and white footage (in various degrees of distortion) alternate, and there's also a lot of crazy editing and superimposition and stuff, to reflect Rook's alternate mental state. But it's also a smokescreen of sound and fury to cover the fact that there's very little story. William S. Burroughs - tricked out like an undertaker - is the head of the clinic. Rooks imagines he's in a coffin, and in a gangland-slaying vision, Burroughs and Fantasy Island midget Herve Villaches get gunned down. He imagines going into surgery after a motorcycle wreck and becoming a vampire. And a lot of other weirdness that becomes stultifying after a while. It's all punctuated by lots of jazz and Ravi Shankar music which I'm told are really good, but you can't tell it by me because I hold both of those forms of music in extreme contempt. But, if you like that stuff, there's plenty of it, knock your lame ass out! And if you like this movie you'd love Awakenings of the Beast by Jose Mojica Marins. Anyway, this isn't without some interesting moments and has some nice cinematography, but it's mostly pretentious and dull. -zwolf

The Child (C, 1977) AKA Kill and Go Hide, Zombie Child
In what appears to be the 1940's, a young lady goes into the backwoods to look after an evil little girl named Rosalie. Her family is a little eccentric: her crotchety old dad laughs his ass off thinking about poisoned boy scouts, and her brother is strange and quiet. But Rosalie... she's easily the black sheep of the family. She's a brat, but she still has friends - corpses raised from a nearby cemetery that she's raised with her telekinetic powers. These moldy dead lurk in the foggy woods, killing pets and anyone foolish enough to defy the well-known local custom of never going out after dark. And if you get on Rosalie's bad side, even staying in won't help you, because she'll send her friends to "hurt you, hurt you bad!" One night everybody in her house gets on her bad side... Very creepy and atmospheric Box Office International film is effective but a little frustrating because some of the camerawork is murky and the editing is bizarre; it's disjointed, but I don't know if that's because the editor was bad or if it's intentional, to make things more jarring. The zombies are barely glimpsed at first, staying in the dark or peeking through the bushes, but by the end they're right out there, and the makeup's good. There's a decent amount of pretty well-done gore, and overall this is the kind of flick that makes you miss drive-ins... -zwolf

Chinese Hercules (C, 1973)
Chan Wai Man kills his girlfriend's brother in a brawl, so out of remorse he smashes one of his hands with a rock, vows never to fight again, and takes a thankless job as a laborer to punish himself. But the bosses at his job are cruel and abuse and oppress the workers, so he wants to rebel against the injustice... but just can't ever seem to get mad enough to actually fight. The problem is, he always starts to, then quits and lets them beat the hell out of him. Despite the lack of help from Chan the workers give the bosses enough trouble that they bring in their enforcer, Bolo Yeung. Bolo's huge and scary, but he only shows up in the last half hour of the film and isn't even around all that much then - certainly not enough to claim the title of the movie. But without him they'd probably have to call this The Swinging Arms of Kung Fu! or something, because the fights aren't very good... and you can't really see them, anyway, because the DVD isn't letterboxed and the pan-and-scan man apparently fell asleep early on, because the walls and ears get a lot of screen time, while most of the actors are off the edge of the screen. In fact, the main worth of this movie is as a lesson in why letterboxing is really so great, because the plot is one of the silliest, most ridiculous things you'll ever see. Also features loads of continuity errors - check out the climax where our hero walks away with his girlfriend... then passes by her a second or two later. -zwolf

Chinese Tiger (C, 1978) AKA Tiger from Canton
A shipment of rice is hijacked by gangsters, who replace the rice with narcotics and murder the company foreman. A guy named Li steps in to take charge and immediately becomes the target of assassins sent by the gangsters. Lucky for him (and unlucky for them) he's a kung fu expert. Cops intercept the drug shipment and Li's brother, who innocently thought he was transporting rice, gets thrown in jail. Li goes to Hong Kong to investigate and figures out he must be getting somewhere due to the number of fights he's getting into. He turns up more info as he goes along and manages to infiltrate the organization and starts making them pay. This involves fights against gangs, a fight in a river, and a climactic stand-off at a grainery where a shovel gets used as a weapon. This film has possibly the most un-handsome cast since Sonny Chiba's The Executioner and obviously had a very low budget, but it has some style (the sleazy vacant lots and alleyways give it almost a film-noir feel), good music scoring (stolen from somewhere, I'm sure), and solid fight scenes. They aren't constant - there's more plot than usual - but there are still plenty of fights, including the long climactic bout, and they do a better job with characterization than usual (even though they do seem to have stolen some of the hero's mannerisms from Bruce Lee). The Saturn Chinese Tiger DVD looks great; the Ground Zero double-feature Tiger from Canton version, mastered from a tape with tracking problems, is a shame. -zwolf

Choy Lay Fut (C, 1979) AKA Choi Lee Fat Kung Fu
A "lost" kung fu film (the DVD is struck from a videotape with Arabic and French subtitles and a big "VS" in the corner, and looks videotaped off a screen). A goofy guy who was learning kung fu through black magic rituals tries to become a student at a kung fu school, but since he's a stranger the best he can get is a job in the school, laboring. Because he wants to learn so badly, and because he's picking things up just by watching anyway, the teacher agrees to instruct him secretly. The secret gets out, though, so he's sent away, but his teacher tells him to go to Monk Grass, who makes him walk upside down on ropes, catch fish by hand, pick up bricks while swinging on a trapeze, and some other training /torture I haven't seen before. It's strange because usually guys in these movies learn these things because they have some vengeance hunt reason; this guy just wants to learn because he's interested. Still, his skills eventually come in handy, since the country is being attacked by revolutionaries. Going undercover, he gets mixed up with a cross-eyed moron who has really bad kung fu, and a really pretty girl whose kung fu is great. From this he becomes a leader against the Chings. Good thing DVD rescued this one... -zwolf

Christmas Evil (C, 1980) AKA Terror In Toyland, You Better Watch Out
Yes, Jesus's birthday did bring most of the evil into this world (even if it was actually sometime in March), but this horror flick deals with Santa Claus instead. Unbalanced by the sight of his mom making out with Santa Claus when he was a kid, a psychotic weirdo collects Xmas paraphernalia, sleeps in a Santa Claus costume, and spies on neighborhood kids and keeps records of who's naughty or nice. And he ain't even Catholic! He also works in a toy factory, where his co-workers don't respect his zeal. Finally he snaps, paints a sleigh on his van, glues a beard to his face, puts on a Santa costume, and sets out to deliver toys he stole from his factory. Because the movie's not utterly tasteless, he just gives bad kids bags of dirt... but a few bad adults get dealt with violently, being dispatched with toy soldiers, little toy hatchets, stars from Xmas trees. It's really cheap but does manage an atmosphere of insanity, along with some underplayed humor, and a very, very bizarre ending. -zwolf

The Choppers (B&W, 1961)
While posing as a "poultry delivery service," Arch Hall Jr. and his car-stripping pals steal parts from any car left unattended for more than a few minutes. They sell the parts to a surly fat guy named Moose, who chews cigars and says "Punks!" a lot. While they're working, the radio plays one of Arch's songs - "Konga Joe" - and later while they're sitting around he does a catchy nonsense song called "Monkeys In My Hatband." See, Arch's dad was the producer and wrote the script, because he thought his son could be another Elvis). They're tops in their field until they start getting careless and leave chicken feathers around the crime scenes. Which is really bad, because by the time the cops catch up to them, they've added a homicide to their car-theft charges... Very entertaining and not actually all that badly done, despite being from the same people who brought you Eegah! -zwolf

C. I. D. (C, 19??)
Indian crime drama that seems influenced by Italian crime dramas, at least in the look of it. After a somewhat sluggish first half hour in which our tough guy hero, Inspector Veer (Vinod Khanna, who sort of resembles Jack Palance), is tricked into an engagement by a bratty girl, Veer goes after a drug lord named Roshan. Veer has a female informer in Roshan's gang, but she gets found out, and even though she tries to charm her way out of the predicament with a ridiculous song and dance number (only in Indian films would you ever see such a thing happen), she ends up shot. Veer's fiancé's parents witness the killing, and Roshan finds out that they could testify against him, so he goes gunning for them. His job is made more difficult by some corruption in the police department. The parents are killed before they can testify and Veer's fiancé will never forgive him, so he becomes obsessed with vengeance. His ruthless actions get him suspended, and his finace - pregnant with his son - leaves town. A nice-guy Major raises the boy and wants to marry the mother. Then, years later, the son witnesses a murder by Roshan and Veer needs him as a witness... but has a bad track record with the mom so he may not get another chance at getting another of her loved ones killed while serving as a witness. And, again, a trail of corruption leads right back to the police department. Veer discovers this - and that the boy is his son - and has to save him from the criminals. Enough plot twists to fuel three or four regular movies (so what if they're all implausible?) and some good action scenes. There's a lot of drippy melodrama (and song and dance numbers) to sit through, but there's some over-the-top action in the climax that makes a worthy payoff for your patience. -zwolf

City of the Living Dead (C, 1980) AKA Paura Nella Citta Dei Morti Viventi, The Gates of Hell, The Fear, Fear in the City of the Living Dead, Twilight of the Dead
One of the biggie Lucio Fulci gorefests and decidedly a splatter classic. A priest hangs himself in the Lovecraftian town of Dunwich, and this act opens the gates of Hell, allowing the dead to walk the earth, among other sickening supernatural events. On advice from a psychic (who'd been buried alive), a reporter (Christopher George) has to find the town of Dunwich and close the gates of Hell before All Saints Day, or mankind is doomed! And that should give you an idea of how scary this movie is - imagine, the fate of mankind resting in the hands of Christopher George! Meanwhile, the undead priest shows up to rub worms in people's faces and pull big brain-oozing chunks out of their heads. One girl sees him, begins crying tears of blood, and vomits up her intestines and liver in one big torrent of innards. John "typecast as an idiot who dies violently" Morghen gets a horizontal boring machine drilled right through his head - it's a helluva gore effect. Walls bleed and maggots rain from the sky... and it's not even All Saints Day yet, so things are bound to get even worse. Effective and atmospheric and not just another zombie flick by any means. Even though Fulci is justifiably known for piling on the gore, he does show plenty of skill at handling atmosphere, too, creating a Dunwich of rotting leaves, foggy wind, lonely houses, and gloomy lighting, and he uses a powerful music score and gets as close as anyone to gore-by-sound-effect. This, as much as worrying about how sickening the next killing is going to be, keeps the tension level high. Not the best, but still an important part of the Fulci canon, which spares you nothing. -zwolf

Cockfighter (C, 1974) AKA Born To Kill, Wild Drifter, Gamblin' Man
Often considered to be Warren Oates's best film (although Two-Lane Blacktop is a definite contender), this is a faithful adaptation of Charles Willeford's gritty and authoritative novel about the underground sport of cockfighting, where roosters are equipped with spurs and fight to the death. Warren Oates is an obsessed cockfighter who once missed getting the top cockfighting medal because he was shooting off his mouth, so he took a vow of silence and doesn't utter a word in the whole film until the very end. (He does, however, provide voiceover narration). After losing his car and trailer on a fight, he sets out, flat broke, to rebuild his chicken empire from the ground up and attempt to get that medal he's obsessed with winning. Monte Hellman directed, and many of the actors from Two-Lane Blacktop - including Oates, Laurie Bird, and Harry Dean Stanton - are back. Steve Railsback also makes an appearance as a kid who gets thrown out of a fight for sticking his finger up a chicken's ass. That's illegal, y'know. Stylistically sleazy, and very good. -zwolf

Cold Sweat (C, 1971) AKA De la part des copains
Second-tier Charles Bronson actioner based on Richard Matheson's Ride the Nightmare has some old army associates holding Bronson's wife and daughter hostage in order to force him to use his boat to help them pick up a drug shipment, which leads to dangerous complications, including a lot of guns changing hands and a pretty good Charlie-driving-insanely-fast-on-a-twisting-mountain-road scene. It's pretty standard Euro-action, but is enlivened by Bronson's screen presence. Back in the early days of video rentals, every single store had a copy of this, and now lots of budget DVD companies carry really skangy-looking transfers. -zwolf

Colossus of New York, The (B&W -1958)
Otto Krueger is a designer of automation-machines. His brother Ross Martin designs all kinds of other scientific marvels - he even wins a peace prize for it. Then Ross gets hit by a truck and killed. His brother and his father transplant his brain into a hulking robot, in hopes of saving his genius for the good of mankind. But if things worked out that neatly, we wouldn't have much of a movie, would we? The robot is an unforgettable bulky, creepy thing with a round, Frankensteinish head, a curtain-like cape draped around it, big metal hands, and a voice like a staticky crystal radio. It's not too happy about being alive in that form. Even though he wants to be destroyed, he agrees to try to continue his experiments to help mankind. But he starts seeing visions from the future and turns deranged. He can flash his eyes in a hypnotic pattern, so he immobilizes his father and escapes to look at his grave. While out, he sees his son and discovers that his brother is in love with his widow. Armed with destruction-beams from his eyes, he seeks revenge and goes on a rampage, turning evil and wanting to rid the world of "human trash." Excellent special effects and a story that has a nightmarish feel to it make this recommended late-night viewing. (The end somehow reminds me of DePalma's Scarface - wonder if it's a coincidence?) -zwolf

Combat Shock (C, 1986) AKA American Nightmare
You're usually safe to assume that anything released by Troma will be absolute tripe that's not worth your time, but here's an exception. Video boxes make this look like a war movie, but it's closer to Eraserhead territory. A 'Nam vet named Frankie suffers flashback nightmares and wakes up to a quieter war; he's broke, can't find a job, has a nagging, unsympathetic, pregnant wife, and his child is a sick, unfinished puppet-thing (basically the Eraserhead baby, but cheaper-lookin') that's the result of his exposure to Agent Orange. His shoelaces break, his toilet's broken, they're out of food, and they're about to be evicted from their crappy little apartment. And the world outside's not much better: noisy trains, trash, vacant lots full of weeds, bleak industrial grey buildings, loan sharks who want to pimp out his wife and his infant, and tweaking junkie friends who try pulling holdups to get drug money. He wanders through trainyards with no hope and nowhere to go, waiting in unemployment lines for no real reason. His friend gets so desperate when he can't find a needle that he gets drugs into his bloodstream by tearing open old scars with a coathanger and rubbing heroin into the open wound. Frankie calls his dad, but his dad thought he was dead and has no money and is dying. Finally, out of options, he gets propositioned by a 12-year-old girl, snatches a purse, gets beaten up, then uses a gun he finds to waste some criminals. Then he takes the gun home and has a last meal of extremely sour chunky-style milk before cheating life out of taking anything else away. Very cheap but well-done for the budget, extremely bleak and existential tale of desperation. The star also provided the music score on what sounds like a Casio home keyboard. Total downer, and therefore recommended. Would make a good double-bill with Deadbeat at Dawn. -zwolf

Come and See (C,1985 ) AKA Idi i smotri
Russian art film about partisan resistance against the Nazis in WW2. Fliora, a young boy who digs up a gun so he can join the resistance, ends up separated from his group and wandering in the woods, talking to an apparently-crazy girl, but things get worse when concussion from a bombing raid leaves him deaf. After this we gets some creepy, surreal scenes of a stork and the crazy girl grinning and dancing (the whole movie is a mix of gritty reality and completely artificial art-film strangeness, which makes for a nightmarish overall effect) and then Fliora and the girl start wandering. They fight through a mud-pit and to a refugee camp where a burned-up man talks to them while people build a Hitler out of a skull and a uniform, just so they can spit on it. Then a cow gets gunned down in a firefight, and Fliora makes his way to a town where Germans are stuffing all the villagers into a barn, which they then burn down; they find this highly amusing. And Fliora just looks older and more horrified as the movie progresses. The story (not that there really is one - it's just like a nightmare) is kind of reminiscent of Jerzy Kosinski's horrifying novel The Painted Bird. It's slow, and a lot of it consists of people staring zombie-like into the camera, but it does contain some powerful, fever-dream images that will stay with you. The film's title comes from a line in Revelations, and the film is appropriately apocalyptic. -zwolf

Condemned to Live (B&W, 1935)
Variation on The Vampire Bat, using the same sets, music, and director. Vampiric killings are happening and people blame a giant bat. A saintly professor (with a hunchbacked assistant) plans to marry a young lady, who also loves someone else... but not more than she loves the professor, because he's a paragon of virtue. But the professor's mother was bitten by a giant bat on the day of his birth, and the professor's been suffering blackouts. He figures out that he must be changing into a fiend during these blackouts (which are brought on by darkness) and, even though the loyal hunchback tries to take the blame to spare him, the professor realizes his alter-ego must be stopped. Good low-budget vampire flick with all the required torch-bearing villagers, but with a more sympathetic approach to vampirism-as-disease. -zwolf

Contamination (C, 1980) AKA Alien Contamination, Toxic Spawn, Contamination: Alien on Earth
Even though this is an Italian rip-off of Alien, it starts out as a rip-off of Zombie, with an unmanned boat sailing into New York harbor (the captain's even called a turkey, possibly in homage to Zombie). A team sent on board discovers that the crew is all dead and they look like they've exploded... and they soon learn why when they find pulsating pods which burst open, spewing green fluid that causes the stomachs of whoever it touches to explode in just a second or two. The whole ship's full of these cantaloupes from outer space, and, since they ripen in heat, the quarantine squad freezes all the cargo, then takes samples. Experimenting with them (and finding the pods are alien bacteria colonies), they cause a rat to explode very messily. Now that they've found out what the things do, they have to figure out where they came from, how they got into the ship's hold, and what purpose they were intended for. They figure out that they were brought back from a Mars mission, and they enlist the aid of a crazy astronaut (Ian McCulloch, who seems to be in every gory Italian horror film since Zombie made him a hot talent) who's still a mess from what he saw in a Martian cave... even though the other astronaut with him swore nothing happened. The investigation (which results in a few more exploding chests) continues until they come face-to-eyeball with a cyclopean alien couch-potato (because wouldn't you have felt cheated if they hadn't?). Director Luigi Cozzi had intended this as sort of an unofficial sequel to/ rip-off of Alien (his intended title was even The Alien Arrives on Earth), and even with some trimming it got a reputation as one of the gorier Italian flicks that filled video shelves in the 80's (although, really, the gore isn't that astounding - it's decent but not that shocking, and even kind of silly since the chest-explosions are pretty pointless, since no aliens are emerging or anything). -zwolf

Contraband (C, 1980)
Lucio Fulci applied his ultra-gory tactics to a crime film this time, starring Fabio Testi as a smuggler moviing cigarettes and trying to stay out of reach of the law. But his real problems are with a rival gang who beat him senseless, kill his brother, and kidnap his wife. In retaliation he sets off a war of all sorts of depraved violence - slow stabbing, face-burning, shooting (2 guys heads are blown apart, another's neck is splattered, and another's guts fly out in chunks), and rape. The brutality is pretty strong, and it needs to be, because the story itself is muddled and not terribly compelling. It's a little slow to get started - not much happens in the first half - but once it gets some momentum the killings run pretty steady, and it's all very nasty and mean-spirited, Fulci-style. I liked the exploding heads and all, but could have done without the sodomy-rape scene; Fulci's misogyny got the better of him on that and it was reprehensible. -zwolf

(C, 1983) AKA Copkiller, Order of Death, Cop Killers, Copkiller - l'assassino dei poliziotti
Corrupt Lieutenant Harvey Keitel is a police lieutenant with some illegal tendencies that help him afford a really expensive secret apartment with another cop. John Lydon (aka Johnny Rotten from the Sex Pistols, in his only acting gig) is a twisted little creep who likes to make phony confessions, out of some strange guilt complex he has. He stalks Keitel (thinking he offers some sort of salvation) and tells him that he's the guy who's been killing cops with a breadknife. Keitel doesn't believe him, but since Lydon's found out about the secret apartment, and he doesn't want anyone checking up on how he can afford such a place on a cop's salary, he keeps Lydon prisoner in the bathroom and abuses him. Much to his chagrin, the maltreatment doesn't really get through to Johnny much, who remains defiant. Keitel's cop friend is disgusted with what's going on and tries to put a stop to it, so Keitel forces Lydon to kill him. But then Johnny escapes, yet comes back after awhile to continue this weird, perverse psychological contest that he and Keitel are engaged in. Dark, well-done meditation on good and evil that's  kind of a pseudo-giallo packed with sinister overtones. It's too bad Lydon didn't have more of a film career, because he's creepily effective and perfectly cast. Keitel was back as another scumbag cop in Bad Lieutenant. Ennio Morricone provides an intense music score, although I really hope he had nothing to do with the maddeningly-bad song that Keitel sits around listening to all the time... -zwolf

The Crawling Hand (B&W, 1963) Creeping Hand, Don't Cry Wolf, Tomorrow You Die
An astronaut gets blown up in the early days of the space program, at his own request - his talking corpse (with heavy eyeliner) shows up on a viewscreen, screaming that something is controlling him and yelling "Kill! Kill!" Turns out some form of mutant life was formed in the space capsule... and the big problem is, after the explosion one of his hands fell to earth. It's found on a beach by a teen who soon becomes possessed by it. The severed end of the arm always conveniently out of frame, the hand starts crawling around, strangling people. Then it gets the poor dazed teen killing people, too, which makes Sheriff Alan "The Skipper" Hale get on his case. Then the stupid hand gets eaten by cats in a junkyard and mercifully, this goofy ol' flick ends. Kinda dull, really. -zwolf

The Creature with the Blue Hand (C, 1967) AKA The Bloody Dead, Die Blau Hand
Klaus Kinski plays twin brothers, one of whom is a homicidal nutjob who just escaped from an asylum and is possibly killing people with a blue metal glove from a suit of armor, which has retractable bladed fingers. The crazy one is named Dave and the sane one is Richard... unless, of course, it's the other way around, which the movie keeps you guessing about. Since they look identical, one can pose as the other, and it's always possible that the killer is someone else entirely; he wears a black hooded cloak. The murders are bloodless (which led to extra gore scenes being filmed and inserted when this was released as The Bloody Dead on video), but there are plenty of them and the atmosphere has an early giallo feel to it, even though this is a German film. Based on an Edgar Wallace mystery, and a little slow but not bad. -zwolf

Crippled Masters (C, 1984)
One of the most bizarre of all kung fu flicks. A man has his arms cut off (and barely bleeds at all despite getting no medical attention) by some bad guys. The actor is a real armless man, who was apparently born that way because he does have a small deformed stump that looks like it has a finger or two on it. Since he's crippled, lots of very mean people pick on him and taunt him about his inability to feed himself. He wanders, suffering and starving, until a sympathetic farmer finds him eating out of his pig sty and decides to teach him how to get by with just his legs. He learns fast; he could be the world's champion hacky-sack player. Then the bad guys deform another guy by pouring acid on his legs (it's another real-life deformed man, who has withered, paralyzed legs). The two are old enemies, but an old contortionist tells them that if they united, they could get revenge against the bad guy (who's a fake deformity case: he has a hump on his back, but it's made of iron!). So he starts training them in kung fu, and they become very adept with the limbs they have left, which, of course, they use for vengeance. Stumps of fury! No fingers of death! Make up your own bad-taste titles, and they still won't quite be in bad enough taste to fit this decidedly politically incorrect opus... but, hey, the guys do have some pretty great skills and they're using them to make money, so what the heck. The same two guys also made the similar Two Crippled Heroes. -zwolf

Cry Panic (C, 1974)
John Forsythe is driving through a small town and accidentally runs over a man on the road. By the time he can report it to the cops, the body has disappeared. Everyone tries to convince him that he didn't even hit anyone. He has to prove it, plus try to figure out who it was, and why everyone's trying to cover everything up. A woman who seems to know some of the answers keeps disappearing, and the more Forsythe learns, the more somebody's willing to kill him to keep him quiet. Suspenseful old made-for-TV movie, one of those tight little 75 minute numbers that they just don't make anymore. -zwolf

Crypt of Dark Secrets (C, 1976)
A pretty yet irresponsible-with-fire voodoo witch named Damballah (and the beautiful Maureen Ridley was never heard from again...) dances around the New Orleans swamps and levitates (as long as she's close to a handy tree). A couple of guys head out into the backwaters to find out if she's fact or fiction. There's a Vietnam vet living on her haunted island who's seen her, but he doesn't know she can turn herself into a snake or anything. In fact, he's pretty much out of it, and is just a really bland, dull guy. Some swamp rats find out he has a lot of money hidden in his cabin, so they hit him over the head and leave him in the swamp to drown. Being an obliging guy, he does die... but Damballah dances nude over his body and there's a whole lot of mumbo jumbo about him being part of the land of the living dead. Then a swamp witch-woman curses the robbers and avenges him. It's all pretty ridiculous and is dragged out even at 71 minutes, and the acting is hilarious. Shot in New Orleans. -zwolf

Curse of the Crying Woman (B&W, 1961) AKA Maldición de la Llorona, Casa embrujada
Mexican horror movies are usually silly, but if you give this one a chance it's actually pretty creepy. Based on a legendary Mexican banshee-like figure, this tale deals with an ill-fated girl who visits her aunt, who has become a "wailing witch," just like their infamous ancestor. The aunt kills travelers in the woods to gain power, and wants her niece to help her resurrect the original witch, whose rotting (yet living) corpse remains impaled in the dungeon. Lotsa eerieness, with scarred assistants, cadaverous eye-bulging monsters in dungeons, the works. The aunt also turns into a monstrous version of herself; her eyes turn black, so she looks pretty much like an extra from The Devil's Rain. Some of the special effects aren't so hot, but that only adds to the surreal atmosphere. Definitely worth checking out. -zwolf

Curse of the Demon (B&W, 1956) AKA Night of the Demon
Jaques Tourneur directed this atmospheric adaptation of M. R. James's "Casting the Runes." Dana Andrews stars as a psychologist noted for debunking the supernatural. He runs afoul of a devil worshiper named Karswell, who slips him a piece of parchment with runic symbols on it. In three days they'll summon a demon to kill him, just as they did a colleague of his. Dana remains skeptical, but odd things start happening and he begins to get scared in spite of himself. Even a fakey-acting medium warns him of danger, and finally he starts seeing things, like luminous smoke chasing him through the woods, and decides that maybe there's something to it... One controversial aspect of the film is the demon that shows up - the director wanted to only imply it, but it looked so scary that they added extra shots of it. I think it was a good move, because that demon is a more convincingly-frightening-looking thing than you'll find in movies with more modern special effects. Demon or no, this is a horror classic with an eerie atmosphere and some powerful scenes. Not to be missed. -zwolf

Curse of the Devil (C, 1973) AKA Return of the Walpurgis, Black Harvest of Countess Dracula, Return of the Werewolf, Retorno de Walpurgis
One of Paul Naschy's Spanish werewolf flicks, with a confusing tendency to switch back and forth from past to another more-recent past. As a knight, Naschy killed a Satanist and was cursed by his witch wife, him and all his descendants. Then, in a more modern time (but still with horse-drawn carriages) one of his descendants (also Naschy) is attacked by a young witch who stabs him with a wolf's skull, condemning him to become a werewolf. There's a mad killer rumored to be loose, but the werewolf may actually be responsible... especially after Naschy kills the psycho and keeps it a secret so he'll have a scapegoat for the killings his own alter-ego's committing. There's plenty of decent-for-'73 werewolf scenes before the angry villagers finally figure out what's been happening, carrying the prerequisite torches and pitchforks. If you like Naschy werewolf flicks (and who doesn't?) this one delivers enough blood to keep you happy. -zwolf

Curse of the Headless Horseman
(C, 1972) AKA Valley of the Headless Horseman
Another effort from those hey-let's-use-the-camera auteurs who brought you Carnival of Blood. A good-natured overaged hippie inherits a ranch, on the condition that he can make it turn a profit in six months. By day, cowboys put on Wild West shows, and by night hippies put on skits and an old coot does an awful job of singing a bad cowboy song about his "saddle pal." Presumably wanting all this lameness off his property, a headless horseman shows up and throws blood on one hippie, who's later wounded when somebody replaces a real bullet for one of the blanks in the Wild West show guns. One old guy with a really dirty face is resentful of them all. A girl gets blood-splashed and then is hit by a truck. There's also a scene with one of Andy Warhol's biggies - Ultra Violet - who pays them a visit (with her Superman lunch box) and wants to buy the place... until she's promptly scared off by Mr. Dirtyface peering in the window. The bad filmmaking gives it a weird kinetic energy that works for it, like it did for Carnival of Blood. They both look like movies made by people who've never seen a movie, only heard one described, and are trying to invent the process for themselves. And barely succeeding... Entertaining if you like bad movies. The DVD is aided by the scratchiness of the print; this is one of those movies that just wouldn't look right if it wasn't pretty beaten up. -zwolf

Cut-Throats Nine (C, 1972) AKA Bronson's Revenge, Condenados a vivir
When things snowball, they sometimes go to ridiculous extremes, and back in the late 60's and early 70's Spanish and Italian westers were a thriving industry, thanks both to Sergio Leone's masterpieces and Corbucci's very violent Django. As it started to peter out, they had to turn things up a notch to pull in audiences, so something like this film was perhaps inevitable. A cavalry officer and his daughter are traveling through snowy mountains with a chain gang composed of the worst criminal scum the world has to offer. They're held up by a gang of thieves and the rest of the guards are killed and the wagons wrecked, so an odyssey of extreme brutality commences. Brown, the officer, has to get the convicts to a fort, with them constantly warning him not to blink an eye or they'll kill him. One of the guys breaks his leg and they resent carrying him, so they strangle him. Brown makes them carry his corpse, so when they get a chance they set fire to it. Then the convicts discover that their chains are gold, painted to look like steel - that's the main reason they were being transported. Brown's also sure that one of the men killed his wife, so things get even more tense. He shoots one guy through the eye and chops his leg off to get the others to keep moving. Finally they come to a cabin and the prisoners get their hands on an exhausted Brown and beat him up, then gang-rape his daughter. They leave Brown tied in the cabin and burn it down, then march on with his daughter. They get a train (which you never see - it wasn't in the budget) to cut the chains, and continue fighting among themselves and having senseless flashbacks of fighting Indians and shooting people in the head. Then they go to an outpost and do things like disembowel people and then hang them on hooks. The film wallows in extended close-ups of meaty, gut-extruding stab wounds and ends with a nihilistic bang. Ya gotta love this one if you're a fan of Django-style Westerns and Fulci-style gorefests, because you get the best of both worlds. And it may not be art, but it's not badly done, either - suspense is sustained throughout, and formulas are broken. In theatres, a William Castle-like gimmick (a "terror mask" to cover your face with during the gory parts) was provided. -zwolf

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