Someone's in the house. He's watching. He's creeping round, only you can't see him. He's watching you from the walls. He's right behind you now. Looking over your shoulder. He wants the remote control. He's a bad boy. He wants to watch bad movies. Bad bad Ronald...

Thursday, April 29, 2010

An SUV Ride to Hell!

Five Across the Eyes (2006 Anchor Bay)
It was a dicey task entering into this movie.  The seemingly chronic low budget-ness of it all was enough to make me second guess ever putting the disc into my DVD player (I’ve been to a world of hurt  watching screeners administered by backyard cinema freaks who have less ideas than they do money).  The opening act of Five Across the Eyes didn’t do much to sway, as I watched a group of high school girls talk trash while traveling a dark, unfamiliar back road , returning home after an away football game.  The girls had the ham-fisted skill of a 3rd Grader doing Hamlet, so their bickering became tedious and far too rehearsed.  Exaggerated eye rolling and sneers come seemingly on cue, you know – just like mean girls are supposed do in the movies.  The unsteady handheld camera and muddled videography had the look of inexperience, as well.
But somewhere around the thirty minute mark, things changed.  That’s when a raging lunatic lady leaps from her SUV and starts pulling the terrified and confused girls from their mini-van and assaulting them with brute anger. The whole thing just comes outa nowhere and does enough damage to unsettle the viewer.  It becomes evident, to the girls, very quickly that the woman isn’t angry about them accidently crunching her headlight back at the parking lot down the road.  No… She hurls insults at them, screaming vague charges of being a “whore,” and something to do with her husband.  The screaming woman is dead set on humiliating these girls for some blurred reason that only she knows. It’s frightening enough for these girls to be assailed with a gun, but their terror is heightened by the confusion of why is this happening?  This is what works so brilliantly in this story.  It’s not about what’s around the corner? Or what’s that noise?  The attack by this crazy lady comes plain out of nowhere.  No noise, no foreboding feelings, just instant, irreversible pain. 
Having worked in New York City for nearly thirteen years, I had become acutely aware of this kind of instant terror.  On any given day, I could have been shoved off the subway platform and into the path of a speeding train, or knocked unconscious by a deranged homeless guy yielding a brick, or maybe severely beaten by some thrill-seeking kids.  It’s an overwhelming feeling, made ever more fearsome knowing that these kinds of occurrences are real – these  thing did all happen to other New Yorkers.  Watching Greg Swinson and Ryan Thiessen's Five Across The Eyes brought memories of those fears racing back, like the crazed lady in her SUV.
And as suddenly as the fury of that first attack hit them, it ends… weirdly and bewildering the woman abruptly realizes the time and cries out that she is late for picking up her children.  Before anyone knows it, this road-raging, smartly-dressed soccer mom is in her truck and gone!  The girls pile into the battered minivan and speed away.  The attack not only focuses them, but it gives focus to the script. The incident has left them exhausted, but, like the men of Deliverence and kids from Just Before Dawn, not too tired to quarrel over blame and unresolved (mean girl) issues.  The once trivial relationships between these five girls now becomes an integral part of how they will or will not get out of this mess.  As the terror thickens and the attacks grow ever more boundary-pushing, the performances tighten. 
Each of the five girls nails their role to the blood-soaked floor with a sledge hammer, and the suspense reciprocates.  There’s the girl who gets brutally violated and regresses to a child like state to protect, even preserve, her innocence.  There’s the runt of the litter, who finds her finds that true friendship comes out during a crisis.  And most disturbing is the popular girl, who obsesses over her looks to the point of risking her friend’s lives to make sure she has no permanent scars.  And perhaps, the most dynamic role could be the “minivan.”  Virtually every scene takes place within its confines.  There’s barely enough room for these five girls, but add in a cramped camera, and the claustrophobia squeezes your tense nerves beyond belief.  It feels like you’re right in the van with these girls, yourself, going for the ride of a lifetime.
Five Across the Eyes turned out to be smart, clever fun.  just don't let that no-budget thing scare you away.

What's To Be Happy About?

I was mildly looking forward to this newest Horror/Soaper, seeing that it was created by the same folks who took over the US remake of Life On Mars (saving it from the surprisingly dreadful attempt by David E. Kelly).  I enjoyed their LOM-- despite my reluctance and fears over yet another bad BBC makeover -- but their previous effort October Road was a downright snoozer.

However, I gave Happy Town an open look.  And I can't say I was anywhere near as happy as I was with the LOM remake -- and that I went into with severe doubts..

There seemed to be a lot of things Happy Town wanted to do, or be.  They sampled the quirkiness of Twin Peaks, but it came off more as fan-appreciation night than genuine weirdness (a Sheriff that channels the dead, a forbidden staircase, the so-proper-he's-clearly-hiding-something Sam Neil, a mystery killer with a silly name: Magic Man). They wanted to tap the Lost crowd, but (even though I'm not a fan) they lacked the capabilities to draw some good ol' fashioned suspense.  And, oddly, they probably wanted to be the next -- but better and more popular -- Harper's Island. (ABC must've really had some high faith in this project, after HI lost the ground battle for these kinda shows)

Here's the thing about the last mention -- Harper's Island was a much better show.  Not just a better show than Happy, but, really, it was a well done piece of TV.  It had a wealth of great characters, interesting storylines and subplots (modeling itself after the tried and true Ten Little Indians chestnut), and some good 80s style horror action.  It was too bad CBS didn't try another round of summertime horror cliffhangers.

It isn't just the lack of real imagination by the shows' creators, but the overall production.  The plot is a bit unfocused -- I mean, yeah, it's a mystery that will unravel over loads of time, but what the hell is it that we're supposed to be coming back for?  To find out who the Magic Man killer is?  Not that worried about it.  To find out why the Sheriff suddenly starts talking out of turn?  Uh, no.  Is it to be entranced by the wonderful dialogue (sampling:  BOY - I love you so much I don't know what day it is.  GIRL - It's grow-a-pair day)?  Well, maybe for a good chuckle.

I'll maybe give the show another shot next week -- hey, I'm a diehard for this kinda TV!  But, I don't hold out much hope.

What I Did On My Summer Vacation '77 (or why I'm not a Star Wars fan)

The Summer of 1977… That was the summer when everything changed.  After those few sunny, splendid summer months the movies were forever changed. 
Not only that, movie marketing changed.  Even the movie goers changed – a whole new generation of fanatics were born, sprung from the fertile imagination of one filmmaker.  A generation of fans so enthusiastic, so rabid that they would one day, and forever after, alter the way movies were brought to the screen (or not brought to the screen).  That was the summer of Star Wars.  And it was the worst thing that ever happened to me.
I can’t say that I hated Star Wars, ‘cause I didn’t, really.  It’s more like a kill-the-messenger kinda thing.  After that first outer space cowboy chase, or the iconic bzzwert of the light saber ©, I could see that filmmaking would become something different, pushing style over substance.    I saw the writing on the wall… or rather, the writing on the screen, scrolling off into space.

I may have been just a 14 year-old kid from upstate NY, with only a couple short hairs in the armpit worth of life experience, but the one thing I definitely did know about was the movies.  I watched them since I was a squirrel nut.  Every day I was in front of the boob tube, watching something or other. I read about the movies, too.  I may not have seen all the movies that I knew about, but I read about them. I knew every player from Lillian Gish to Bogart to Burt Reynolds.  I even knew who the producers and directors were, and some of the writers, too.  Oscar night was up there with Christmas and Halloween on my list of days that I would enjoy the hell out of. 
The movies that made an impact on my youth weren’t the usual kid fare, either.  Screw Disney. The hell with Benji.   Wizard of Oz was fine and good, but what really tweaked me was a clandestine viewing (on the Starz channel at some family friends house) of Rosemary’s Baby and Lina Wertmüller’s  The Seduction of Mimi .  These were the kind of movies I could really enjoy, filled with rich, deeply etched characters, and stories that seemed to unfold around you.  I really did love movies.  And, with all the hyperbole surrounding Star Wars —the figurines, the behind-the-scenes stories –  I can remember recognizing that the movies that I enjoyed, the stories and characters, were all in danger of being blown out of the universe like a Death Star.  
What really drove this point home for me was the conundrum of another movie that came out that same summer.   William Friedkin’s Sorcerer.
You couldn’t find two movies more opposite each other than these two.  They were like chicken wings and caviar – not even on the same menu.    One was from the new kid on the block, unproven, but bold, the other from the old guard, trusted and respected.  And what was most telling was the treatment of these two directors and their films.  Lucas couldn’t have been more loved if Santa Claus himself made him newly in charge of Christmas.  He seemed to have the magic marketing touch, which pleased studio suits and the consumers nicely. Friedkin, on the other hand, a multi-Oscar winner, fresh off the success (and controversy) of The Exorcist and The French Connection, an auteur filmmaker deeply invested in the industry, couldn’t catch a break.  He’d thrilled people with his notorious car chases through the streets of NYC, and pissed people off with his blasphemous religious horror flick (to which they still seemed to swarm to), but with Sorcerer, everyone seemed to shun him.
So, while every other kid across the country – and many a man-child, too – were crawling out of their Star Wars bed sheets to go to their umpteenth viewings of Princess Leah’s cinnamon rolls, I was, myself frequenting the local bijou.  I saw Sorcerer three times during the one week run at the Westmar Cinema, and I was mesmerized (and that may have been due to the hypnotic soundtrack by Tangerine Dream).  I was already a fan of Roy Scheider and his shark-battling, good-guy toughness, but geezus! that insane scene with the ten ton truck trying to make it’s way over a ramshackle rope bridge, as a driving rain storm rocked it from side to side – as the girls like to say these days… OMFG!
Let me try and capture the excitement for you.  We’re deep in the jungles of South America, the skies have opened up like the day Noah built his arc, and a band of fugitives are maneuvering through the trees in a fifty ton truck, carrying cases of volatile TNT which, if jostled just enough, could blow them all to China in tiny bits.  They’ve already lost one truck off a cliff-side dirt road, and endured everything from murderous bandits to fallen trees.  Now they’ve come upon a most insurmountable obstacle: a dilapidated, narrow rope bridge that spans a raging river.  The choice is there is no choice – they need to cross. So, Scheider takes the wheel, steering the five hundred ton behemoth over splintering boards and frayed rope.  The temptation would be to gun it, but that would mean certain death.  Shrewdly, and begrudgingly, he crosses slowly, inch by excruciating inch.  Co-hort Paco Raba has the treacherous task of guiding him, placing himself precariously seated on the wavering overpass. The truck trudges along, splintering boards, the wheels turning with painful precession, compensating for wind and fear.  The monsoon winds are so perilous that the truck doesn’t sway so much as swings widely, so widely that it comes within a degree of horizontal, tossing Paco around and threatening to spill everyone into the river.  The entire event takes only minutes of screen time, but gauging by the amount of sweat that’s soaked into the fabric of your theater seat, it feels like hours.
Had this scene been created by a team of tech-heads with computers, instead of filmed on location, the impact, the suspense would’ve never been as palpable. The beauty of it is that it’s all real – the truck, the bridge, the water, the motion, the peril.  There’s no CGI strings attached.  Sure, the action is controlled by stunt people, but the point is, it’s corporeal.  It’s organic.  You feel every ounce of sweat and fear, because the thing is happening before your eyes, not in some controlled digital dimension.
It’s this scene on the bridge that would proscribe my aversion to CGI or other big bang effects.  The thing is, that stuff doesn’t move me.  I can’t get revved up watching a pair of motorcycle dinks, speeding down a digital city street, bumping each other off the road. I don’t get blown away when Bruce Willis ducks down as two CGI’d cars narrowly miss him, flying over his head in perfect sync, because, to me, there’s no real danger.  The more real they make it look real, the less real it plays. 
Hell, I’m a student of the Evel Knievel class of bone-breaking stunts.   So, knowing that they’ve spent three months  digitally maneuvering the hairs on an green ogre’s head to flop and flow like real natural hair—that ain’t filmmaking to me.  You think Friedkin stopped camera because he noticed that Scheider’s thinning hair wasn’t flitting about properly?  When did spending millions of dollars, and gallons of soy  lattes, on getting the topography of the ocean floor excruciatingly perfect,  so much so that it looks exactly like the real thing, become a part of story-telling? How did the exact replication of our daily minutia become filmmaking? 
I know I’m being a royal buzzkill, but, for me, I go for the old school.  I like the clunky effects designed by craftsman – they’re real, they’re there.  They serve the actors well, ‘cause they have to react to them. CGI has it’s uses, no doubt, but when the emphasis centers on how the movie looks, instead of how it feels, the suspension of disbelief is about as stable as a suspended bridge with a five hundred ton truck on it.  The more real they make the images, the less real it becomes. It’s the imagination in a film that makes it real. 
Oh, I did eventually see Star Wars, and I gotta say it was one of the most memorable nights of my life.  Seriously!  I remember it vividly, ‘cause I saw it in NYC with my oldest brother, on the very night that the Son of Sam was caught: August 10, 1977.  That occasion actually meant more to me than the movie did.  I mean, that’s just me.

Originally Printed in Penny Blood Magazine 2009

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Ti West Set to Film THE INNKEEPERS

Dark Sky Films announced the production on Ti West’s highly anticipated THE INNKEEPERS – his follow up to the critically acclaimed THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL. The shoot will be taking place at The Yankee Pedlar Inn in Connecticut, a hotel long known for being haunted in real life.

Sara Paxton (Last House on the Left, Superhero Movie) is set to star as the lead in this classic ghost story, which is written and will be directed by West. The film will also star Pat Healy, Kelly McGillis and George Riddle among others.

THE INNKEEPERS is centered around the final two employees working in a haunted hotel before it goes out of business. After over one hundred years in business, The Yankee Pedlar Hotel is about to close its doors for good. The last remaining clerks, Claire (Sara Paxton), a twenty something that has come to terms with her lot in life, and Luke (Pat Healy), a computer-smart loner, are convinced that the hotel is haunted and are determined to prove it. As time ticks down to the final days of operation, mysterious guests check in including Leanne Rease-Jones (Kelly McGillis), a former TV actress turned psychic, and an old man insistent on staying in room 353. As several strange occurrences begin to add up, both Claire and Luke must make the crucial decision on what to believe and what not to believe...

The film, which blends the classic ghost story style with a solid modern twist is being produced by Derek Curl, Peter Phok, Ti West and Larry Fessenden by Dark Sky Films in partnership with Glass Eye Pix.

West’s 2009 success, The House of the Devil, was praised by audiences and critics alike. The New York Times’ Manohla Dargis wrote, “After years of vivisectionist splatter, here is a horror movie with real shivers.”

CONTACT - Some Weird Shit From Jeremiah Kipp

If you’ve had the pleasure – or rather, the extreme discomfort – of seeing Jeremiah Kipp’s THE CHRISTMAS PARTY, then you’re already tuned in on what to expect from a Jeremiah Kipp film.  There’s an element of the absurd and dupilicty that lies just beneath the sanity of everyday life.  In CHRISTMAS PARTY a young boy learns that things aren’t the least be as they seem.  And in Kipp’s latest short film CONTACT, an young couple out looking for thrills find that their idea of fun can lead to a world of Clive Barker-esque pain – not only for them, but for others.
In smoky black and whites tones, the film opens with an older couple setting the dining room table.  They lay out three settings, but their faces are tinged with sadness.  Is the third setting for a guest, or in memorium?  Then, suddenly, there is a gentle knock at the door.  This cuts to a young couple, in love and out for adventures of the dangerous kind.  They make their way through a maze of a ruined old stadium and the baleful looking souls who hang around inside, until they find who they were looking for.  Posed elegantly in the soft light, with a cigarette gently held in his hand, is the dealer (played by cult favorite Alan Rowe Kelly, who also co-produced the film).  Next to him is a table lined with medicine bottles and trays, looking more like a pharmacy that a drug den.  The man questions whether the couple is really prepared for what he offers, but the young woman (Zoe Daelman Chlanda) impresses upon the dealer that they are.  Once the couple returns to their place, it becomes apparent they aren’t ready at all for the full power of the drug they’ve taken.  Is it some Ecstasy like drug?  Or a hallucinogenic?  Whatever it is, the lovers’ mojo suddenly turns to horror – and bloody good gory horror, at that.
CONTACT could easily be labeled horror, for all the disturbing images and the overall content, but – like all good horror – the film goes much deeper than graphic imagery or psychological mind games. It questions what is important in one’s life.  Fun?  Self?  Duty? This is horror for all those who are weary of the mindless chills and thrills of SAW and the retro-remakes – it’s a thinking man’s horror flick.  Kipp knows how to play with the audiences wits, presenting the narrative in a manner that doesn’t feed the story, but rather employs the viewers senses.  Like with CHRISTMAS PARTY and POD, he poses questions and presents issues without flatly giving out or determining the answers, leaving it up to the viewer what they want to make of it all. 

Monday, April 26, 2010

I’ll tell you this much, Mr. Miller enjoyed the chance to once again watch a PYT prancing around in clinging high waist jeans, a plaid blouse and rockin’ a feathered Farrah hair-do. It brought me back to my days (the 70s, that is).
I was hoping to catch a glimpse of some leg warmers and a pair of lady workboots, too, but no luck this time.
Can't be too picky...

80s fashion isn’t the only retro-action going on in Dark Sky’s much anticipated THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL. Writer/director Ti West (previous of the THE ROOST) not only modeled his film after the pre-HALLOWEEN/FRIDAY THE 13TH era of 70s horror, but he also physically placed the story in the early 1980s, before the modern age of communications – you know, back when you used to have to let the phone ring a dozen times before anyone would answer. No cell phones, no Internet, no texts messaging, and barely even an answering machine could be had. What’s a girl to do when she’s stranded in a creepy old house out in the middle of nowhere? Why, snoop around, from room to room, until you find trouble!
After committing to renting an apartment she can’t afford, Samantha (played by relative newcomer Jocelin Donahue) finds a babysitting job posted on a job board outside her dorm. When she arrives at the creepy old house on the outskirts of town, she questions her good luck. Her paranoia is fueled once she meets the people inside: the insanely tall and quiet Mr. Ulman (played by the insanely tall and quiet Tom Noonan – the original Hannibal Lector from MANHUNTER), and his wife (cult icon Mary Waronov). It isn’t enough that they’ve lured Samantha out there under false pretenses – it’s not a baby she’s being asked to sit for, but an elderly mother locked away upstairs – or that the well-weathered Mrs. Ulman tries to seduce her, but there have been reports on the radio of weird goings on around the area. But none of that is cause for concern after Samantha is offered a couple hundred bucks for the job. Bad idea!
Up to this point West keeps the pacing admirably old school. He expresses his appreciation for Polanski’s genre films, and he’s attempted to model his own after ROSEMARY’S BABY and REPULSION. But the pacing of those tap more into the inner turmoil of the characters, whereas HOUSE rather adeptly reflects the pacing of many of the other suspense flicks from the era. Films like PLAY MISTY FOR ME , or TV movies like BAD RONALD and THE SCREAMING WOMAN that would offset the approaching nastiness by grounding the first act in real world minutia, instead of pouring on the gloomy foreshadowing .
It gets fairly tedious in the middle act. The characters, though well played, never develop beyond their archetypes, and, let’s face it, the fear of murderous cults and Satanic slayings may have added to the audiences unease back in the days of the Manson Family and Son of Sam, but it doesn’t really work up much but nostalgic spookiness for todays audience. Fear not horror fans (and gore fans, you get the payoff you deserve in thecrazy, bloody climax.
It’s a treat to see a film that isn’t afraid to be just plain creepy. There’s none of the not-so-clever twists or any over analysis of stuff that doesn’t need analyzing. THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL is great late-night viewing, just like you used to enjoy.
And check out the great 70s style zooms and freeze frames in the HOUSE trailer! This flick is sure to be a treat for all fans of retro horror.

Anchor Bay Announces Release of THE CRAZIES on DVD and Blu-ray

April 26, 2010
 “Truly terrifying and suspenseful.”
-- Ain’t It Cool News
Available On DVD, Blu-ray™ and Digital Download
Tuesday, June 29th
From Anchor Bay Entertainment

BEVERLY HILLS, CA – Something strange is happening in the picture-perfect Midwestern town of Ogden Marsh. One by one, the inhabitants are transforming into mindless killers…and no one is immune. On June 29th, Anchor Bay Entertainment will unleash The Crazies on DVD and Blu-ray™ (Pre-book May 27, 2010). A terrifying reinvention of the George A. Romero classic, the Overture Films release shocked audiences with its nightmarish vision of the American Dream gone horribly wrong, as a husband and wife find themselves battling for survival as their friends and family descend into homicidal madness. Directed by Breck Eisner (Sahara) and starring Timothy Olyphant (“Deadwood,” “Justified”), Radha Mitchell (Surrogates), Joe Anderson (Across The Universe) and Danielle Panabaker (Friday the 13th), The Crazies are ready to overtake America all over again! In addition, the film marks the first time an Anchor Bay Entertainment title will be available day-and-date for digital download via iTunes.

The Crazies DVD and Blu-ray™ features more than 90 minutes of bonus features, including several behind-the-scenes featurettes, storyboards, theatrical trailers, TV spots, and much, much more. Look carefully and you might even find an Easter Egg! SRP is $29.98 for the DVD and $39.98 for the Blu-ray™ edition, which also contains a bonus disc with a digital copy of the film. Among the featurettes are a tribute to the original film’s creator George Romero and an insider’s glimpse into the startling special makeup effects created by makeup wizard Robert Hall (“Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles,” Laid To Rest).

When a mysterious toxin accidentally enters the water supply, one by one the townspeople fall victim to an uncontrollable urge for sadistic violence and horrific bloodshed. In an attempt to contain the epidemic, the military steps in, using deadly force to close off access into and out of town, but also abandoning the few healthy citizens to the escalating carnage. For Sheriff Dutton (Olyphant), his pregnant wife Judy (Mitchell), medical assistant Becca (Panabaker) and deputy Russell (Anderson), Ogden Marsh is now a bloody arena bordered by wheat fields and farms. Unable to trust former neighbors and friends, targeted by the authorities and terrified of contracting the illness themselves, they are forced to band together, in a desperate attempt to escape both their murderous neighbors -- and their government captors.

Fangoria Magazine called The Crazies “A fast-moving, exciting thrill ride that builds to a flat-out apocalyptic conclusion,” while Colin Covert of the Minneapolis Star Tribune declared it “a slick fearjerker.” BoxOffice Magazine said “This shocker will have horror fans jumping out of their seats,” while Marshall Fine from The Huffington Post bluntly warned the film “will scare the crap out of you.”

The Crazies standard definition DVD and Blu-ray™ exhaustively chronicles the film’s creation, including an audio commentary from director Eisner; the behind-the-scenes featurettes “Behind The Scenes with Director Breck Eisner,” Paranormal Pandemics, “The George A. Romero Template,” “Visual Effects in Motion,” and “Make-up Mastermind: Rob Hall in Action;” The Crazies Motion Comic Episodes 1 and 2; the teaser trailer and three theatrical trailers; ten TV spots; The Crazies Motion Comic Trailer; Storyboards: Building A Scene; and a Behind The Scenes Photo Gallery.

About Anchor Bay Entertainment

Anchor Bay Entertainment is the home entertainment division of Starz Media, LLC. It includes the Anchor Bay Films and Manga Entertainment brands. It distributes feature films, children’s entertainment, fitness, TV series, documentaries, anime and other filmed entertainment on DVD and Blu-ray™ formats. It is the exclusive distributor in the U.S. of the theatrical titles from Overture Films. Headquartered in Beverly Hills, CA, Anchor Bay Entertainment has offices in Troy, MI, as well as Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia. Starz Media ( is a controlled subsidiary of Liberty Media Corporation attributed to the Liberty Capital Group.

Don't Check In To Horror Hospital -- It'll Kill You!

Dark Sky and MPI have announced that they're bring back a cult favorite.

From Dark Sky:



Fright-Flick Favorite Michael Gough Is at His Most Sinister in Antony Balch’s Wild Feast of Sex and Gore, Hitting DVD from Dark Sky Films on June 15, 2010

“One of the greatest – if not the greatest – horror films ever made in the UK.”
– British Horror Films

 “[Twists] the conventional elements of the horror movie to a new level of grotesquerie.” 
– Time Out Film Guide

New York, NY (April 12, 2010) Before he played the mild-mannered butler Alfred in Tim Burton’s “Batman” movies, Michael Gough was an icon of horror, appearing in such classics as “Berserk,” “Trog” and “Horrors of the Black Museum.” But none of his roles can compare to his performance as sadistic and deranged Dr. Christian Storm in HORROR HOSPITAL. Director Antony Balch’s legendary 1973 shocker has now been restored to its uncensored glory and will be released on DVD by genre masters Dark Sky Films, via MPI Media Group, on June 15, 2010. The disc, carrying an SRP of $19.98, includes a new feature-length commentary.

As with many British fright flicks of the ’70s, HORROR HOSPITAL pours humor, sex and abundant nudity into the macabre mix, but Anthony Balch (“Secrets of Sex”) amps up the action to eye-popping levels. Exhausted young rock singer Jason (Robin Askwith, “Confessions of a Window Cleaner,” “Let’s Get Laid”) decides to visit a rural retreat for some rest and rejuvenating treatment. Along the way, Jason meets Judy (Vanessa Shaw), a pretty girl who is also traveling to the “health hotel,” where her aunt is the matron. But when the new couple arrives for their relaxing vacation, they instead become trapped in a nightmare of wandering psychotic patients, cheeky dwarves, decapitations, lethal luxury sedans and a diabolical plan to create a slave army of lobotomized teenage zombies – all at the hands of the domineering Aunt Harris (Ellen Pollock) and her husband, the skull-drilling Dr. Storm.

Skip Martin (“Vampire Circus”) and Dennis Price (“Theater of Blood”) co-star in this bloody/campy cult favorite, now transferred in HD from the original 35mm camera negative and featuring a revealing new commentary with producer Richard Gordon (“Fiend Without a Face”), moderated by Tom Weaver. The DVD also includes an extensive still gallery which features selects from the personal library of Mr. Gordon, as well as rare lobby cards from Germany

Dark Sky Films’ DVD features the rare uncut, uncensored version of HORROR HOSPITAL and presents the film in its original widescreen aspect ratio, enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

About Dark Sky Films
Dark Sky Films is dedicated to the discovery, preservation and production of new and classic horror, sci-fi and cult films from around the world. Based in Chicago, Dark Sky Films is a wholly owned subsidiary of The MPI Media Group -- one of the largest independent entertainment companies producing and distributing a compelling slate of the world’s most respected cinema, documentaries, performances and television programs.

About MPI Media Group
The MPI Media Group is a leading producer, distributor and licensor of films, home entertainment, historical footage and more. Founded in 1976, Chicago-based MPI Media Group remains one of the largest independent entertainment companies producing and distributing a compelling slate of the world’s most respected cinema, documentaries, performances and television programs. MPI’s wholly owned subsidiaries include MPI Home Entertainment, Dark Sky Films, and the WPA Film Library.

Sunday, April 18, 2010


True sleazehounds and grindhouse nuts can appreciate the marvels of a film’s budget that equals the price of a used AMC Gremlin.  So, if you’re looking to sidestep the high profile 70s remakes from Follywood, and want to find some cheap, sleazy cinematic mayhem, then you need to check out this Argentinean gem, done on a reportedly $5k budget. 
In a quaint little house out in the Argentina countryside, a group of young chicas prance around in their bikinis, preparing for a birthday party for an expected guest.    All is hunky dory, with lots of sunshine and low angle shots of the  cute little tushies,  gloriously and barely contained. Yeah!  I know – how cool  It gets better when the chicas breakout in a full on dance sequence, bouncing and line dancing to some fresh mix on the CD player.  All is just merry and bright, and you start glancing around for the nearest box of tissues.  That is until one of the girls gets like really annoyed with the skipping CD and doesn’t want to participate in the house-sanctioned antics, anymore.  Before you can say “wipe the disc in a circular motion!” a 300 pound, Chullo cap wearing monster of a man, barrels down on the hapless chick, tossing a sledge hammer to the side of her head.  And before the blood can seep from the girl’s opened head, the brute stomps back to his shack out back.  What the flipflop!!
What we find out, as a result of this, um… reprimanding, is that the girls of the house are required to adhere to some simple, yet odd and stringent, house rules:  silenceo! (do NOT speak about what goes on in the house), obediencia! (obedience), and felicidad! (have fun – no  matter what!).   If they can manage to obey these rules, well, then you  won’t get pummeled about the chest, neck and head area. 
On the surface, 36 Pasos could be yet another minor version of Agatha Christie’s well-worn tale of Ten Little Indiansexcept done in bikinis. And what’s not to like about that, if’n you’re a guy?  But, like many of the genre’s classics, there’s a little bit more under the surface, there for those of us in the audience who like to dig through to find the underlying blood-soaked socialogical message.  Like many of his grindhouse kin, director Adrián García Bogliano depicts the worst kind of mistreatment of women.  But, he does it with a clever wink.  The characters in the film may be misogynists, but much like Asian nasty Takashi Miike does,  Bogliano plays that tender line between titillation and appreciation smartly.  He’s certainly a horndog, but that doesn’t give automatic membership to the men’s woman-hatin’ club.
36 Pasos is a clever throwback to the sexploitation flicks of the 60s and 70s, only with a smart and witty bite to it.