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...

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Why Am I Watching?

I'm so unbelievably bored watching this movie -- about a chick who video blogs her own murder -- that I decided to blog my own slow, tortuous death.  I think the first clue that this movie would suck is that it's produced by the same guys who brought us Saw. I hate Saw.  Actually, I didn't know about the producers, until I googled the movie and made that discovery.  Surprisingly, the DVDs distributor chose not to advertise that fact on the packaging.  Guess maybe I'm not the only one who hates that movie.

Another clue this movie would suck is the terrible copy on the DVD package.  In part, it reads "Millions watched in horror as popular sexy vlogger Brooke Marks was murdered... during one of her webcasts..."  Seriously?  Millions?  Many network shows struggle to get "millions of viewers."  Blogs don't.  Okay, yeah.  It's fiction, I know.
This buzz bows!

I'm just gonna go ahead and alert you to some spoilage, here, because, really, this film is so bad that I need to vent.  If you're astute enough to the gimmickry in Saw, then, no doubt, you'll know that there is going to be some kind of twisty plot trickery at the film's climax.  And, no doubt, if you're astute enough to the overused gimmicks of bad horror, you'll easily figure out that Brooke staged her own murder.  What sucks about this, is that Vlog director/writer Joshua Butler so brazingly pulls this gimmick out, straight from his ass, not even bothering to set it up properly, or even realistically.

The first 30 hours of the movie (oh, did I say hours?) show the uncharismatic Brooke Marks talking to her millions of vlog fans, via her webcam, sharing her supposedly interesting stories of loser boyfriends and h8rs who ambush her in public.  One gets the notion that she's suppose to be funny.  She mimics all the ladies from SNL, and spits out dialogue as if it were standup comedy.  The thing is... she ain't really funny.  Or even likable.

Oh, but wait... what's this?  Now she's, um... scared?  Can't really tell.  She's talking into her web camera... something about being scared.  Yes, that's it!  Sorry.  I couldn't tell.  She's acting more like she's watching Benji, instead of video of her exes being slaughtered on her computer screen.  But, wait... I thought she was the murderer, you ask.  Exactly!!  This is the part where I was saying that Butler was lousy at setting up his big twist.  Apparently, he couldn't figure out how to have his big surprise twist without anyone figuring it out, so he didn't even bother with the details.  He simply threw it out there, and then back-peddled his way out of it.  We sit and watch the narrative lie -- from the filmmakers POV -- as Brooke gets a phone message from the killer, an then sits down to watch on her computer (with Benji tears) as the killer reveals how "he" murdered everyone.  These scenes make no sense once the twist is revealed.  Their only purpose is to not-so-cleverly throw the viewer off the truth.  On top of this, we watch as this male alter ego of Brooke's (who we see follows her around) boldly marches out onto the dance floor at a happening club, surrounded by her friends, and stabs her BFF to death, right in front of everyone... and we're expected to believe that no one recognized her. 

I get the whole alter ego thing, and that Brooke is living inside her head.  But, this set up is poorly conceived.  As the audience, we're not watching Brooke's interpretations of what happened, as told through her blog, but watching it as it happens through the director's lens.  Butler cuts the action back and forth, from her vlog entries and the narrative of Brooke's real life, but without somehow tying them together.  His storytelling skills have failed him (and the viewer), whicj lead him to just create a lie of a movie.  What better way to fool the audience then to simply not give them any information, and then -- bam! -- unload on them.  Butler might faired better had he just filtered the story through Brooke and her vlog.  This way, the deception is from the deranged mind of the story's character.  Instead, the deception comes from the unimaginative mind of a poor storyteller.

Andian Garcia Bogliano Will Not Die Alone!!

Great News for Our Friend Adrian Garcia Bogliano!!
Hey, is that Bolgliano film finally coming out on DVD?


SYNAPSE FILMS Rewards Fantastic Fest Favorite ADRIAN GARCIA BOGLIANO with Triple-Crown Feature Film Pickup

ROMULUS, MI - September 28, 2011 - Synapse Films has snared rights to three terrifying feature films by celebrated Fantastic Fest and SXSW filmmaker Adrián García Bogliano, the Argentine director of festivl favorite COLD SWEAT and the upcoming PENUMBRA, grabbed by IFC Midnight on the eve of the film's Fantastic Fest world premiere.

In ROOMS FOR TOURISTS a busload of girls fall prey to a town of terror... what connects the victims? The young filmmaker of WATCH'EM DIE takes a job that leads to horror. Four young girls stop to help a woman in the street and it leads to rape horror and death in the breath-stopping I WILL NOT DIE ALONE.

"I am a huge fan of Adrian's films and have seen every single one. I feel that he may be the most talented new filmmaker I have come across," enthuses Synapse head Jerry Chandler. "He is a master of making the most of miniscule budgets and his attention to detail is unmatched. I was hooked when I first saw ROOMS FOR TOURISTS---the atmospheric dread is palpable early on. I WILL NOT DIE ALONE is somewhat similar to I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE, only it's a great movie! And WATCH'EM DIE is much more fun to watch than Hostel or its myriad imitations."

Synapse Films exec Jerry Chandler negotiated the deal with the filmmaker.

Synapse Films has recently released brand-new remastered Blu-ray releases of James Glickenhaus' THE EXTERMINATOR, William Lustig's MANIAC COP, and Frank Henenlotter's FRANKENHOOKER, with Tarantino-producer Lawrence Bender's INTRUDER out this December.

Monday, September 26, 2011

PEEPHOLE REVIEW: The Exterminator (1980 -- Synapse Films)

A Cop with a Death Wish
 Yes, another title in the long list of Death Wish knock offs.  But this one has the scene with the bad guy being made into a nice ground chuck burger.  Fairly low on original plot and character shading, but it's a far cry better than many of the revenge flicks that cluttered the shelves at the VHS rental ship.  It's loads more fun, too.
I'm gonna have to put an 80% fat label on you, big guy
Robert Ginty (retro TV hounds will recognize him from The Paper Chase) plays a Vietnam vet whose post traumatic stress is amped up when a war buddy is made a vegetable of by a pack of thugs, called the "Ghetton Ghouls."  Bucking the trend of beefed up, tough guy vigilante types, Ginty pulls back the reigns, working in the more mellow mood of Jan-Michael Vincent in White Line Fever
Man, don't harsh my mellow... or they'll be a firestorm
Director James Glickenhaus steers The Exterminator from the regular street fighting man action of the other vigilante films, by ratcheting up the violence with some real sick-n-twisted kills.  It's like Ginty is an unmasked version of Jason Vorhees, taking quiet pleasure in each gory kill.  Synapse Films did a great job restoring these scenes to their original nastiness, and delivering the cult classic in a nifty Blu-ray & DVD set.

Friday, September 23, 2011

PEEPHOLE REVIEW: @UrFrenz (2011)

It's teen o'clock -- do you know where your kid is? 

 @UrFrenz is a startling look at the real life perils that many of our teenage kids face. Inspired by the cyber-bullying case of Megan Meier, @UrFrenz isn’t content to be the formulaic “wake up, parents” Lifetime movie. Instead, it opens the front door and walks straight up to your kid’s room and shows you the real secret life of an American teenager.

The opening shot finds Catherine (Lily Holleman) running as fast as she can, trying to escape whatever is haunting her. She collapses to the ground, opening up her phone to read a text, and then lets out a guttural, tortured scream. Cut to Catherine, back in her room, before it all started. She’s a “cutter.” In front of her mirror she surveys self-inflicted scars across her stomach, arms, and thighs. The scars have healed, but she hasn’t. Her pain stems, in part, from her outsider status at school, but probably mostly from the breakup of a childhood friendship. Madison (Najarra Townsend) has joined the popular crowd, leaving her awkward friend behind as a minor casualty. This may be just a coming-of-age lesson for most kids, but Catherine’s lack of self worth and depression has put her on edge, so much so, that her mother, Beth (CaroleAnne Johnson), has locked all the knives, scissors and sharp objects away in a heavy lock box.

Catherine's a good kid. She tries to move on, forging a new friendship and taking her meds. But, after overhearing Madison’s ex brag about getting some post-breakup oral from Madison, Catherine thoughtlessly relays the gossip to her friend. And this is where the trouble starts. When Madison’s mom, Debbie (Gayla Goehl), gets wind of it, she secretly plots against her daughter’s former BFF for her supposed gossiping. With the help of Jacob (Michael Robert Kelly), her new young gofer at work, she creates a UrFrenz account (a fictional version of FaceBook/MySpace) under the pseudonym Brandon, a fake stud teen boy who will take an interest in the insecure loner (in Catharine’s fleshed out fantasy chat sessions, Brandon is played by James Maslow). Like a pissed off middle school girl with low blood sugar, Debbie created this persona to needle Catherine into confessing that she's spread rumors about her daughter. But, something else seems to be at play here, as Debbie's tapped into her inner Mean Girl, and viciously aims to cause major damage in Catherine’s life. She succeeds. Possibly beyond her wildest intentions.

Director Jeff Phillips blends natural dialogue and performances with the dynamic handheld camera work of J. Soren Viuf, to put the emphasis on character. Working from his own screenplay, Phillips shrewdly avoids the preachy tone so familiar in the scare film sub-genre, and makes the message hard hitting and unmistakable. @UrFrenz is not just a one-note warning that “this could happen to your child!” In an age where parents become so overprotective, and abuse the “kids will be kids” rhetoric, Phillips sends out @UrFrenz as a shoulder-shaking wake up call for parents to, not just become more aware, but to take an active and responsible role in their kid’s lives. Wide berth is given to the facts of the story, because really, the facts don’t matter once Debbie lets her wrecking ball swing. It doesn’t matter if Madison hooked up with her ex, or not. It doesn’t matter if Catherine dropped the gossip out of spite, or just as release. The facts won’t change the catastrophe that follows, once the momma bear lashes out to protect her cub.

Phillips has done a great job at making his film accessible, because really -- this movie needs to be seen! The kids in this film talk like kids, not with the pop culture eloquence of a John Hughes character. Their discussions are tempered, but urgent at the same time – they’re not gonna spill their beans at every turn. And the parents aren’t the wise, stern, but tender loving kind – and they certainly don’t have all the answers. The teens in the audience will surely find much that is familiar: bullying, clique wars, sexting, suicide.  The bonus is that they'll get a look at these topics from a neutral, but unglamorous standpoint. As well, the parents will get involved, not just out of fear, but from the information available. Phillips script provides them a lesson, at the hands of Debbie’s office intern, Jacob, on the ins and outs of the cyber chat world: how kids talk and what they think, the hip Internet speak… All of this, mashed up with some breakout performances by Lily Holleman and Najarra Townsend, make @UrFrenz a must see.

Monday, September 5, 2011

BAD RONALD INTERVIEW with Adrian Garcia Bogliano

Watch Him Go!
All in a day's work!

If you haven't seen an Adrian Garcia Bogliano flick, please be advised to do so -- immediately!  He, along with his filmmaking team at Paura Flics, has been a bloody force in the Argentine horror film world, as well as on the International scene.  With films like 36 Pasos (36 Steps), and No moriré sola (I'll Never Die Alone), Bogliano has explored the dark side of humanity with the sexuality and violence of films like I Spit on Your Grave, and Dressed to Kill, and the style and finesse of Tarantino and Peckinpah.   

His films are fast and furious as they are paced and methodical.  They are full of gorgeous eye candy, but harbor a scathing intellect that challenges the viewer to think beyond all the blood, mayhem and sex.  I'm hoping that one day soon, Bogliano will get the recognition in the States that he deserves.  Adrian did me a kindness and took some questions from me.  read 'em, and then go find his flicks and devour 'em!
This isn't gonna end right

Bad Ronald:  Who are the filmmakers who influenced you?

Adrián García Bogliano:  I started thinking of being a filmmaker after I saw Dust Devil when I was thirteen years old, so I guess Richard Stanley is one of the biggest influences. Later on, Quentin Tarantino, Shinya Tsukamoto, Nicolas Roeg, Brian de Palma, Peter Medak, Tinto Brass... but I like to keep watching films and finding new sources of inspiration.

I'm really glad that I'm a film lover that keeps watching movies every day and even so, I keep finding amazing films that really shake me deeply. When I was a kid I felt affected by very different types of films, from very violent ones like Spanish rape and revenge Coto de Caza or Class of 1984 to the creepy and yet not violent at all Picnic at Hanging Rock. Later, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Tokyo Fist, The Blair Witch Project, I stand alone, Gummo and more recently I discovered films like Unhinged, or Bo Arne Vibenius' Breaking Point... things that keep me in awe.

BR:  Had you always been a horror fan?

AGB:  Yes, all my life. I grew up -like I guess most directors of my generation- watching this brutal horrors of the seventies and eighties on double and triple features on the cinemas and on VHS. It was an amazing moment, I think. The decision of making horror films started with my love for the genre but also had a lot of relation with the lack of production of horror films in Argentina.

BR:  Your films are very much driven by character. The action is always very intense because it’s motivated by how your characters react to the situations they are in, or find themselves in. Most horror (American horror that is) these days is more about trying to invent some kind of clever situation and forcing the characters and plot to fall into place. Can you tell me about your storytelling style?

This IS gonna end right
AGB:  I think it depends on the type of movie you want to make. When I was a teenager I made a torture porn, a fake sort of snuff film and it helped me to realize what I don't like of horror films. I don't care if the ending is going to be happy or sad, but I do care whether the characters are going to have a chance to do things or if they are going to be just puppets that bleed and scream. I think the only film I love where characters are there without any chance of doing anything, and are there just to suffer is the original Funny Games. But obviously it's something Haneke was trying to tell through that horror, and the actors are so good that you not only feel pity but you actually like them... 

And the problem is, for me, that if you don't like the characters, and you are just using them to get killed in a funny way, the film is not going to work. And I also love to have good villains that have even stronger motivations than the good guys. Probably the only film where they don't show their motivations is in I'll never die alone, because I had an idea of why they were doing that, but I wanted to show them as a bunch of beasts. Even so, in that film nobody explains much of themselves.

BR:  The horror genre (and similar genres) has always been a place where social and political undertones (and overtones) have lurked about – whether intentional or otherwise. Your films, as far as I’ve gleaned, certainly have a great deal of social commentary. Is this your intent? If so: Do you start out with a purpose, or does the message come out with the development?

AGB:  I don't think a film can work if it's just an excuse to make a political or social statement. You got to have good characters and a strong plot. I believe a lot in what Stephen King says that you should write first without giving it a lot of thinking and then read it and re write it trying to understand what the material is about. Obviously if you are a person that cares about things that happen around you, that will be reflected in your material.. After I have a structure I try to think what the story is REALLY about, what is lying underneath. And once you find it, I think that you are saved, because it's actually like a life saver that will help you through the rest of the process. That's something that will help you define behaviors and situations because you will know what the film is about. So, yes, it's intentional but after I find an idea that I really like.

BR:  One of the strongest commentaries I see in your films is with your portrayal of women. In 36 Pasos, the females are sexy as hell, and flaunting it. In I Will Never Die Alone, one of the rape victim becomes very sexually charged – or empowered, as we like to say in the U.S. – once she has taken control of her fate. What are the views you have of female characters in your stories?

AGB:  My first four films were lead by female characters and it's something I'm very proud of. In every film I intend something different with female characters. In my first film, Rooms for Tourists, I tried to talk about the repression of female sexuality and the taboo of abortion; in the second, Scream at Night, I explored the relations of teens and the burden of growing up; in 36 Pasos I was talking about the role models of the perfect woman that society tries to establish and I also tried to take women out of the victim role and put women as the worst enemy of women; on IWNDA finally I was trying to explore the brutality of sexual aggression, the "macho" society that we live in and trying to give it a twist, that for me was like giving female victims a chance to do something that doesn't happen in real life, that is not only having a payback but, as you say, actually doing it with a charge of sexuality.

Every once in a while someone calls me misogynist, but I'm used to it because it happens a lot that horror films are misunderstood or overlooked, even by filmmakers that very often think that nudity or sexuality implies exploitation, a concept that bores me to death. To me there is also a very important element that relates female -sexuality, maternity, beauty- as opposite to death, a contrast that I really like to have in my films.

BR:  In horror, the women are usually portrayed pretty much as stereotypes or archetypes: the heroine, the bitch, the slut, the wallflower, etc… But in the mainstream, they make sure that we are attracted to all of them, even the ones whose character is less than desirable. In your films, you’re not afraid to make a female character undesirable, even after they’ve become a victim of a horrible crime. Some are indifferent, some are struggling, yet they all react differently -- sometimes very unexpectedly -- to being a victim. To me, this makes your storytelling very honest and genuine, as opposed to an eye candy fantasy movies out of the U.S.

A stellar cast!
AGB:  I started working with stereotypes in my first film, but after I finished it I realized that I committed a lot of mistakes and one of them was trying to make characters act in a straight line all the film -as stereotypes that is. Involving more the actresses in the process was crucial. I learned that in my second film, that was a breaking point, because all of it was improvisation. But to me the genuine part might be liking the characters, finding some beauty in all of them.

BR:  In I Will Never Die Alone one of the young women reacts to her assault by becoming... I don’t want to say sexualized, but I couldn’t find the proper term. In America, they like to call it “female empowerment.” [Sort of a silly term for using female sexuality for strength, since the term is used widely to reach out to teen and tween girls, more than adults.] But, when the one character turns from withdrawn to ripping her clothing to expose her midriff, it becomes a visual metaphor for her strength. This sudden awareness of her sexuality seems to give her the will to overpower her male tormentors. In the original I Spit on Your Grave, the victim uses her sexuality to entice the men into her trap. But, in your movie, the young woman uses her sexuality as almost a super power.. What was your thought process when conceptualizing this character. And how did you relay that to your actress?
Is this the line for the Bogliano flick?

AGB:  That's really interesting... I was thinking in animals, and lot of people told me I shouldn't compare rapists with animals because animals act for a reason: fear, hunger, territory, domination or whatever. But the truth is I was thinking about that, because to me the metaphor was the barb wire. This girls are much more intelligent than this guys but to communicate with them, they can't speak, they have to communicate in the only language that they will understand, which is the violence. 

The first image that I worked on for a poster of the film was this girl that you are talking about with the arms extended holding a barb wire in front her chest that shows her only wearing a bra. And it was a risk and not too many people understood the moment that she starts to make this noises and starts to laugh like crazy. I tried to keep the film very quiet, with very little screams all the time and with characters showing their emotions in the less explosive way until that point. And to me the thing is she acts like an animal in front of another animal. It's more like a noise of an animal what she does. And for the sexual part, exactly, is more of the sexuality of an animal that a sexy thing. I love I Spit on Your Grave but I tried to avoid as much as possible the "sexy" element in this movie. Sick as I Spit on Your Grave is, I think that it has something of male sexual fantasy lying very underneath and I think most rape and revenge films had it. And I wanted to avoid the sexy element by any mean necessary. What I do think is that, there is a beauty in those two girls regaining their dignity at the end.
Day of the women

BR:  I sometimes see the way you portray your women as similar to the way Hitchcock did. They are always quite beautiful, but they are put through brutal situations… and they don’t always act so beautifully.

AGB:  Just like in life... We, men, like to think of women -and mostly good looking women- with an aura, that kind of slow motion and bright lightning of commercials. If you think about that is stupid, but that's the way it is. And we tend to portray women doing "women stuff" whatever that means. I always felt fascinated with portraying female characters but I try to give them whenever is possible as much complexity as I can. I always think of what David Mamet says that male writers should try to write female parts as if they were to be played by males. I never tried that, but I guess he is right.

BR:  Thanks for talking with me, Adrian.  Looking forward to more of your work.

AGB:  I really liked your thoughts about the films, man! Thanks a lot.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

PEEPHOLE REVIEW: Dead Cert (2010)

Lock, Stock and Two Wooden Stakes or The Long Good Twilight

Do you have the overwhelming urge to rip up your vampire diaries?  Or to haul off and spill the true blood of some emaciated emo dink in the twilight hours?  Need a shot of Guy Ritchie-itice in your terror tales?  Maybe you hanker for a little Cockney blood sucker beatdown?  Well, let me recommend some manly vampire action for you... the upcoming Shout! Factory release of Dead Cert.  

Bad guy gone good Freddy "Dead Cert" Frankham (Craig Fairbrass) wants to do right by his wife Jen (Lisa McAllister) and their unborn child by opening a... upscale strip club.  Freddy and his partners -- some of his ex-gangster buddies -- have a tough go of it when they come up against a group of European drug dealers.  The nasty drug dealing part they can handle.  It's the fact that their leader Dante (Billy Murray) is a centuries old vampire lord that is most troublesome.

Dead Cert is loaded with great action sequences, filled with bloody mayhem -- perfect for the horror fans who love their gangster action flicks, as well. And as per usual, the Brits have a clever way with a story, adding some nice understated drama to all the horror action, as well as rich characters (a weasly tough guy, named Magoo, is part bumbling fool and part menacing creep) . It's not as cerebral as some of the other genre flicks out of Great Britain, but it'smart enough, and funny enough, and violent enough -- and doggonit, I like it!! And, oh -- it has the gorgeous Janet Montgomery, too.
Yeah... I know
So, don't go in expecting the teenie bopper vampire trite of today.  This ain't your girlfriend's vampire movie -- that's for fucking sure.  Dead Cert is bloody incredible fun!

Go to Shout! Factory to see what other great DVDs they're putting out.