Tuesday, March 11, 2014

DVD Review: SCREAM PARK (2014)

Region: 0 NTSC
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 96 Minutes
Audio: English Dolby Digital 2.0 
Video: Anamorprhic Widescreen 
Director: Cary Hill
Cast: Doug Bradley, Nivek Ogre, Nicole Beattie, Kailey Marie Harris,

Scream Park (2014) is a low-budget slasher set at the Fright Land amusement park that's about to go belly-up due to poor ticket sales. We have a lot of the classic slasher tropes in place beginning with horny teens drinking and fucking and a semi-virginal final girl among the staff. On this night we have the teen staff and the creepy park manager in the process of shutting down the park when two masked maniacs arrive on scene and soon enough the blood begins to flow. 

The cast is a bit awkward but they do a decent job with the typical stereotypes you've come to expect from a slasher. We have the usual array of young ladies, a douche-nozzle jock, the dork and a punk-rocker straight outta Return of the Living Dead plus guest appearances from Doug Bradley (Hellraiser) and Ogre from the band Skinny Puppy. I never expect much from Bradley outside of his work as Pinhead and his his appearance is mercifully brief. Ogre has a more substantial role as one of the masked-killers and is quite a nasty piece of work who at one point bemuses how he enjoys it when victims struggle as it tightens-up a certain part of their anatomy. 

Of course we get some sex and nudity which I think is an absolute must with a slasher as are the death scenes, so let's talk about the kills. Unfortunately they are not fantastic, you can definitely feel the lack of a budget in the kill department. There's a decent amount of blood but not a lot of gore and the slashed throat scene is pretty awful. A few of the other deaths fare a bit better including a fun deep-fryer death, an ax to the skull and a disemboweling on the roller coaster but overall the deaths are just not spectacular.

A few stiff performances and lackluster deaths however do not completely destroy the slasher fun. Scream Park has some decent atmosphere and a great main theme. Having access to an actual amusement park adds a lot of production value to the film and there's some decent lighting throughout but you can see the low-budget struggles show up onscreen from time to time in addition to some audio issues but none of it destroys the film, the passion shines through with a decent story, setting and finale. 

If you can see past some of the budget shortcomings there's a lot to enjoy with Scream Park (2014), a micro-budgeted indie slasher with a vibe that channels The Funhouse (1981) by way of Intruder (1989). 3 Outta 5  


Dr. AC Presents

Hidden Horror is the first title under the Kitley's Krypt Press banner and it's quite a page turner for obscure horror-seekers. It's a compilation of horror essays celebrating 101 underrated fright flicks edited by Aaron Christensen with a forward by director William Lustig (Maniac) who is not only a director of note but a cult-film preservationist and the man behind the cult label Blue Underground, definitely a man who knows a thing or two about obscure horror movies. 

In the days before the Internet and the advent of genre film blogs and IMDB the only resources I had to aid me in my search of fright cinema were a mangled thrift store edition of The Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film and the rare issue of Fangoria. Without the benefit of a guiding hand I was left to discover new horror titles by scouring the the local VHS shop selecting films based on the VHS art which rarely delivered on the macabre promise of the artwork. It was through sheer quantity and a bit of luck I was able to shake out a few gore-soaked gems from the hordes of mediocre schlock, a lot of that schlock I now enjoy quite a bit. Reading through this book I only wished I'd had such a fantastic resource as Hidden Horror as many of these films have only come to my attention in the past few years, and if I'd had this in my youth the quality over quantity quotient might have greatly improved.

After making my way through the films of John Carpenter, Dario Argento and George A. Romero I made a concerted effort to sift through the dusty bins in search of forgotten cult-classics and still I have only seen about 75 percent of the films contained within these pages. As I turned the last page my list of to-see films had nearly doubled, it's just one of those reads so have your pen and notepad ready because you're gonna discover a lot of new titles. Not just old Hammer (The Devil Rides Out) or under appreciated titles from the masters (Carpenter's In The Mouth of Madness) but some truly excellent modern entries like Eden Lake, Habit and The Signal. 

I certainly enjoyed reading the write-up on some of the kookier 70's entries which I have a fondness for such as the intensely eerie Let's Scare Jessica to Death and The Brotherhood of Satan and The Legend of Hell House - movies some might consider guilty pleasures but I took great joy in reading these write-ups knowing others relish them much the same way. A few of the titles seemed not quite so obscure or under appreciated: Argento's Tenebre, Wes Craven's The Hills Have Eyes, Lucio Fulci' City of the Living Dead are outright classics in my opinion but I no less enjoyed the write-ups which only reaffirmed by love for each and gave me a new appreciation for certain aspects of each. I don't consider myself the most cerebral appreciator of horror and for the most part key into the more visceral aspects without thinking too much on the socio-political overtones but a few of the writers here do and I enjoyed it, none of which were too bookish, which I appreciated. 

Hidden Horror is a great read that I poured though in just a few days, each entry truly a love-letter to a particular film - and it's infectious stuff. My copy is already a bit dog-eared and tattered as I've bookmarked titles I've yet to see or need to re watch. A definite recommend to any horror fan looking to discover something new and out of the ordinary. 4.5 Outta 5 

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Blu-ray Review: BUCK WILD (2013)

BUCK WILD (2013)
Label: Millennium Entertainment
Region: A
Duration: 96 Minutes
Rating: Unrated
Audio: English Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Video: 1080p Widescreen


Buck Wild (2013) is a pretty damn corny zombie-comedy featuring four 20-somethings friends on a weekend deer hunting trip who just happen to find themselves smack dab in the middle a hillbilly zombie outbreak in Southern Texas. What causes this articular outbreak of the undead is a nasty bite from the dreaded Chupacabra, that's right, the dreaded Mexican goat sucker of legend makes a very brief, bug-eyed appearance early on and then disappears from the scene altogether once the events are set in motion. 

We have three bros lead by super-nice guy Craig, the sensitive and sweet one of the bunch. Then we have his two friends, one of 'em is uptight while the other is a typical male whore who's secretly banging Craig's fiance on the side. Also along for the ride is Craig's cousin visiting from New York who could possibly be on the run from Johnny Law back East, a survivalist of sorts, a nut job who knows his way around a weapon and loves to quote philosophy at every turn. 

The jokes come fast and furious, it a case of quantity over quality but there's some decent jokes and comical situations throughout with an over abundance of rural-folk jokes. As self aware horror-comedies go there are much worse offenders, but this is definitely a film that realizes it's a horror film. Side characters include the murderous psycho-father of a redneck nympho, a forest service ranger with an attitude and a ridiculous Southern-fried pimp with a nutty accent. Sometimes it feels overstuffed with weirdos just for sake of weirdness but I did enjoy this one quite a bit despite it's issues, it's disposable entertainment but sometimes that's what I need, not every zombie movie is gonna be Dawn of the Dead.

We have plenty of blood but not a ton of gore, this one is definitely more self-aware comedy than grotesque horror though we do get some decent lo-fi zombie make-up effects and the production value is fairly consistent. The story is loaded with filler and the characters are about as deep as a puddle but depending on what you expect from a zom-com there's enough here to enjoy to warrant a rental but probably not enough juice to recommend a purchase. 2.5 Outta 5 

Blu-ray Review: SCORNED (2014)

SCORNED (2014) 

Label: Anchor Bay Entertainment
Region: A
Duration: 86 Minutes
Rating: R
Audio: English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 with Optional English, Spanish Subtitles 
Video: 1080 Widescreen (1.78:1) 
Director: Mark Jones
Cast: Viva Bianca, Billy Zane, AnnaLynne McCord 

Scorned (2014) is a straight-to-video thriller starring the arguably once popular Billy Zane (Demon Knight) and the gorgeous AnnaLynne McCord who I thought was quite good in the body-horror indie Excision (2012) as a disturbed young woman with surgical aspirations and menstrual sex fantasties. Here McCord is yet again a disturbed young woman though the her character Sadie is much less intriguing though just as dangerous, a manic nut off her lithium at a time when she discovers her douche-nozzle boyfriend Kevin (Zane) is fucking her slutty best-friend (Viva Bianca). On a romantic weekend getaway things turn ugly quickly when Sadie intercepts  a few choice texts on Kevin's phone.  The story is set in motion pretty fast and we get a few missing pieces through ridiculous flashbacks to hours before and a fucked-up childhood - it's a bit of a mess.

Incapacitating Kevin she then lures her former-bestie to the country getaway where she quickly gets the upper hand before subjecting both to a series of psycho-sexual torture games. None of it's overly graphic but it does get a bit ridiculous with finger-breaking, electrocution and forced oral pleasuring. Throw in a sub-plot about an escaped murderer from the local prison in the area and it's just a bit too much, the tortures are so thought out that it's hard to believe she came up with this on the spot and the characters are all so unsympathetic you cannot get behind any of them, you feel absolutely nothing for anyone in this movie. 

A very vanilla thriller that is thankfully quite short at just 86 minutes. I tend to steer clear of Billy Zane projects but after Excision I had high-hopes for McCord but this is a disappointment from start to finish, the writing is lackluster and this is just a very workman-like production with little to no atmosphere or suspense. The Blu-ray looks decent in the AV department but there are no extras on the disc - not even the cast and crew would care to reminisce about the making of this limp thriller.  2 Outta 5  

Sunday, March 2, 2014


Label: Arrow Video
Region: B/2
Rating: 15 Certificate
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen (1.78:1)
Audio: English 2.0 Stereo PCM
Cast: Julius LeFlore, RCB, Roddy Piper, Rory Calhoun, Sandahl Bergman
Director: Donald G. Jackson, R.J. Kizer

In this post-apocalyptic b-movie slice of Reagan-era awesomeness nuclear war has nearly wiped out civilization - yup, they finally did it. Sixty-seven percent of the male population has perished during the war and the few remaining men have been rendered sterile from radiation exposure. Humanity survives in small pockets in a wasteland of irradiated water and a new breed of humanoid mutants knows as "froggies" have arisen from the decay and live on reservations that are hostile and best avoided. 

Now that women outnumber men the female populatioon control what little there is left of civilization. A group of feisty women warriors known as Medtech run the show, scouring the land in search of fertile men to repopulate the Earth. To that end they enlist an nomadic ex-con named Sam Hell (Roddy Piper, They Live) who just happens to be one of the last potent men on the Earth. Medtech straps a cock-shocker chastity belt on his junk and take him on a tour of hostile mutant territories where Hell is to deliver his precious baby-batter to the semen-starved women of the wastelands - sounds like a pretty sweet deal to me but I'm a bit of a slut at heart. 

Accompanying Hell on the semen-delivery express are nerdy science type Spangle (Sandahl Bergman, All That Jazz) and an sexy-armed hard body named Centinella (Cec Verrell) and together they drive off in a pink 1950 Chevy Panel van with an machine gun mounted to the roof. The original  plan is for Hell to impregnate a group of fertile women that Medtech have gathered at a desert retreat but when they discover that the amphibian warlord Commander Toty has kidnapped them and imprisoned them in the the Mos Eisley of the wasteland, a place called Frogtown, the plan switches to a rescue and inseminate mission. Hell must now enter Frogtown masquerading as a mercenary looking to sell a human sex-slave, read Spangle dressed-up in a fashion reminiscent of slave girl Princess Leia, nice.

Inside the city they meet an oddball uranium miner played by the very creepy Rory Calhoun from Motel Hell and discover that the mutants frogs are amassing weapons to overthrow Medtech, so it becomes something more than just a spern-donation apocalypse movie but not too much more, it's still very low-brow.

Who better to save the world than professional wrestler and 80's bad-ass Rowdy Roddy Piper? C'mon he would go onto save us once again in John Carpenter's They Live (1986). So yeah, this is a ridiculous sci-fi action movie and it's front-loaded with awesomely cheesy one-liners from Piper, but as 80's schlock goes this is cream of the crop in my opinion and I found it 100% entertaining. 

The sculpted creature designs from  effects artist Steve Wang are pretty great when you take into consideration just how low-budget the movie was, even for the time. The glistening frog heads are fun b-movie creations and match the tone of what is basically a spruced-up Mad Max rip-off. Some KY coated squid lips look a bit better than others, only Commander Toty had animatronic eyes and mouth and thus looks the best, but somehow Wang created a female mutant that comes off as creepily sexy which I am sure that says something disturbing about me as a person. 

Blu-ray: The anamorphic widescreen (1.78;1) from Arrow Video looks pretty nice, it's a low-budget 80's production on cheap film stock so it does not have the depth and integrity one could hope for but the colors are strong and the source material is in great shape. The English language Dolby Digital audio does the job, it's decently balanced with acceptable fidelity but there's not a lot of depth and no subtitles options. 

Unfortunately we do not get the audio commentary track from directors Donald G. Jackson and Randall Frakes from the now out-of-print R1 Anchor Bay DVD but we do get three new video interviews produced by High Rising Productions beginning with Grappling with Green Gargantuans (20:16) an interview with star Rowdy Roddy Piper and simply put this guy is just a nut! Very candid and self deprecating as he speaks about his acting style (or lack thereof), his co-stars Rory Calhoun and Sandahl Bergman, the cult-status of the movie and hiding certain aspects of the production from his wife. He also talks a bit about They Live (1986) and John Carpenter's wife not liking him very much at the time. He's so funny and I could listen to him go on for hours. Watching it I sort of thought he had a nice buzz during the interview and I found immensely entertaining.  

Up next is Creature Feature Creator (15:26) with effects man Steve Wang whom talks about creating the effects on a shoe-string budget, working with Roddy and the on-set politics once Roger Corman's New World Pictures bought into the film the production and replaced the director. 

Actor Brian Frank appears in the Amphibian Armageddon (14:10) featurette and discusses his role as Commander Toty in the film beginning with the audition process and being cast in his first feature film. As you might expect he talks about what it was like to wear the suit and creating the character's voice, a fun Cyndi Lauper set-visit anecdote and Roddy Piper's performance and working with starlet Sandahl Bergman. 

A very nice AV presentation from Arrow with a host of great supplemental material to complement your viewing. For the sake of review I was sent only a DVD screener minus the packaging extras but the retail version DVD/BD includes a sleeve of reversible artwork and a booklet with writing on the film. 

Special Features: 
- Grappling with Green Gargantuans (20:16)
- Amphibian Armageddon (14:10)
- Creature Feature Creator (15:26)
- Extended Scene (2:31) 
- Original Trailer (1:52) 

Verdict: Hell Comes to Frogtown (1988) is a schlocky blast cheese-tastic entertainment starring the impossible not to love Rowdy Roddy Piper and co-starring some knockout 80's babes battling mutant frogs in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. A nice slice of 80's awesomeness that would make a great Roddy Piper double-feature with They Live (1986)3 Outta 5