Monday, April 18, 2022

Monday, February 28, 2022

My Horror Shelfie 23 - Giallo Collection Part 1

Howdy there. I got sort of smart and decided to jump the gun on discussing my entire giallo collection. Here's the first part of what will likely be a five part series. It is possible that I have many gialli on DVD and Blu-ray. I hope you have fun watching this. Stay tuned for more AKA please like and subscribe (yuck, who says that crap?)!

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

RAM Me in the ROM

Here's me goofin' around with a synthesizer, a sequencer, and a guitar pedal. My pal David Assassino told me this one sounded creepy, so I thought I'd share it here.

Friday, January 7, 2022

The Peanut Butter Solution (1985)

Directed by Michael Rubbo

After witnessing something terrifying in a burned out, abandoned house, a kid named Michael loses all of his hair. After a few days of hiding his baldness under a ridiculous wig, the ghost of a homeless woman who died in the fire takes pity on him and shares her magical recipe for hair growth. Of course, he royally screws up the recipe and it ends up working all too well. When a mysterious villain takes notice of his crazy hair growth and is determined to profit off of it, Michael has to face his fears to solve this hairy situation.

I was the perfect age for The Peanut Butter (1985) when it came out in theaters, but I probably saw it back when it debuted on TV. The whole premise of this film frightened me back in the day. Then the body horror of the utterly impossible hair growth kicks in, and that scared me even more. The other thing I remembered about this one is being very disappointed at the end when it's revealed what Michael saw that inspired his baldness.

Revisiting The Peanut Butter Solution now... Well, I kinda love it! This is an excellent kids movie made with a lot of imagination, a bizarre sense of humor, some whacked out fairy tale logic, and an infectious enthusiasm. I do wonder how kids who lost all their hair in real life would feel about this flick. Yeah, this probably would go over like a lead balloon in that situation. Anyway, I just adore the eccentric characters like the deranged art teacher, the prodigy sister, the best bud who carries a dead ant around in a matchbox, the homeless ghosts, etc.
If you're looking for an odd kids movie that is also hyper-Canadian then congratulations, you've found it! The film was beautifully shot by Thomas Vámos, who was the cinematographer on The Gate (1987), so you just know this has some atmospheric moments packed into it. This film also has one of the most insane subplots in a kids film ever as Michael's friend foolishly uses the hair growth formula on his downstairs area. Yep, they went there.The out-of-control hair growth reminds me of the crazy hair thing in Asian horror films. Unfortunately, The Peanut Butter Solution doesn't end like Exte: Hair Extenstions (2007).

Monday, January 3, 2022

My 13 Favorite First Time Watches Of 2021

2021 was yet another amazing year where everything in the world seemed to settle into place peacefully and everyone was happy. Of course, I'm talking about a multiverse far from our own. But in this 2021 and on this version of Earth, my family and I didn't have it easy or anything, but we were certainly hashtag blessed compared to a lot of folks. So, if your year sucked butt-like objects, I hope that this here thing called 2022 treats you much better.

When it came to what I watched movie-wise in 2021, I had one clear goal and it was to watch 500 films. I got really close in 2020 and it irked me that had I known how close I was going to get, I would've put the pedal to the metal in the last couple of months and rocked that funky joint. You hear that slapping sound? Thank goodness I was born with all those extra limbs so that I can pat myself on the back, because I freakin' did it! I managed to watch 504 films this year! I'm even more proud to say that 256 of those were first time watches, so my wife LeEtta and I didn't just rewatch movies from the MCU (like we are prone to do).

It certainly helps, that I've been writing Giallo Meltdown Part 2 and that meant that I managed to pull off several moviethons this year, which were key for reaching that goal of 500. My goal for 2022 is to have this wacky book project written (and heck, hopefully edited) before December pops up. Even though I'm working fast, I'm really trying to make Part 2 better than the original Giallo Meltdown in every way. I'm very proud of GM, but sometimes I read passages in it and go "Wow, I actually released this into the public for people to read, huh?"

Anyway, I know there are some of you radical movie peeps out there who probably watched way, waaaay more than 500 films this year. That's awesome! And there are those of you who struggled to get even half of the number you wanted to get to. That's awesome as well, because you got to watch some! Everyone knows that life and TV and video games and croquet championships get in the way of us accomplishing our eyeball goals. Measuring how long our movie watching peepee sticks are is dumb and my goal is to watch a whole lot less films next year.

One last thing before I get to my list of favorite watches from 2021... I've been tracking my film watching on this blog for 5 years in a row now. I'm totally sick of it! If I have to type that I watched Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) one more friggin' time, I'm going to scream. (In case you're wondering, I've watched that movie 10 times in the last 5 years.) So yes, next year, I won't be doing any counting of films I've watched or anything. That crapola is for the birds. However, I will be tracking all my first time watches and posting about them here. So keep on the lookout for those posts!

Total Films Watched: 504
First Time Watches: 256

Enough of this preamble! Let's get to the list. As usual, the deciding factor for what makes my top favorites is the question, "How badly do I want to watch this film again right now?" If the answer is "Not right now (or maybe not for several years)", then the film will go directly into the runners-up pile at the end. Let's get this partly started!

My 13 Favorite First Time Watches of 2021 (in random order)

He Lives by Night (1982) - During my Asian giallo moviethon, I fell in love with this comedic Hong Kong slasher that is as garish as it is silly. Some of the jokes don't land but the slashy and trashy delights certainly do. Gigantic recommendation from me if you can track it down somewhere.

Graveyard Disturbance (1987) - That old funster, Lamberto Bava (AKA LamBava), does it again! This film had been eluding me for YEARS. When I finally tracked it down, I was not disappointed. It's your typical late 80s Italian good time garbage. Love it.

The Monster Club (1981) - I had seen the tail end of this wonderful anthology film when I was a kid. Little did I know that this is some stodgy old horror camp combined with punk rock, and it all works! Well, it worked for me anyway.

The Devil's Carnival (2012) - My wife LeEtta and I are shameless Repo! The Genetic Opera (2008) fans and when I heard that the dude behind it had made not just one but two horror musical follow-ups, I was very intrigued. This short (only 55 minutes) explosion of color, music, and attitude hit me like a ton of bricks. The longer sequel to this is decent but I think the ideas  from it should've been incorporated into just one big crazy film.

Mark of the Witch (1970) - Sometimes these little regional horror films don't always agree with me and yet, I never stop trying. I used to confuse Mark of the Witch with Death by Invitation (1971), because they came out within a year of each other and they have very similar plots. But this film is a very charming and utterly kitschy dream with a really fun performance by the lead actor.

Don't Panic (1987) - I was worried that Don't Panic wasn't going to live up to the hype from my buds who love it so much. It turns out that I had nothing to worry about. This wacko Mexican horror film is just as weird and wonderful as I was lead to believe. If you're sitting on this one like I was, stop that right now and give it a look.

Schizoid (1980) - Klaus Kinski delivers a line of dialogue in this movie that had me on the floor with equal parts laughter and existential dread. I'd been saving this American giallo for YEARS because I wanted to save the first time for a moviethon and boy oh boy, it was well worth the wait. It's good stuff.

The Wraith (1986) - Fate was against me ever seeing this film which apparently played on cable all the time. But I chose to defy fate and buy this dirt cheap Blu-ray. This gem is the perfect balance of action movie, sci-fi, and horror; plus it has a great cast and a kickass score AND soundtrack loaded with 80s cheese.

Death Screams (1982) - I was waiting on a watchable copy of this film for so long that I forgot all about it. Then Arrow Video unleashed this beast onto my eyes. I'm always on the lookout for another 80s slasher to add to my pile and Death Screams is just grand. I'm looking forward to sharing this with friends on movie nights someday.

Ninja III: The Domination (1984) - Luckily, I went into this craziness as cold as humanly possible. I knew the ninjas meets leotards premise was strange and that folks were into it, but it wasn't until I watched that Electric Boogaloo: The Wild Untold Story of Canon Films (2014) documentary that I got a hankerin' to see it finally. Yep, it's great.

Jack-O (1995) - The cover art for this Fred Olen Ray-produced clunker pretty much guaranteed that I when I was desperate for some Halloween-themed horror films, I would still avoid it. Thankfully, I got VERY desperate and checked it out. Nothing says "Richard loves this" quite like bargain basement poopoo filmed in Florida with Linnea Quigley playing a metal chick/babysitter and unconnected posthumous John Carradine footage. Jack-O is all this and more. Or less.

La Venere d'Ille (1981) - I finally watched Mario Bava's final directorial effort and it is so damn good. He made this excellent little made-for-TV tale (co-directed with LamBava) that stars Daria Niccolodi and Marc Porel, and I'm happy to report that it's a fitting last hurrah from a master. Track this one down if you can. I should probably investigate the other films in this series, all directed by different Italians.

The Girl on a Broomstick (1972) - LeEtta was on the hunt for witch movies and she stumbled upon this Czechoslovakian kids fantasy/comedy. When we finally got around to it, I was like "Dude, is this my favorite film of the year?" I'm still not sure but it's definitely way up there. This is certainly one of the most unusual things I've ever seen with a sense of humor and visual style that are very, very unique. At the time of this writing, there's a decent copy on YouTube with English subtitles. Highly recommended.

My 2021 First Time Favez Runners-Up Bro

Devo: The Men Who Make the Music (1981)
Candyman (2021)
Hellmaster (1992)
Cool World (1992)
Basket Case 2 (1990)
Altered States (1980)
Black Roses (1988)
Frankenstein '80 (1972)
Body Count (1986)
Censor (2021)
Midare karakuri AKA Murder in the Dollhouse (1979)
Nightbooks (2021)
Ghostwatch (1992)
Vampire in Venice AKA Nosferatu in Venice (1988)
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021)
Bad Dreams (1988)
Deadly Manor (1990)

The Worst Film I Watched In 2021

Scream (1981) - I never do "Worst of the Year" lists just because I know that some films that I strongly disliked upon first viewing will end up being favorites of mine one day. It's happened before! That will NOT be the case with Scream (1981). I love me some slashers and many of them are titles that folks consider boring or bad. That's a fact. But for my money, this is the single worst slasher of the 80s just for its wasted potential alone. Silly performances and cool locations aren't enough to save this snoozer. This film has almost nothing to it other than long stretches of blah. Watching Scream without fast-forwarding was agony. Fudge this gosh darn dang movie to the heck place.


Sunday, January 2, 2022

Films I Watched: December 2021

 * means a First Time Watch.

Count Me In (2021)*
Candyman (2021)*
The Advent Calendar (2021)*
Dead End (2003)
The Oracle (1985)
Black X-mas (2006)
Inventing David Geffen (2012)*
The Peanut Butter Solution (1985)
Mixed Nuts (1994)
Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It (2021)*
City on Fire (1987)*
Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)
Love Actually (2003)
Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang (2005)
Dream Home (2010)*
Prime Evil (1988)
Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage (2010)*
The Dorm that Dripped Blood (1982)
Have a Good Trip (2020)*
Silent Night, Deadly Night 4: The Initiation (1990)
Silent Night, Deadly Night 5: The Toymaker (1991)
Struggle: The Life and Lost Art of Szukalski (2018)*
The Ref (1994)
The Christmas Chronicles (2018)
A Smokey Mountain Christmas (1986)
Home for the Holidays (1972)
Scrooged (1988)
The Star Wars Holiday Special (1978)
Santa's Slay (2005)*
Wind Chill (2007)*
P2 (2007)
American Nightmare (1983)
Nutcracker Fantasy (1979)
Silent Night, Bloody Night (1972)
Silent Night (2012)
Gator Bait (1975)*
Silent Night, Deadly Night 3: Better Watch Out! (1989)
Anna and the Apocalypse (2017)
The Nutcracker (1977)*
To All a Goodnight (1980)
Don't Open Till Christmas (1984)
Dolly Parton's Christmas in the Square (2011)*
The Lair of the White Worm (1988)
The Legend of Hell House (1973)
It (2017)
It: Chapter 2 (2019)*
Luz (2018)
Twice Dead (1988)*
Night of the Comet (1984)
Werewolves Within (2021)*
Ghost Keeper (1981)
Bloody New Year (1987)
New Year's Evil (1980)
Terror Train (1980)

Total Films Watched: 54
First Time Watches: 17

Saturday, December 25, 2021

Ranking the Silent Night, Deadly Night Franchise

To say that I'm very particular (or just peculiar) about any ranking of titles of any given slasher movie franchise is an understatement. So here we go, this is my list of the SNDN films from my mostest favoritest to my leastest favoritetest. I'm not going to bother with the plots because it's Christmas. So this is more "go go go" than "ho ho ho". And just for the record, I think Silent Night, Bloody Night (1974) by itself is better than this entire franchise. Boy oh boy, I'm glad I got that off of my chest.

1) Silent Night, Deadly Night 3: Better Watch Out! (1989) 

Explaining the appeal of this sleepy and bizarre gem is difficult. Hell, explaining why it's my favorite of the entire franchise is next to impossible. But let's get give it a go. First, this has two cast members and an associate editor on "Twin Peaks", so I like pretending that this is an unofficial TP spinoff film. Second, you have one of the most unlikable final girls in the history of slasherdom in the form of a Jennifer Connelly lookalike. Third, you've got lots of pretentious dialogue, a weirdly indescribably tone, and lots of stupid bullshit filler. And finally, this is from Monte Hellman, director of Two-Lane Blacktop (1971) of all people, giving it his all on a micro-budget.

2) Silent Night, Deadly Night 4: Initiation

Now this is how you make a sequel. Get a filmmaker (Brian frickin' Yuzna) who clearly isn't interested in making a carbon copy of the first film. I suspect that Yuzna had a ton of crazy ideas he wanted to double down on just in case he never got a chance to make them come alive for a standalone, non-franchise related film. Boom! Instant classic. This has lots of body horror -by Screaming Mad George and company- and an epic performance from Clint Howard. I love movies that try too hard and this is certainly one of them. For my money, this is the best of the franchise, even though it's not my favorite.

3) Silent Night, Deadly Night 5: The Toy Maker

In case you thought that part 4 was the most demented and wacky that this franchise could get, then you need to see this one. Mickey Rooney doing his gruff psycho grandpa bit is worth the price of admission alone. But then you have a deranged Pinocchio running around looking for a mommy/wife PLUS a subplot of killer toys. Screaming Mad George and Brian Yuzna are back too (albeit in a lesser capacity). And once again, the tone is all over the place. Come on, people! This is pretty fantastic.

4) Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)

Finally, we get to the original film. I've always enjoyed this mean little film, so I was kind of reluctant to check out any of the sequels for a very long time. Yeah, I don't know why I did that either. Don't let how low this one is on the list mean it's any less loved by me. But as much as I cherish the original SNDN, it's the springboard that makes parts 3 through 5 that much stranger and all the more glorious. Not sure what else to say about this other than I'll see you ON THE WARM SIDE OF THE DOOR! 

5) Silent Night (2012) 

Okay, this remake is way better than it has any right to be. I don't love the MORE EXTREME THAN THE ORIGINAL vibe they were going for, but this one is heckin' entertaining. Luckily, this has a great and grounded lead character (and a few charming side characters) to keep it from having the one flaw that always drives me nuts with Black X-mas (2006). Don't worry, I love Black X-mas but everyone in it is pretty much a dickhead or just not memorable. This should've been called Cynical Night or Cynent Night or something? Recommended if you need a trashy stocking stuffer.

6) Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 (1987)

The disappointment I feel when I think about this film is too much for me to bear. If this has been a short film just about good old "Garbage day!" Ricky himself, I would love it. Instead, this film is stuffed like a Christmas goose with 75% (or more) footage from the original film. One of my single greatest pet peeves in genre film is clip show movies. I hate them. I've heard people say "But this has Ricky AND you don't have to watch the first film because all the good stuff is in this one!" That's nice. I won't say they're wrong because they're not. Who cares? It's just a movie! Instead, I'll just say Merry freakin' Christmas. Or maybe I won't.