Demons (1985) – Raw Review

Heavy Metal Horror Done Italian Style

Movie goers get trapped with demons in a theatre.

The 1980s horror craze wasn’t strictly an American phenomenon. Across the pond and to the south a handful of filmmakers were crafting their own vision of gore and mayhem. Their craft, vision and technique set them apart in many ways. Some good, some not so good.

One of the stand-outs is Demons. Released in 1985 it’s possibly the most popular and/or successful (in the U.S.) of Lamberto Bava’s work. Co-wrote and produced by Dario Argento (Suspiria, Deep Red), Demons is a hard rockin horror in which moviegoers at a midnight premire get trapped with an evil force inside the theatre. It’s a zombie survival style movie done with possessed living humans rather than undead corpses.

The American version’s voice over (if in fact it is voiced over) is pretty bad, adding a large dose of campy/silly to an otherwise fun over the top gore fest. Trust me when I say gore fest. It was the 80s and practical effects were cutting edge and horror movies were always trying to push the boundaries. Much like Evil Dead 2, this film has a ton of yellow, green, blue, and red fluids oozing out of every opening, socket, pore and membrane. Some of it’s is silly and some of it is done really well.

Face is ripped off by a demon and he decides to go home.Demon with long tongue tries to make out with couple.

Adding to the awesomeness is the soundtrack. Bava those in songs by Motley Crue, Billy Idol, Rick Springfield, and Go West. Then he slathers on even more awesome sauce by having Claudio Simonetti write additional score for the film. Who is he you ask? He’s none other than the keyboard player for Goblin, the band who scored Romero’s Dawn of the Dead, Argento’s Suspiria, and more!

This film is universally reviled as poor, but equally loved as a mainstay of 80s horror. When you consider the hero not only hacks away demons with a katana while cruising a dirt bike up and down the aisles how couldn’t this film be a keeper!

Demons prepare to assault the remaining humans

The Returned (2014) – Raw Review

This has really gotten out of hand and we (the mass audiences) have no one to blame but everyone else for letting it get as far as it has. So disclaimer…

Zombies are fun. Zombies are scary. Zombies are versatile. Zombies will get worn out eventually. Zombies will never, ever go away as a horror sub-genre. Zombies are especially cool when a new and creative take on the zombie trope is created.

Zombie infection social issues hate groups we love it.

The Returned presents a new and very interesting take on the zombie sub-genre. Basically, zombie-ism is a disease that is transmitted via fluid exchange between a living human and someone with the zombie virus. Yeah that’s not exactly new, but where this film gets interesting is that big pharma has figured out a way to harvest antibodies to the disease. They are given to infected people which keeps them from dying and coming back as flesh eating assholes.

Where the film gets really really interesting is it’s focus on societies reaction to the ‘Returned’ and how people living with the disease go about their day to day. Think about it. If your neighbor was infected with a zombie virus that required daily doses of antiviral medications to keep them from turning into a dangerous flesh eating monster how would you feel?

Would you let your kids go next door and play? Would you trust your neighbor to pick up their monthly medication and take it diligently each day? What if they were forgetful? Or just unorganized?

Scary right?

Well what if the big pharma companies started running out of the antiviral drugs? Queue panic!

The Returned is a very intelligent film that sets out to tell a story about living life with a dangerous and misunderstood disease. Themes of discrimination, class inequality, and prejudice are strong but subtle. They emerge naturally as part of a well written story, never intentionally and never artificially.

Q: Is there blood and guts and zombie madness in this movie?

A: Yes, there is zombie horror in the film, but the truly scary parts of the film come from how regular people react to the world in which they live. Remember, in any zombie apocalypse people are more dangerous than the actual zombies.

Q: Anyone I know in the film?

A:  Kris Holden-Ried. He was in the Tudors, Underworld: Awakening, and a bunch of other stuff.

Q: Is it a good movie for the whole family?

A: The movie has a moderately slow pace. It’s engrossing and maintains tension from beginning to end, but anyone who wants lots and lots of action and/or guts might get a little impatient.

Q: Looks like a dark depressing film?

A: It’s dark. The relationships are strong and chemistry strong enough that it balances in places, but the film is grim from beginning to end and there is one scene in a hospital that is really gut wrenching. Happens off screen but it’s powerful nonetheless.

Q: Worth seeing?

A: Yes. The ending is fantastic and completely unexpected.

The Deadly Spawn, movie review, raw review, aliens, sci-fi, horror, monster, gore

The Deadly Spawn (1983) – Raw Review

Aliens Deadly Spawn is a product of the early 80’s fascination with fake blood and giant latex monsters. Filming on  a meager budget of just $25,000 dollars (approx $59,000 today) director Douglas McKeown does wonders with what would otherwise be a total crap-fest.

Fans of monster movies will love this film. Fans of bloody b-movies will love this film. Fans of anything 80’s will love this film. Basically, anyone who actually found their way to this blog and is taking the time to read this review will love this film.The most successful film formula back then (and probably today as well) is the single location, limited cast, horror film. Wondering why? Simple:

  • Single location means the studio doesn’t need to spend a lot of money renting locations or moving everything around. It also means the director doesn’t need to spend months in pre-production scouting locations.
  • Limited cast means exactly that, limited. Don’t need to spend a lot of money on actors and/or contracts with a small cast. This allows more money for other expenses, or extra money to nail down one well known actor.
  • Horror film is pretty self explanatory, but because I love to hear myself type I will explain anyway. Horror films are popular, have always been popular, and will always be popular. So if you have a low budget, a decent script, and some people willing to work for almost nothing (or preferably nothing) you have the opportunity to make a film that will be remembered long after you’ve realized your dream doesn’t pay the bills and you go back to working 9-5 somewhere you hate.

The Deadly Spawn cashes in on all three formulas for success. The film is obviously low budget but you’d never expect it to be $25k! Even today’s inflated rate of $59k is ridiculous when compared to some of the shit sandwiches Hollywood is pumping out with million dollar budgets.

What makes Deadly Spawn exceptionally fun to watch is the creature effects. Remember this is the pre-CGI era of film making, when practical effects ruled the medium. In this case, the aliens and their spawn are just a pleasure to witness in action. Unlike today’s reliance on CGI everything, these monsters are down right terrifying with their undulating tubular bodies and the wet blood they clearly bathe in each time they score a kill.

Q: Why the two names? Is it Return of or just Deadly Spawn… You’re confusing me!
A: The original title was just The Aliens Deadly Spawn, but they changed it to Return of the Aliens Deadly Spawn to cash in on the success of Alien (yes, Ridley Scott’s Alien). I know right, total marketing whores.
Q: So you’re saying the cheesy monster with the fake blood looks better than a CGI monster does nowadays?
A: Absolutely, and it makes filming more realistic because the actors are actually interacting with the big monster rather than imagining where it is and what it’s doing.
Q: This movie look stupid.
A: No you’re stupid. Besides, that’s not a question. 😛 

Q: Good date movie?
A: Yea. It’s fun and campy, lots of blood and body parts but the inclusion of the monster makes it pure sci-fi/fantasy.

Q: How about the kids?
A: Sure! Get some popcorn and the whole family together. It’s like watching a Disney film only with mass amounts of people eating.      SERIOUSLY??!! Come on, it’s bloody as hell and has body parts in it. My kids will need to wait until they are at least 6 years old.

Q: Where or where can I get a copy of this?
A: Anywhere. It’s a cult favorite and is available on blue-ray, Amazon, etc.

The Brood – A Delicious Byproduct of Canadian Tax Loopholes

body horror masterpiece that will make you cringe

Canuxploitation – Canuxploitation is a film genre that encompasses B-movies made in Canada, especially those produced throughout the late 1970s and early 1980s to take advantage of government tax incentives. Seriously, this is an actual thing. And yes, Canada does exist. I mention this because this film falls into this category and it makes this post sound informative and well researched.

Well whatever, The Brood is one messed up psychological thriller. David Cronenberg is well known for writing and directing some strange films, and The Brood is no exception. Try to imagine a film containing elements of child abuse, body horror, child abduction, and medical malfeasance. Now imagine that film is released in 1979. Loco, muy loco.

Not born in 1979? In ye old days parents didn’t abuse their children. They used corporal punishment. Children weren’t abducted. They were just late for dinner. Doctors didn’t break the law. There weren’t too many laws to begin with anyway. So it’s obvious this film turned some heads back in the day, but I’d argue the film is still quite shocking, horrific, and very good. It has a certain raw appeal that so many films from the late 70s-80s era still have to this day.
Starring Oliver Reed (you youngins know him as Proximo from Gladiator) Samantha Eggar (who does a voice on Metalocalypse if you can believe that), and Art Hindle (of Porky’s fame, and costar to Chuck Norris in The Octagon); this is a disturbing horror movie that will appeal to most fans of the genre.
Q: Is there really child abuse?
A: Implied. Other than the standard “child in danger” trope there isn’t any actual scenes of a child being beaten.
Q: Child abduction?
A: Oh yeah, but it’s critical to the plot.
Q: Why is it so disturbing?
A: No spoilers. It’s one of those that’s better to see blind. Although there is a scene in a classroom that is extremely disturbing. Not terribly graphic, just really well done.
Q: Good date movie?
A: Um…sure. But I do need to ask, why are you only taking dates to see horror movies?
Q: Is this ok for kids?
A: Probably, but not recommended. There is nudity, not sexualized mind you, but it’s there nonetheless.
Q: Do you recommend it?
A: Absolutely.
sci-fi, horror, alien, scarjo, indie horror, disturbing

Under the Skin – Raw Review

Naked Alien Eats Men

Ahhhhh… extensive nudity, disturbing imagery, and a near lack of exposition make Under the Skin is one helluva interesting film.

Under the skin poster art scarjo
Read any review on any website and it becomes clear that either people love or hate the film. Not a lot of middle ground exists on this one and that’s not surprising given the style and execution.

Note: I feel compelled to address anyone who is only interested in seeing Scarlett Johansson fully nude (because you totally do!). Find the pictures or gifs online, don’t waste time watching the whole movie. If all you’re after is quick thrill the story/theme/concept will pass right by you, then you’ll feel compelled to write a shitty review based on nothing and who wants to read that.

I digress. Movie review. Focus… Ok, the movie is…

Boy being eaten by alien fluid in Under her skin movie

In a word… disturbing. More disturbing than this one. The film is disturbing for several reasons. First, the idea is altogether creepy if you’re a guy who likes to cruise bars and pick up women. Second, there is a scene on a beach that is nearly unwatchable if you have small kids and/or a dog. It’s necessary to the theme and it works. Oh god does it work. Just be warned.

Scarjo checking out the human world.

The scenes in the van were shot with hidden cam, the men being picked up aren’t actors. I know crazy right, but it makes the scenes more believable. Here’s a good analysis if you’re so inclined.

The cinematography is amazing, and relevant so pay attention.

Universe communication between aliens

What is the story about?

Predator vs Prey. Humanity. Empathy. Stuff like that.

Do you get to see ScarJo nude?

Please see my note above.

Is it a good film?

It’s a well made film that is very thought provoking. You’ll either get it or you won’t, but either way I don’t see this being re-watched on a regular basis.

How about children. Can I let my kids watch this film?

I wouldn’t, and I generally don’t have an issue with kids watching most horror movies. I started with Dawn of the Dead at six years old and I turned out o.k. I think. No, this movie not only has a lot of nudity but some of the scenes are very disturbing, and very realistic. Keep the kids away.

zombies, British, comedy, horror, gore, monsters, horror movies, zombie movie

Cockneys vs Zombies – Raw Review

Zombies invade the east end of london taking on bank robbers, gangbangers and old folks trapped inside their home.

Cockney: a person from the East End of London.

Yes, a movie about East End Londoners fighting off zombies! Or as the film puts it – Abercrombies vs Trafalgers!
Never expect much out of a movie that contains ‘vs’ in the title. The neverending string of Godzilla vs ‘monster’ movies spanning back to the 1950s should’ve driven this point home by now; if not there is always the current spat of Sci-Fi original movies using ‘vs’ and ‘mega’ in every single title to make us think twice about watching.
You can think twice about watching this one but you’ll be missing out on the best British zom-com since Shaun of the Dead. Actually, it may be the first British zom-com since Shaun of the Dead for all I know. No matter, the film speaks for itself.
Basic plot – A bank robbery, zombie outbreak, old folks home under siege.
Any Bubba Ho-Tep fans out there? A lot of similarities to be had in this one.
Favorite quote: “Suck on my fucking chocolate stick!”
Zombie myth busted; It’s plausible for an old man with a walker to outrun a zombie horde. At least across the yard.
Q: Is this a good date movie?
A: Yea. It’s a lot of fun and there are enough laughs to keep you smiling.
Q: Appropriate for kids?
A: It’s gory and they drop enough swear words to pack the coin jar, but it’s not racy or otherwise out of line. Live a little.
Q: Anyone I know in it?
A: Alan Ford. Better known as Brick Top
Q: So should I see this?
A: Absolutely, it’s an evening well spent.

For more zombies go here!

All Cheerleaders Die – Raw Review

Sex, Drugs and Supernatural Slice and Dice!

I’m trying the think of a really good way to encapsulate the plot of All Cheerleaders Die. Ya know the standard “It’s X meets Y for the new generation” pitch that so many writers and agents built their careers on. The best I can think of is something along the lines of…

“A cross between Heathers, The Craft, Bring It On and  Dead Girl.”

I hate to say too much because there are several turns and a couple twists that work much better if you go into the film blind. Just know the film does a great job blending standard high school tropes with blood, death, and a dash of the supernatural.

One final note… good horror films provide well timed comic breaks for the audience. It’s necessary to allow people a chance to catch their breath, collect themselves, and above all smile. All Cheerleaders Die is able to do this exceptionally well through the use of it’s soundtrack. What is otherwise a fairly grim film becomes a genre blending dark comedy due to some well placed and eclectic choices in music. The movie also benefits largely from some terrific acting by the main antagonist.

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Q: Is this a good date movie?
A: Not sure why this question keeps coming up. I’d say yes for the casual date, or definitely if you’ve finally decided to ask out your best friend whom you’ve had a crush on for years and knows all about your obsession with John Hughes and George Romero.

Q: Dead Girl? How is it similar!?
A: Take a guess…

Q: Do all the cheerleaders really die?
A: Yes and no. Sort of.

Q: Where?

A: Netflix.

Stake Land – Raw Review

I’ve had quite a difficult time writing this review. I wanted to capture and convey not only how good this movie is but also how skilled director Jim Mickle is creating a powerful and emotional storyline, and I didn’t want to do while gushing just how damned good this movie turned out to be.

I find myself wondering how a grip/gaffer turned 3rd time director could possibly take a post-apocalyptic vampire film and capture such an unmatched raw emotional undercurrent. To give you an idea what I mean I’ll come right out and say that Stake Land does a fantastic job capturing the pain, horror, and the social deconstruction humans go through when faced with extinction and the threat of constant death. This film is grim, very grim, and ultimately that’s what takes it from a well made b-movie to a finely crafted tour de force. A solid script with a sprinkle of well selected actors can do wonders for a film, and Stake Land is no exception.

…and the opening sequence is creepy as hell.

I’m sure your wondering how it stacks up against other ‘end of the world’ films and I will tell you… Its a helluva lot better than I Am Legend, The Road (film version), and the last two Romero dead films.

Q: Is this a good movie?
A: YES. It is probably one of the best genre films to come out in the last few years. If you enjoy horror films with strong storylines and good acting

Q: Is this a good date movie?
A: NO. My fiance generally enjoys the movies I make her watch, but she was not able to sit through this one. I’m telling you its grim in several places.

Q: Is there nudity in it?
A: Nada. No nudity, no sex. See it anyway pervert.

Q: Is this a vampire film?
A: All the way, although its a fresh perspective on the vampire genre and a welcome change of pace.

Q: Where can I see it?
A: I got on Bluray from Netflix. I saw it for sale at Fry’s, Best Buy.