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Psycho Cop Returns (1993)
** (out of 4)
Some guys decide to have a bachelor party at their office after hours. The strippers show up. The liquor is flowing. Everyone is having a blast but they don't realize that Officer Joe Vickers (Bobby Ray Shafer) doesn't like people who break the law.
PSYCHO COP was an extremely low-budget attempt at a slasher movie. This sequel certainly looks a lot more professional and it features a lot more nudity and some bloodier death scenes but on the whole there's really nothing overly special about it. PSYCHO COP RETURNS is a fairly silly little picture that is mildly entertaining thanks to the R-rated stuff but there's no question that neither film is all that good.
With that said, this sequel was certainly a bit better than the original because of the extra money that allowed for better special effects. The film has some pretty bloody moments throughout but the highlight are a couple gunshot wounds that allow a lot of blood to go flying. Some of the death scenes were rather lazy but for the most part they helped keep the film moving. The non-stop nudity from the strippers (one played by Julie Strain) was a plus.
PSYCHO COP RETURNS isn't the worst movie ever made but at the same time it's certainly not all that good. Once again it's Shafer who steals the film as the nutty cop.
Psycho Cop (1989)
* 1/2 (out of 4)
A group of college students decide to head out into the middle of nowhere so that they can drink beer and have fun. what they don't realize is that soon they'll be going up against a psycho cop (Robert R. Shafer) who likes murdering people.
PSYCHO COP is a mildly amusing horror film that has a few fun moments but for the most part this film falls apart rather quickly for a number of reasons. It's interesting that the title would be PSYCHO COP since William Lustig's MANIAC COP had just recently made a name for itself but the two share very little in common outside of the titles and the type of killer.
As far as this film goes, it follows the SLASHER 101 handbook rather closely as we've got the annoying teens going out in the middle of nowhere and of course they are given countless warnings about what's going on and yet they overlook them all. Before you know it the majority of them are dead. The death scenes are mildly entertaining as a couple of them have some bloodshed but there's no question that the low-budget shows.
The cast offers up mainly bad to forgettable performances but that's to be expected in a film like this. Shafer (working under the name Bobby Ray Shafer) is good in the role of the killer but there's no question that the screenplay gives him some really bad lines. The one-liners are all rather annoying and it's also true that the characters are beyond annoying so neither of these help the film.
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (2017)
*** (out of 4)
Low-budget but effective adaptation of the classic novel as Shaun Paul Piccinino playing Dr. Henry Jekyll, a great doctor who decides to try and experiment with what causes men to go mad. Before long he is transformed in Mr. Hyde (Gianni Capaldi).
This film has earned all sorts of great acclaim and I went into it with rather high expectations. I'm the type of fan that must see every new version of this story and it really doesn't matter how many of them I watch. I just find the story to be such a fascinating one that it works well watching various interpretations of it.
I'm certainly not going to call this one a masterpiece like some have but I will say that this was a rather impressive version, although I had one major issue with the film. The biggest problem for me was the fact that there were certain scenes that were shot so dark that you could hardly see what was going on. I understand trying to add atmosphere to a film but when it's this dark it was kind of pointless.
With that said, i did enjoy the performances and especially Piccinino as Jekyll. He was extremely good in the role and I thought he really brought it to life. Having another actor play Hyde was interesting but Capaldi was good as well. What makes this special is the fact that it turned out to be Mickey Rooney's final performance as he has a very brief role as a witness. Margaret O'Brien also appears in a quick scene. Getting to see these two legends was a major plus.
47 Meters Down (2017)
*** 1/2 (out of 4)
Lisa (Mandy Moore) and his tougher sister Kate (Claire Holt) are on vacation in Mexico when they meet a couple guys who offer to take them on a cage dive. At first Lisa is worried but her younger sister talks her into it. Sure enough they get into the water and an accident happens where the two women find themselves at the bottom of the ocean without much oxygen left.
I must admit that I find some of the criticisms aimed at 47 METERS DOWN to be quite funny. I've read people complaining that the ocean floor would be a lot darker than it is during the movie. Umm... do you want to watch a movie that's complete darkness? Didn't think so. I've heard others say that the sharks look fake. OK, I agree with that but should they have perhaps used real sharks? A mechanical shark like in JAWS? CGI is here and it's to stay. Several other logical issues are being attacked but I say give it a rest. This is a thriller so it's meant to leave you on the edge of your seat and I thought this film did.
There have been quite a few movies over the years that dealt with the ocean and sharks. Obviously the landmark film was JAWS and there have been countless others that followed. Last year we had THE SHALLOWS about a woman trying to survive an attack and several years ago there was OPEN WATER about a couple people stranded in the ocean. This film basically takes those two movies and has some fun with it as we've got two women trapped at the bottom of the ocean and they're surrounded by sharks. I really thought the film was well-made and what I loved most about it is that it made you feel as if you were right down there with the ladies.
I'm sure many people will have a panic attack watching this because it certainly makes you feel claustrophobic. Whenever the women start to run out of air you too will be holding your breathe. The scenes with the shark attacks certainly make for some good jump scares. I'm not going to ruin the ending, another thing people are complaining about, but I thought it worked fine when you think about it. Both Moore and Holt are good in their roles, although neither one were excellent. Matthew Modine has a brief role as the Captain and it was fun seeing him.
47 METERS DOWN isn't a film that you constantly think about while watching. Turn your brain off, sit back and enjoy. The film isn't a masterpiece but I thought it was effective for what it was trying to do and it's certainly worth watching.
Attack of the Killer Tomatoes! (1978)
* (out of 4)
A small community comes under attack by some mutants tomatoes. The police can't do anything and none of the locals know what to do so it's up to a group of scientists to try and stop the madness.
ATTACK OF THE KILLER TOMATOES!, as the title clearly suggests, isn't a film that's meant to be taken serious. This here basically spoofs countless horror movies but the killer here are little tomatoes. Comedy is a very funny thing because it's so subjective on so many levels. Everyone will have their own level of taste and everyone has their own comedy level where they're willing to laugh.
For me, I give this film a lot of credit for trying to be as stupid as possible and there's no question that it tries to be as silly as possible. Sadly, to me this is a pretty poor film because it simply didn't make me laugh. I laughed at maybe three percent of the jokes so I felt that the majority of them fell flat. The tomato attack sequences just didn't work as comedy and I thought most of them were rather stupid. Again, some will find the idea of tomatoes attacking to be very funny. It just wasn't for me.
Exorcism's Daughter (1971)
** (out of 4)
After witnessing her mother die during an exorcism being performed on her, Lana (Analía Gadé) winds up in a mental hospital with various insane women. A new doctor shows up and wants to treat these women for mental issues but he gets push back from some who sees mental illness as a sign of witchcraft.
This Spanish film was released the same year as THE DEVILS and it's easy to see why this isn't better known. It was re-released after the success of THE EXORCIST and it was attempted to be passed off as a horror film but it really isn't. THis here is basically a drama with some horror elements thrown in and while the film isn't awful it's also not overly memorable either.
As with THE DEVILS, this film is basically an attack on religion and those people who are against science in favor of superstition. In this case you have a doctor who believes insane people are a mental issue and not an issue of religion, devils and witchcraft. For the most part the drama plays out pretty good and there's no question that it's an interesting subject.
Director Rafael Moreno Alba makes a professional looking film and on a technical level it's good considering its low-budget. The problem is that the film moves a bit too slow at times and there are a lot of scenes where not much happens. There are some memorable moments including an orgy sequence as well as some bizarre fantasy sequences and these help keep the film entertaining to the viewer.
EXORCISM'S DAUGHTER, a title given to it to cash in on THE EXORCIST even though this was made two years before, isn't a great film but it's certainly far from being awful. Fans of Spanish horror will want to check it out but don't go in expecting any sort of exploitation.
The Uh-oh Show (2009)
** (out of 4)
The Uh-oh Show is on a television show that is on cable that can have the contestants win a large sum of money, dream vacations and other great things as long as they can answer three questions correct. If they miss a question then they have to spin the wheel where they will then lose a body part. The show is becoming a hit so the station orders the producers to try and come up with something for prime-time.
THE UH-OH SHOW turned out to be the next-to-last film for the legendary Herschell Gordon Lewis and there's no question that he wasn't meaning for this thing to be taken very serious. Fans of the cult drive-in director will enjoy knowing that he returned to Florida to film this movie and there's no question that he lived up to his title as being The Godfather of Gore. With that said, this here is pretty much a one-joke film and that joke gets rather tiresome long before the 87-minute running time is up.
If you're a fan of Lewis' gore films like 2000 MANIACS, BLOOD FEAST and COLOR ME BLOOD RED then you'll enjoy that portion of this movie. The idea of a game show where you can win money or lose body parts was rather clever and the film gets off to a great and funny start as we're introduced to some rather weird characters who end up getting chopped up. The only problem is that the movie really falls flat whenever there's not some gore action happening. A lot of times we've got silly characters discussing things that just aren't overly interesting and this is where the movie loses its fun.
The film was obviously meant as a spoof and there are actually some funny moments where the director takes on himself. There are some nods to some of the previous movies he made and even the likes of Lloyd Kaufman shows up playing a pimp. The gore is mostly real, although some CGI is used at times. The gore is certainly the reason to see this movie but overall it falls well short of what you'd consider a classic.
The Manipulator (1971)
* (out of 4)
B.J. Lang (Mickey Rooney) is a former make-up man who has finally snapped. He kidnaps actress Carlotta (Luana Anders) and holds her hostage so that she can view his bizarre rants and attempts at acting.
THE MANIPULATOR is a really, really awful movie. There are countless awful things about it and in fact there are so many that I'm really shocked that the movie isn't better known by the Bad Cinema Crowd. When I say this film is awful it's probably an understatement because this is mind-numbing bad at times but I must also admit that there's one terrific thing in the film and that's Rooney. He gives such a wonderful performance here that it's really rather sad that it's lost in such a bad movie.
If you go through Rooney's career then you know that he had a major dry spot in it and there's no question that the 1970s really weren't a great decade for the once "A" list actor. He was taking various roles for the money and quite often he would appear in films that paid for a day's work. That's not the case here because he's clearly the star and there's not a frame of the film that doesn't have him in it. This character is truly a crazy, raving and rating nut that gives the actor a great chance to show his range and he does a terrific job with it. It's really a tour-de-force performance that has the actor showing off a variety of ranges and he nails them. Anders is also decent in her role as is Keenan Wynn in his brief part.
With that said, all of the performances are wasted in this horrid mess of a movie. For starters, the direction by Yabo Yablonsky is among the very worst that you're ever going to see because there's absolutely no style here. In fact, there's no comedy, there's no drama, there's no suspense and there's really nothing at all. This is about as ugly and as flat of a movie that you're ever going to see and even the greatness of Rooney's performance pretty much gets sucked dry of any major power because of how poorly it's filmed. Even worse is the fact that the story just never makes a bit of sense as there's nothing going on but rants and performances.
THE MANIPULATOR is a film that should be better seen and known. By those who enjoy bad movies.
Jungle Trap (2016)
* (out of 4)
Five anthropologists ignore various warnings and traveling to a mysterious jungle on a mysterious island where they plan on getting back an item that was left there decades earlier. Once in the jungle they run across an even more mysterious hotel where they soon come under attack by the ghosts of some natives.
Director James Bryan will always be best remembered for DON'T GO IN THE WOODS but he made a number of interesting films throughout his career. This 2016 film is one that people are going to watch and think of it as a throwback to the 1990s when shot-on-video movies like this were everywhere. Well, this here was actually filmed in 1990 but the financing fell apart and it took until 2016 for a Kickstarter campaign to finish the product. A new score was added, it was edited together and here is the final result.
I've spent a lot of the year going through Bryan's work and I find him to be a rather fascinating filmmaker. Quite often I don't enjoy the movies but at the same time there's something about them where you can see the director's fingerprints. The same is true for this movie, which I really didn't like but at the same time there's no question that this is a film from Bryan. The new score perfectly suits the film and if you've seen his earlier work then you know how weird and distinctive the scores are. That holds true here so the score really makes this film as if you're watching a Bryan picture.
As far as the actual film goes, it's pretty much a cross between countless Italian cannibal pictures with THE SHINING thrown in for good measure. At just 72-minutes the film still drags quite badly as there's really not too much of a story and there's even less going on in front of the camera. The performances are pretty much what you'd expect from a film like this and it seems the budget was too low to get any memorable death scenes. I'd also argue that the entire story doesn't make too much sense but I guess that's to be expected.
The Thirsty Dead (1974)
* (out of 4)
Women are being abducted in the streets and forced to a strange cult that needs their blood in order to stay young. One of the kidnapped women, Laura (Jennifer Billingsley), is offered a chance to join the cult but she is horrified to think someone would kill another human for their own gain. Pretty soon she decides to fight back against this cult and their evil ways.
The Philippines made some really crazy movies back during the drive-in era and this here is without question one of the strangest. Those looking for some sort of zombie movie or a blood-soaked horror picture are going to be disappointed because there's really not too much bite to this picture no matter how much the advertising wants to make you believe. In fact, this here was really one of the tamest and lamest films I've seen from them, which is too bad because the story here isn't all that bad.
The idea of a cult kidnapping women for their blood could have been exploitation heaven but sadly very little is done with it. There's no major nudity. There's no major gore. There's really nothing here too exploitative except for the idea brought up in the story but like I said there's nothing graphic done with it. That would be okay if the drama of the story was compelling but it isn't. The story is bland the movie is told in such a slow and dry way that I'm sure most viewers will be turning it off well before the final credits.
The scenery was terrific and some of the actors were fun including Billingsley. Still, when you're dealing with a film like this you certainly expect much more and as it stands there's just nothing in THE THIRSTY DEAD that will hold your interest.
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