Cooties (2014)

Directed by Jonathan Milott & Cary Murnion
Spectrevision/Glacier Films

I’m glad I’m not a real movie critic, because if I were I’d apparently have to be as humorless as I was when I was a music critic, and then I wouldn’t have enjoyed this terrific little picture nearly as much as I did. A (now much more) topical story of a mysterious viral outbreak, triggered by an infected meat product, that becomes a pandemic afflicting the prepubescent and turning them into merciless and ravenous killing agents, it’s as effectively targeted at teachers as Abbott Elementary, which it occasionally resembles (only with copious gore). It’s initially set in summer school, you see, and watching the transformation of foulmouthed fourth graders into zombified marauders – and the gleefully violent means to which their teachers resort to fight their way out – is … well, I guess I shouldn’t say it’s “heartwarming” if I want to keep my job, but it sure is grimly hilarious. This is some dark, dark, humor, and though it’s true, critic class, that it doesn’t breathe new life into blah blah blah, what the hell do you people want, anyway?

Why Did I Watch This Movie?

I discovered it took place in scholastic environs, and I’m a professional educator.

Should You Watch This Movie?

Well, I thought it was fun. The usual “horror comedy” caveat applies.

Highlight and Low Point

I don’t wanna get up on my soapbox again, but relying on the “Asian” character to provide martial arts flash and noticeably accented speech is an unfortunate choice – even given the rather broadly drawn stereotypes of all the other grownup characters. (Macho man-child, burnout, flaming gay guy, histrionic, milksop, etc.) Amusing use is made of ADHD meds. Located in fictional town of “Fort Chicken, Illinois.” Adeptly vulgar.

Rating From Outer Space: B+

Two Heads Creek (2019)

directed by jesse o’brien
dicentium films/hummingbird films/storm vision entertainment

You know, it’s hard to make a good comedy, and it’s at least equally as hard to make a good horror picture, so you’d have to imagine that the odds of producing a good horror-comedy (comedy horror?) aren’t very good. Now, the snarky side of me wants to add, “And neither is this film!” but that wouldn’t be entirely fair, or accurate. It’s … all right. Weighing more heavily on the “comedy” side of the ledger, this likable Australian feature throws a few new twists into a perhaps hackneyed setup. Siblings head Down Under to find The Truth about their lineage (didn’t we just DO this?), only to discover drama, intrigue, bloody gore – you know the drill. One of which tools isn’t involved, to the best of my recollection. Mostly fun, occasionally delightful, nothing too important.

why did i watch this movie?

Took a chance on the trailer and thought it promised madcap fun such as I’ve enjoyed from some other pictures from the Southern Hemisphere.

should you watch this movie?

Yeah, you know, sometimes a light and frothy offering isn’t a bad call.

highlight and low point

I watched this just after having found out that AC/DC have a “new” record coming out, and I’m not going to say that didn’t influence my choice. The soundtrack to this extravaganza features a couple bands I only know about from reading books about Australia’s heaviest musical export – Skyhooks and Sherbet. (The Skyhooks tune, “Horror Movie,” briefly invokes the ol’ Richard O’Brien spirit.) The running gag about “Australia Day” and so forth may be funnier to non-Americans, there’s a somewhat subtle jab at the United Kingdom’s “populist” backlash, and the two main characters are allegedly Polish. I can sympathize.

rating from outer space: C+

Blood Massacre (1987)

directed by don dohler
a don dohler film
don dohler entertainment

For more than half of its 73 minutes, this podunk feature is mired in an extended, irritating look into the lives of murderous, infighting petty criminals whose favorite word is “bitch.” (This latter point never varies.) Eventually, however, this crew winds up at some seemingly random family’s farmhouse – after robbing a video store for 720 dollars, thus firmly establishing their felonious acumen – and though you think you’ve got an inkling of what’s going to transpire, by the time all’s said and done, this production has gone a couple steps beyond your imagination. That alone doesn’t really make this any better of a film or anything like that, but the gleeful overcompensation is worth an approving nod and a smile, at least.

why did i watch this movie?

Having just reviewed a flick whose alternate title purportedly is “Insane Blood Massacre,” it seemed only natural to make the decision to check this one out, at long last.

should you watch this movie?

On one hand, it’s shot poorly and the dialogue is subpar. On the other, it still might be worth it just for the final two-fifths or so. The escalation is that unexpected.

highlight and low point

“Jimmy” sports a Kim Carnes “Mistaken Identity Summer Tour 81” concert shirt. No, really. Later in the action a character is repeatedly violently knifed while hanging from a tree, and as I laughed in appreciation, I wondered what my enjoyment of such depictions might indicate about my psychological well-being. Maybe the fact that it’s not exactly credibly realistic is a saving grace. Among others, an unforeseen plot development is a sequence that emulates First Blood. Unprecedented scripting: “Doesn’t sound like a cop car, it sounds like a … Chrysler New Yorker.”

rating from outer space: C−

C.H.U.D. (1984)

directed by douglas cheek
bonime associates, ltd.

Well, it’s obviously a disgraceful admission on my part that I didn’t see this the way it was clearly meant to be seen, on videocassette rented from the mom ‘n’ pop (actually, it was just “pop”) establishment down the street from where I lived as a kid. Or anytime since. Somebody should’ve told me it was this rewarding. Honestly, I’m not even sure why I never saw it, except that as a young person I didn’t actually watch many horror movies at all, and maybe because the title eliminates any suspense? Whatever the case, this is low-budget, low-grade horror at a peak, a Reagan-era relic of nuclear panic. Shot under the streets of NYC and laden with intransigent officials, it’s the gritty story of one plucky little guy’s quest to find out why everyone’s disappearing and a truly terrible battle plan hatched far too late to eradicate a horde of deadly mutants. And more! (It’s actually several guys.) Just today I had to defend my pronouncement that this flick is “good.” People, man.

why did i watch this movie?

I owed it to myself.

should you watch this movie?

Act now – don’t hesitate!

highlight and low point

Though this picture is ostensibly about hideous freaks coming outta the sewers, having been spawned there due to government negligence, what makes it enjoyable are the various interactions the normal people have. The scene where The Reverend initially spots the C.H.U.D. participating in what appears to be some sort of rite is intriguing, if scant. (More could have been done with it.) And as a former resident of New York City, I swear, when characters first start winding through the subway tunnels, I could conjure the smell. Now that’s olfactory memory.

rating from outer space: B+

Three on a Meathook aka 3 on a Meathook! (1972)

written and directed by william girdler
studio 1 productions

Like, wow, man, what a trip. What a far-out trip, man. A meandering picture about a young man coming of age and finding love, about a young woman trying to find her place in life, and their getting together almost by fate … to barely survive the young man’s homicidal father, who’s turned their farm into a meat-processing smokehouse, you might say. AND THE REASON WHY WILL SHOCK YOU! If it doesn’t make you guffaw, that is, especially once the psychiatrist’s psychobabble “explains” the whole affair. Oh, and if you don’t immediately think “Psycho” at the SURPRISE TWIST climactic scene, you must’ve missed it. Seemingly a precursor to Axe or Shriek of the Mutilated or any other semiprofessional production. Hilariously odd at times.

why did i watch this movie?

Didn’t “Chainsaw” and “Dave” mention this title in Summer School, or am I imagining that? Whatever the case,  I’ve wanted to see it for a very long time – since I found out it was a real film.

should you watch this movie?

You THINK from its moniker that it’s a no-wit, lowbrow exploitation fleshfest shamelessly aping any other chop-’em-up, but it’s just kinda an unremarkable crummy movie with a few hints of tentative gore.

highlight and low point

Oh, where to begin … the interminable bar scene where we’re treated to the performance of “American Xpress”? The credits for same, which read “singer: EDWARD DEMPLEY”? The out-of-nowhere, fourth-wall-breaking antiwar speech from “Becky”? The excessive establishing shots? The recorder-laden score, also by producer/director/writer Girdler? The fact that the auteur was also responsible for the same year’s equally inspired Asylum of Satan? The boating-and-skinny-dipping scene that leads to our introduction to “Billy”? And how about that fine name for a lead role?

rating from outer space: C+

Shriek of the Mutilated (1974)

directed by mike findlay
An ed adlum and mike findlay production

Glacially paced, predictable, and of little apparent budget, this feckless outing flaunts its amateur nature consistently throughout its 84 minutes. Ham-fisted edits! Complete disregard for continuity! (Events often appear to take place simultaneously in daylight and at nighttime.) Unconvincing “acting”! Also: what amounts to this film’s signature flair, a catch-as-catch-can wardrobe department. Many reviewers have remarked on the absurd depiction of the flick’s “yeti,” but nowhere near enough attention has been paid to the “Indian” getup sported by the actor allegedly portraying such an individual. It’s also not very difficult to see where all the “action” is heading from very early on, and even the trappings of the wild ‘n’ wacky ’70s that are sort-of hinted at don’t receive enough attention to serve any fascination lo these many years. Ordinarily, this kind of self-financed production would make one wonder how it could have been anyone’s best idea, but as Findlay was primarily a sexploitation provocateur, it’s mostly just surprising it wasn’t more lurid.

why did i watch this movie?

This was another fetching title prompted by Duane Bradley’s Schlock Treatment ebook.

should you watch this movie?

I’d like to think of something pithy to say here, but this picture is just tiresome.

highlight and low point

“This could never be of any use to Tom anymore.”

The acting is pretty dreadful throughout, and the fatuous notions of the secret society presented at the piece’s conclusion don’t make a whole lot of sense. Come to think of it, the major foreshadowing in the script doesn’t make much sense once all is said and done, either. The scenes that randomly switch from daylight to dark are pretty great, and the opening shot is of my alma mater.

rating from outer space: D−