Sadistic Intentions (2019)

written & directed by eric pennycoff
midnight treehouse/feast & bourbon films/alexander groupe/79th & Broadway entertainment

Plot twists, or maybe thematic twists, are pretty much this film’s modus operandi, and for the most part, they’re not all that predictable – and even the ones that are receive a little tweak. At about three-quarters of the way through this fable, I thought that what may have been intended to be some sort of dark comedy was about to veer into a disturbing realm that few films ever broach. Such a move would have been disheartening, nay, dispiriting, and it was with a palpable sense of dread that I waited to see if the director had chosen that path. Nope. He didn’t entirely cop out, either, however, so that was refreshing. But – this could have become a really remarkable examination of how things can spiral out of control and seemingly ordinary people can become trapped by circumstances and wind up making absolutely terrible, life-shattering decisions. In one sense, it still is, only the profound lack of empathy at its core finishes much differently. The actual ending is disconcertingly funny in its own special way.

why did i watch this movie?

Well, the trailer was intriguing, though I wavered for quite a while because I had envisioned something more ironic and postmodern.

should you watch this movie?

A guy invites over his bandmate and a prospective drug buyer; they don’t know each other. And where is he, anyway?

highlight and low point

Right, there’s only three people in this picture, and two of them are tremendous. The third, however, basically channels Crispin Glover, which is fairly distracting. This T-shirt, however, was jaw-dropping:

I haven’t been so envious in a long time. Oh, yeah – this movie involves death metal, mostly as a framing device.

rating from outer space: B+

Evil Ed (1995)

directed by anders jacobsson
smart egg pictures
“An evil ed production”

An over-the-top satirical spoof, this Swedish production ladles on the cartoonish violence and gore to an extent its most obvious influence, Evil Dead 2, scarcely dared dream. A multilayered, multi-level meta statement about cinematic sex and violence and censorship thereof, it could just as easily be taken to represent the flipside of its intended aim. I call that effective satire, don’t know about you. Focused on the deteriorating mental condition of the editor charged with abridging the “Loose Limbs” franchise, this flick should entertain splatter fans, people with questionable taste, opponents of moral crusades, moral crusaders who don’t understand irony, and so forth. The last 20 minutes or so drag significantly … turns out the filmmakers thought they were done, only the runtime wasn’t nearly sufficient. Revamped, it ends with a bang and a whimper.

why did i watch this movie?

“Guy goes nuts from too much exposure to gore films, mayhem ensues,” is a pretty good come-on.


should you watch this movie?

Depends how you view the shibboleth of horror fandom. Director also made 2010’s Insane, which was … not very good.


highlight and low point

I mean, look, Ed’s boss, the head of the “Splatter & Gore” division, is named “Sam Campbell” and a couple scenes basically replicate ones from “Dead By Dawn.” The soundtrack similarly imitates those of animated films. Ed himself is originally                                                                              outraged:

Ninety minutes of condensed sex and violence! Do you call that a great movie? Do you have the slightest idea of what a moral and ethical principle is?

Later, Ed ONLY includes the sex and violence in one of his edits. A “wife and child” subplot is the first indication they may have been making this up as they went along.

rating from outer space: B

The Slayer aka Nightmare Island (1982)

directed by j. s. cardone
the international picture show company

For a flick with a ridiculously uninspired setup – two couples go to a remote island, where someone or something is bumping them off one by one – this small-time production winds up delivering a lot more than one would expect. I don’t think I’d go quite so far as to believe the claim that cineastes have long debated the manifold interpretations available to the ambiguous ending – how many people have even heard of this picture? – but although one’s immediate reaction to the final scene might be to feel a bit cheated, further reflection possibly may assuage such a response. It could also exacerbate it, of course, and hey, now I’m merging with those ca(s)hiers du cinéma(rt). Better than it should have been.


why did i watch this movie?

It’s called “The Slayer,” and it’s from 1982. Quod erat demonstrandum.


should you watch this movie?

It’s really more  of a character study than you’d be excused for expecting from a 1982 film called “The Slayer,” and kept reminding me of The Mutilator – which it predates – most likely because of the beachfront property.

highlight and low point

As Kay, Sarah Kendall gives audiences a pretty good indication of why they would never see her in anything ever again, but either her blank stares and flatness of affect eventually begin to seem more suitable or the dramatics of the rest of the movie overpower the urge to keep laughing. Kay’s an artist, which makes for an indefensibly inane analogy: though the plot here is akin to a paint-by-numbers kit, the end result is pleasing to the eye. The relationships between and among the couples are convincingly natural, and the final two minutes of this feature are a veritable tour de force.

rating from outer space: B+

Mosquito (1994)

directed by gary jones
acme films, ltd./excalibur motion pictures/antibes, inc.

The sort of low-budget affair during which you’re never not acutely aware you’re watching a movie made on a shoestring, this off-brand extravaganza survives on the chutzpah of its gigantic insect puppets and a game cast of people who seem as though they’ve never acted before. At least on film – the irrepressible Mike Hard plays a small role as part of a criminal element, for instance. Meanwhile, as a major character, late-career sometime actor Ron Asheton does a credible job, especially by the standards of the surrounding evidence. The typically absurdist plot – alien spaceship crashes in swamp, mosquito sucks alien blood, mosquito grows humongous, everyone dies – was thankfully pared down by fiscal realities. “That’s some science fiction bullshit,” Asheton’s character Hendricks accuses. “No,” he’s told. “You are living in science FACT.” This picture allegedly has become a cult favorite, and if so, that cult must really be starved for entertainment.

why did i watch this movie?

I had just finished Jim Jarmusch‘s Stooges documentary Gimme Danger, noticed the billing here and thought, “That’s one hell of a coincidence.”


should you watch this movie?

It’s really lousy, but if you’re in the right frame of mind you might not care much.


highlight and low point

Not that it was a concern to begin with, but the closer this production gets to its grand finale the less anyone involved even winks at verisimilitude. Case in point: our heroes jump off the roof of a house to escape the teeming parasitic horde, suffering no ill effects from a conspicuously soft landing. Plus, a certain lack of passion and effort becomes more noticeable as things … progress. Rebuttal: “Just as I expected – those mosquitoes are making these bodies radioactive.”

rating from outer space: D+

Beloved Beast (2018)

written & directed by jonathan holbrook
chronicle factory

An independently produced horror picture with a complex if not exactly visionary storyline, this film suffers a bit from some copycat conceptualization, but more from abysmal pacing. It’s not that it’s nearly three (3!) hours long – 2:53:15 – but that the delivery of the dialogue is too deliberate by half. There’s no rhythm or carry to the conversations; everyone seems to be a half-beat off and a second too slow. This abets some scenes, as a hazy, dark undercurrent runs through much of the operation, but otherwise it can be a bit off-putting. Also, the cinematography often looks cut-rate, too digital, too sharp. And if you wanted, I guess you could quibble with some of the performers’ chops. But! It’s an impressive accomplishment nonetheless: A little girl is orphaned by drunk driving, goes to live with her aunt who couldn’t possibly care less, befriends an escaped mental patient with a proclivity for massacring every living person he encounters. Oh, and there’s a fairy-tale conceit and a nasty crime ring involved, plus a weather-worn and sardonic sense of naturalism. Don’t let my faint praise be too damning.

why did i watch this movie?

I don’t recall; it’s been waiting on the list for nigh on a year.

should you watch this movie?

Not if you have an attention deficit.


highlight and low point

The filmmakers – cast, crew and production staff intermingle – delve ever deeper into the more awful side of the oxymoronic term “humankind” without seeming to revel in it for the sake of spectacle. That being said, what should be an unrelentingly bleak experience never quite plunges that low, prodding to the fore some potentially unsettling ruminations on one’s conceptions of compassion and moral judgment. Contains a few passably witty allusions.

rating from outer space: B−

Vultures (1984)

produced, written and directed by paul leder
star world productions inC.

An almost interesting exercise in what I imagine an Agatha Christie novel to be like – I must have read at least one, right? – this forgotten flick mainly suffers from a poorly established cast of thousands and a tendency to drag things out for way too long. This is particularly noticeable as it nears the ending but detours a few times before relenting and taking the exit. If they hadn’t been so damned serious here, they had the grounds for a terrific farce, at least, though I suppose that’s been done to death (sorry) as well. At a certain point, if only for just a bit, the mystery almost takes control, but it gets a little lost in the confusing welter of names and faces. The red herrings and the detective’s shaggy-dog pursuit wear on you after a while as well. But you probably won’t see the twist coming, exactly, even once you’ve noticed that something’s clearly awry.

why did i watch this movie?

Paul Leder directed I Dismember Mama, and that coerced me to try another one. Not sure why THIS one, though. (Neither can I recall where I found it.)


should you watch this movie?

Little information about this production exists. It’s often not unlike a madeforTV affair and it may have had more than one videocassette release. But I’m grasping at straws, really. Scant information is offered here. (Article contains spoilers.)

highlight and low point

Some (sorry to say) washed-up Hollywood also-rans pop in here, and Aldo Ray‘s appearance tops that list, as it’s barely a cameo. Yvonne De Carlo has a more substantial role. And why neglect Kipp Whitman. This film may possibly remind you of 1970s television.

rating from outer space: C+

The Lamp aka The Outing (1987)

directed by tom daley
written and produced by warren chaney
h.i.t. films/skouras pictures

Cheezy hack work, to be sure, but ultimately a witless good time, this preposterous time capsule of best-forgotten ’80s fashions and quick-buck hucksterism boasts a confused mythology, brutal edits, continuity issues, and a general lack of coherent purpose. What it does have are some ridiculous stock characters and flimsy FX, including the always welcome glowing eyes of the possessed. But in the great tradition of films in which terrible things happen in museums because of ancient relics – such as in, oh, say, The Relic – once the dubiously vengeful evil genie is conjured, it … well, actually, that happens a bunch of times, isn’t confined to the museum, only vaguely seems to involve the LAMP and, uh, see …


why did i watch this movie?

When I see a title mentioned more’n once on lists with names such as “Worst Movies Ever,” I usually gotta know more.

should you watch this movie?

Oh, absolutely. The heights of absurdity you will scale will reward you immensely.


highlight and low point

The fetching ensemble worn by our lead actress, Andra St. Ivanyi, as the “teenage” Alex Wallace, is itself enough of a marvel to demand viewership. (Don’t discount the “new wave” getup preferred by major human antagonist Mark Mitchell as privileged baddie Mike Daley, however.) For my money, it’s hard to top the scene in which one of the girls is taking a bath in the specimen room at the museum (don’t ask) and is set upon by what appear to be revivified cobras, although the computer sequence when our heroes search for their salvation is also top-notch. And the genie itself – sorry, “Jinn,” we need to remain historically accurate here – is incredible, in the truest sense.

rating from outer space: D+

 

I corpi presentano tracce di violenza carnale aka Torso aka Carnal Violence (1973)

regia di sergio martino
compagnia cinematografica champion s.p.a.

When you select una giallo for your viewing pleasure, you might reasonably expect a stylish (and quite possibly stylized) engagement, with at least a veneer of sleek sophistication, plus of course sex appeal and suspense and suspicious activity in some proportion. This offering from “Island of the Fishmen” regista Martino tries to achieve most of these, failing for the most part to derive much brivido, lacking as his film is in that other important category, any actual story. While it’s not uncommon for the whodunit part of these films to conclude with headscratchers, this time around the unveiling of the culprit provokes mostly confusion as to the identity of the character. Once he’s placed, it scarcely suffices to validate the operation. In addition, little is done to asperse alternate potential perpetrators, although at least one other excellent option is extant. È quello che è.

why did i watch this movie?

I’m kinda a sucker for gialli, although they often irritate me. Their air of absurdist mystery always beckons, however.

should you watch this movie?

If you’re in dire need of visions of nubile actresses either in spogliarsi or in vestaglia – or in moda 1970s chic, for that matter – you might appreciate it.

highlight and low point

Well, the title translates to “The bodies display signs of carnal violence,” and that may be my favorite thing about this flick … even though it’s kind of misleading in and of itself. What appear to be squalid ruins host some sort of bacchanal. An extended section where our unknown malefactor decides he needs to hacksaw the corpses of three of his female victims, which action was unimportant to him with prior unfortunates, is typical of this feature’s scattershot approach.

rating from outer space: c−

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+

The Funhouse (1981)

directed by tobe hooper
a mace neufeld production
in association with derek power

Opening with a predictable Psycho pastiche isn’t the most promising gambit, but Hooper’s fourth horror picture overcomes its penchant for paying homage to the classic monster films of yore. Set almost entirely within the grounds of a traveling carnival, at times nodding its head distinctly in the direction of Freaks, the film slowly builds suspense while tossing out the odd and unexplained hint of premonition here and there. Withholding most of the film’s real frights until after a surprising secret look behind the scenes pays off. Film buffs can probably play count the references here, but c’mon, there’s a carny with a Frankenstein getup working the nominal attraction. Overall, a polished, professional production.

why did i watch this movie?

Having just taken yet another trip to the TCM well, I thought I should check this one out, to see if it deserved its good reputation.

should you watch this movie?

It is very good at being what it intends to be. That’s not a knock; at a certain point, it really takes on a classic feel. (Kevin Conway is a big part of that.)

highlight and low point

I was actually hoping that the Frankenstein character either would stay in costume or actually look like that, because that woulda been quite the surreal monkey wrench, but alas. Rick Baker’s makeup FX, which seem silly at first … well, they still seem silly later, but remain effective enough. I don’t think I’d call this a brilliant piece of work by any means – nor would I suppose that was its aim – but it’s a clever and finely attuned work of evocation. The carnival grounds, provided by a real-life purveyor of such attractions, feel quite authentic.

rating from outer space: a−