Kingdom Of The Vampire (1991 Cinema Home Video)

            

      Ah, here we are, at the end of Catching Up week, right where we started… SOV. Sure, the plot of Kingdom couldn’t be farther apart from Terror On Tape, but, what the hell, SOV is the great common ground that unites vampire grannies and decrepit video store owners. 

     

      Lets jump right into this, shall we? 

The film opens with Jeff closing up the liquor store he works at and heading home. When he gets home, he walks into the kitchen to find a bloody mess caused by his old hag of a mother. She acts like a complete bitch and tells him to clean it up, while she sits there eating cookies. It is now that we find that both Jeff and his mother are vampires, and apparently the last of their kind. At least in their area. 

     

      As he is cleaning up the mess (A small boy), we learn that, while he is trying, he cannot control his vampiristic habits, as he sucks blood from the deceased child’s wrist. Later that night we see him in his room, where the walls are laced with horror posters and promos. His mom comes in to make us hate her character even more, as she starts yelling at the poor kid for drinking some blood, like she doesn’t want him to be a vampire or something. Like I said… bitch. It is in this scene where my favorite plot point is brought up, that of the “Kingdom Of The Vampire”. Supposedly, many years ago the earth was ruled by vampires, and now they are in much fewer numbers and are on the verge of extinction. Jeff yells at his mother, claiming “There is no kingdom of the vampire!”, like a little girl auguring that Santa is in fact real. Damn, how is your stay-at-home mother more tough than you? that takes some skill. More bodies start to pile up, and when Jeff meets a girl he grows quite fond of, he starts to doubt cleaning up after his mom is the smartest thing he could do in life, being the spry, young vamp that he is.

      

      I think the SOV sub-genera really needed a standout vampire flick, and while it did have the very hard to find (For me at least) City Of The Vampires, which came after Kingdom and was actually inspired by it’s name, Kingdom is a standout. It is shot well, the effects, acting, lighting and music are all perfect for the type of movie it is, and best of all it has an original take on the vampire tale. I consider this movie a tale of the low-rent vampires, the ones who have fallen on hard times and who have lost both their faith and desire to be vampires. Mom sits in her chair all day and is to lazy to clean up, and son provides for the family and starts to doubt that vampires actually had a significant place in history at all. Jeff wanting to love a living woman shows he wants nothing to do with his vampire past, and his mother won’t stand for it, if the bloodline dies, the kingdom is lost to the ages. Maybe I am reading to deep into it, but underlying story or not, the movie still kicks ass. 

       

      While this is no big scale vampire epic by far, I think the video look really helps this film in a way. It fits very well, the 30’s and 40’s vampire films all had grand sets and luscious black and white cinematography, the 60’s and 70’s had the happenin’ hair and soundtracks, and now, the 90’s have the low budget look, real stores used as sets, fuzzy picture and hazy colors. This movie is really a product of it’s time, and while not all vampire die-hards will like it, and many might even say it is a dark spot on bloodsucking history, I say it is a landmark, just an obscure one.

     The film was re-made surprisingly, in 2007 by filmmaker Brett Kelly, and while I have heard good things, I have not seen it yet and doubt it still holds the undertones of the original, not because of poor direction or writing, but simply because it was not made in that time, and has a much different look to it.

       

      While the tape (Of the original) is not expensive, it can be hard to find, because usually only one copy is listed on Amazon at a time. If you do come across one for sale, it should only cost you around five to seven bucks. The cover on the tape is, well, horrible, and is drawn very poorly. I am sad about the fact that the lady on the cover of the box somehow looks worse than the mother in the movie, because the art miss sells the movie entirely, and gives it a real cheese fest look. The film is anything but cheesy, and has a very dark feel to it, and is highly recommended.

-Johnny .D  6/2/12

Shock Cinema Vol. 2 & 4 (1991 Cinema Home Video)

                                 

                       

      Bam! A double feature for your sorry butts! Yeah, I couldn’t post a review yesterday due to personal stuff going on, but, I had originally intended to do Volumes 2 and 4 (The only two that I own) as a double feature, so I guess it worked out alright. Well, let’s get this show on the road!

       Let’s focus on part 2 first, mainly because I don’t have much to say about it. The best parts of this documentary are the one to two minute host segments with Brinke Stevens, famous horror scream queen responsible for Monsters and Maniacs, one of the most sought after tapes in the Donna Michelle line up. Wait, we aren’t talking about the films of Donna Michelle, are we? No! We are talking about the long, boring and drawn out nature of Shock Cinema Volume 2. I have not seen volumes 1 or 3 yet, but if they are anything like this one, they sound like really bad wastes of time. I think the main problem with this volume is the fact that THERE ARE NO MOVIE CLIPS USED. They have some pretty interesting interviews on here, but they can barley keep my interest because it is just the interviewee shot against a white wall talking for a few minutes at a time. Then we cut to Brinke talking about horror movies and the like. I would love to see a whole movie of the Brinke segments, because they are actually pretty interesting. We see her at a video store, Forrest J. Ackerman’s Sci Fi mansion, and a few more places, and she never gets dull. She makes a really good host, and she can make almost anything sound good and entertaining. ALMOST. “Oh, you want me to watch some old people talking in front of a white wall for a few minutes? Deal!”. 

       Look at this list of people, and tell me you wouldn’t want to see them talk about their movies for a few good minutes at a time:

                     

       Now guess what? These are all the interviews I am calling boring. All the interviews seem very awkward and straight laced, and the lack of music or clips from the movies helps cement that. All of the people people being asked questions seem very bored, and while that is not the editor or director’s fault, (Entirely, anyway) it is a drag and gets old really fast. 

        The tape is not to rare, and the box is even less rare, due to the way the tapes were released. I will get more into that, but if you are looking for a price range, expect to only pay five to ten bucks.

       Now, onto part 4! Oh joy…

       

      Oh joy is right! This volume kicks ass! “Why?” you might ask, well, because this one seems to have stolen all the behind the scenes and video footage for itself, and refused to give any to volume 2. Actually, looking at it that way, volume 4 is kind of a jerk. Sadly, this one has no host footage of the lovely Brinke, but, it does have her nice voice, so all is not lost. Have I gotten to how awesome this movie is yet? No? Well, let me dig right in then. The film cuts the interview bull-honky and instead goes for the make up effects rout, much like Splatter, The Architects Of Fear. We see very, and I mean VERY in depth looks at the making of most the effects from the slasher movie in disguise Murder Weapon (1989) and Robot Ninja (1989). We see the effects crew work their bloody magic as they blow up heads, sever arms, and gouge eyes. There are no boring scenes, and all the BTS footage is inter-cut with the actual scenes from the movies. It is almost sad how many times better this installment is from volume 2.

     

     There is not much to talk about in the way of plot or characters here, but I can say this. If Splatter was to jokey for you, and focused a little to much on the story of the amazons and mutants, than this is the movie for you. This movie talks literally NOTHING about what is going on in each scene, and that one little detail might be this film’s only downfall. Why are we watching someone get their eye gouged out? Why are we seeing someone get a broken bottle in their neck? Who knows, and who cares, go out and buy Murder Weapon and Robot Ninja to find out why these people die the way they do. I think this movie might actually have been made to sell upcoming and past releases for Cinema Home Video, and releases from the production company behind MW. Before the movie we see an amazing compilation of clips from past CHV movies, but then some clips from Deadly Embrace (Released on Prism entertainment and starring Linnea Quigly, the lead in MW). I am pretty sure this whole Shock Cinema series came out as a promo, Brinke would host and in return her and Linnea’s movies would get featured, and CHV could plug their stuff as well. The film concludes with some gory clips from Skinned Alive and Ghoul School. An interesting note about the clips from Ghoul School: the film shows a few minutes of behind the scenes from the not-so-infamous gym massacre, even though the DVD of GS says all the BTS footage on the disc was never-before seen footage. Well, the disc wasn’t lying, because the footage used in SC vol. 4 is not on the DVD of GS, and vise-versa. 

      

       These films would be perfect for any fan of the whole “Late 80’s early 90’s low budget horror comedy” scene, but the fact that one is unbearably boring and one is amazing and flies by like a minute makes them very un-even watches back to back. If the two were blended together some how, and were touched up each, I think you would have the quintessential documentaries for the alternative cinema gore hounds. If these movies (and the others in the volumes, though I have not seen them yet) were fixed, and released in a DVD box set, you would have one of the greatest things in existence, but, for now, these little known “Gems” are still buried in the annals of time. The only volume of SC listed on Amazon right now is 2. I got volume 4 in a trade, so I have no idea how rare it is. 

     If you plan on tracking all of these volumes down, get used to seeing this a lot:

           

The reason this will be a main-stay for your SC collection is because the only differences on the boxes for each volume is 3-4 stickers. I guess CHV printed a bunch of boxes for volume 1, and then decided to save costs, used those boxes to release the other volumes, because the printing on the cardboard is the same on all of them. There is a simple sticker saying “VOL._” on either both or one side of the box and the front, and the back has a sticker listing what you will find in the volume you have rented over the original list for volume 1. They look amazing on the shelf next to each-other, but at a price. Some boxes were not fortunate enough to have a “VOL._” sticker on the front, so if you want to actually show someone your tape, they will think you have the first volume.

      

     Over all, see volume 2 if you have a very strong sense of patience, but it is not necessary viewing to enjoy volume 4. Volume 4 is exactly what it should be, fast, gory and interesting. What it lacks in Brinke is makes up for in Linnea, and gore. Gore helps to.

      There is a DVD out there somewhere, but I have yet to find any link to it, and it could be WAY OOP.

                    

        If the films of CHV strike a cord with you that makes you smile, than look no further… than volume 4. As I have said countless times, skip the one with talking and get the one with murder, I have lived my life by that saying, and look where it got me. Actually, that said, you should probably get the boring one.

-Johnny .D 5/31/12

Mold! (2012 Horror Boobs Video)

     

       Holy shit! I finally get a chance to review this flick, thanks to Matt and Katrina from www.horrorboobs.com for making this sick tape! Ya know what else is sick? The victims of the mold, that’s what. I hate mold, but I love Mold!, and that is because mold is disgusting, repulsive, and you hate looking at it. Mold!, on the other hand, is disgusting, repulsive, and you love looking at it. This is by far the best throw back movie I have ever seen, not because of how retro the effects look, not because of the lack of CGI or how much it looks like film, but because Neil Meschino directed the characters of the movie with the 80’s in mind, and not the effects.

     

      The film’s best features are not it’s effects (while still pretty awesome) but more in it’s writing and direction, and how well the characters play off of each other. Sure, there are characters that are complete jerks, but you never actually want to see them die, like so many new slashers. This film lets you enjoy the time you are spending with each character, and never once makes you get tired of them. Yes, the deaths are amazing and executed perfectly, but the lead up is what makes this film stand out.

      

      The film centers around a group of researchers in a lab out in California, who are all gathered under the request of the mysterious “Carter”. Their mission: present a mismatch group of assistants, a senator, and a Colonel a new mold spore, designed to wipe out whole cocaine fields at once. There is one small problem, the mold also has an effect on humans, that proves deadly, and even worse, can drive the infectee to a murderous rampage. Now, the survivors must keep the mold at bay, while piecing together how, and why the mold got released.

      

      The film reminds me of Return Of The Living Dead in a lot of ways, as each character splits up at a certain point, and each character actually has baring on the plot. Also, another comparison I could not help but make to ROTLD, is how bad things get for the characters. It starts off small, someone dies from the mold, but it keeps spreading, till the walls are covered and the floor is covered in blood. It gets to the point where the base being nuked entirely would seem like a happy ending. 

      

      I cannot recommend this movie enough. I am very hesitant to give away much of the plot, even though the cover would have beaten me to it if I were to. You really have to see, and reading a spoiler-ridden review would be an injustice to yourselves, so I will leave you with some final words. It is amazing, and the atmosphere and comical effects are all used to their fullest potential here. I was expecting great things when I first put this in, and it certainly delivered, and then some. The true test to see if a 80’s throw back really does it’s job is: “Will I want to re-watch it?” and the answer is YES. I could pop this in any night I am in the mood for carnage, and the fact that it now has a VHS release is even better. I have seen it 6 times myself, and 2 of those times were spent showing it to friends.   So, to put it bluntly, get ready to have an addiction. 

      

      The VHS from Horror Boobs Video is not currently in stock, but should be soon. For a modern day Clamshell release, HBV does it right. The Clamshell used is very well made, and was actually purchased new from a factory, so there is no re-using here. The cover is the same as the DVD, but the design is very close to both Gorgon releases and Massacre Video releases, so it fits really well on a shelf. The DVD in available for purchase at the movie’s official site:

http://moldthemovie.com/index.html

and the VHS will is available here:

http://www.fpnyc.com/Mold!-VHS/MOLDVHS/DVDs/109973

Over all, this is well worth any true horror fan’s time, and will be a constant for splatter-fanatics and retro-heads alike, and, like the mold itself, it will grow on you. Just hope you don’t end up chasing your family around with an axe.

-Johnny .D 5/29/12

Terror On Tape (1985 Continental Video)

        

     Well, after a long absence from writing reviews, I figure I owe you all something for standing by while I sipped some fine ginger ale and watched some trashy movies. So, here you go, instead of reviewing just 1 movie this week, I would review 5! Also, for this first review, I figured I would systematically review around 20 movies all in one. Welcome, to Terror on Tape.

      

     What could be better than a SOV promo reel for one of the most well known and collectible big box companies? Why, one set in a video store, and one that features the best clips from classic to obscure horror films to boot!

The ad (Oh, sorry, film) centers around a video store, called “The Horror Shoppe”, run by famous horror star Cameron Mitchell (Who must have been in some desperate need for cash). He exchanges witty banter with himself, his tapes, a fake skull, and a rat, as he waits for more unsuspecting gore hounds to wonder into his store. His evil plan….? Rent them tapes for criminally now prices! His earnings? He charges 79.99 if the tape is not returned rewound. Bastard.

     

     His first victim wonders in looking for something scary for his family. Well, not to scary… more funny than scary. Pussy. Our video store owner proceeds to mentally whip this guy into shape by showing him clips from such films as Nightmare, Return of the Alien’s Deadly Spawn. Cameron’s got good taste.

      

    He scares off the wimp who came in asking for some comedy shit, and goes back to work. His other 2 customers for the night consist of a horror fan construction worker, who has somehow tracked down a copy of jackhammer massacre decades before it was even made, and a gore-phomaniac who wan’t to get scared real good.  If only women like her really existed. Sigh.

     

      More and more clips are shown, until, finally, the movie abruptly ends. Works for me. Some of the clips and compilations that are shown are pretty sweet, especially the cut throat comp near the end, but some are very boring, and don’t go a long way to help the gory image of the film being advertised. Almost all the movies being shown have proper DVD releases or are in no way rare, so one might think “Why not just watch clips on Youtube?”. Well, I personally think this, while a great weird little compilation truly made for gore hounds, is a very important time capsule, especially now that VHS is making a huge comeback. The film really shows how big gore and VHS was in the 80’s, and how people would actually rent a full length ad, showcasing more gore. If Splatter was an FX wizard’s wet dream, this is a VHS collector’s wet dream.

    

     What makes this movie and release even better, was it got released to the public for rent, and not just to get video store owners looking out for more Continental Video releases. The film was released in a gorgeous big box in the US, with a simple, iconic cover. A scarred monster hand holding a VHS tape in the moonlight. Classic. The cover is so iconic, that it is now the logo for the best online tape index I know, www.vhscollector.com .

While the tape is rare, it is not to hard to find, and is worth getting, even if it is cut. Hell, the cut box might even add to it in a way, what is more retro than a cut big box?!?!?! (Editor note: please do not cut your intact big boxes to make them more retro.)

     

     Yeah, some of the clips are boring, and sure, it is cheating to call it SOV, but, over all, it is well worth your time. The clips that are good, are REALLY good, and all the bridging scenes in the video store might make you drool on yourself. Give it a watch, if your not a pussy, and if you are, let Mitchel whip you into shape, and just remember… REWIND THE TAPE!

-Johnny .D 5/28/12

Slaughter Tales Book Box Combo Pack by Briarwood Entertainment - $30.00
You get: 1 Hand assembled “Briarwood Book Box” hand numbered out of 100 1 Slaughter Tales VHS 1 Slaughter Tales DVD with audio commentary, behind the scenes featurette and more! 1 signed 11x17” poster
- Briarwood entertainment and Johnny dickie

Slaughter Tales Book Box Combo Pack by Briarwood Entertainment - $30.00

You get: 1 Hand assembled “Briarwood Book Box” hand numbered out of 100 1 Slaughter Tales VHS 1 Slaughter Tales DVD with audio commentary, behind the scenes featurette and more! 1 signed 11x17” poster

- Briarwood entertainment and Johnny dickie