Lagomorpha-Thon : 5 Flicks for Rabbit Day

I usually watch zombie movies on Easter. Since, for some, it's a religious day dedicated to an extra special undead dude, it always seemed fitting enough. This Easter, however, I decided to switch it up and have prepared a marathon theme more in line with the outward (sellable) appearances of the holiday--the bunny. There is actually a shit ton of movies involving the fluffy creature in some way, but after careful deliberation, I landed on five features for a healthy Sunday lineup of rabbit involved cinematic madness. I call this year's watchlist:

Lagomorpha-Thon: 5 (fucked up) Flicks for Rabbit Day


Bunnyman (2011)

Carl Lindbergh’s ode to the back-roads slasher is essentially a bargain bin Texas Chain Saw Massacre clone with a fursuit. It's not a super intelligent, original, or good film (actually it is fucking terrible by most standards), but it does have murderous rednecks, lost tourists, and juvenile violence--which I dig. It was followed by two sequels in kind: The Bunnyman Massacre (2014), Bunnyman Vengeance (2017). Also, It’s incredible how much a disturbed man-child killer can emote through a dirty bunny costume.
IMDB/WIKI/On Amazon

Night of the Lepus (1972)

The notoriously inept piece of seventies cheese pits southwestern good ol’ boys against the rampant forces of superscience, man-eating rabbits and dated cinema magic. It also features an all-star cast of legends at some of their corniest including Rory Calhoun, Stuart Whitman and fucking Bones (DeForest Kelley) from the original Star Trek. In this age of remakes, if Hollywood had any guts at all, it would try rehashing the giant, killer-rabbit trope before re-re-doing another horror classic.
IMDB/WIKI/On Amazon

Peter Rottentail (2004)

A bullied magician comes back to life wearing one-third of a rabbit costume and begins a quest for revenge, killing anyone who gets in his way. The endearing, bottom-level shlock, from John and Mark Polonia (Feeders, Splatter Farm, etc.), looks like a cable access kids show from the late 90s, only with blood and half the budget. I enjoy the shit out of it, but no one will watch it with me, even when it is topical.
IMDB/On Amazon

Easter Bunny, Kill! Kill! (2006)

In this twisted, low budget holiday tale from Chad Ferrin, a mysterious killer, sporting a plastic bunny mask, doles out bloody retribution for the abuse suffered by a handicapped child. Along with being a spiritual tribute to the tasteless trash of old, It's a good dose of offbeat, fucked up splatter, surprisingly capped off with a heartwarming conclusion that brings a tear to my eye.
IMDB/WIKI/On Amazon

Watership Down (1978)

Unlike a lot of people in my age group, I didn't catch this one until much later in life, which from what I hear, may have avoided me some childhood trauma. Based on the book by Richard Adams, it's a grim adventure depicting a forsaken society on the brink of extinction, as performed by cartoon rabbits. Technically, it's the only non-horror movie on this year’s list, but it's probably the most effective, and I have heard it called worse things than scary. There was a recent remake on Netflix that doesn't quite live up, so make sure to scar your kids with the OG version.
IMDB/WIKI/On Amazon
Zombie movie days are frequent (if you count Dead Heat, I had one on Tuesday). It can't hurt to set time out for the bunnies every year to hold a marathon in their honor. Long before I had heard of Fulci, Jesus or even Romero, I was paying a yearly tribute to a long-eared deity through egg hunts and chocolate gluttony. Plus, the fact that I have written out an itinerary of some kind (for a weekend no less) is making me feel remarkably grown up.
What movies would you include for Rabbit Day? Do you have something special that you watch on Easter weekend? What connection do egg-laying bunnies have to an undead demigod rising from his grave? Have you ever put a peep in the microwave? Let me know in the comments below.

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The Muthers (1976) Review by RevTerry

Preface: 
The following is written with humorous intentions. I do not support illegal activity of any kind. Media piracy and copy infringement are a crime.

 Seriously, if you like a film, give the people who made it money. This goes double for independent features or distributors that can sometimes live or die by your twenty dollar mail order. In the film industry you have a vote--a lot like the government only you do it with your wallet, and it actually works.

By some definitions, I was a pirate for a very long time. After bootlegging my share of tapes as a youngster, I jumped head first into the digital era's rapid-fire duplication and distribution technology. I took full advantage of the lax protection on early computer games and can look back fondly on the days when you could run a whole block on one Starcraft product key. Later, after Napster went down in 2001, I kept the neighborhood up to date on which P2P program to use next. I can't admit it when asked at work: “how do you know all this computer stuff?, but the truth is, I learned it all to steal shit. As far as digital piracy goes, I'm a retired crusty sailor from way back with an eye patch and a pegleg. But while that has its perks and shares a name with the aaargh kind, it's definitely not as cool. Sure, just at my fingertips, laid a world of media for the pillaging, and my expedition to booty ratio was probably better, but the lifestyle lacks any real adventure. There's some danger... well kind of. My day job regularly has me removing the malware from other’s naive attempts at locating the newest Marvel movie. And of course, copyright enforcement came into play but usually through a third party and in the form of passive aggression. Both the sea-fairing buccaneers and I had a code of sorts, so there are similarities. My plundering was just not as badass. For example, if my sister needed to catch up on a show or see a movie she couldn't find otherwise, she might have hit me up. If I didn't have it floating around in some form, I could get it-- simple enough. However, if she had fallen into some real trouble which might call for possible swashbuckling, I wouldn't have been much help. I don't think my net combing skills will come in handy if she gets herself locked up in a Filipino prison run by a murderous warlord. Nope, that would call for another type of pirate something like the ladies of The Muthers (1976).
Kelly (Jeannie Bell) and Anggie (Rosanne Katon) are pair of tough as nails thrillseekers with their own boat full of dirty pirate crew members. While making a living through oceanic armed larceny, the rambunctious group spends its days robbing yachts full of yuppies of their shit when not clashing for territory with rival gangs. One day after returning to the pirate commune from a particularly easy jack-move on a load of wealthy partygoers and a score-settling shootout with their nemesis Turko (John Montgomery), Kelly receives some troubling news. It seems her stubborn younger sister ran off some time ago, and the family is beginning to worry, as she usually turns back up after a day or so. Rumor has it that the sibling has entered an ominous placed called Santa Domingo and most likely has fallen into peril. Annoyed with her sister but not wanting to miss out on giving her a lecture/beating, Kelly begrudgingly takes Anggie to go look for her. After Santa Domingo is a bust, the two head into a bar to question the patrons and end up having to break the bones of several handsy drunks. Somewhere between ass-kickings, they are approached by a government agent investigating the local sexy-lady work camp (pretending to be a coffee plantation) run by Monteiro (Tony Carreon). According to the man, Kelly's sister has been locked up in the bloodthirsty tyrant's establishment, and there is little chance of escape. Having recently lost contact with his informant, probably due to death, he needs someone on the inside and promises to look the other way on the group's piracy business if the two agree to get themselves locked up. They comply, seeing the terrible strategy as the best chance to catch up to the wayward family member. Predictably, once inside, the ordeal becomes more complicated and the whole thing goes to shit, but they do make some new friends (Trina Parks as Marcie and Jayne Kennedy as Serena). Soft women-in-prison antics follow, including cruelty and showers, before the girls get sick of dry land and stage a breakout. Also, there's some more shooting, and everyone has really creative ways to almost not wear a shirt.
With no complete stops, The Muthers (1976) is a trashy leisure cruise through grindhouse concepts with an action-packed pirate theme. It's a flurry of well-used exploitation tropes, poured over a very basic jungle based chicks-in-chains flick that sets itself apart with its solid leads and quick flashes of adventure cheese. There isn't much of a story, just some classically diabolical bad guys, a gang of beautiful buccaneers and a checklist of borrowed concepts half stirred into the husk of The Big Doll House (1971).  It lays into several women-in-prison norms but feels more at home during fits of chaos on a cartoon battlefield. Inexplicably, the B-movie blend of tropes becomes its own with a flavor equal parts Foxy Brown (1974) and Missing in Action (1984). It leaves behind the usual pampered socialite doomed to learn a harsh lesson and supplants “take no shit” bandit queens, out to crush skulls. More scoundrels than victims, the enigmatic gang spends its time beating up handsy jerks or pulling nautical jack moves when not breaking in and out of prison. The movie relies on the WIP norms at choice moments but functions better with a spray of artillery. Those strictly looking for the subgenre's usual brand of sadism might be a little bummed with the focus being the breakout as opposed to the extreme atrocities of a scary prison somewhere. It has less to do with a female stuck in jail than it does someone taking a shitty deal knowing they will have to fight their way out. Fucked up shit goes down, but it only fuels the fires for comic book revenge, and soon after it rounds back to one-liners without many tears shed. Logic is thin all around, and nobody seems to be concerned with tragedy for long. Stacked next to its blood relatives, it seems almost tame with a unique flair for action. A sleazy tone picks up after the early swashbuckling leaves and sticks around till it ends, but it never gets grim. Despite the subject matter, the film is almost lighthearted, boiling down at most to sexy, one-lady armies laying waste to goons and talking shit to everyone. None of it makes any sense, but it comes out the other end as an entertaining ride through cliches with above average characters and a few boat scenes.
The film does its best to mimic the high-end Hollywood action films of its time using the skimpy and makeshift technical aspects of the average B-movie produced in the Philippines. There are some valiant attempts at grandeur during the intro that utilize bright colors and roving landscapes to create its own brand of stylized swashbuckling. It almost has a fucked up retro, live-action Disney thing going on before devolving into the basic cheap and dirty techniques of frugal jungle sleaze. The editing, while rough, isn't the worst of its kind, and outside of a few strange choices, does its part in scraping together a flow. There isn't a ton of fluff and the quick cuts of stripped down content help the film move along quickly.  A majority of the camera work is kept bare bones, avoiding the stock footage feel of some of its peers but also missing out on some scenic meandering. After the time spent on the beach, it moves to a plantation-like location deep in the jungle with a set that looks like it may have been assembled the day before. It gets some of the action right, other times brawls resemble a fucked up game of duck-duck-goose. The dubbing goes from semi-functional to disastrous, on several occasions coming closer to a Shaw brothers film than a Roger Corman production. The soundtrack chases the themes around the runtime with a different style and volume for each situation. Sometimes it's fitting, like rousing adventure tunes beachside showdowns but also things like loud funky basslines for tense torture scenes. Rushed, blunt and dirty, it is in standard form for the boom of Z grade productions coming from the Philippines at the time. My biggest nag is that I wish there were more straight pirate content. The fucking intro Robin Hood skit was gold, and I would have liked a whole movie of that kind of shit. I guess sweaty jungle torture huts are cheaper than naval warfare.
The Muthers (1976) was produced, written and directed by the legendary Cirio H. Santiago, king of fan service and lover of topless karate. He was one of Roger Corman's goto filmmakers at the time and fit the project between work on films like Cover Girl Models (1975) and Vampire Hookers (1978). Breaking into the American market with blaxploitation films Savage! (1973) and TNT Jackson (1974), Santiago gave the world three decades of trashy entertainment before his death in 2008, and I have too many personal favorites to name. Mustering an unprecedented amount of chemistry (along with the requisite badassery), the most consistent highlight of the film comes in the form of its female lead cast. 70s playmates/prior Santiago collaborators Jeannie Bell and Rosanne Katon play sexy-pirate managerial duo Kelly and Angie. Bell who previously starred as TNT Jackson, brings the similar role to its apex, turning otherwise cheesy dialog into damaging put-downs with her sheer presence and going for broke in the fight scenes. Rosanne Katon had worked with Santiago on Ebony, Ivory & Jade that same year, going on to pop up in a range of 80’s television roles and a few cult favorites like Motel Hell (1980). Here she can be seen putting in a considerable amount of the actual physical action, outside of the ridiculous wire assisted jumps (done with a double). Among the rest of the eventual escapees is Trina Parks who first comes to mind as “Thumper” from Diamonds Are Forever (1971), but honestly if you haven't seen her as Syreena in Darktown Strutters (1975), you should check that out (it's a fucking trip). The group does wonders with a nothing script and even adds a hint of realism at unexpected times. It's a great mix of "whatever works" directing and actors willing to make shit happen. While not Cirio H. Santiago’s best on the usual aspects, the left field combo of his eclectic style and the main performer's energy bring something fresh and just fucking awesome to the flood of similar movies from the time.
The Muthers is a low budget, over the top action adventure flick made from the abandoned remains of a jungle sleazefest. It's pure junk food with a twist on familiar flavors never truly replicated. A women-in-prison film with an identity crisis, it's not shocking enough to be counted among the notorious greats of the subgenres, but in its madness, it brings in values that rarely get play, in any genre really. Hollywood gives itself a pat on the back every time it includes a single female with a weapon, so in a fucked up way (that makes me sad), this movie still has them beat thirty-something years later. It is two playmates and a Bond girl spending a whole movie talking about beating up and/or robbing people when they are not doing it, which I enjoy the shit out of. It could use some more pirate action though, as it gives just a taste. I liked their style and could do with some pointers. If I was looking towards advancing in the field, robbing the rich assholes face to face on their luxury watercraft seems like a logical next step from where I left off.
1h 23min | 1976
 Director: Cirio H. Santiago
Writers: Cirio H. Santiago, Cyril St. James

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RevTerry

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News and Shit 4/19: Greatest hits/Social Media

There is no new review this week, I took the weekend off. Stay tuned, though, for some exciting new stuff coming soon (to be announced), as well as a return of the regular bullshit next week.
In this short intermission, I would like to thank those who have let me virtually vomit in their brain holes to date. I have reviewed over seventy films since 2017, and it's still something I look forward to each week. I can't tell you how much it means to me that people have reached out in response to the articles or the blog in general. There is a fuck ton of entertaining trash fires scattered across the web. If you have spent some time in mine, sincerely, thank you.

Greatest Hits:

According to robots, these are some of VideoReligion's highlights so far...

Most read film reviews on the site:

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Social media

I'm pretty sure it's killing everyone from the inside out and destroying creative media altogether. Also, you should follow me everywhere to receive site updates, catch my charming antics and witness my witty banter in real time.

Did you know VideoReligion was born on Tumblr? True story. Sometime in 2015, I started a side blog on the platform to spam VHS gifs and post tits away from my main blog. By follower count, it's the most popular Video Religion social outpost, even after Tumblr eradicated the female nipple.

Despite being somewhat exposed as a mediocre supervillain, the Facebook machine remains the go-to for mass communication. According to Google, it sends the most traffic my way. I like to imagine there is some A.I. tension there.

I think this is where celebrities and pornstars say stuff. One time Uwe Boll gave VideoReligion a shout out, and its probably still the coolest thing that has happened to me.

The newest social extension from VideoReligion, mostly, because I had no idea what to do there. There is actually a pretty strong physical media culture buried under all the celebrity babies and diet advertising. If (by the grace of the cinema gods) I attend a relevant event of some kind, you may find highlights and man-in-streets type shit there.

Support 

In the first year of the blog, I broke even by way of Amazon ads just before I had to re-register the domain. I work a full-time day job and VideoReligion doesn't exist to turn a profit. If you are a giver and feel compelled, you can buy me a Ko-Fi.

I also have a Threadless artist shop with rotating designs for public displays of affection.


Thanks again for reading. See you next week - RevTerry
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The Alien Factor (1978) Review by RevTerry

Sometimes the realization runs past my brain that I haven't the slightest idea what “seeing” an extraterrestrial would really be like. No matter how fucked up and bizarre, the image I can conjure up in my head probably isn't even close. Anything I picture is based on the world around me and its science fiction. Since the term “extraterrestrial” indicates that something is not from this planet, my personal experiences and knowledge are not going to cut it. Chances are if something were to show up in a ship (or whatever it travels in), the basic differences in its biology alone would have me dying of shock in a pile of my own excrement. Just being in contact with an otherworldly being could make me sick, kill me, or drive me insane before I got in a handshake. As a species, We are like fucking homeschool kids when it comes to our galactic citizenship. What if we are the only squishy ones around for galaxies, and every other being is some kind of translucent rock with a sex organ or a thin cloud that shits metal? How do we speak to something like that? We will be lucky if “first contact” happens with a little grey dude sporting black eyes and an oversized dome-piece. Meeting up with a species that close to our own would imply some kind of intergalactic Parent Trap situation. It might be almost embarrassing, having somehow run into another organism with a similar carbon path among countless possibilities--it would be like spotting someone with the same obscure band tee at a punk show, times a million. The real thing could make H.R. Giger's poky penis bugs look like manageable pests for all I know. At least you can shoot at that, and it's within my brain’s range of understanding (sharp hurts, acid bad, etc..). For all the freaky beasts and strangeness that I have indulged in over the years, I could never be properly prepared for everything universe contains. In the grand picture, I'm just a simple Earth lorn, sun-loving carbon thing in pants, virtually incapable of comprehending the vast existence outside my figurative and literal bubble. That doesn't mean what might be out there somewhere is not worth speculation, quite the opposite. In fact, since I can't know right now, I can let my imagination run wild. Fuck the sky, until they make themselves known to me, there is no limit. Cult legend Don Dohler, presumably, did not know what extraterrestrial life was like when he made his series of low budget films on the subject. He did, however, like making space aliens in his garage, and so we have The Alien Factor (1978).
( Spoiler Warning)
After a secluded drunken make-out session is interrupted, leaving one participant dead and another in a state of shock, a small town’s trusty sheriff Jack Cinder (Tom Griffith) gets called in to investigate. With one kid mutilated and the other unable to speak, Cinder chalks the tragic mess up as the act of a particularly vicious wild animal but is left understandably nervous by the ravaged remains. He throws the dead guy and the mute girl in the car, but by the time he unloads them at the hospital, several parties arrive demanding answers. Cinder quickly debriefs the city's mayor (Richard Dyszel) who is mostly worried about the killing having an effect on a recent back door deal for an amusement park. Afterward, the sheriff does his best to shoo a crowd of unruly hunters away and caution them against hunting the yet unknown culprit down (drunken militia-style). Later that night, a less intimate couple of youngsters encounter a metal spacecraft behind some bushes. In a panic, the female takes off running away from the vessel only to be mowed down by a stray motorcycle. The cyclist (going who the fuck knows where) realizes he probably just killed somebody and takes off as soon his bike starts back up, leaving the girl to bleed out. Luckily for her, a lumpy humanoid with glowing eyes witnesses the accident and leaps to her aid. With some light grunting, the creature provides life-saving emergency healthcare, Jesus style, and leaves before the other teen shows up (to continue turning into a shirtless man in blue jeans). At the morgue, the town's top medical minds try to make sense of the savaged body, but the closer study only leads to more questions. The damage seems to be beyond what the average bear is capable of, and the traumatized witness is now talking about monsters. Before any conclusions can be made, a call comes in from local newspaper reporter Edie Martin (Mary Mertens) hoping to get the scoop on the fucked up town gossip. Being professionals and not actually knowing anything themselves, the people in white coats refuse to divulge any new details. Unsatisfied, the ambitious Edie heads out to dig up her own dirt and see if she can't get carved up herself.  It soon becomes clear that the wild animal is not from this world. Mostly, because this strange dude named Zachary (Don Leifert) shows up and tells everyone so. According to Zack, he is some kind of deadly specimen-wrangler on the way to a cosmic zoo who crashed landed on Earth and accidentally released his recent catches. His cargo was made up of three malignant creatures, each with their own murderous style, which he calls “The Inferbryce, “the Zagatile” and “The Leemoid”. Small town hysteria and colorful corpses follow as Zack teams up with the more cerebral of the locals to neutralize his pets. Also, just in case that's too much gripping sci-fi action to handle, there is a twenty-minute intermission performed by a 70s bar band with a fancy pirate for a lead singer.
As endearing as it is cheesy, The Alien Factor (1978) is a small scale tribute to 50s alien invasion flicks told through value brand shlock. It's an almost solid science fiction story, crafted by someone deeply acquainted with the genre and put to tape with an intense layer of straight-faced oblivious ham. Intended to be a serious sci-fi thriller and built with some care, much of the film's entertainment lay in its failures. Even so, it ends up a successful watch for “movie” sake as well, coming through in the end as a complete thought with almost an adventures vibe to it. The plot is a somewhat simple play on well-used genre devices with enough gung-ho imagination to make up for its lack of actual substance. There is no trace of its intended tension, and the tone instead ends up on an island between bizarre and comfortable.  Almost every towns-person is introduced like the main character, only to spin off or die unceremoniously at a random point later. It feels like the final episode of a (fucked up) Maryland based Northern Exposure with no budget, killing off its characters with a random alien story arc for a hasteful finale. Each of the space-things in the assortment comes with their own unique details and abilities. Like any proper monster movie, it begs you to pick a favorite and lays out the characteristics as if you might find the toy later at Kmart. There is an alien creature for every taste--I spotted five separate, distinct species, counting the shitty spaceship driver that looks like Goldar’s (from Mighty Morphin Power Rangers) broke ass cousin and Zack who later reveals that he is very lumpy in his true form (not really a spoiler). Among the escaped prisoners are a sinister anthropomorphic beetle, a yeti riddled with tumors and a Land of the Lost dinosaur that inexplicably becomes partially translucent at times. It's not a deep story by any means, although Zack does make a point to describe “Leemoid.” as being intelligent which raises some questions about the true nature of this “zoo,” Zack's moral standing, and how his species might view humans. My distrust of police-like authority figures aside, the rainbow of freaks is a lot of fun, and they have a timeless quality to their anything-goes nature. Even wearing a dry delivery like a fashion statement, the pacing of the film is quick and more offbeat then stale. There are several breaks for needless depth and exposition as part of an inspired reach for atmosphere. It's probably not the intended result, but the pointless scenes add a surreal twist to the vintage cliches. Between the unconnected musical number, melodrama and the obsession with seemingly unimportant objects, some chunks accidentally stumble into (what would later be) Twin Peaks territory. The majority of the film could be a shoestring Outer Limits episode, putting emphasis on its “shocking reveals” and would-be gross-out moments. Switching gears, it goes full Twilight Zone after the final showdown, complete with a few critical messages about the nature of the human race. It is not the most original plea for self-reflection, but I always love a good old fashioned “man is the true monster” style twist in my sci-fi.
No one is going to mistake The Alien Factor for a masterwork of cinema. The movie is a significant example of no-budget filmmaking, not because it does an excellent job of hiding its shortcomings, but because it goes all out with what it does have. Buried in its production is a visual textbook on backyard creature flicks, offering up homebrew versions of the previous decade's special effects. Of the sets used, the sheriff's station receives the most decor, having been equipped with a gun rack and a pin board for background dressing. A lot of the footage consists of various parties wandering through Pennsylvania's snow-covered woodland areas, sometimes resembling those Outdoor Channel hunting shows I would pass while channel surfing.  Laser-based weaponry mostly relies on bright colors and a participatory wiggle from its victims to kill. All the otherworldly designs look like a middle school sketchbook come to life in an old lady's craft box. No two creatures sport the same styles of frugal craftsmanship with a sampling of oversized puppets, costumed actors and stop motion creations. The grounded spaceship scenes are achieved through the use of a miniature and forced perspective (and also contain the film’s steadiest horizon line). When it's not utilitarian, the camera has a mind of its own, spending a fair amount of time in people's faces while they ramble on. Shot in 16mm and enlarged to 35mm, the resulting picture is often soft, defocused or washed out with a medley of exaggerated artifacts etched into the master. Most of the film is brightly lit, outside of a few instances, notably during the appearance of “Inferbryce” and his black-black costume. There is a little blood on the victims, mostly smeared on post-attack--nothing that would be considered gore in most circles. The well-rehearsed fight (for lack of a better word) choreography brings a lot of unintended humor whenever employed and almost makes you feel bad for the people stumbling around in costume. Inconsistent sound levels and background noise have accompanied every release I have seen (heard?) so far. At any given moment the hypnotic synthesizer score demands attention and tries its best to inject unease into the wholesome corn-fest. Uniformly, the musical stylings go for broke only to crash and burn in beautiful ways. Almost every technical aspect of the film misses its mark, or just plain fails in some glorious manner. The more earnest the effort, the sweeter the effect, and the pure uncut levels can only be achieved when a film has really fucking tried. No self-aware, self-described bad movie will ever come close, it is lightning in a bottle concocted from uncontainable aspirations.
 A fan first and foremost, Don Dohler was fascinated with the science fiction of his childhood and from an early age, developed alternatives to their grand scale imagery with household items. After a noteworthy stint as a teenage publisher in the early 60s underground comic scene, Dohler publicly entered the world of cinema in 1972 with his Cinemagic magazine. The eleven issue run, which Dohler self-published from his home, provided helpful how-tos and information for aspiring filmmakers culled from various budget auteurs and his own experimentation. In 1976 following a hostage situation at his place of work and some reflection, Dohler decided life was too short and resolved to put his self taught monster-magic to film. Putting together a $10,000 budget, he enlisted everyone he knew (including contacts obtained through Cinemagic) for help and took up directing himself out of necessity.  The first in a series of similar productions, The Alien Factor saw its release sometime in 1978 to little notice. While Dohler had originally hoped for a full theatrical run, the film was later sold into national television syndication for late night monster features where it found its audience among insomniacs with good taste. He continued to release films sporadically until his death in 2006, including a name-only sequel Alien Factor 2: The Alien Rampage (2001). Alien Factor was Dohler putting his money where his mouth was, so to speak, and by his own accounts primarily served to put his monsters on film. Dohler's work both on and off the screen is credited with inspiring countless SOV cult filmmakers as well as mainstream figures such as J.J. Abrams. In the same way that Nathan Schiff is New York’s eternal patron saint of SOV splatter, Donald M. Dohler will forever be a holy figure for DIY science fiction in the church of trash. 
The Alien Factor (1978) is a patchwork golem constructed of genuine cheesy monster love, endowed with the soul of a 50s invasion epic and brought to life by sheer will (and pocket change). It's both a classic piece of trash cinema history and an iconic success story for “fuck-it” film making. It lives up to its laughably bad movie reputation, and the accompanying plucky spirit behind its creation shines through consistently. Beyond all that though, the movie is an enjoyable watch with values both intended and otherwise. You can talk shit through the whole thing, pick out a favorite among its bad guys like it’s the Ninja turtle cartoon, and soak up some game all at the same time. For my money, it's Don Dohler’s best, although his entire filmography brings great joy to my Earth contained existence. I may never get my chance to experience a real life being from beyond the stars. Maybe it's for the best, as I don't know what that contact will be like. It could mean swift furry disembowelment or something far worse that comes with its own chapter in future textbooks. Sure, it's possible the real ET wants to be my homie, ride around on my bike and rub me lovingly with a glowing finger, but it could just as easily be an indescribable ball of sentient pain that accidentally makes brain smoothie leak out of my nose when it speaks. As an upside, then I could be the one riding in the basket wrapped within a blanket.
Director: Don Dohler
Writer: Don Dohler

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Review by:
RevTerry

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Headhunter (1988) Review by RevTerry

I love the grown up Jason Voorhees character as much as anyone and wouldn't want to do away with the hours of entertainment the Friday the 13th movies series has brought me through extreme stretches of the imagination. With that being said, I think the first one is a solid horror flick all its own, which doesn't get enough love from the fanbase. Admittedly, it angers a purist nerd inside of me when horror fans shun it for the general shortage of Jason.  It may not feature the baby boy (that we have all come to embrace dearly) as its antagonist, but as a stand-alone story, it's one of the (if not the) strongest straight horror movie in the series. No magic or anything, just a pissed off crazy mom, killing campers that have nothing to do with her son's death (sorry--spoilers for the first Friday). It is certainly the one in the bunch that is most grounded, which alone has its merits in the genre.  I do have one complaint, however, and it bugs the fuck out me. During the final showdown, lone survivor Alice Hardy is able to lop off Momma Voorhees head with a single wimpy cut. It's not even a full swing. She just kind of moves out the machete and Miss Voorhees does all the work by standing there. Nothing adds up, the old lady's head goes flying off like a medieval execution. It's not a fucking Troma film set in some rubber reality where extremities pop off of humans like Lego men. She doesn't even have a proper stance going on. I'm usually so easy to please in this regard, there is just something about the whole moment and its placement in the film. It haunts me in all the wrong ways. Every time I see the severed head in the later Friday the 13th movies, all I can think about is how clean the cut is.  It would be different if the girl were walking around with huge forearms and a stress ball the whole movie. Cinema decapitation is probably always unrealistic from a medical standpoint, but I'm not asking for realism-- just something to work with. I never have an issue when it’s a raging momma's boy hopped up on undead steroids (like you-know-who), a killer clown from outer space with a mean left-hook, or a sentient Nigerian curse with infinite unexplained powers like the one in Headhunter (1988).
Somewhere in Miami, an otherwise joyous street festival gets cut short by an unusually ominous dust cloud. The crowd scatters, but amidst the panic, a Nigerian man is attacked by an unseen force and has his head removed. Across town, we meet officer Pete Giullani (Wayne Crawford) whose wife (June Chadwick) has just left him for another woman and kicked him out. Inebriated and with nowhere else to go, he attempts to stumble his way into his partner Katherine Hall’s window for a place to sleep, interrupting boyfriend-sexy time in the process. After some drunken blubbering, Katherine (Kay Lenz) offers up the couch, like any good homie, and lays Pete’s delirious ass down for the night. The next morning, the two report for duty at the station, with the freshly single Pete still milking a hangover and acting overall bummed.  Eventually, following an embellished tale of romance from a co-worker and a heart to heart, the two are dispatched by their bigoted boss (Steve Kanaly) to investigate the headless dude from the block party. On arrival, they find the crime scene adorned in religious material with the indication that the victim was performing a ritual of some kind. Things get weirder fast as the wound has cauterized and the head is nowhere to be found in the area. Initially sure that the bizarre case will be solved with quick thinking and good old fashioned unpolished police work, the two hit the streets while simultaneously dealing with officer Pete's emotions. Unknowingly, their investigation puts a target on the longtime partners, and they soon find themselves up against a mystic force far beyond law, order and relationship issues. Also a bunch more people get their heads popped off, Pete gets thrown through two windows and Katherine continues to have dates interrupted.
With a recipe three parts silly cop drama to one part supernatural thriller, the film devotes a lot of time to building its down-and-out human characters. The bulk of the story follows comic-esque Miami detectives as they deal with both personal and work issues (i.e., cheating spouses, angry bosses, etc.) Mr. magic-ghost-monster stays hidden for ninety percent of the film, completing his head removals through sly gusts of wind, invisible surprise and an otherwise unmentioned lightning/electricity abilities of some kind. Victims seem to be picked at random, and there is little logic to the nature of the curse. A professor/shaman (Gordon Mulholland) shows up for a little while to explain why the Nigerian curse will eventually go after the police officers, but even that is a bit shaky and receives some contradiction later on. Inexplicably, the demon lays out complicated traps (involving assuming dead loved one's identities) for the protagonist, previously having moved unseen from place to place, killing at will. I guess it's possible the monster has a particular boner for the disgruntled duo and wants to add some extra torture, but it feels unnecessary when he has just plucked off human heads over the film’s run without any fanfare. The most consistent focus lay in the relationship between partners Katherine and Pete. It's essentially just a cop movie with a scary magic curse thing as its criminal. Not quite a true buddy comedy, as it is missing the mismatched adjustment period, but it borrows much of the genre’s cheesy values. Instead of being newly acquainted opposites, the relationship is well worn with a past full of (albeit more normal) adventures behind it. Despite not being what the cover promised, these moments work pretty well, and to the story's credit, I was surprised when it didn't lead to a tacked on a romantic relationship between the main two characters. After getting over the bait and switch, I was mostly satisfied with its awkward police station hijinks. It moves quickly enough and has an essence similar to the procedural nonsense I grew up seeing on TV as a child. Think less X-Files and more a very special Halloween episode of NYPD Blue-- with mystic shit based on stereotypes instead of drug dealers based in stereotypes. Some of the details of the film skate by issues like racism, religion, and homophobia with a sheepish nod. While this isn't abnormal for any films in this genre (or trash in general), in this case, it feels as if the movie originally had a satirical moral point to all of the hot topics lying around that was sheared in its development.  Without the completion of these thoughts, unfortunately, it just looks like it knew how shitty and antiquated a few of its tropes were but included them anyway. Deeper points shine through, mostly poking fun at dogma universally, but even the best moments kind of miss their landing in this regard. It's also possible that I'm giving it too much credit on some level. Either way, it works best with minimal brain juice and wastes many opportunities. The hard-boiled chaos all mushes together into watchable B-movie trash while it is on the screen. The final bit of action throws almost everything out the window plot-wise for a showdown, the big reveal, and a cute wink between partners. If Shane Black had gone on a two-day whiskey binge in Florida with Tim Kincaid instead of making Lethal Weapon in 1987, the resulting collaboration might have looked like Headhunters.
In contrast to its broken story, the film’s technical aspects mostly play it safe and appear somewhat complete. Borrowing from its crime thriller influences, the camera maneuvers around cluttered and cramped spaces with effective haste. The film is conservative with its special effects, putting the most energy into cultivating a claustrophobic city atmosphere along the lines of a Running Scared (1986) or a low rent Predator 2 (1990). Utilizing messy indoor locations and ugly streets, it builds a sort of cartoon noir to connect the broken plot development. Anything outside of metro grime and slums ends up a little more flat. The dream sequences come off as a budget imitations of The Serpent and the Rainbow (1988), without ever getting the vibe quite right. When the monster finally shows up, it looks like a mix of the Creeper (from Jeepers Creepers 2001) and Rawhead Rex (from Rawhead Rex 1986). The creature work brought in for the final act does the job but benefits substantially from being brief. Thrown in at random, the gore is fairly tame for the darker tone and of varied effectiveness. As the go-to kill, the beheadings are a functional balance of fun and stupid, amounting to clean “cut” rubber heads crashing into scenery from off-screen. Towards the final act, it ramps up a little with more realistic carnage and brutality but only for a brief second and after the fact. The score is mostly ignorable with the glaring exception of a repeated unleveled synth track that comes out of nowhere during intense moments and leaves just as irregularly. I think it's someone's answer to the Beverly Hills Cop theme (aka Axel F by Harold Faltermeyer), only it comes closer to something that would have accompanied a space battle a few years before. 
The film was directed by Frank Schaeffer from a script by Len Spinell. Author, artist and public speaker, Schaeffer is the son of prominent theologian and hate monger Francis Schaeffer. Initially following suit and joining the family cult, Frank became openly critical of the group in the 80s and eventually released a series of books related to the subject. Schaeffer’s personal interest may have led to the film’s satirical moments as the more developed jabs take aim at Christianity or religion in general. One particular dive into dark humor depicts a priest who promises safeguard from the perceived curse if a group of Nigerians converts to Christianity. When the monster then shows up (Jaws-style) in the middle of his river baptism, the church leader skedaddles, leaving his new flock to die. As a filmmaker, Schaeffer put together a somewhat eclectic catalog of five films concluding with Baby on Board in 1992 (starring Judge Reinhold). An active author today, he made a stir during the 2008 presidential election with an anti-abortion article in support of Obama. I can't really speak to all of his politics, but he seems like a passionate guy. Keeping a horrorless majority of the film from dragging, the chemistry between Kay Lenz and Wayne Crawford feels natural in the face of disjointed writing. The two get the TV partner thing on the money, and I could easily see them returning weekly together. I can't place Crawford anywhere else, but he works well here as the chain-smoking cliche cop, Pete Giullani (who plays by his own rules and has terrible posture). Kay Lenz is loyal-partner and back-up Katherine Hall. Lenz, who first comes to mind as Sandy Sinclair from House (1985), is given a lot less to go on than Crawford, making up for the disparency herself with some awesome mean mugs. Also, keep an eye out for June Chadwick from the original V series and Steve Kanaly as racist police Captain Ted Calvin who still sounds a lot like Ray Krebbs from Dallas (despite being in Miami).
Headhunter (1988) is a rapid release blend of intriguing ideas dissolved into the unfinished pilot for a supernaturally themed Law & Order spin-off. As long as you don't take it quite as seriously as it takes itself sometimes, it's a pleasurable way to watch a series of plots go nowhere, and see people get their heads expertly cut off by nothing. Its a fucking mess of a film filled with untapped potential and dead ends that is engaging enough to sit through in the right mindset. Everything about its artwork and synopsis tries to sell a different kind of film than what's actually inside, so an initial blind viewing can be a little rocky. Though it doesn't make it a great movie, you have to respect its upfront policy regarding flying heads. It has a grip of problems, but I wouldn't think to count the decapitation physics among them. In that regard (alone) it has Friday the 13th beat. While I'll always defend the classic slasher for its striking lack of Jason, its final kill undeniably sours the experience. By every prior indication the first F13 film takes place in a reality a lot like our own, and here in the real world, old people's heads don't just pop off the neck without some work. Not that I have experience or anything.
(sorry couldn't find an English trailer)
Director: Francis Schaeffer
Writer: Len Spinell

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Review by:
RevTerry

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Even Hitler Had a Girlfriend (1992) Review by RevTerry

Loneliness and movies make a good pair. One of my favorite theater moments happened during a showing of Her (2013) a few years ago. The Spike Jonze film had already been out for a while, and some friends and I were catching a showing at the last discount place in town. As often was the case at this particular location, we almost had the house to ourselves, the only other party being a lone gentleman seated in the front row. Our fellow patron was a rugged twenty years older than my crew of young looking thirty-somethings, and he did his best not to acknowledge us as we entered loudly. Once the movie started, I quickly forgot about him and settled into the hip, emotional science fiction on screen. I'll admit I got into the sappy mainstream feels. What can I say? I'm a sucker for man-machine love stories. I wasn't the only one. Later in the film, I started to hear an odd noise, which seemed out of place in the film’s audio mixing. I barely noticed at first, but the organic sound got louder with each depressing turn in the story. It wasn't until the movie’s final twenty minutes that I was able to discern what I had been hearing. The single man in the front row had been letting out sobs through the sci-fi drama's many sad parts. Never quite becoming cries, his somber whimpers fit so well with the mood, they just felt like part of the production. For the rest of the showing I listened closely during the moments I felt strongest about hoping for validation. I don't think I will ever truly know if that film was actually effective or if I was just in the middle of some kind of cosmic sadness triangle involving Joaquin Phoenix and a random fellow moviegoer. Whatever the fuck it was, it was beautiful. Isolation is a driving force for the film medium. Sad people make great art, and as a viewer, it feels good to know you're not the only piece of shit floating around. Extreme cases of the infliction make people do crazy things, and that's always entertaining (if not relatable). For another high-class example of the marriage between loneliness and film, only with much less of Scarlett Johansson's voice and a lot more hookers, we can look at  Even Hitler Had a Girlfriend (1992).
Marcus Templeton (Andren Scott) is unhappy and alone. He lives in a rundown apartment (with thin walls) which he pays for with an unfulfilling job as a nighttime security guard. At a hard thirty-one, his health is declining, and he has become overweight, due in part to a diet consisting of TV dinners and Slim Jim's. Seemingly unable to make meaningful relationships, his time is spent alone with only his television for company. The closest thing he has to a sex life is a hearty porn addiction and his peeping Tom habit. To make matters worse, it's getting harder and harder to reach an erection, which threatens to strip away one of his few daily activities. On one occasion, he stumbles upon an escort ad, and after some low balling, invites a call girl over to his place. Not quite the girlfriend experience, but a better waste of money than infomercial products, Marcus begins hiring the service regularly and recording the events for later use. Two weeks, a venereal disease, and his entire life savings later, Marcus has no regrets.
Told almost entirely through internal dialogue, Even Hitler Had a Girlfriend chronicles a lazy downward spiral into greasy human obscurity with blunt humor. There isn't really a story structure, just a sad waltz between bad decisions and repeat activities as Marcus meditates on his world, making thin excuses when he can. Starting with “When did things get this way?”, the film follows its subject’s musings like a diary, broken into interconnected vignettes. From off-screen, Marcus talks through his thought process as the viewer watches those ideas dissolve into impotent realization. Intercut between the details of Marcus's stagnant lifestyle are chunks of the outside influences he receives through softcore porn, religious propaganda, and disapproving manifestations of his father. The deep, dark humor is always there, but it's hard to laugh at and almost impossible to explain. It's a very funny movie, however, the comedy is going to hit everyone at a different angle, and it's probably going to be uncomfortable despite the consistent silliness. It parodies the ugly parts of being human that get scrubbed from the usual lovable scumbag male trope.  An authentic creep, Marcus isn't a good person, just great depiction of human garbage built from equal parts empathy and harsh judgment. Each goofy or wince-inducing ingredient has ties to reality, far removed from the outlandish hijinks of the normal exciting, eccentric slacker. He is someone we have all met before, a person we know well or can identify with (whether you want to or not). The character is so broad that only the luckiest among us would miss finding a raw nerve in the trash pile. You don't have to be a pervert with an addiction to hookers to reflect on the self-inflicted plight, any kind of piece of shit will do. Nothing is ever drastic, or momentous. Things get gradually worse with no fateful crash or “Falling Down” moment of realization. Its tone is slow, aimless and sometimes seems intent with just being there drenched in quirky misery. The end comes across as abrupt without satisfactory resolution. Undignified, the story concludes with no meaningful change or a point, and Marcus leaves a negligible impact on the world around him-- it took me a while to realize how perfect that was.
Apart from the thick padding of homemade striptease footage, the movie is essentially a deviant slob’s memoirs recorded over his contemptible daily routine. Marcus is rarely seen talking on screen. The bulk of his dialogue is heard while he emotes on a couch. When interacting with the various paid women he brings home, the camera avoids him or moves to his point of view for an interview-like conversation. It's hard to tell where some things are happening as most scenes have the same decor (nothing). The cut between Marcus, his fantasies, and what's on television are undefined and blur together with only partial intention. Its assembly resembles a frugal documentary making do with limited sources. Almost half of the film is dingy looking footage of bored women taking their clothes off. Its non-existent budget is evident in every aspect of the production, but it only stands to strengthen the theme. The Fluctuating audio, lighting and camera work just make it feel more authentically gross, like a tape found under a neighbor's couch you should never have watched. Aside from the naked women, the film could have been made in the late 80s with ten bucks for jerky and a really good friend. Altogether It is bottom of the barrel production levels, with disreputable content and an unsavory name that wouldn't work any other way.
The film was shot and put together by artist Ronnie Cramer from a script by David Manning (based on a story by T.G. Baker). A painter, musician and experimental renaissance man, Cramer produced a range of film projects in the late 80s including animated shorts, Avant-garde visual pieces, and documentaries. Even Hitler Had a Girlfriend is his most noted work to date receiving national notoriety as well as a shout out from Joe Bob Briggs. The film's small crew was made up of frequent collaborators, and Cramer’s band Alarming-Trends supplied the soundtrack. The soul of the picture lays in Andren Scott, a longtime friend of Cramer who had appeared in his previous film Back Street Jane (1989). Scott’s dry delivery, telling facial expressions, and chronically average appearance create depth from very little. Putting a lot on display (including most of his naked body) the vulnerability in Scott’s performance brings cringe-inducing authenticity to an awesomely fucked up role. Sadly, in 1994 after appearing in only two releases, he was fatally shot at a Denver 7-Eleven while working as nighttime clerk. A sequel was in the works at the time of the tragedy, and released posthumously, as The Hitler Tapes (1994). The majority of the cast lists this film (and its sequel) as their only acting credit. Everyone looks and speaks like someone you could find in an average city, with performances that seem more disturbingly natural than amateur.
Even Hitler Had a Girlfriend (1992) is a no-frills cautionary tale told through your creepy uncle's unlabeled tape collection. Bare bones and offbeat, it is a beautifully disgusting study of the male human animal pre-pornhub. Not a film for everyone, It is as painful to watch as it is funny and could possibly make you ashamed to own a dick (if you have one and weren't already). The entire thing feels personal like a sweaty, discarded poem that wasn't meant to be seen. There is nothing like it--I would call it a masterpiece, but no one would believe me. From up close, the film showcases the somewhat extreme effects of loneliness with dark humor. It's not horror, but there is a good chance it is the scariest movie I have reviewed. With the right circumstances and some bad decisions, any ordinary asshole could become a version of Marcus. Now that I think about it, I wonder if that sad stranger in the front row is coming around. At the very least I hope he has a handle on his hooker expenses.
1h 38min | 1992
 Director: Ronnie Cramer
Writers: T.G. Baker (story), David Manning 

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Review by:
RevTerry

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