The Headless Eyes (1971) Review by RevTerry

Shit goes down. Life gets sour, and before you know it, you are doing things you would have never dreamed of during the better times. It's easy to let volatile situations get to you and fall into a downward spiral that has permanent results. The subtly is the fucked up part. It comes in almost painless waves. You start acting out of desperation, the negativity compounds, and soon you are doing weird, disturbing things that would make your grandma puke bile in shock. That could mean many different things depending on who you are, whether its questionable shit in a park for money, hard drugs and or a job in retail. It's complicated--what some would call wit's end might be daily life for others. All time lows are relative and based on things like privilege. If you are lucky, before things get too bad, you will hit a stopping point of some kind, where rational wins over, and a voice inside shouts “what the fuck am I doing?” Or you won't, and shit will get a lot worse before you ultimately die in a way no one wants to talk about. That is the defining moment. Say, for example, you are at a point in your life when robbing some lady's home seems like a good idea and during that caper, your eye was gouged out with a spoon. One would hope this would bring with it some kind of breaking point and some humbling realizations that make you turn your life around or at least think twice before your next B and E. But you never know, you might just rush further down that dark trail, strap on an eye patch and start killing random people instead, like Arthur in The Headless Eyes (1971).
Arthur Malcolm (Bo Brundin) is an unsuccessful artist who mostly relies on his increasingly annoyed girlfriend for survival. At some point, out of desperation, he takes to robbing strangers homes during the night, a vocation he is characteristically inefficient at. During one particularly mishandled operation, Arthur rouses his victim by rummaging loudly in the bedstand closest to her head. When the stranger wakes up to a black-clad man with a porn stache and a little hoody standing directly over her, she begins to scream and refuses to listen to reason (in the form of half sentences about how expensive rent is). Not having a constituency plan, Arthur responds by grappling the lady and continues chattering loudly, close to her face. At some point during the scuffle, the resourceful woman grabs a spoon off the same bed stand and dislodges the would-be burglar's eye from its socket. Arthur rears in pain and spends the next ten minutes swinging the orb by its retinal vein and screaming “my eye” in the same way over and over (and over). Fast forward far enough for Arthur to have a sweet leather eyepatch. He has effectively run off the girlfriend, is stricken with intense delusions and tears up a lot (unevenly).  His current artistic endeavors involve a freezer full of eyeballs, which Arty defrosts every so often to paint like plane models. Since he only had the one extra initially to work with (I assume), he sources his craft supplies locally by killing and de-balling eccentric locals, something he is surprisingly good at. Mad at the world and determined to finish his masterwork, Arthur prowls the streets armed with a spoon and artistic despondency while diffusing the meddling of dirty cops, depth perception, and a fashion model.
Grimy from the inside out, the story is a disjointed crawl of trashy concepts and genuine angst. It is repetitive and based on some pretty shaky psychological tropes, but it manages to create grim moments of anguish that edge towards art when not being grinding. It would be almost heavy-handed if it weren't for the ridiculous rambling and the over the top moments. There is little to no logic to the events, actions or movement of the tale, and it's short in the way of setups. Thrown on top is an attempt to explain its lack of actual plot through semi-intended mania and Avant-guard expression that sometimes overstays its welcome.  The work owes a fair share to Roger Corman's A Bucket of Blood (1959), featuring its own depressed unrecognized artist who begins including his victims remains in his work, only updated with a William Lustig-like demeanor. Despite being almost devoid of any real sleaze, there is plenty of Doris Wishman's DNA in the main character and his interactions (most apparently The Amazing Transplant 1970). Similarly, a  neutered Herschell Gordon Lewis shines through during and after the attacks, although there is nowhere near the frequency as far as violence goes. Whether or not it was influential, it beat several more iconic films to the punch.  Arthur Malcolm’s love of skull scooping precedes Umberto Lenzi’s homogeneous eyeball obsessed assassin by four years (Eyeball 1975), and the film uses common elements for the shock value. It's also hard not to see it in the bloodstream of later cult favorites like Maniac (1980) and Driller Killer (1979) as it focuses solely on the killer's plight (among other things). There is a story of a person breaking apart under life's pressures somewhere in there, but it has been soaked up into a looped cut of long cornball rants and exploitation tropes.  Essentially, the movie is a cycle that involves a dude crying a bunch, murder, then eyeball removal with a spoon, repeated for an hour. Any time it threatens to become too tedious something distasteful happens, and the circle of angry psychedelic multimedia starts again.  
(The) Headless Eyes was written and directed by Kent Bateman. Bateman would only make three more films following, each randomly spaced out over twenty years, his most mainstream work being in family television. Notably, he directed four episodes of The Hogan Family (1988-91, or as it was called at the time Valerie's Family or maybe just Valerie, who knows? I don't watch that sappy shit.) which included his son among the cast, Jason Bateman (Arrested Development, Extract and a bunch of movies involving out of character situations). Legendary cinema sleaze maestro Ron Sullivan produced the film and oversaw the releasing. Sullivan (or Henri Pachard as he was known as from the 80s on) is recognized for a wide range of smut starting with a set of sexploitation films in the late 60s. The grindhouse feature was a short departure for Sullivan, a man of many (mystery stained) hats, followed by a move to making more “mainstream” porn. When he died in 2008, he had produced, directed, and or starred in over three hundred hardcore, softcore or just generally sleaze-tastic films. There isn't much for credits accompanying the film, and honestly, I have trouble determining who is who. The only person I recognize is TV regular Bo Brundin who plays Arthur, the movie's artistically inclined main character. He is a lot younger here than anything else I have seen him in, and the part is far removed from his later work. In fact, his just being in the film is weird as fuck, but supposedly, he is in Jerry Lewis’ lost/scorned WWII-clown-drama (The Day the Clown Cried 1972) too, so he was down for some shit in the 70s.
 According to Bateman (in the form of a user review posted to the films IMBD), Sullivan shot and added explicit scenes without his (Batemans) involvement in post. Sullivan most likely attached the unofficial X rating as well, since the movie was never submitted to the MPAA. Alongside films like The Ghastly Ones (1968) and Invasion of the Blood Farmers (1972), the movie saw a small theatrical run through drive-in marathons and double billings starting in 1972. In 1986, Charles Band's Wizard Video released the film to home video with comically gruesome new artwork, unrelated stills from another flick and a claim that the contents were “Too Gory for the Silver Screen.” Despite being a bit of stretch, the lavish new cover gave the film a second life with VHS era gorehounds in the 80s and followed it to this day. In 1999 Charles Band’s new company Full Moon Studios would repurpose the art for David DeCoteau's goofy unrelated sci-fi flick The Killer Eye, which understandably led to some confusion. I can get down with both (as well as Killer Eye's 2011 meta-sequel, Killer Eye: Halloween Haunt), but they each have their place, and it's incredible how different two b-movies about free-range eyeballs can be.
The film comes across bluntly unfinished, even at times feeling like a rough clip-show of the same events varied only slightly and with no awareness. It's made up of mixed camera work that jumps from functional to frenzied but manages to find some significantly rewarding shots every once and awhile. There are brief motivated moments when the film's direction can reconcile with the botched editing, and the art house stuff starts to work in its own way. Unfortunately, these nuggets come sandwiched between two bizarre slices of cheese that might pass as bad YouTube remixes in modern times. Although it's not as plentiful as most of its marketing implies, the gore is excellent for the production level. Each attack is a good mix of silly effects, bad lighting, and shiver-inducing concepts. Sparing but not nearly shy about its bloodshed, skull scooping, and ocular veins, when it gets to the good stuff, it remains on screen for extended periods. Think Herschell Gordon Lewis’ "Blood Trilogy" only dim and with inexplicably repeated soundbite screams.  Probably the film’s most infamous (actual) feature, is the constant mix of lousy dubbing, echo effects, and droning synthesizers accompanying each scene. It sounds like something Skinny Puppy would put out minus the drum machine track. My favorite bits in the film, and arguably the most complete, are the intercut “man on the street” segments presented as local news coverage. The interviewed pedestrians were pretty fucking perfect, even if I kept expecting an Allen Funt-esque punch line that I never received.
The Headless Eyes (1971) is a grotesque tantrum of dirty angst and insufficiently lit splatter in slow motion. At its worst, it is bizarre, pissed off trash, at best, it's Taxi Drivers long-lost older, homeless cousin who never gets invited to holidays. It is not the peeper-harvest promised by its 80’s Wizard VHS box, but it can be some fucked up fun, with the right friends and/or buzz. Underdeveloped and broken, it seems to follow a condemned pattern faithfully until it just drops out at the end and goes black, Just like real life. Reality gets fucked up in a quick and systematic way. If you're someone who is currently in a lousy place and it's getting worse, remember, anyone worth knowing about has been through some serious shit. If they hadn't bounced back, you never would have heard of them. No matter what you do though, you should probably leave other people’s eyeballs out of it since, ultimately, it is your problem.
1h 18min | 1971
 Director: Kent Bateman
Writer: Kent Bateman 

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The Long Island Cannibal Massacre (1980) Review by RevTerry

Currently, CGI is overused and incorrectly utilized in modern filmmaking, as if by policy. There's a long muddled discussion attached to that statement--about mediums, blockbuster formatting, economics, and real-life vampires that gives me a headache, so I'll leave it at that. I can say without reservation, that computer-generated gore specifically, always fucking sucks. Technology has made many things better all around the world and repeatedly converted once revered, delicate crafts into automated processes. This does not yet, however, include cinema splatter, and it may never. There is perceivably no replacement for the corporeal in this department, the authenticity is integral to the finished product, and it has to be felt on some level. It doesn't need to be genuine human meat or anything ghastly like that, but something actually needs have oozed out, been sliced open, and/or ripped apart to really sell it. No super-imposed slime or digital spray has ever left me fulfilled. It just doesn't cut it. There is no “oomph” or natural reaction to it. It's as if the brain always subconsciously rejects computer generated dismemberment and gloop. Don't get me wrong, CGI can help make a traditional effect stronger and more seamless, but if it doesn't start with something real, the finished product is always hollow.  Big Hollywood went really crazy with it for a while. Things looked hopeless before the 80s rehashing trend forced their hand back towards live action carnage. Similarly, the tempting price tag on shitty graphics made some great recent trashy films possible, but with a terrible penance that leaves them dated before the DVD reaches my hands.  It can stain otherwise great films, no matter the budget quality or genre. Even the best modern kill set up can end in disappointment if it climaxes in a spray of pixels. “Real” or practical cinema gore, on the other hand, can add a layer of enticement and satisfaction to the most modest of productions. The right weirdo (me) will return to a movie year after year based on some spirit, an eye for kitchen-based crafting techniques and little else. I love computers, a lot, but I don't think they could ever replicate the slippery soul behind the good old fashioned kind of movie gross, like the quality, home-prepared meat slinging you find in The Long Island Cannibal Massacre (1980).
Somewhere, on what I can only assume is Long Island shoreline, an unnamed woman pulls to the side of a roadway for some biology homework and a cigarette.  Not long after she has relaxed and lit her cigarette, an armed man with a sinister looking bag on his head appears from the tall grass and creeps up behind her. With a roguelike skill, the man overpowers the woman and after some light taps of his pickaxe, ties her arms behind her back. He then leaves the scene and immediately returns with a push mower from out of frame like Bugs Bunny (because the mining implements are reserved for capturing only, I guess) for some juicy human landscaping. The film cuts over to undercover Inspector James Cameron (no relation) who has just abruptly ended a beach-date with some high school style nihilism. While walking (alone) he comes upon a woman's decapitated head sticking up out of the sand, but just as he about to do his cop thing, he is interrupted by a shifty gentleman. The off-putting fellow(Fred Borges), who claims to be the beaches owner, seems eager to re-bury the head and offers Cameron (John Smihula) a friendly bribe to not call the police. Wanting to keep his cover intact, the officer takes the dough. Back at the station, he reports the events to his boss and explains his hunch that the severed head is just one in a string of related murders. The captain is less than helpful, in fact, he reprimands the fervent inspector for leaving his position in the field and significantly downplays the entire situation. Freshly scorned and still full of deep helpless emotions, Cameron quits the force in a rage (or fit) with plans to solve the grisly string of homicides on his own, sans badge. As it turns out the murders are indeed related, unfortunately, what's brewing along the Long Island shore is much more complicated than the average New York area massacre. Gross-out insanity follows, involving more disembowelment, paternal complexities and mutant cannibals that don't mind their human flesh cold, straight from the trash bag.
By the title’s implication (and director’s legacy), one could safely anticipate a gruff platter of ridiculous, plentiful violence, paper-thin characters, and little tact. The Long Island Cannibal Massacre could hardly be considered a letdown in this regard, as most scenes are a hammy garnish for gruesome imagery and bodily harm. As a bonus, the film also manages to squeeze some grimy creativity into the morbid, childish antics and lifted concepts. There is plenty of straight slasher influence, but that is almost equally matched by monster film tropes and seasoned with slimy body horror. Most of the kill setups involve interrupted young lust in line with the era’s mainstream genre flicks. The cliche cop drama and plot twist are open parodies of cornball crime thrillers but also make slight nods towards the horror genre, pre-Halloween. There is a backwoods flavor to the blend as well, despite its supposed location, only instead of bridging into Texas Chainsaw style family values, the awkward interpersonal relationships boil into comedic takes on slimy grindhouse characters and cheesy drive-in sci-fi. The writing is never serious but more coherent than anyone should expect it to be. There is a borderline satirical nature to some of the elements, but like everything else in the film, it falls second to sloppy gags. The film spends a lot of time with the gang of eccentric and extremely varied antagonists and follows along with the rainbow of fucked up thought processes between them. They are juvenile and basic monsters but also relatively complete characters in the vane of an action-cartoon’s recurring crew of bad guys, brought to a twisted reality just north of a snuff film. Towards its middle the movie slows almost to a crawl, padding the run time with long, somewhat meaningless exposition. The dialogue is humorous, but the amateur conversations have a tendency to overstay no matter how over the top. Luckily, it devolves into slapstick butchery before it gets too dire at any point and even throws some possible twists the viewer's way for the trouble (it's not exactly crafty, but I didn't see it coming the first time).  It comes together like a flesh-munching chimera of Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981) and the original Ninja Turtles animated series reimagined as an east coast family-weekend vacation tape from the early 80s.
Long Island Cannibal Massacre has been constructed entirely of scrappy ambition, Super 8mm film, and what seems like a deli’s worth of sandwich meat (condiments included). The camera quality fluctuates wildly throughout scenes, with a murky focus that gets distracted if there is too much movement. To its credit, it sticks to mostly well-lit daytime settings to avoid shadows, making its drawn-out displays of postmodern vivisection as clear as possible when it counts. The film's action is accomplished with a haphazard combination of ambitious angles, daredevil performances, and ample amounts of practical gore on the cheap. As the undisputed selling point, the film’s literal guts, seemingly crafted from butcher scraps, are sufficiently disgusting and realistic enough to keep their shocking effect as the camera lingers with close-ups for long periods of time.  Each homemade technique ranges in quality and effectiveness but always succeeds in being disgusting. Lepers apparently resemble Fulci cake zombies covered in fry sauce, and there is a wide variety of fluids to accompany every on the spot autopsy. The film's self-aware humor allows for the inclusion of ridiculous murder weapons, without explaining their proximity in most cases. Looking like the paper mache prototype for Frank Henenlotter’s Elmer in Brain Damage (1988), the design for the (final) final boss is a little of a let-down after it's revealed, not faring as well with the film’s unfiltered, extended shots in the daylight. Despite this, the infamous chainsaw battle that makes up the film's climax is a thing of pure beauty, employing a  fleshy flurry of chunky spray with each attack. According to legend, this came along with some added danger as it was accomplished using a working chainsaw on a moving actor with only some Teflon and deli meat for protection. For the most part, the film is made up of one take-- whatever happens, happens type film-making, which in most cases just adds to the type of enjoyment. There are a few moments sprinkled in with visibly motivated framing that work extremely well, along with one or two functioning scares. Outside of surface noise, the soundtrack is infamously made up of stolen scores from other films which it has repurposed for an awkward comedic effect. Overall, Long Island is no-budget trash that knows how to play to its fucked up strengths and sits at the head of its class.
Without the capital needed to make major motion pictures, Nathan Schiff at age sixteen opted for the next best thing--frugal blood-soaked exploitation films. While still attending high school in 1979, Schiff and his friends completed their first full-length feature Weasels Rip My Flesh (a title only reference to a The Mothers of Invention song) with four hundred dollars worth of household supplies. An ode to 50’s drive in sci-fi cheese stocked with ample bloodshed, Weasel's successful release inspired a quick follow up in the form of The Long Island Cannibal Massacre (1980) which boasted a five hundred dollar increase to the budget (read gore) and proved even more popular than Weasels at the time. Most of the same actors returned, and in both cases, Schiff is listed for all technical roles. He would complete only a handful of full-length films, but the work is credited, in part, for inspiring countless no-budget filmmakers throughout the 80s and 90s.
The Long Island Cannibal Massacre is cheap, shameless, gorehound fan service blessed with a cartoon soul and an infectious can-do attitude. It's also one of my favorite ways to watch grainy low-quality footage of lunch meat being torn apart. Despite being a relatively early entry, Long Island is still a gold standard for the horror of its type and is, honestly, a  better all-around film than it has right to be. Most importantly, its gore still satisfies to this day-- in many ways, just like it did when it was released. It is certainly still gross. CG splatter just doesn't have that kind of lasting power.  If I can continue eating fried chicken following your cinematic disembowelment, does it even count?
1h 35min | 1980
 Director: Nathan Schiff
Writer: Nathan Schiff

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RevTerry

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Red Blooded American Girl (1990) Review by RevTerry

Not once has a mysterious party shown up at my doorstep to offer me an exclusive job, as of yet anyway. It kind of bums me out. Maybe I'll need to come to some sort of peace with the fact that I do not have what it takes to end up in that situation. I mean, I can probably fix a virus problem on your junky home PC, but I'm certainly not an in-demand hacker that would receive black hat solicitations in the middle of the night. You could also say that I have mixed a few chemicals in my day, however, I don't think that makes me a super scientist the government desperately needs on the payroll. Same goes for clandestine military operations, as the closest I have ever been to war was watching Platoon with my veteran dad, and I do not possess a unique set of “skills”. I guess it makes perfect, unfortunate sense that I haven't been proposed to in such a way, but It just seems so fucking common in the movies. Many cinematic adventures start with a surprise visit to a wayward savant’s dirty hideout, be it a shitty apartment or remote shack. I, at least, have the unkempt dwelling going on. Logically, if it did happen, I would have to decline, as I have been briefed by countless films as to how that goes down, and those situations don't turn out super great. On the other hand, though, everyone likes feeling wanted, and I don't have anything else going on, so fuck it. Yeah, maybe I would end up knee deep in mutants, sabotage, or reality shattering realizations, but it might be a fun ride. It could even end up being a set up for a  sexy vampire party of sorts, like in Red Blooded American Girl (1990).
The film opens with a soft, dreamlike date-night between a topless woman with an accent and a slimy dude with two shirts and no pants. As the male pours them some wine, presumably to commemorate a night of linens, boobs, and man-ass, he not so secretly drops something in his companion’s glass while serving. A few quick seconds after the toast, the unsuspecting female suffers an attack of some kind and goes limp. With a creeptastic smirk, the man thinly apologizes before flipping her over and sucking blood from her back. The soundtrack livens up a little, and the movie cuts to Owen Urban (Andrew Stevens), a neurotic genius in the field of life-enhancing drugs. Urban, although brilliant, is left to experiment in squalor, testing his treatments dangerously on himself with little resources (aka snorting stuff he mixes up in his kitchen). One night, when he is particularly fucked up from one of his drugs, he is visited by a well-dressed man by the name of Dr. John Alcore (Christopher Plummer), who introduces himself as CEO of LifeReach, a completely legitimate and respectable pharmaceutical company in Urban’s field. After a quick game of chemical enhanced arm wrestling,  Dr. Alcore offers up a job and a part in “the most significant medical breakthrough of the century” to which Urban accepts. The next day, Urban reports to the LifeReach headquarters/lab for an orientation by Dennis (Kim Coates the creepy rufie-guy from the intro) which involves a tour of the facility's giant in-house blood tanks and some cult-like discourse from sun-deprived employees in lab coats. Along the way, he is introduced to one of the more cynical test subjects Paula (Heather Thomas), who happens to own both the most colorful skin pigment and loudest spandex in the faculty. The tour finishes back at Dr.Alcore’s office for technicalities and champagne where any worries Owen may have had were brushed aside with inspirational banter and a suitcase full of money. Unsurprisingly, the new job doesn't ever get more conventional, and it isn't long into the new vocation that he learns that the company might not be completely legitimate or respectable. In fact, there is a good chance they are a slightly murderous conglomerate of shady addicts, infected with a blood disease that completely mimics classic vampirism. Unfortunately for Owen, he already has developed a crush on that Paula lady and really fucking loves making drugs, so he may just have to ride this one out.
Despite being essentially about vampires, Red Blooded American Girl is less a bloodsoaked horror film and more a cornball science fiction flick with a sappy romantic angle. Its somewhat unique approach to the subject matter prescribes heavy doses of jargon and lab scenes that quickly dissolve into neon, often semi-erotic filler. Plenty of its flavor and details could possibly speak to a cerebral side, but it's too ditzy to ever hold on to anything real. Instead, its best qualities are brainless fun amongst quasi-intelligent ramblings and familiar tropes. Transparently, it is fast and loose with the comic book style super science, using it primarily for a surface level fashion. At one point, Kuru, the disease you get from eating bad human brains, is mentioned in a serving of murky exposition. It is casually implied that studying the infliction gave way to chemically induced, almost classic, vampirism ( an interesting idea...I think), but it never really connects the dots and moves on without issue. Many of the events, characters, and moods feel like they could have been a part of a frugal (bloodsucking) prototype for Species (1995). It keeps its cartoon lab coat respectively affixed until its sexy monster hits the streets for almost slapstick hijinks.  Despite the tone, dialogue, and intro, it's actually pretty light on the sleaze. There is, however, a consistent late night seasoning to the writing that leaves it in a strange place where --with any more nudity and little bit sillier dialogue, it might get confused for Showtime softcore.  It’s ahead by a few years, but it feels like it could be the slightly prudish, unstable connecting-cousin between Embrace of the Vampire (1995) and Possessed by the Night (1994) that had once been forced to watch Lifeforce (1985). Its actual amount of plot and productive themes could have easily been a solid episode of the 90s revival of The Outer Limits (or if you removed the boobs, the 80s Twilight Zone). There's an attempt at a fresh bloodsucker tale deep inside the story somewhere (involving science and drug allusions), but it has been securely hidden under a generous slice of cheese. It hardly works the way I'm assuming it is supposed to, and the unintentionally humorous blends seamlessly into planned jokes. Certainly, the movie has an underlying desire to add a fresh modern spin to the same old vampire lore, but at best it comes out as the (very) extremely light, hopelessly inept precursor to The Addiction (1995), padded to completion with almost Once Bitten (1985) type fluff.  To be perfectly honest, it's a  terrible waste of some good ideas slathered in overused cliches, but in practice, it can still be entertaining, numbing garbage for the right lazy day.
The direction is all over the place, as if it can't decide what other vampire or science flicks it’s ripping off during each scene. Abruptly and more frequently as it moves along, it pulls completely into a comedic timing without aim. It's not uncommon for the particular brand of shallow, seedy drama to verge into absurdity, but in this case, slapstick often takes the place of any possible attempts at terror. It's almost a letdown at first but becomes part of its style as the surrounding content gets zanier and more erratic. On a technical note, the movie falls somewhere between R.O.T.O.R. (1987) and an early episode of Silk Stalkings (1991ish). There is no shying away from blood, although I don't know if I would call any of it gore. People are often “fed upon” but the camera pulls away from the brutal stuff, leaving some fucked up implications at best. The movie’s vampires are developed with minimal special effects or any real indication as to their infliction. The exclusion to this (for some reason) is Heather Thomas who suffers a school carnival face painting job in place of a monstrous transformation. While the story just kind of wonders along, the film's editing does its best to create a build-up from the sequence of events with mixed results.  Although slightly muted, its color scheme and fashion are distinctly from the end of the 80s. When not inside bare laboratories, the rooms are all filled with omnipresent pink, blue, or red lighting. This is aptly topped with lively synth music which fits the Baywatch Nights style, even if it’s never sure what mood a scene is going for at any given moment. It’s not super effective filmmaking, but it is functional and makes a few bizarre choices which keep it interesting. The bright uniform television quality works to hold the confused mass of wasted concepts into a completely watchable piece of trash.
The film was directed by David Blyth, who had just recently been let go from the Sean S. Cunningham project The Horror Show (1989, definitely not House III... long story) while it was in production. He would later follow American Girl with a name-only sequel in 1997 after a few years of directing Power Ranger episodes. The script was written by Allan Moyle who also gave the world two angsty music related classics that I hold embarrassingly dear: Pump Up the Volume (1990 he wrote and directed), and Empire Records (1995 he directed from a script by Carol Heikkinen). It's definitely not his best work put to screen, and at its most nuanced, left me wondering what it had originally looked like on paper. Everyone is well cast, at worst meeting B movie requirements for over the top side characters. The film’s roided out genius, Owen Augustus Urban III, is played by Andrew Stevens, who seems to tap a few of cinema’s classic mad scientists for some inspiration.  Stevens would go on to become a figure in the Hollywood mainstream serving chiefly as a producer (100+ films including The Boondock Saints in 1999 and The Whole Nine Yards in 2000) and continues to act to this day (80+ credits most recently A Woman's Nightmare 2018).  Along with a few other quirky genre roles, era-appropriate bombshell Heather Thomas had a regular place on television throughout the 80s. She is in her element as the striking, quick love interest and even gets to show up in some trademark 80s workout clothing. Thomas also seems to be the only one working a Vampire's Kiss-esque insanity angle into the film, which ends up being one of my favorite parts. Once she goes into full “lusty vampire on the prowl” mode, she inexplicably starts mixing in unsexy, crazy faces and just kind of loses her mind completely without warning, it's pretty fucking awesome. Christopher Plummer can put in some serious acting when it counts, but as Dr. John Alcore mostly he just does his best Dan O'Herlihy impression and dramatically stares. It completely fits the film, but you have most likely seen him act his ass off somewhere else.  As the resident vampire sleazebag, Kim Coates is slimy and under-rated as ever. He has fully mastered these types of characters in both mainstream and lower budget films and really makes you taste it. He also might actually be a vampire, because he seems to age differently than most real people.
Red Blooded American Girl is steamy but tame vampire trash unconvincingly wearing a classic lab coat and some horned rim glasses. It applies a few science fiction elements, but it doesn't ever pursue the potentially unique concepts it sets forth. Instead, it playfully spins off into TV show-style antics and the usual genre tropes leaving most of its more interesting pieces lying around afterward. It's dumber than it could have been, but you can do much worse, as far as movies about vampires or even slutty scientist go. It makes a great throwaway Sunday watch between slices of similarly fluffy VHS bullshit, especially if you are not paying exorbitant attention. Also, I think I was premature in my pessimistic security about not receiving a mysterious job offering. That could still happen. I just watched this movie three times in a row to write this review, that has to be a particular skill of some kind.
1h 29min | 1990
 Director: David Blyth
Writer: Allan Moyle 

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Humongous (1982) Review by RevTerry

For the majority of my life, my attitude towards procreation has been less than enthusiastic. Obviously, I have some kind of reverence/respect for parents--I have a couple of my own, and they are pretty cool. Nevertheless, I just have never been keen on becoming one. Even located in the desert, most places I visit seem overcrowded, extremely so. I go to Walmart at three AM to avoid the mass of six-kid families that fill the place during regular hours. That way it's only the Wally-World night crew and me, as too many human spawn making noise at once tend to make me nervous (and when I'm nervous I make shitty shopping decisions). I don't want to increase or be partly responsible for the roving groups of free-range monsters in stores around the country. It's much easier for me to judge those who are responsible from afar and say things like “Where the fuck are these kids’ parents?” when the Nerf aisle is crowded.  More than that, while it's questionable whether or not there are enough resources in the world to go around, it is definite that not everyone receives what they need to survive. From my humble perspective, adding one more human to the mix seems like a fucked up gamble with life for most of us. There also appears to be a few overtly disgusting phases and speed bumps in developing a person that I don't know if I'm up to dealing with. Those saplings at Walmart smell strong and look like they might carry the next big plague. How can I sit down for my yearly Re-Animator marathon if I have to clean up real-life splatter and fluids? I could go on--really, the list seems endless. Kids are the not-fun kind of scary, gross shit, and those that take that charge deserve both admiration and pity.  Still, even with plenty of logical, visible negatives, a small part of me is pretty sure that it has baby making to do. Who knows, maybe it's nature, or I just need a captive audience for my seven-part presentation on the cultural value of Hackers (1995), but the call is there.  When that voice gets loud, it then takes a more extreme example of parenting gone wrong to scare it off--something like Humongous (1982).
Labour Day Weekend 1946, some rich guy is having a party on his private Lake Michigan island. The young lady of the house, Ida Parsons (Shay Garner), seemingly bored with the bourgeois festivities, spends the time chilling with the mass of family dogs who are caged outside. One of Mr. Parsons esteemed associates comes out to join Ida, and within a few seconds begins demanding sex. Ida isn't with it, repetitively telling him to fuck off, but the man becomes increasingly belligerent and eventually rapes her.  As a morsel of instant karma, Ida’s dog-homies break free soon after and tear the wealthy predator apart. Thirty-six years and some Cheers-esque credits later, a group of bickering overindulged youngsters makes plans to spend the weekend on St. Martin Island. Borrowing their parent's yacht, brothers Eric (David Wysocki) and Nick (John Wildman) bring their odd love triangle/lady friends Donna (Joy Boushel) and Sandy (Janet Julian) along with their sister, the nerdy third wheel Carla (Janit Baldwin). Not long after they have hit the water and everyone has cemented their cliche slot in the film, the night sets in with a thick fog. While nervously navigating through the darkness, the crew comes upon a stranded fisherman named Burt (Layne Coleman). Once rescued and aggressively introduced to the gang, Burt imparts to them the history of the nearby “Dog Island”. According to Burt, the island is home to Ida Parsons who has isolated herself there for the last thirty-something years, protected by a pack of savage dogs. Soon after the tale and some light necking, one of the brothers gets excited enough (for some reason) to angrily crash the boat right on the infamous island. When the group washes up on the beach, they are missing Carla, and poor Burt is only more damaged. There is some arguing, and Nick heads into the woods alone for a tantrum where he is killed by a grunting shadow. The next morning the survivors split up. Sandy and Eric head up to the Parsons mansion hoping to ask for help while Donna takes off her shirt and lays on top of Burt (because he's in shock). Team Sandy and Eric are unable to find a person to ask for assistance, but they do find a room full of oversized, grotesque toys and some chewed up canine bones. Soon, it is discerned that Ida wasn't alone on that island. In fact, she had given birth to a son thirty-six years ago, only to hide him from the world (because he is ugly and rich people are crazy). Ida had died some time ago leaving her mutated, uneducated man-child to fend for himself. After the food diminished, the extremely unfortunate and hungry offspring had taken to eating the many dogs, but eventually ran out of those too. However, his luck just might be turning around, because suddenly these opulent kids have shown up on the island and started splitting into easily manageable groups.
It's hard to tell if Humongous is an inherently silly tale that wants be serious or a dark story that wants to be irreverent. Regardless of its intentions, it is an awkward but entertaining confusion of near-effective suspense and cartoon details. With a dry cornball spin, it mashes backwoods slashers, creature features, and some Gilligan's Island into a relatively unique 80s VHS flavored paste. It's almost always predictable, as far as the story goes, but puts some of its own special weirdness on the borrowed tropes. The film's pacing is a little slow, and it takes some time with its lead-up events. Much of that time is spent with some very unlikable, spoiled youth while they make a series of bad decisions in emergency situations, complete with a few fruitless power moves from the alpha males. Between the intro and the boat ride, it becomes pretty apparent that everyone in the film’s universe is extra rapey for some reason and, aside from the confused, hungry mutant, pretty well off. Long before the cannibal shows up, the film makes a good case for letting most of the characters get eaten. The boat ride and mini Lord of the spoon fed Flies thing could easily be the start of a film with a less human antagonist or even an angry animal. These early moments come accompanied by POV spy-shots from the brush that could go either way, as far as what could turn out to be watching the unlucky shipwreck survivors. Even after the very human (but definitely fucked up looking) killer starts making exposed appearances, it holds on to an almost man versus nature mood until the point where the surviving party has dwindled substantially. Once it gets down to its cliche final girl, it might as well take place at Camp Crystal Lake, but the road there is a different one. There is quite a bit of obvious influence in the film from the big name slashers that came before it. It owes a lot to Friday the 13th, even lifting a mama's boy stumping tactic outright (from Part 2, 1981), but it's all played more as a light-hearted Texas Chainsaw Massacre type misadventure, sans most of the Avant-garde qualities (and few family members). The deformed killer hermit's face remains inexplicably hidden until near the film's climax, while everything else about his character is made clear early on, forming a less functional pseudo-Jaws meets Leatherface style restraint (aided by the horrible lighting). Other than the mysterious facial features, he serves as a fairly run of the mill slasher, although closer to a state most would reach further-on in a film series ( a la Friday the 13th part III, Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III, Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers, etc.). He has full-fledged superhuman strength, seemingly phases from place to place and has to be killed several times to be truly dead, like a dog fed Jason Voorhees with the vocal range (and hairdresser) of Wayne Doba’s poor deformed character from The Funhouse (1981).  The film works as an outrageous younger sibling to the underrated backwoods horror classic Rituals (1977) and shares some elements, but doesn't come close to driving home its brutal subject matter as effectively.  It does read equally as Canadian somehow, which I always associate with great trashy action television shows. There's something adventurous to the plot initially, although it thins out as it moves along and lacks a good “nature guide” character.  Even being an early 80s entry into the slasher game the familiar pieces, celebratory nods, and fan service make it feel like a precursor to the more authentic modern homages like Hatchet (2006). It is entirely derivative but feels more like a tribute to its precursors than a complete rip-off.
 For brief moments at a time, the direction is pretty fucking inspired and without giving it too much credit, reaches passed its direct predecessors to their roots in Italian horror. Mostly though, it reminds me of Tobe Hooper’s highly motivated but inconsistent work post-Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Unfortunately, any true finesse is hindered by the incredibly poor lighting which makes daytime seem like bad TV and night shots indiscernible. In the world of high definition mediums, it's hard not to think the darkness may have saved an effect or two from unforgiving clear pictures of today, but it is just too shitty (most of the time) to think of as a happy accident or functioning stylization. Beyond the terrible lighting, the technical aspects are flawed but mostly passing, making respectable use of what seems to be a moderate budget. It utilizes the island location well enough, giving the wildlife some screen time to invoke the survival horror subgenre and left field Italian exploitation flicks like Antropophagus (1980). The fog machine boat ride to the island that the kids take is another story completely and looks as if it could have been cut from a Godzilla film twenty years earlier. The monster effects are restrained both intentionally and by the dim recording. When Jr. does make appearances, he meets most of his mutant slasher requisites, but the less is more strategy doesn't quite hit its mark in this case and feels indecisive. The gore effects are uniformly covered in dark shadowing, but when some red pokes through, it's more than adequate. I especially got a kick out of the drawn-out head squishing. Everything is laced with an out of time soundtrack which wavers between dirty synth magic, overcooked TV show risers, and spaceship noises. I don't know what was going on with the music (provided by John Mills-Cockell), but I was digging it.
Humongous was directed by Paul Lynch and written by William Gray. It was the third collaborative effort from the duo after Blood & Guts in 1978 and Prom Night in 1980. Like Humongous, Prom Night lifted generously from popular slashers that came before it, specifically Halloween, and even borrowed its star, scream queen/mainstream celebrity / Hollywood-rulebook-burner, Jamie Lee Curtis. Both films were released to mostly negative reviews while Prom Night would eventually spawn three (mostly unrelated) sequels and a reboot.  Lynch and Gray continued to work together up into the 90s on Canadian produced televisions show like Robocop The Series (1994) and one of the ill-received Dark Shadows remakes (1991). Garry Robbins portrays the film’s abandoned mutant man-child. Robbins would play a few more monsters before his death in 2013 including “Saw Tooth” in the first Wrong Turn (2003). With performances ranging from perfectly exaggerated to passing, the majority of the cast is made up of Canadian TV regulars. I can't say I ever gave much of a shit as to who lived or died, but the group of yuppie sight seekers is well picked. Janet Julian, the film’s de facto lead, is a little lackluster here but two years later will put in a much more memorable performance as a self-appointed Samaria interpreter in the Empire flick Ghost Warrior (1984).
Humongous (1982) is a grimy but motivated collage of the popular horror films from its era with half their budget and a quarter of their lighting. Not a masterwork of cinema by any means, instead, it is a fun, somewhat sleazy flick with a lot of spirit. Ida's violent, pooch eating, confused bastard child probably isn't going to reorganize your top killer list, but the film is a few rungs above most slasher rip offs in any era. Plus, it's another great reason to make sure you are ready to be a parent if you do decide to be one. What if you accidentally raised a sheltered, unlovable progeny, like those waspy, spoiled assholes that crashed the boat?
1h 37min | 1982
 Director: Paul Lynch
Writer: William Gray

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Review by:
RevTerry

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Violent Shit 2: Mother Hold My Hand (1992) Review by RevTerry

I think if I were a badass, I would need a metal mask or full covering helmet of some kind. Not for the armor aspect, although head protection is always good, I'm just a fan of the look. I would wear one in my daily life now, but they are probably expensive, and people would expect me to do something cool (as I too would expect of a dude with a metal head).  All my favorite villains had one in my youth. Both Magneto and Dr. Doom from the comics commanded respect and fucked shit up while wearing some metal on their heads. They were probably my earliest examples, but honestly, that's enough to have secured my love for the style. Their helmets were both semi utilitarian but mostly just looked really awesome with their cape combo. In cartoons, GI Joe took the effects of mirrored sunglasses to the next level with Cobra Commander, as he sometimes just had a smooth piece of chrome covering his face. I can get down with that--the blank and shiny look. It’s stylish features even distracted from his shrill sounding voice. I would probably go with something a little more personalized myself, but would definitely want something metal. It just completes the whole look for me. Something about a good sturdy helmet just fits with murder and mayhem. Karl the Butcher gets it. That's why, when he died, along with his love for over-the-top murder, he passed his fancy medieval headwear down to his son, so he would be properly dressed for his own adventure in Violent Shit II (1992).
Long after the events of the first film, two makeshift drug distributing gangs meet up in an open field to engage in something nefarious with a briefcase. For whatever reason, the deal sours, and the two groups go at eliminating each other in various gusher inducing ways. The battle whittles the congregation of assorted backyard wrestles down to a one on one duel between the leaders who both happen to practice kung fu and enjoy white button-up t-shirts. After some fancy moves, one of them slays the other in combat and begins to leave the scene (sans all his dead homies, I guess) but is stopped in his tracks by the sight of a large masked man yelling at him on the horizon. Turns out Karl Butcher Jr, son of the legendary mass murderer, was out for a stroll, spotted the dealers killing each other, and, not to be left out, had rushed to join. Very quickly, Karl (Andreas Schnaas) is on top of the would-be lone brawl survivor and promptly fucks him up with a machete just before the screen goes black. Following its intro and sparse opening credits, the film takes the form of a true crime documentary in development by reporter Paul Glas. Paul believes a string of recent murders can be linked back to The Butcher massacre from twenty years before (and also, the whole thing has something to do with real-life serial killer Fritz Honka...I think?). After divulging the history of Karl senior for a bit over panning random footage of Germany, the reporter follows a tip leading to an interview with some dude in a bar who confirms his suspicions. The Deepthroat-esque “DR. X” then tells him a few stories about the original culprit’s son who, mad about a face rash or something (honestly between the bad subs and silly plot I'm still dim on some details, but it doesn't really matter), had also already done some minor rampaging of his own in the last few years . Switching formats once again, we catch up with Karl II and his (adoptive?) mother (Anke Prothmann in a lot of make-up). Turns out, Momma Butcher has been priming her young progeny to follow in her late husband's footsteps, and now that he has grown to be the spitting image of his father (complete with the heirloom medieval helmet), he is ready to do some eccentric butchery of his own. In fact, this time will be extra special, because mom is coming along too. As one could probably guess, Karl's old lady has some very peculiar parenting ideas, specifically cannibalism and incest. Also at some point, a naturally occurring body hole gets closed up with a stapler, and I think someone eats poop, so watch out for that.
The title is about as far from the old-fashioned B-movie bait and switch as you can get. Like the first film, Violent Shit is wall to wall grotesque violence, only now (in true sequel fashion), it's been turned up a few ridiculous levels. There is an increased story to it compared to the first film, that is to say, there is more than nothing tieing the insane moments of torture and dismemberment together. For the first few acts, a disjointed, random, and confusing series of events form some semblance of a point, but the film forgets about the majority of this as it moves on into plasma soaked sadism. Mostly, the additional fluff just makes room for things the series was truly missing-- like a training montage, cliche fauxumentary tropes, and Kung Fu.  Karl Jr's maternal relationship adds fucked up frosting to an already disturbing cake of sinister shit. The weird sexual thing that's going on there, combined with mom's encouraging cheers, was enough to make me glad the subtitles are wonky and that I don't speak German. At around the same runtime, it might be a little lighter on the fake entrails than the first to make room for the added story, but it wouldn't be considered lacking in most circles. The Butcher-minor is more creative than his father but also seemingly obsessed with genitals (of all genders), which is weird and takes a lot of screen time. There are a few classic machete whacks to the face for some victims. However, as the body count grows, most of the slaughter comes with long, drawn out, silly torture and bloodletting. A bare-bones opposite to the Saw-style mouse trap, instead of providing intricate setups for the deaths, the act of execution itself is long, complicated, and involves several steps. It's all sure to offend anyone who watches but is too extreme to take seriously. Even if you are of the squeamish type, by the fifteenth minute of growling testicle torture and six similar acts, the action loses any real shock and becomes either just gross or hilarious (and gross). It goes for broke, eventually just dissolving into increasing levels of carnage, capturing the essence of a drunken night between friends trying to top each other's morbid imagination. Along with its spastic rampage, the film makes several references to classic American horror films and even borrows a few plot points from the Friday the 13th series unambiguously. To its credit, it's moved forward quite a bit from the first writing-wise, although it’s not like it is casting a bigger net for an audience. It's still just random gore because that's fun sometimes, and hopefully, no one who pops in a film titled Violent Shit 2 will be worried about the level of drama involved.
Shot on tape and seemingly dumping the entirety of its finite resources into gore, Violent Shit 2 is, again, what it says on the tin. The whole thing looks like it was shot in different sections of the same public park, which it refers to as a “forest” at one point. The John Woo tribute, in the beginning, is the film’s most developed moment as far as framing and choreography go, displaying some above average movie brawling for its budget. For the film’s meat and potatoes (Karl the second, killing people), it's a lot more of the same backyard style camera work that kind of hangs around watching the action from any accessible angle. Shots seem almost placed at random, and it jumps between them with meaningless cuts. The film’s biggest draw is an overabundance of practical gore, which comes out as a step above the rest of the film quality- wise. For the lack of resources, the film utilizes some pretty gnarly effects when it comes to flesh mangling, and it doesn't skimp or pull away.  I think I counted four different consistencies of blood, and each horrible scenario is trying to top the last. Without spoiling anything, there is a range of squirtastic stabbings and stringy limb removals that, despite their amateur surrounding conditions, would give a lot of larger budget splatter flicks a run for their money.  Some of the more ambitious (for lack of a better word) moments spend a little too much time on screen and give themselves away, but all together it should more than slate any grimy blood-seekers thirst or send anyone else running. When it isn't mumbling at random volumes, the dubbing is just screaming, grunting and giggle-worthy squishing sounds with no attachment to what's on screen. Music-wise, the film is laced with an out of place, unbalanced soundtrack that sounds straight out of an RPG fantasy video game. Besides the Dungeons & Dragons mood tunes, it does have a German death metal/butt rock theme song (Violent Shit by Vice Versa) bookending it that captures the spirit nicely and almost feels critically necessary. Stick around afterward for some bonus scenes and marquee of credits that look like they are trying to sell you knock off sunglasses.
German director Andreas Schnaas has made an international name for himself with a torrent of ultra-low budget, ultra-violent gross-out splatter flicks that continues today. In 1989, he and some homies secured a tiny bit of funding to form the company Reel Gore Productions and produce their first full-length picture titled Violent Shit. Filmed over four weekends and with a rented tape recorder, the project amounted to a series of violent acts committed by a large masked man named Karl the Butcher, crafted with homemade practical effects (and little else). By the grace of the trash-gods, it saw a single midnight theater showing but received mostly negative reviews on its initial video release due to its lack of production values. However, with a little help from a to-the-point naming strategy and its unrefined grimy gusto, it found an audience worldwide over the following years in less discerning gore hounds who don't mind the homemade feel (a bunch of fucking weirdos probably). Succeeding their second feature Zombie '90: Extreme Pestilence in 1991, Andreas & Co would return to the world of Violent Shit and brewing cult following. To date, the character Karl the Butcher has appeared in six flicks, that I know of, including a reboot of sorts (Violent Shit: The Movie 2015) by Italian director Luigi Pastore, without Andreas Schnaas involvement. Schnaas himself would play the role in most outings, taking over for Karl Inger (allegedly) after the first film.
Violent Shit II: Mother Hold My Hand (aka Violent Shit 2) is a composition sketchbook of demented cartoon executions forged during an in-school suspension and realized in full-color low fidelity magnetic tape. For the right crowd, it's an awesomely inelegant, generously proportioned helping of sloppy sleaze, possibly best devoured while intoxicated. It advances from the first movie to some degree in almost every way, but it's still one for the same exclusive and fucked-up crowd. If you want tasteless acts of dismemberment, childish boundary-pushing, and obscene special effects, it's got you covered. Those seeking damn near anything outside of that, better look for their kicks elsewhere. In a way, it has the same MO as a Gallagher show, in that there are small bits of gibberish in between gags, but ultimately everyone watching is just waiting for red shit to spray, and a majority of possible viewers are not going to get the joke. I enjoy the fuck out of the unseemly mess, although I don't know what that says about me. I also really dig Karl the Butcher’s fashion sense. If only I too had been lucky enough to have inherited some cool metal headgear along with the destructive predispositions.
1h 22min | 1992
Director: Andreas Schnaas
Writer: Andreas Schnaas

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Review by:
RevTerry

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