Hard to Die (1990) Review by RevTerry

Jim Wynorski is one of the unsung kings of trash, or at the very least a prince. A student of Roger Corman's school of cheap blood and boobs, Wynorski has been making bargain bin classics, mockbusters and schlocky sequels for over thirty years. Though he may not be a household name in most circles, everyone has no doubt seen the cover of one of his over 100 films in a 4 pack of movies at Wal-Mart, on netflix or a title listed on their digital cable TV guide during a late night. He makes a lot of shit and it is shit, but fun shit and I fucking love even some of his worst. But in my opinion the apex of his art is the sorority-less "Massacre" film Hard to Die (aka Tower of Terror aka Sorority House Massacre 3:Hard to Die). He has better films (see Chopping Mall, Not of This Earth) and more standard-fare genre films (see Deathstalker II) but still something just feels so right about this obviously rushed Frankenstein's monster of a movie, stitched together of sleaze and recycled parts.
After finishing Sorority House Massacre 2: Nighty Nightmare (1990) for Julie Corman using the pseudonym Arch Stanton, Wynorski was tasked with "remaking" the same film (cast and all) using the sets pieces from the recently wrapped Corporate Affairs (1990) by her husband Roger . Corman brought Mark Mcgee and J.B. Rogers to work a rushed script and the team pumped out the film for the VHS market within the same year as the films cannibalized in its inception. The film was written and shot in about 15 days according to MacGee and Wynorski. It retained most of the cast, plot and wardrobe as Sorority House Massacre 2 and is considered the unofficial third in the series, even going under the title Sorority House Massacre 3 (among other names). Plot elements had to be reworked for the sky-rise setting and the writer struggled to meet Cormans requirements (boobs mostly). McGee remarked "[The sequence] ...is as ridiculous and infantile as anything you can imagine. But half-naked women is just about all that a film like this has to offer" The film lived two lives getting released once again, this time in theaters, under the name Tower Of Terror. Look for cameos from Kelli Maroney and .  ,, and  make up the gang of scream queens, some playing what can only be lost relatives of their supposedly dead characters from SHM2 .
The film follows the already loose plot of SHM2, while shoehorning it into the setting of a high-rise. Five very early 90's bombshells are (locked?) in a building over night for a lingerie innovatory, for which they have been hired as temps.  Orville Ketchem from SHM 2 is somehow alive, now the janitor, and for some reason recollects the events of  Sorority House Massacre (1986), the first one, even though he isn't in that one. I guess maybe he could have been lurking in the background in 1986 during the events of the first film, cleaning up a mess or something. Who gives a fuck? Orville is the shit and I'm glad he's back. Anyway before any real work can get done of course everyone must take a shower, ...everyone. The movie may be more than 1/3 shower scenes, complete with very un-sexy cartoon squeaky sound effects. It's great. Then, before trying on lingerie, they release the spirit of a once imprisoned serial killer that causes bloody, mostly off screen, mayhem. The girls fight for their lives with the help of Orville, who acts as human meat shield, suffering through perils that would kill any less a pure man.
 The movie is nothing but a cheese sandwich, in-between more cheese and with a delicious E-Z-Cheeze spread. When you know exactly what you're getting these kind of films can be a lot fun and if you have seen SHM2 and can picture an office building, then you know what you're are getting in to. Even as a make-it-fit clone of SHM2, the movie is the perfect amount of trashy, brainless crap for a good watch or background noise. It is high on kills and has some gore but moves most of the action off screen, likely due to budget, and tries to make up for it in nudity. The dialog is silly as shit "...don't worry, I'm no hero." and the actresses (although legends in their own right) haven't taken any classes in the weeks since SHM2. Sound quality and lighting carries over from SHM2 in terms of quality along with Wynorski's "eye". I'm never bored, although with the lack of story and strange jumps from scenes I have never quite understand why this is all happening despite watching several times. Somehow, altogether combined, the corny mess works on every note it haphazardly hits.
Wynorski, like David DeCoteau and , may never receive the accolades deserved for his many rainy day classics and I probably would have even less social contact if everyone knew how many times I had actually watched this fucking shitty movie, because the world sucks that way. This heartless globe doesn't deserve the majestic, squeaky rubdown that is Hard to Die. Now sign my petition to have Wynorski make a SHM4 where Orville Ketchum gets his much deserved happy ending. Maybe a wife, some kids or at least a job where naked people are not getting killed all over the place.
NC-17 | 1h 17min | 1990/1993
Director: Jim Wynorski (as Arch Stanton)
Writers: Mark Thomas McGee (as Mark McGee), J.B. Rogers (as James B. Rogers)

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Some Guy Who Kills People (2011) Review by RevTerry

I was originally lead to Some Guy Who Kills People by the involvement of John Landis, who serves as executive producer on the film. A good dark comedy is a cherished find in my collection and for me, the arguable apex of grim humor is his An American Werewolf in London (1981). Unlike some other Horror-Comedy classics that cant help but wink at the camera, at no point does "American" feel like a parody, and for me it makes all the difference in the type of  chuckle the film gets from me. So seeing the directors name tied to a low budget film with a title like that, I allowed myself to get a little excited for a sec and loaded it up. I didn't quite get what I wanted but I was surprised by a very solid film with some great performances.
After his release from a psychiatric hospital, lonely misfit Ken Boyd takes a job at Ice Cream shop with the help of his childhood friend. Haunted by a childhood trauma dispensed by a group of douchbags, Ken lives at home with his loving but gruff mother. The offending bullies, now grown in to rednecks, methheads and ammo store owners start getting killed off in fun ways and the local sheriff, a family friend of Kens, takes up the case. In the midst of the apparent revenge massacre, a 11 year old daughter shows up from Kens past and injects herself in to his life.
The behind the camera line up(besides Landis) adds surprise to its quality and style. It is directed by Jack Perez whose career highlights include Wild Things 2, Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus and the awesomely shitty TV movie: Monster Island (2004, needs a review on this blog and stars Carmen Electra, its shit, but fuck you, I love it). The script comes from a Ryan A. Levin, who looks like he has mostly stuck to television episodes ranging from the eye blood inducing Scrubs(I hope thats the last time I type that title on this blog) to Lego CGI cartoons. Cast wise the film totes the legendary Karen BlackBarry Bostwick and the underrated Kevin Corrigan in the lead.
The film itself blends its many elements in a manner that thankfully ignores the rules set down for genre lines and the films that combine them. Its strength lays in its contrast. The film defiantly never decides to be a thriller, comedy or life affirming family drama, looking its best at its intersections. The blend of flavors extends to the cast as well. Barry Bostwick's goofy but proficient sheriff instantly became a highlight and has to be his best role since my unreliable memories of Spin City(It was a show with Micheal J. Fox, I was like 9 or something). Black, who does awesome even in shit movies, gives one of her best performances of her last few years as a gruff but loving mother that hints at the more dramatically complex core of the film. The conversations between the two are straight fucking gold. Kevin Corrigan plays the focus character in a much more reserved distant version of his often played slacker type. It works well, and was different from what I thought I was getting from the cover. John Landis DNA is apparent throughout the film though the style is its own.
Not without a few shortcoming, most apparently due to budget. Kills are played a little goofy and do not quite satisfy viewer blood lust. The directing and lighting in some seems is a little on the cable-TV side but makes up for it in well thought out and angled filler shots. Genre fans could possible have trouble with the films aversion to a standard tone, although as stated above, that aspect was one of my favorite parts.
Some Guy Who Kills People was not the film I thought I was was watching, but as is often the case, it fairs well as something completely different. The film gives you a lot to relate to in fun but real ways from your lifelong revenge fantasies to the pressure and responsibility of interpersonal relationships. I recommend a watch but cant be trusted as I would probably be ok with watching an hour and a half of just Barry Bostwick singing whatever song that was in his police vehicle (great scene).

 Director: Jack Perez
Writer: Ryan A. Levin (as Ryan Levin) 
R | 1h 37min  | 2012

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Hooker with a Rocket Launcher (2015) Quick Review by RevTerry


Hooker With A Rocket Launcher is a faux trailer from the independent short film powerhouse Chad Media. The video clocks about two minutes of a gun toting hottie blowing shit up and is well worth the time. Fun callbacks to exploitation flicks from the late 70s and early 80s with more soul then the average "grindhouse" style parody. Plus there is zombies.
Director: Chris Greenaway
Writer: Chris Greenaway
2min |  10 December 2015

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The Devil's Plaything (2017) Quick Review by RevTerry

Late 60s-70s vibes in this new micro-budget independent film from Tom Hughes.

 Made for less than £50 and shot in 2 days the artful throwback to the Satan obsessed 70s is a little under 9 mins of atmospheric shots and creeping music (I get the feeling the tunes are the big focus). Not much in way of story but well worth the watch.
Director: Tom Hughes
Writers: Tom Hughes
8min 58sec | Jul 17, 2017

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You can follow Tom Hughes on his Youtube, Instagram or Tumblr.

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George A. Romero 1940-2017


Its hard to even imagine what the genre (let alone the film world) wouldn't have without him and his imagination. Romero gave us so many elements and building blocks that its hard to even pin down his influence. Not only in his zombie films, which he pioneered and refined, but also in his other genre-bending drama, horror and sci-fi work.  I have no doubt that some of your favorite horror(etc) filmmakers only picked up a camera because of the man.

I'll probably catch heat for this but my favorite will always be Day Of The Dead, it was the most brutal fucking movie I had ever seen on first viewing and the advancement of the zombie species at that point in the series set off an atomic bomb in my little kid brain. Just as Asimov shaped a layered positronic brain evolution with his Robot Series, Romero gave zombies a pathos of sorts, as well as a system of growth as a species.

Martin holds a special place in my heart as horror's Harold and Maude (at least I think so) and Im glad to see so many mentions in other peoples tributes. The first opening newsroom scenes in Dawn are soul-crushing, awesome and they still reflect(if not more so) our society today. Without going through every film I have to say that Bruiser while flawed has become better and better with every re-watch.

The best of us can only hope to leave so much behind. You will be missed.


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Smothered (2016) Review by RevTerry

To start, I think Kane Hodder is one love-able looking dude outside of hockey mask. I dont even fucking care how that sounds. Just look at this dude:
ahhh. Look at this dude.
He just looks like the kind of guy that tells the neighborhood kids not to do drugs and then backyard wrestles on the weekends. The kind of guy you can drink in a garage with at 1:00 in the morning while he works on his car or something. And not like my garage, like a real garage with useful shit and things with stories like...wood or something. I just get that vibe. So Im usually down when there is a chance that Mr. Hodder just plays a "regular Joe" or such and the movie Smothered fit the bill. And as more then just a bonus we also got R.A. Mihailoff (Leatherface in Texas Chainsaw Massacre III), Don Shanks (Michael Myers in Halloween 5), Bill Moseley (he is fucking Bill Moseley) and Moochie from Christine.
After a strange cut up of an intro we are introduced to Kane Hodder (listed as Striper) who more or less is playing himself, gassing up a small mobile home. After he makes a date with the cute one legged horror fan dressed as a nurse, he recruits some other 80s and 90s horror all stars for a job "haunting" a trailer park for which they will be paid $1,000 each. It beats the obviously lousy con but when our gang makes it to their destination, after some goofy back and forth, they are met by the haggard owner Agness (Amy Brassette in white-trash-witch make up), her buxom daughter DeeDee ( Brea Grant). Things get more complicated then they expected and the group of horror icons becomes the victims. People get murdered, sometimes with boobs.
The film is directed by John Schneider, as in one of the Dukes of Hazard and according to IMBD Hodders role was originally imagined for Richard Brooker (Jason in Part III), although I can not find a source. Schneider said in an interview with Fangoria that he originally had wanted Roddy Piper as well and rewrote his role for Dane Rhodes, when he was unable to commit to the project.  Bill Moseley stands in for Freddy with a nock off "Teddy", Dane Rhodes, plays a made up horror icon known for a fictional They Live sequel and Shanna Forrestall portrays Trixie an out of work scream queen. The rest of the gang plays comical versions of themselves. Filming took place in Lousiana 2013 and was  Schneider's 3rd feature.
Smothered is a fun flick. It deliverers on the "every man" Kane and others behind the mask plus it shows love for the genre in its own goofy way.  The interactions are entertaining enough and the actors seem to be having fun which is infectious in this case. The movie seems a little more polished then others in what I perceive is its budget range and uses effects wisely.
 Mihailoff's fear of the dark and Shanks play-boy personas are cliche but both ride out the cheese well. I would have never guessed but Bo seems to be a fan of the horror genre and it shows in some of the writing. The film is more comedy then slasher and as always that may be a turn of for some people but it works well if not a little TV-movie-ish. Out of left field Brea Grant does a great job as DeeDee and in a "costume" that could have quickly became an over used gag but actually turned out to be my favorite part due to her delivery. 
The gore in the film is minimal and it spends a lot of time with comedic set ups that flounder a little bit at the punch. Schneider is solid in concept and dialog, I was never bored, but the directing seemed on par or below many recent shark movies at times. Even with its small flaws Smothered is a pretty good time. My biggest gripes would have to be the strange intro that gives too much away and the inevitable feeling that the concept was not realized fully.
I enjoyed the flick and found the little morsels of insight, obviously injected by the stars, to be a welcome replacement for the archetype-play of other recent horror comedies. Fans of the genre will have plenty to point at but will find little in the way of gore, tits or sleaze. John Schneider surprised me and I hope he continues to explore the horror genre. Not a great film by any means but well worth my time (*my time is pretty cheap).

Director: John Schneider
Writers: John Schneider
1h 36min  | 29 March 2016 (USA)

Links:
Smothered on Internet Movie Database
DVD on Amazon

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All Cheerleaders Die (2013) Review by RevTerry


After the demented surprise that was May (2002) I decided to watch another Lucky McKee project I had neglected. Up to this point having only viewed the enjoyable but instantly forgotten The Woods (2006) which, If I am to be completely honest, may have only been picked up for its inclusion of Bruce Campbell. Checking the collection it seemed I had another one of his films tucked away with the pile of cheese that is the Teen Slasher genre. Probably acquired in some mass genre acquisition run the films title, All Cheerleaders Die, had somewhat undeservedly been hiding among cornball favorite Cheerleader Camp and semi-recent Jim Wynorski flick Cheerleader Massacre. I loaded it up, expecting another missed entry in the 2000s flow of half parody genre films and still on a high off the unexpected ball of fucked up awesome that is May.
All Cheerleaders Die is a remake of a low budget and now hard to come by 2001 film of the same name. Both films were a joint effort from McKee and Chris Sivertson, the original being their first film out of college. The two said that in remaking their signature film they wanted a “fresh start”. Not having seen the original at the time of writing this I can't compare this version to the original but it is cited as being their “breakthrough”.
The film while including a few small nods to the pretty corpse riddled high school slasher tropes, would be more at home with the beautifully angsty The Craft or the other more recent surprise favorite Jennifer's Body. The opening alleviates worries brought on the handycam-eye-view by ending with an abrupt cheer-related death that made me wish I hadn't gone into the movie solo. The film ditches the shaky cam and we learn the intro footage is shot by the center of the films focus and scattered tangents, a teenage girl named Maddy (Caitlin Stasey) who tries out for the open spot in the high school cheer squad in lieu of the recent death. This is a change in character for Maddy, which is implied by the introduction of a magic outcast ex girlfriend,Leena (Sianoa Smit-McPhee), who comes strapped with a dead cat and a mystical distaste in the sudden lifestyle. change Scenes are shown that explain the move from loner to preppy is part of some kind of vague elaborate plan to ruin the popular kids or something.
An almost effortless try out later and.. boom cheerleader! Unfortunately Maddy and her new friends are soon chased off a cliff in a car by the heartless head jock and his goons who then run away thinking they have died. Using the power of colorful stones and friend magic, Leena resurrects the girls with semi successful results.
The girls, now some kind of sexy super zombies, develop a blood lust, glow sometimes and take up haphazard revenge on the gang of football players. Some kind of blood sucking wifi goes down as well as some fun deaths on both sides leaving us with satisfyingly slim numbers for a final showdown and surprise cliffhanger. Also love conquers all, but in the key of Mean Girls(2004) meets Diablo (the 1996 video game).
The entire mess feels like the enjoyable product of tossing every idea at a wall and seeing what sticks. This is not as bad as this method can be and makes for a fun and dark if not a little rushed roller-coaster of plot elements. It's obvious that the duo seek to poke fun at certain cliches the normal horror movie holds standard but at times the film falls back on several classic overused tropes. The films jumping from genre element to genre element could be disjointing for some I would guess. It moves from heartless teens to witches to power-zombies without a breather. The magic involved in the resurrection is never explained and probably for the better. At it's best it is a smart updated Craft at it's worse its extreme Sailor Moon.
The tone is much lighter than the other films from the directors. At the core it is a black comedy but in much more care-free way compared to the nervous chuckles of May.
The acting ranges but feels at place in the reality presented to the viewer. The cheerleaders are reminiscent of the common attractive slasher fodder and the film, aware, parodies these roles although luckily most characters are just as expendable and are dispatched throughout the runtime. The asshole lead jock (played by Tom Williamson) does well enough at first but is corny as fuck in the movies climax. The two leads work well enough off each other.
In all there was plenty for me to enjoy and the speed of the film easily kept my attention. Fans of the genre will find things to love but may be turned off by lack of nudity and cheesy gore. The plays on the classic tropes aren't perfect but bring new life to old tricks and is a further step in the right direction, as far as females characters go, then similar modern grindhouse tributes. The cliffhanger was a nice touch and could easily be part of the joke but here's hoping for the unlikely sequels.
Worth a watch but probably with some like minded friends. Goes well with Jennifer's Body and The Craft… possibly Jawbreaker.

Directors: Lucky McKee, Chris Sivertson
Writers: Lucky McKee (screenplay), Chris Sivertson (screenplay)
Not Rated | 1h 29min | 8 May 2014 (USA) 


Links: 
All Cheerleaders Die on Internet Movie Database
DVD on Amazon

Review by
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The Drop (2014) Review by RevTerry

Its hard to put to words what appeals to me so much about this film. This kind of slipped out in 2014 and was on of the great James Gandolfini's last works. At the time I had hardly heard a word about it and had no real love towards Hardy (Bronson hadn't made up for "the worst star trek movie") but stuck in a situation where it was that or nothing, I jumped in about 10 minutes deep in to it.
The acting from everyone is almost perfect, even Noomi Rapace dropping and picking up her accent some how works. Tom Hardy's character is written and acted to give you an east coast every-man on the autism spectrum with a dark past, it sounds crazy but its prime, subtle.
The story its self, a crime drama, spends a lot more time in drama then my usual picks but never risks loosing my attention. A small contained story, well written but simple, it picks strange things to be complex about. It has grown to be one of my favorites of the recent years.
Also it produced my favorite screen cap (see above). Nothing crazy just a movie movie, but if you haven't give it a try.
Director: Michaƫl R. Roskam
Writers: Dennis Lehane (screenplay), Dennis Lehane (short story "Animal Rescue")
R | 1h 46min | 12 September 2014 (USA)

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