The Amazing Transplant (1970) Review by RevTerry

As I grow older, slower and more lame with each passing 24 hours, it's easy for me to fall into the grasp of negativity when it comes to my place in the world. The presented status quo would seem to indicate that, at this point in my human experience, I should be at least nearly secure in my purpose. It would seem any normal person my age would be in arms lengths of some kind of life goal, if not already enjoying the fruits of their labor. As far as I can tell, from TV, etc, at this point, I have outgrown the requisites of the late bloomer and have entered a classification more easily labeled “lost cause”. I mean I have always had a job but never a career, and I still hold tight to “goals” that seemed already unrealistic at the start of my twenties. So I am I just fucked? Is higher ambition a game contained to the same age groups as 90s video DJs and the majority of female film roles? I don't really know, but It can make me pretty fucking nervous. It's during these darkened moments of doubt that I can look towards The Patron Saint of Irrepressible Aspirations, Doris Wishman, for inspiration.
In 1958 a newly widowed, 46-year-old Wishman decided making films would be the best way to take her mind off of the recent loss. Inspired by a loophole in New York law that allowed for nudity in cinema and her time spent working for her cousin Max Rosenberg’s film company (in “distribution”), she borrowed some cash (by her account $10,000) from her sister and went about making a “nudist” film. Without any training, and taking up most of the production roles herself, she made eight of these films between 1958 and 1964. As interest in the genre shifted, she too evolved, shifting to various more popular exploitation style films along the way, making a slasher, some porn and even trying comedy. She continued to make films aperiodically until her death in 2002. She gave the world around thirty trashy, sleazy flicks during her time in the business, and her presence can still be felt in low budget filmmaking, as well as some in some more well-known works. If there is some kind of age limit on career choices, it didn't fucking stop her. In fact, she seemed to break every rule she was privy to. She barged her way into a male-focused area of a drastically male-dominated field (not only filmmaking but “male interested” filmmaking in the 50s), doing most of the work on each film herself to avoid the industries patent bullshit. By all accounts, she was the eccentric opposition to the era’s current business climate. There are none of the common schlock filmmaker horror stories of angered/shorted associates or her being overly demanding of her skeleton crew. Any production work she was forced to outsource, was paid for, in full, at the end of the day. She apparently was always courteous to those she worked with, if not a little wearing due to her eccentric personality. The films she made exist in a peculiar place between cashing in on trends and having way to much fun making a movie to care what it looked like, never really falling too far to either side. She was truly unbound by any taboo regarding what she should have been doing or when she should be have been doing it. She is a testament to just not giving a fuck about what other people think, and just going for it. With around thirty grimy, sleazy or trashtastic flicks to her name(s), she has secured a place among the greats and has left behind immeasurable influence. To better illustrate, I want to talk about one of her films that has grown to become my favorite recently, The Amazing Transplant (1970).
In a home, where the walls are adorned in several patterns only manufactured in the early 70s, a woman sits alone, naked playing a lute (at least I think it's a lute). She receives a phone call from an apparent suitor, Arthur Barlen (), who after alluding to some romanticly related trouble between the two, begs to come over for a visit. With a little convincing, she agrees and then jumps straight in the shower (most likely having worked up a sweat during her one person nude jamfest), while the soundtrack gives a few samples of the lively rhythms to come. Soon Arthur arrives, and after confessing his undying love for her, the two make their way to the bedroom for sexy-make-up time. Unfortunately, before they can really get going, he has a little freak out about her choice in earrings and quickly chokes her to death (I mean really fucking quickly, like the fastest strangle ever). Seemingly confused about why he killed his weak-necked lover, Arthur throws on his blazer and bounces the fuck out of there. This puts him on the run from the law, and his mom (who seems to never leave her chair) is understandably perturbed. Unable to believe the news that her quiet offspring is capable of such a heinous act, she phones up her brother Bill (), who happens to be a city detective. He too has trouble believing in his nephew's guilt and assigns himself the case with surprisingly little trouble. Armed with Arthurs contact book, he hits the streets calling upon anyone that might have information about the boy or his whereabouts. It not only turns out that this seemingly timid introvert happens to know only women, but also, prior to the whole strangling thing, he had transformed into a full-on rapist. Each woman interviewed gives the detective an account of his savage assault. Every attack was evidently out of the blue, after having only quick passing interactions previously. In between vivid flashback-inducing accounts from victims, uncle-detective grows suspicious of a doctor () he interviews who had performed a few “procedures” on the young man lately and begins to unravel the strange truth behind the sudden mood swings. It becomes evident that the once timid Arthur has really fucking lost it. But is it all just murderous sexual frustration, or could it possibly be the recent on-the-fly dick transplant the doctor performed a few months ago?
Story-wise the film seems to take a few cues from the Giallo crime dramas of the era, minus the normal twist, as there is no mystery in the killer's identity. The opening gives it all away, completely rendering the familiar dimwitted detective trope’s quest null to the viewer. At best there is a little mystery left in the man's motivation for these sexually charged crimes, that is what's not exposed by the titles or plot notoriety (or given away by a movie blogger). Instead, we just follow the policeman as he consoles his sister and goes door to door hearing fucked up stories about his nephew, each with an extended flashback. The evil dick angle is pure gold, and I don't think we will ever truly know how much of that is satire. It very well could be pure nonsensical sleaze or some kind of manic comment on toxic masculinity and weaponized insecurity among males. Each of the victim's stories involves awkward interactions leading up to the attack and serve as wince-worthy slices of male-female dynamics. Whether or not it is intentional, the film provides ghoulish commentary on our fucked up roles in this regard, and in any case, the concept is the product of a morbid wit. I'm pretty sure it's the first movie to involve a penis transplant, predating Percy (1971) by a year (it was a big decade for penis swapping movies). It was quite possibly influenced by films like Mad Love (1935), The Hands of Orlac (1960) and Hands of a Stranger (1962), as it to seems to be a gruesome variation on the theme set forth by Les Mains d'Orlac, but, again, it's hard to know if that was a fully conscious choice. Even with it’s broken lack of structure plot-wise, it is among the more coherent of Wishman's work, though the story still comes down to a comically inadequate and abrupt ending. There's plenty of nudity, although you don't really get to see franken-dong at any point, and there is no gore. It's all a very silly, unmanageable mess of suspected unintentional humor and Wishman's idiosyncratic, one of a kind, style. But the catastrophe creates an entertainment value beyond human explanation.
Wishman is often likened as a “female” Ed Wood. It is certainly a valid comparison, but I can't help but see Jess Franco (minus the training and resources) in this film as she played with low rent camera effects and focuses on awkward objects to make the audio dubbing easier. There are extended shots that linger on people's feet (one of her trademarks) and at one point a technique that shoots right up the detective's nose as he is being spoken to. In many cases, the view will move sporadically around the room and come to a rest in odd angles pointed at carpet or an arbitrary object. The film’s focus seems to be chosen at random, and shots overstay their welcome defiantly. Rushed foreign cinema imports have better dubbing, that is when someone is actually shown while talking. An inexplicably jazzy synth organ lines the entire film even during it's “brutal” rape scenes. It will come as no surprise that she had no formal training in film, but part of the magic is watching her experiment. Like Edward Wood’s work, the charm of the film is mostly located in its sheer audacity of existence, a creation of pure will, that by all logical means should not be. But there is more there. As with all her films, The Amazing Transplant contains the glow of Wishman's complicated desire to entertain, above all, herself as well as others.
Wishman directed and produced the film under the name Louis Silverman and credited her writing to a Dawn Whitman, another alias. One of exploitation’s many renaissance men, C. Davis Smith, who collaborated with the director on (around) seventeen of her thirty films, handled cinematography. Arthur Barlen, the recipient of the killer member, is played by João Fernandes who has a colorful career dabbling in some early porn acting and mostly working as a cinematographer.  plays the detective, and most likely the strongest actor in the bunch, although that's not saying much. He continued to take part in trashy flicks until the start of the 80s, including playing a role in Wishman’s most notoriously incoherent film, A Night To Dismember. The only other character that sticks in my mind is the doctor who was enjoyably over-acted by . As far as I can tell, his only roles consist of this and another “Doris” flick, Love Toy (1971), and he spends most of the film with his head in his hands.
The Amazing Transplant is one of my favorite types of bad cinema. Whatever it lacks in plot, production or quality, it makes up for in raw, uncut spirit and puzzling entertainment value. It's a disjointed mess that you can never quite pin down, and it's a blast. After living what some would consider almost a whole lifetime, Doris Wishman made up a plan to make trashy, low budget films, and that's what she did. While she was out reaching her goals ( to the world's dismay), she happened to also leave us some great sleazy movies, helped reengineer low budget filmmaking and proved that the aptly proclaimed “proper” order of things is bullshit. She made her own fucking rules. We can look at our Lady of Irrepressible Aspiration as a reminder that it doesn't matter when you do it, only that you do, do it. Along with the fun trash cinema, she left the world some valuable lessons on the art of ignoring the supposed criterion and not allowing the masses preconceived bullshit to get in your way. I assume that works for whatever unfashionable goals you may have in your own life. Now excuse me while I see my bartending sister about a loan.
1h 17min | 1970
 Director: Doris Wishman (as Louis Silverman)
Writer: Doris Wishman (as Dawn Whitman) 

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Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977) Review by RevTerry

Barring a lengthy discussion on the two different versions of the prequel film, The Exorcist Series, in my mind, is comprised of 3 films: The Exorcist (1973), The Ninth Configuration (1980) and The Exorcist III (1990 more recently the directors “Legion” cut specifically). It's one of many unofficial film groupings that I prefer to the official canon but also the most valid, as not only does it carry common actors, characters, and themes but the original source author, William Peter Blatty, was instrumental in the production of all three films as well. They fit together adequately to create a grim epic on the topic of human suffering, the existence of “Good” or “Evil” and religious guilt. As far as I'm concerned, the three films, while not perfect, make one complex but complete thought, with no further need for any of the 3 other filmed works in the official series. When I am in the Exorcising mood and make the plunge into the long dark journey made up by those three preachy ass chapters, I like to pretend the others don't even exist (except possibly one prequel). A Linda Blair type of night, however, is a whole fucking different beast altogether. Outside of the original Exorcist, the rest of her cult classics are far less cerebral than the depressing combo of The 9th Configuration, and Legion. The official Exorcist sequel, for which she returned in 1977, is probably the furthest you can get from the spirit of this series and has even been called “one of the worst films ever made”. I don't know about that extreme wording, because while it really has no place among those more thoughtful works, on certain nights (let's say between flicks like The Chilling and Grotesque), Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977) feels just right and makes for some more than watchable supernatural trash.
The film opens with the slightly unsure priest, Father Lamont (), performing an exorcism on a young woman in a Latin American country. Shit goes south pretty quick when the young girl lights herself on fire and does her best impression of Judge Doom at the end of Who Framed Roger Rabbit (only without as much melting and 11 years earlier). We then jump to Regan MacNeil (), who seems to have forgotten the ordeal of her possession by the demon Pazuzu four years before. She spends her time visiting some kind of extremely high tech (for the 70s) psychiatric institute, where her status is monitored by a Dr. Gene Tuskin (). Tuskin, who seemingly helps youth to overcome various handicaps with technology, believes Regan is just repressing the memories of a psychosis induced traumatic event and wants to hook her up to some kind of magic biofeedback/mind melding machine, to which Regan declines initially. The film cuts back to Father Lamont, who has just been charged with investigating Father Merrin’s death (from the first movie), by the higher-ups at the Catholic church. You get the hint the church wants to kind of sweep the whole thing under the rug and doesn't really want the word getting out that sometimes they battle demons. He isn't keen on the idea having had botched an exorcism recently himself, but the cardinal gives him little choice, in a scene reminiscent of something you would see in a cop drama between a renegade detective and his Sargent. The padre reluctantly visits the institute were Regan is being studied and initially receives, mostly, pushback from Dr. Tuskin, who doesn't want to cause any further damage to Regan's mental state. Within a few minutes though, and after Regan pops her head in the room, they all decide the best course of action is for everyone take a ride on the biofeedback machine into Regan’s head. The next day they meet up and everyone takes turns wearing goofy probe- attached headgear and poking the evil that still resides inside Regan's mind. Of course, that shit doesn't go well at all, and old Pazuzu gets back into his shenanigans and fucks with everyone, only this time with the sensibilities of a Sting solo album, complete with faux-African chants, healers, and other new age bullshit.
While the story connects to the original with little issue, its tone is completely changed. Even at its most bleak, the movie feels more like a follow up to The Omen (1976) than the original Exorcist but with strangely uplifted spirits. The first half slips into a weird, almost sci-fi like setting that includes Star Trek style automatic doors and unbelievable leaps in hypnosis technology. It exhausts little attention on the central priests struggle with his faith or “worthiness”--the only real tie to the original’s type of drive, and it never really flushes out enough details for that conflict to be felt over the swirling optimistic pseudoscience. Its attempts at surrealism fall in more closely to low-grade Italian trash cinema than anything Blatty ever wrote. The effect of these moments is mostly created by fade-ins and repetitive chanting, as if a 90s soccer mom was having an acid flashback while hopped up on holistic medicine. As it leans into the religion angles, harder towards the middle, it also brings with it an almost adventurous note, with the priest globetrotting for clues and Regan's infliction becoming more superpower like. The magic elements leave the Catholic religion subject altogether and venture into new age mysticism. Instead of the puke covered physical and mental war between good and evil of the first, it opts for what mostly boils down to hokey “dream” battles, like some kind of ignored/lost precursor to Nightmare on Elm Street 3’s gimmick.
It's pretty fucking uneven, but, in a way, the clashing makes it feel a little ahead of its time. The mixed-bag, horror stylings feel a lot like the various genre sequels that would come out later on and into the middle of the 80s. It's very much the quintessential cash grab follow-up. It has the distinct flavor of a rushed slightly original script that has been stepped on and rewritten several times. Ideas are all over the place and mostly severed. Supernatural forces run rampant in this alternative universe, and all religions are truly one. It tries to fit in so much mysticism, laced with soft lighting that it ends up completely erasing the terrible bleak world the first Exorcist built and replaces it with one of powerful magic. An alternative overly religious place where the holy and divine always seems to outgun the eternally malicious. The mess plops out at the other end as an overall surprisingly fun film. This is also probably one of the reasons it gets so much hate. The dream powers and happy ending feel incongruous when placed between the more morbid, angry bulk of the series. It is a complete failure of a continuation, but without that cross to bear, the well worked over, confused schlock makes for a good but goofy ass watch.
Despite the fact that plot is mangled, the technical production is mostly solid, as it was still a major motion picture for its time. While apparently still made on the cheaper and streamlined side of things, and obviously to turn an easy profit, its production values are mostly on the higher end. A Lot of the movie is brightly lit and draped in yellows. It's a terrible design scheme for an “Exorcist” movie, but it creates a kind of dreamlike feeling that works well with the mysticism and psychic abilities that have been thrown wildly into the plot. One of my biggest real complaints is the sound levels for the layered chanting and screams that accompany the surreal sequences. I spend all fucking day watching movies where people are screaming, and I had to turn down the cacophony that manifests at certain points in this film. It's mostly on the volumes used against the rest of the audio, but also it’s extremely repetitive and sometimes seems out of place.
Both William Friedkin and William Peter Blatty washed their hands of the rush job sequel. Instead, the film credits John Boorman as director and William Goodhart as the writer, although there is a good chance they had a lot of unwanted help from the studio. Linda Blair agreed to return (sans any demon makeup), and spends most of the film with a huge smile on her face, despite her characters supposed internal battle. It's far from her best, or even her best bad work, but she is one of the film’s main sources of engagement. The corny aired role almost acts as a sneak peek to the Blair we will get into the 80s, as she leaves the Regan role behind and takes her true place in Cult Film Sainthood. Legend Max von Sydow comes back as Father Merrin in the film’s many flashbacks, giving only about 30% of the powerful character he portrayed in the first. Outside of Kitty Winn (who returns as Sharon Spencer), the rest of the characters are new additions to the series. Richard Burton plays the new priest assigned to the case. Another veteran, his character plays well with the new, brighter environment even if it’s a little undeveloped. There is actually quite a few familiar faces, including James Earl Jones, who plays the grown Kokumo, another of the film universe's magic healers. Oh, and I'm pretty sure I saw Ned Beatty in there somewhere… or was that The Unholy (1988). Maybe both-- Its possible Ned Beatty fights demons in real life.
I can't argue that Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977) is a good sequel. It's a terrible sequel. In a lot of ways it's the worst kind of sequel, it completely misunderstands the first film and even does it's best to sour up some of its finer points. It's far better when viewed as a stand-alone, corny supernatural thriller. There is a fun trashy satan-ploitation flick in there when you're not worried about how it compares to the more “true” films in the series, or if anything makes sense. So-the-fuck what if it's not great for the those Exorcist type of nights? It fits wonderfully on Linda Blair Night or, maybe even, Bad 80s Sequel Night, despite its late 70s release date. It's certainly not one of the worst films of all time as some might proclaim, not even fucking close. You tell anyone that says that to come see me, because I have some movies that they need to experience before they go running around saying shit like that. Seriously tell them. I'm lonely and own a whole fucking bunch of really bad movies.
1h 58min | 1977
Director:John Boorman


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Exit to Hell (2013) Review by RevTerry

Where I live now, most everyone eats french fries (among other things) with something called “fry sauce”. I'm pretty sure it's just thousand island dressing without the relish, aka the "house" sauce, on every hamburger, from every fast food place, ever. It's definitely not my thing. And by that I mean- it grosses me the fuck out. It's like mayonnaise had a pink, zesty offspring, and I am not down. No matter what I think, here in the cultural vacuum of Southern Utah, it is the standard. Speaking of my least favorite condiment, I have seen similar phenomenon more east, where they take a glob of mayo with each meal, which was kind of hard to watch. In the parts of California I lived in they upheld ranch as the cover-all dressing of choice, which was still too pale and milky for my taste. I need to spend more time in hot sauce regions. While I can’t hang with the white sauce obsessed, I have learned to cope, to save face. Different places have different shit going on when it comes to food, customs and most importantly manners. I thought everyone wanted to fight me my first month here in the Utah desert. In Central California, if someone stares at you unabashedly at walmart, it usually comes to some kind of violent head before you can get your tv dinners picked out. To my surprise (and annoyance), it’s well within local etiquette to thoroughly eye-fuck complete strangers while they decide on cereal in this location. Where my family lives in Massachusetts, everyone tips- for fucking everything. They tip in the Dairy Queen drive through, and the teenager at the window expects it. To them, in that community, it is rude not to tip someone who helps you out in any degree, but good luck getting gratuity at your fast food job in southern Utah. Here, the patrons pull out a calculator and crunch out a tip at 15% to the penny (minus any complaints), even in those designated tipping situations. The rules to being polite, upstanding and normal differ greatly from place to place, even inside a single country or state. It's interesting as fuck, but it can be a hazard. It pays to be attentive to cues, respect the cultural habits(or at least try not to wince while they are looking), and if possible just not be a douchebag during travel. Not enraging the locals is usually rule number one, especially the more rural areas and even if you are just passing through. Committing the wrong faux-pas, in the right place, could get you fucked up and/or disposed of- like the car-full of tragically ineffective ambassadors in Exit to Hell (2013).
We first meet our scrappy main characters in a colorful strip club. Two members of the group work there, with Jenna (Tiffany Shepis) as a dancer and Travis (Dustin Leighton) unenthusiastically providing tunes as a DJ. After Jenna’s brother, Randy (Owen Conway), shows up for some harassment, and she has gone through her full routine, the gang reveals that their employment at the club has been a ruse all along and proceeds to rob the place. The plucky gang of young criminals, which also includes Tasha (Taryn Maxximillian Dafoe), dispatch several patrons and collect the stash of dough the mob is laundering through the establishment. Once on the freeway, their plan is to head to Mexico and split up due to some chemistry issues involving Travis, the self styled leader’s grumpy ass attitude and Randy's drug problem. There is some standard post robbery tension along the way. Then everybody fights for a little while and falls asleep. This leaves the coming-down junkie, Randy, in charge of navigating and manning the wheel. He surprisingly ends up driving in the wrong direction, taking them deep along an unknown route towards the sweaty small town of Redstone. At the same time, unbeknownst to the gang, back in the city the strip club owner and lower mob boss, Yakov(Jason Spisak), is starting to make ground in his pursuit and begins to make his way to their location. When the rest of the crew in the car wakes up, they are not only lost but also in need of gas. Forced to stop, they pull into the only foreseeable gas station. Like most rural desert towns, it's pretty fucking strange from the get-go, but shit gets drastically worse after the douchey kids start fucking with the gas station clerk/local lighting rod (Dan Higgins). In contrast to their beliefs on cleanliness or regular dusting, this town takes its manners pretty seriously, and the law is upheld by the town constable, Sheriff Sickle(Kane Hodder). Unfortunately for the millennial bandits, threatening the town’s single shop owner is a crime in Redstone. The wholesome and very religious Sickle is on the case, and he sees his work in justice as not only a job but a passion, as well as a source of protein. The gangster Yakov finds his way to town sooner or later, and everyone has old timey slice of good christian laced disembowelment.
The plot is effectively kept simple, which allows for a sporadic nature without confusion. The film opens with almost a full helping of what's to come, which is really all this story needs to set the stage. It’s getting the audience to the action as quick as possible, without really taking a break to give unnecessary details, just hinting at them instead. It works without padded exposition as, even though there is some originality in the bloody and enjoyable flick, most of its elements will be pretty familiar to genre fans. Even with its quick pacing and fill in the blanks writing style, you get the feeling each element and character has a backstory or origin of its own. Some of the dialogue is silly but nothing out of normal for the genre, and never does it take from the entertainment value. There were little details and call-backs, I'm sure a few I didn't catch. I always enjoy the religious-nut angle, and the insane preacher on the radio bit that accompanied some of the torture rack scenes was fun. It kind of had a film within a film thing going on, with everyone watching the same goofy splatter movie on tv ( I guess it's an earlier short film by the director). The movie shifts gears a little in the middle, going from morbid crime drama into slasher, and I can't help but feel it takes a card out of the From Dusk Till Dawn (1996) deck in this regard. The first half being a group of dramatic and talkative criminals who are then thrown into a horror film. The second half has a hint of a 90s Chainsaw Massacre sequel taste to it but is definitely the product of post Grindhouse™ low budget film-making. Its attempt at abrupt surprise falls a little flat, and might be a little misplaced but, if anything, gives its cynical, blunt comedy spirit authenticity. I enjoyed the epilogue and would love to see another outing of the cannibal small town sheriff’s religious community, on their quest for moral supremacy and fine meats. 
It makes use of fake film defects and reel damage for effect. I, personally, have had a little too much of the b-movie pretending to be a retro b-movie to hide the fact that it’s a modern b-movie schtick. This flick, luckily, instead uses it more as an obvious style choice and less a last minute filter to hide blemishes. It has a less tacked on feel, and it serves to help keep pacing rapid. At its most extreme, the effect is mostly retained for segways, setting moods and silly intros, more in line with the way a television program will utilize a theme and music. The coloring on the picture changes, depending on the location of a scene, is sometimes borderline sepia. There are some stand out props that contrast against the color sets and almost give the dusty situation a 50’s comic book feel. It comes complete with some nice gore, when it doesn't go too far into “grindhouse” filter mode (I assume that has something to do with resources in most cases) and a fair amount of nudity. The soundtrack gets a little stale in parts, but I dig the nu-metal guitars and don't give a fuck what anybody says. While definitely not a huge production, it works its budget wisely and comes out pretty fucking solid on most levels. 
Kane Hodder plays the sheriff Sickle. He is always great, even in shitty movies and fucking awesome when he is cast right. He is fucking Kane Hodder (I have talked about my love before). I mean, the man is everyone's favorite Jason, despite being in some people's least favorite Friday the 13th movies. The part plays off his more every man style vs. trying to match the madness of a Texas Chainsaw Massacre character. It ends up working really well. In my experience his portrayal of the small town authority figure is on the money, minus the cannibalism(as far as I know). Tiffany Shepis plays the would be final girl, Jenna. She is another cult favorite who does great even in the worst of shit films and is well picked. She kicks somebody's eye out with a high heel at one point and is fun to watch as always. Shepis is well practiced in the horror genre and has no problem with the fast paced action stuff in the earlier scenes. The rest of her gang was another story, mostly terrible save for the fact that it looked like someone was smacking Owen Conway in the face in between scenes to make his eyes puffy. In any case, it wasn't an issue as the scripted dialog was written to work on some level with the actor's ability, as far as I could tell. The extremely realistic inhabitants of Redstone were pretty much perfect. Of note--Dan Higgins as the store clerk/human punching bag, who did a great but grotesque job of bleeding all over the place and saying creepy hillbilly shit. The film also involved a short subplot involving veteran actress/director Rena Riffel as Travis’s love interest.
Exit into Hell (AKA Sickle) is a frantic, bloody, road trip of a self-aware b-movie. It finds a way to make some shout-outs to its influences, without losing its own identity or becoming completely tongue in cheek. It's not a super intelligent or wholly unique outing, but the whole casserole of ideas is just grimy, gory and mean-spirited enough to make for a fun fucking watch in my opinion. Plus, there is a good message somewhere in this movie about keeping it cool when away from home, as customs and manners differ from place to place drastically. Every spot on the map has it's own favorite condiment, social contract or style of justice administration. I can tell you from my own desert travels that towns a lot like Redstone exist. The role of unchecked small town authority in dirty ass, forgotten homesteads is very real, and I wouldn't be surprised if a few of them had some pretty fucked up barbecue recipes.
1h 21min | 2013
 Director: Robert Conway
Writers: Robert Conway

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Prom Night IV: Deliver Us from Evil (1992) Review by RevTerry

I didn't go to prom. Not because I was too cool for it (although I am), but because by the time I would have been attending, I was in something called continuation school. If you are not familiar with the term let’s just say it’s a wonder I can even put together a sentence, let alone pretend to review films. If we would have been permitted to have a prom, we at least would have had the other schools beat on baby bumps, controlled substances and stabbings. Everything I know about the high school prom comes from movies, and this leads me to believe that I got a better deal. In the films, the coveted dance is a source of all consuming drama. It is the night that changes everything, where people pull off the best prank, commit acts of extreme emotion or in other ways settle the score. The highschoolers of movieland wait their life for prom. It's the battle for prom queen, the moment the nerd makes his move or someone’s reason for revenge. Then, after the dance, there is always some kind of madness inducing party, a hotel filled with date rape or the schools gym itself descends into teenage chaos. From my perspective, the whole thing seems like a ridiculous amount of stress. Even though I'm glad I never had to live it in the real word, it's pretty fun to watch, in a sometimes fucked up way. Luckily there is no shortage of films on the subject, including the fourth film in the loosely connected Prom Night series, Prom Night IV: Deliver Us from Evil (1992).
When we first we meet Father Jonas (James Carver), its 1957 and he’s is all hopped up on some serious Jesus juice. While doing a little extreme praying, he suddenly feels the urge to do some sinner soul saving (read--go kill some people). Luckily It's prom night at Hamilton High School, which even in 1957 is ripe with heathens and the like, so he has no trouble finding some wayward subjects to exercise. After slashing up a young couple in a car, who had snuck out of the dance for a ill fated smoking/groping session, he returns home to proudly tell God what he did. Unfortunately, he must have misunderstood God earlier, because when he gets back to the hideout all the other guys in robes are really mad at him. Flash forward thirty something years and the Catholic Church has kept Jonas in a chemically induced coma, strapped to a bed,under the church (just kinda growing a beard, but not aging, like Seagal in Hard to Kill). As part of the Churches Super Secret Crap Division, only the most devoted priests are assigned to his care (aka giving him his coma shot). When ( for for whatever reason) a new man of cloth was needed, a rising star in the church scene ,Father Colin (Brock Simpson) is reassigned to the job. The new guy, kind of a nutbag himself, instantly decides it's time for the sleeping serial killer to wake up and skips an administration of the knockout serum. Of course, Jonas pops right-the-fuck up, without so much as a bed blister, to get back to his bloody soul harvest. Better yet, it just happens to be prom night at Hamilton High again, where Megan (Nicole de Boer) and some of her friends have just ditched the dance to go hang out in the psycho priest’s old praying spot. Wholesome slasher style hijinks ensue including awkward love making, man handling and some sectarian ramblings.
The Prom Night franchise is one of many horror series that suffers from chronic identity crisis. It's first film (Prom Night 1980) was an almost artful rip off of Halloween (1978)
,which starred Jamie “laughs in the face of typecasting” Lee Curtis and even had a humorless Leslie Nielsen role, which would become rare in the 80s. The second (Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II 1987) was a wholly independent story that was retooled into a sequel, of sorts, shortly before its release. That film had a follow up (Prom Night III: The Last Kiss 1989) that continued it's story, more comedically, a few years later. The two films dropped the flushed out, dramatic style for an exaggerated tone with heavy reliance on the supernatural (a la Carrie). Like Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982) and Return of the Living Dead III (1993), the attached series title mostly hurt chances of these films getting fair viewing of their own, but both have found audiences for themselves over time. The fourth in the series, Prom Night IV: Deliver Us from Evil (1992), established a whole new story arch, magnified the religious overtones (only touched on previously) and dropped any intentional comedy altogether. Having mostly separate, independent plots the series is a more a makeshift anthology with a theme than a larger story in chapters. The only common factors in all three stories (presented in 4 films) is that the events all take place on prom night, and the school name-- Hamilton High School. The latter seems to indicate that the strange unrelated events are happening at the same school over the course of a few decades and also, more unbelievably, that prom of 1957 was the night of not only the accidental death of Mary Lou Maloney but the Father Jonas slayings as well. That means the school suffered multiple psychos, some varied supernatural possession and at least one killer ghost in less then a fifty year period, sometimes on the same night. It's kinda got a Sideways Stories from Wayside School thing going on, only a little more gruesome and less creative. The indications involving Mary Lou's return in 2 and 3, compared with the bits of religious magic mixed into this film, raise a lot of questions regarding this universe's metaphysical nature. Of course it is possible these are just similarly named schools or the same school in alternate dimensions, as well. I might be over thinking the plot connections of a slasher series that is half made of re-titled unrelated films, but it’s all less of a reach than trying to fit together the timeline behind the Puppet Master or Highlander franchises. Plus if J.J. Abrams can make a shared film universe by tacking similar looking monsters to end of science fiction movies that the big named studios have shelved, I can have my fucking Prom Night head canon.
In firm contrast to the self aware, lively timing of the previous two films ,Deliver Us from Evil seems to take itself pretty seriously. It has a frank, dry tone with attempts at more disturbing subject matter. It's a story seasoned with out of control morality and the darker sides of religion as opposed to the underline cautionary plots about schoolyard vengeance in the rest of the series. It ends up feeling more like a spiritual follow up to the first Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984), with it's confused and judgmental zealot of a killer. The religious plot elements are somewhat heavy handed allusions to the tragic headlines of the time, and the over- all secrecy of the Catholic church. It juxtaposes together the semi realistic and silly religious shades effectively for the most part. Our poor, sick, murderous Bible-thumper, in this case, was not only touched by some bastard priest as a kid but is also possessed by some kind of demon, and there is no line defining his motivation. Maybe it's a demon, they never really explain, but there is some kind of supernatural shit going down for sure. It doesn't really dwell on the deeper aspects and sticks to it's simple slasher format.
Despite the darker notes the film never builds up to quite the tension it's trying for, it's dread level equaling that of a lesser Tales from the Darkside episode with better gore. It's still got a pretty creepy vibe going, with some spooky background tunes to help things along. At its worst the music, provided by Paul Zaza , is perfectly basic and at its best it takes more than a little inspiration from Carpenter's Halloween score. The film is split almost in half, with the second half holding a bulk of the bloodshed. If anything, there is a little lull as the more dramatic and action packed pieces meet, but it quickly picks up with creative kills as well as well as crowd pleasing genre cliches. Every once in a while I got an almost gothic feel, but that might be because a lot of the first half involves a castle- like church and guys in robes with bad haircuts.
There is nowhere near the ambitious work of the first film, but it seems to be few cuts above the rushed camera and editing in parts 2 and 3. No real technical complaints, apart from a few scares that fall flat from the cuts. The flick has some grizzly gore effects, mostly utilized in the second half. There is some light nudity, but it also includes two scenes more awkward than sexy, one that left me with questions about female magazines in the early 90s.
The acting mostly ranges from pretty bad to passing, with a few exceptions. The, almost too classic final girl, Meagan is played Nicole de Boer who achieved genre recognition with Cube (1997), as well as some serious nerd cred on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993–1999) (as Ezri Dax). She does a great job with a simple role. Although her lines aren't really in her favor, she gets to kick some holy ass towards the end and has a funny unused sequel set up. The villain, Father Jonas is more than adequately portrayed by James Carver, who I know absolutely nothing about, aside from the fact that “Carver” is a really cool name for someone who plays a dude that cuts people up. Joy Tanner plays Meagan’s friend and sacrificial eye-candy, Laura. At what is most likely no fault of the actors, she is one of the worst parts of the film. I'm pretty sure that the writer, Richard Beattie, got so caught up in his creepy Jesus motif he forgot what the sleazy friend trope looked like and accidentally formed some kind of awkward abomination instead. Oddly enough,Brock Simpson who plays the curious Father Colin is the only actor to have a role (of some sort) in every film in the series.
Prom Night IV: Deliver Us from Evil is a warm quilt composed of random spooky materials, draped safely onto the familiar cliche slasher. As the fourth film in a makeshift horror series based around an overused high school event, in my opinion it's well worth a watch, even if its just to see some guy get his head squeezed till his eyes bleed, by a holy man. As far as prom goes, I don't really feel like I missed much. I have an almost endless supply of films on the subject, and I’m certainly not trying to run into a random creepy-ass priest. If there was anything I hated more than school at that age was it was fucking church. Although at this point, if I would have had a prom, I guess it would be pretty disappointing if there wasn't a killer of some kind there.
1h 32min | 1992
Director: Clay Borris

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The Occultist (1988) Review by RevTerry


Between 1986 and 1989, Tim Kincaid blessed the world with some awesome fucking trash. The man's work in that short era plays like a mix-tape of sleazy science fiction cliches and 80s b-movie tropes. Starting with Bad Girls Dormitory, a women in prison flick that flows through the normal fare like a checklist, and ending with a enjoyably odd ghost-revenge-comedy, She's Back (1989) with Carrie Fisher, Kincaid packed a 4 year period with some extremely satisfying cinematic junk food before disappearing from film for 10 years. He would later go on to have a lucrative, successful career under the name Joe Gage directing hardcore gay porn with a working class twist. I can't speak for his later stuff, but being familiar with his other work, I can almost guarantee it provides some quality cheese for someone. Plus- the idea of proletariat centered porn (or at least the version I have now formed in my head) is awesome. For some reason, I really enjoy the image I get of Tim Kincaid deciding to take a break from porn in the late 80s, slapping together some scripts and convincing a few companies (including Full Moon) to finance some of the most epitomized b-movies ever made. Then, just as tactfully as he enters, he gets bored and bounces out before the end of the decade, only to reemerge again as Joe Gage, blue collar smut director, 10 years later. It's got the workings of plucky allegory or story you tell a child before bed. Anyway, even with the his foray into trashy Sci-Fi/Action being pretty short, he left us a nice little pile of grimey tapes. His title Mutant Hunt (1987) was to be burned into my brain for years before I would actually see it, due to it's amazing box art alone and definitely could have been much more disappointing when I finally got a chance to view it. Each one of the flicks released during this time played off of different b-movie tropes already in existence, but with Kincaid’s pulpy style sprinkled in. Probably his most remembered would be Breeders (1986), a skin-tastic alien invasion flick which suffered a remake in ‘97, but almost all of the titles released found a audience being packed with as-advertised ridiculous plot and cornball action. A recent impromptu marathon of these films (at least the ones I have around the house) led to the realization that one title hasn't really received it's deserved love or at least notoriety, Kincaid's slight veer into detective noir, The Occultist (1988).
Barney(Joe Derrig) has just reluctantly taken control of the family business after his dad's passing. More a numbers guy himself, he struggles to keep up sales in the industry of nondescript personal security, that can range from renting out bodyguards to the sale of something called a barking doorbell, which we are told is a doorbell that barks. Luckily for barney and the company, he is offered a high paying job protecting a Caribbean despot(Anibal O. Lleras) and his family. It's just the case to put the company back in the black, but when he presents the idea to Harold(Richard Mooney), his father's associate, who worries the job may be too much for the book-minded Barney, he informs him that there is no one on the payroll available for such a dangerous mission. Within a few awkwardly timed seconds, Harold changes his mind and tells him there is one man - Waldo(Rick Gianasi), but he only works when he wants and “can't be bought”. Barney sees this as his chance to prove himself and attempts to recruit Waldo; who,as it turns out, is not only a deadly hand to hand fighter but a weaponized cyborg ,due to a work related accident. When we first meet the one of the kind, unbuyable human-gun he is apparently already on the case. He is in the midst rescuing the royal daughter(Jennifer Kanter) from some thugs, using a spring loaded hunting knife ,which I assume is disposable, because he just throws it on the ground afterwords. Later he tells Barney that he was already dispatched because he was so tight with Barney's father that they “didn't even need a handshake”. They have a drink, and Waldo informs him there is good chance his own life is in danger, then drops a few more shallow but cryptic lines before beating up a serendipitous bad guy. The duo accompanies the royal family to a high class function. Barney brings his best Hawaiian t- shirt (classy as fuck), but the fancy-ass shindig goes south when the Caribbean country’s starving rebels show up and start capping people. Of course nothing is what it seems or makes much sense, so it's up to the new partnership of Barney and Waldo to crack the case, or at least get the final kill before the credits. But first a bunch of action movie madness and non sequiturs, including one of the worst fight scenes I have ever seen and a bathroom full thugs getting shot up by a dick gun, all in the same fucking movie.
The film is a lightly related mash of dated cultural cliches, hard boiled tough guy acts, and slightly shoehorned science fiction elements. Kincaid probably would have held a few more attention spans had he kept it a little more simple plot wise, but the convoluted mess all falls together in a fun and energetic manner. Tone and pacing are lively and keep it moving. The messy espionage and Voodoo come across like a low rent adaptation of Ian Fleming's Live and Let Die but only heightened by the replacing the gaudy British guy with your unmarried but extremely likable uncle- who also happens to be a cyborg. As a side effect of the attempts at depicting cultural turmoil, the movie takes a few brakes for plank like dialog between characters with little spirit after the first few lines. It's hard to really know what's purposely a joke, unless they damn near wink at the camera, because every word is ridiculous. Despite being silly and probably offensive, the voodoo centered parts are fun. A secret, magical society in the film’s universe boils down to constantly making funny faces, 24 hour Mad Max raves and plenty of excuses for some blood. It all coalesces in to a conclusion that feels like maybe somebody forgot about some of the more random plot elements- but like some garbage furniture from IKEA, it still stands up well enough, even with some mystery pieces left in the box. 
Most of the film’s gore effects are well done for the time and style., The other prop elements, being of comic book- like believability, have some pretty hilarious moments but align with the film’s overall style. I was digging the bad guy’s shiny skull head-spiky thing. it looked like something an 11 year old metal head would draw in class, in a good way. Waldo’s powers are my favorite part of the film. While never really explained, he seems to have an endless amount of appendages to shoot bullets from. It kind of feels like someone just added “and he's a robot” to his character outline during development, it’s awesome. A majority of the lighting has that made-for-tv soft glow, and there aren't as many ambitiously colored moments like with Breeders and Mutant Hunt. Both the gore and nudity is a little light for the type of flick and mostly confined to the cartoon style Voodoo rituals.
The film contains one of the most shitacular fight scenes I have ever seen in my life. It's hard to even pinpoint what makes it so bad. Its angle is fixed in some tiny fucking office corner, which is doing the choreography no favors. The lackeys enter the scene from behind the camera, with our hero waiting in the middle, making it feel like a lot like an audition tape sent in for the WWF by a 90s trailer park teenager. The pacing, the tone, the whole fucking “fight”- it just has to be seen. Honestly, sometimes I watch this whole film over just to indulge in that moment of pure uncut suck (it comes in at about 49 minutes into the film), it is in a class of its own.
The Occultist is a enjoyably trashy mix of James bond and bad action TV gimmicks, accompanied by countless other influences. Maybe too many, as It never quite gets around to completing a thought- but it doesn't matter, Tim Kinkade, at the very least, knows how to make a bad movie a fun watch. It may have just been a few years in the late 80s, but the man brought some great garbage to cult cinema. That's more than I can say about a lot of you motherfuckers. Thanks Mr. Kincaid. Though, if by some chance you are reading this, please contact me. I have some mechanical and logistical questions about the dick gun.
I couldn't find a trailer, so here is my favorite scene.
| 1988
Director: Tim Kincaid
Writer: Tim Kincaid

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