“Bucket of Blood” (1959) REVIEW

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This is a Roger Corman classic. It stars Corman muse, Dick Miller, in his first role playing the recurring “Walter Paisley” character. Set in the beatnik world, Miller plays an uninspired artist trying to fit in with the cool cats and hep daddies. He doesn’t discover his true talent until he finds a dead cat and covers its body in clay. He shows his piece to a couple people who laud him and his artistic capabilities. Seeing how easy it is to create art and garner the respect he so long desired, Miller moves onto bigger subjects: humans. Soon, he’s displaying clay-covered dead bodies to the unsuspecting beatnik crowd, to their (and his) delight.

The movie is a quick and fun 66 minutes. If there were any movie to get you started on Corman, this would be it.

“Timecrimes” (2007) REVIEW

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I can’t explain much without giving the coolest parts of the film away – because things get real weird about a third of the way in. But I’ll try. In fact, I’ll use Wikipedia’s explanation: “In the Spanish countryside, a middle-aged man named Héctor and his wife live in a home that they are renovating. Héctor looks at the forest behind their house with binoculars, when he sees someone who turns out to be a young woman undressing. His wife leaves to go shopping so he investigates, only to be stabbed and chased by a mysterious man wearing pink bandages on his face. After fleeing and breaking into a mysterious building, Héctor is contacted by a scientist who warns him of the bandaged man and guides him to his location, promising safety. The scientist convinces Héctor to hide from the bandaged man in a large mechanical device. However, when he leaves the machine, he discovers that he has traveled several hours back in time.”

Whoa, whoa, whoa, I better stop there. That’s already giving far too much away. But seriously, the dude with the bloody bandages on his face is awesome. This movie blew my mind, and despite using hyperbole often, I really mean it. My brain hurt a little after watching this. It’s pretty incredible.

 

“I Spit on Your Grave” (1978) REVIEW

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 What a fucking great title for a film. Truly one of the most badass.

 This is one of those exploitative “rape and revenge” flicks that was so popular in the 70s, along with Wes Craven’s Last House on the Left and Ruggero Deodato’s House at the Edge of the Park. I mean, yes, the film is pretty vile. And it is mostly violence and sex for violence and sex sake. But there is nothing better than watching the reeeallly bad guys get their comeuppance.A pretty, young writer goes to a secluded cottage to get some work done. The locals take a liking to her, but she shrugs off their advances. They don’t take kindly to her city ways and decide to give her a nice country welcome with a heavy dose of gang rape. Left for dead, the young woman exacts revenge on the redneck rapists.
 
There are a couple classic (cringe-inducing) scenes, especially for the male viewers. And who can forget that classic box art? If you want to be a well-rounded horror film fiend, you’ll make sure to watch this along with your haunted houses and mutant bugs.

“Freaks” (1932) REVIEW

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One of the first shocking horror films, Freaks cast actual sideshow performers in lieu of using make-up or prosthetics. The movie caused a huge controversy considering the material, which boggles my mind because it came out in 1932: weren’t sideshows and weird shit like that popular in the early 30s? I digress. The film was not received well, and it pretty much put an end to director Tod Browning’s career. However, it has since become somewhat of a classic.

In the film, a trapeze artist seduces a little person after learning he has inherited a large sum of money. They eventually marry, but the trapeze girl slowly poisons the little guy, intent on running off with his money — and the sideshow strongman. However, the other “freaks” catch wind of her diabolical plot and they quickly put a stop to her evil ways.

The original movie was apparently pretty gruesome, with the freaks castrating the strongman. Pretty heavy stuff for 1932. The material was so bad, in fact, that MGM insisted they cut the movie down from 90 minutes to 64 minutes! That’s a hell of a bite.

A must see for anyone who considers themselves a fan of the genre.

“Maniac” (1980) REVIEW

maniac081811You know the song “Maniac” from the movie Flashdance? It was inspired by this film. The songwriters simply changed the lyrics about the killer so it could be used about an obsessive dancer instead.

That tidbit should be enough to make you want to see this 1980 slasher classic. It was directed by William Lustig (who also directed Maniac Cop, proving his affinity for the word ‘maniac’), and the make-up was done by none other than 80s effects wizard of gore Tom Savini. This movie is infamous for a scene involving a shotgun blast to the face. Bless you, Mr. Savini.

The movie is about a schizo loner named Frank Zito (played by a sweaty, scary, and super creepy Joe Spinell, RIP) who likes to go out and scalp women. He brings their scalps back to adorn several mannequins he has lying around his apartment. He’s so lonely – he just wants the company!

The is one of those low-budget, guerilla-style labors of love that really show how dedicated some people are to the genre. The movie only had a purported budget of $550,000.

“April Fool’s Day” (1986) REVIEW

april-fools-day-1A full decade before Scream was being self-aware and winking at the audience, there was April Fool’s Day. It’s really quite a ballsy move releasing a tongue-in-cheek horror film amid the 80s onslaught of slashers and stalkers. Especially considering the whole film is presented as a typical slasher film. It’s not until the last act… well, I’ve said too much already.

I’m sure you’ve seen the iconic box cover before. A girl stands, facing a group of friends, her back to us. In her hand, hidden to the crowd but visible to us, she holds a knife. Oh, and her hair: her hair has been braided into a noose. A great image.

The cast is a bunch of young faces you’ll recognize from other 1980s films. And as I mentioned, the film isn’t afraid to have fun. It doesn’t take itself seriously. There’s some gore, some decapitation, some stabbings, sure. But there’s also some laughs. I mean, the movie stars Biff Tannen. How can you go wrong with Biff Tannen?

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