THE SATAN KILLER (1993) – August of 1993 saw the release of this cop-on-the-edge movie crossed with a “Satanic serial killer at large” exploitation flick. Steve Sayre directed under the alias Stephen Calamari and starred as Police Detective James Stephen (not StephenS … Stephen. As in Stephen Calamari.)
Before I dive into this review let me say that I am now obsessed with finding information about Lost At Sea, a 1995 film Sayre made with Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban as the villain. If Lost At Sea is as deliriously deranged as The Satan Killer it will be another gift from the Bad Movie Gods.
Getting back to the topic of this review, this low budget film shot mostly in Norfolk, Portsmouth and Virginia Beach, VA deserves its own Disaster Artist-style book and movie devoted to its making. The seven current IMDb reviews feature a few people who claim to have been part of this production and it sounds like the kind of wild, guerilla, quasi-shady venture that was much more interesting than anything that made it on film. A Virginia newspaper was supposedly even investigating Steve Sayre and his brother at one point to see if a movie really was being made, at least according to one of those reviews.
Let’s take a look at our leading characters:
DETECTIVE JAMES STEPHEN (Steve Sayre) – James’ fiancee Christie (Cindy Healy) is abducted, tortured and murdered in a ritualistic way by a Norfolk area serial killer dubbed the Satan Slayer (not killer) by the local media. James has been working the case and media scavengers make a sideshow of his grief. Our hero copes by drinking heavily and slipping into the yellow shirt that he apparently plans to wear every day for the rest of his life.
I’m serious, by the way. The movie takes place over the span of a few weeks but the detective wears the same yellow shirt the entire rest of the film with the exception of a few flashback scenes featuring happier times with his fiancee. To show that our hero is apparently going without sleep and without shaving, what looks like shoe polish is applied to his face to pass for beard stubble and dark circles under his eyes. Comically enough, after awhile our hero starts looking like he’s made up to look like a raccoon. Continue reading
MANDY (2018) – For anyone who was alive back then, 1983 was apparently different than you remember. Panos Cosmatos directed and co-wrote this blood-soaked, trippy combination of Hellraiser, Father’s Day, Werewolves on Wheels and Thou Shalt Not Kill … Except.
Balladeer’s Blog readers who remember how much I enjoyed Cosmatos’ previous film Beyond the Black Rainbow will not be surprised to find that I love this prime example of a “love it or hate it” movie. Despite the story’s 1983 setting, Mandy is not quite as slavish a faux-80s piece as Beyond the Black Rainbow. This psychedelic work mixes in plenty of stylistic touches that are beyond anything a 1980s flick would have served up.
The soundtrack by the late Johann Johannsson is so effective it practically deserves a co-director credit. Meanwhile, serving as something of a humanoid special effect is madman-in-residence Nicolas Cage, who stars as Red Miller.
Red is a lumberjack, and he’s okay (Had to be said). He lives in a cabin in the idyllic forests of the Shadow Mountains with his true love, Mandy. The title character is played by Andrea Riseborough, who gives off a kind of creepy Sissy Spaceck/ Shelley Duvall vibe. Continue reading
DR CALIGARI (1989) – “The Cabaret of Dr Caligari” might make a more fitting title for Stephen Sayadian’s genre-bending Dr Caligari. Long before Dandy Dust there was this fun movie which was sort of a hybrid of Eraserhead and The Rocky Horror Picture Show with sprinklings of Liquid Sky and Repo Man. Nightmarish visuals and deranged sexuality abound.
Many IMDb reviewers trash this movie but their reviews read like they were penned by someone who has never seen an Alfred Hitchcock film knocking Mel Brooks’ High Anxiety as “not funny.” Just like with the Brooks movie if you’re not familiar with the cinematic styles and productions referenced in Dr Caligari then no, you won’t find it entertaining.
This movie, which is full of absurdly horrific imagery and horrifically absurd imagery is simultaneously a celebration of AND a parody of art films and silent movies – especially of the German Expressionist variety. The Cabinet of Dr Caligari kicked off that cinematic style in 1919 and we’re told that the title character of this 1989 product is the great granddaughter of THAT Dr Caligari.
Our thoroughly modern Dr Caligari is played by Madeleine Reynal, who camps it up as if she’s part robot, part dominatrix, and part corpse. The good doctor runs the Caligari Insane Asylum, or CIA (remember MK-Ultra?) She’s secretly using some of the asylum’s more hopeless patients as human guinea pigs for her horrifying experiments. Continue reading
FATHER’S DAY (2011) – I DEMAND A TEAM-UP OF AHAB FROM FATHER’S DAY AND ASH WILLIAMS FROM THE EVIL DEAD FILMS (and television series).
Sorry, I had to get that out of my system right off the bat. Ahab, the eye-patch sporting hero of the Astron 6 horror film Father’s Day is in my opinion the one true successor to Bruce Campbell’s Ash Williams. And considering how unfair the ending of this movie is for Ahab and his two sidekicks a case could even be made for them replacing Ash as the most royally screwed character in the history of gore-soaked horror comedies.
It’s difficult to review this dark, grotesque gem without resorting to a series of catch phrases like “Goes where Dead Alive and similar movies failed to go” or “What Grindhouse hath wrought” or even “Twink and Walnut: They’re NOT Muppets!” Let me start with a more practical line: Do not watch this movie if you can not handle the most offensive violence, concepts, gore and deranged sexuality imaginable. Continue reading
PIG (1998) – This cult horror film was a joint project between the legendary Rozz Williams and Nico B. I’m about to commit cinematic blasphemy by pointing out that in my opinion this is one of the most overrated “art” films of all time. Maybe if Pig had come out before Luis Bunuel’s Un Chien Andalou from NINETEEN TWENTY-NINE it might deserve the praise heaped upon it.
As it is, though, not only has this film not stood up under the test of time but it’s even difficult to see why it was so acclaimed back in 1998. By then movies like Tetsuo and both Nekromantik flicks had already pushed past many boundaries that Pig doesn’t even approach, let alone challenge.
The film is in black & white and depicts a (sometimes) pig-masked serial killer who tortures his prey before killing them. His “calling card” of sorts is his habit of carving the word “PIG” on the bare chests of his victims. An obviously willing and masochistic male victim has a rendezvous with the serial killer and the pair travel to an abandoned, run-down house in the desert, numbered “1334” (the title of the sequel Nico B made years later). Continue reading