Tag Archives: horror films

FEVER LAKE (1997): THIS TURKEY IS NOT WHAT IT SEEMS

Fever Lake 1FEVER LAKE (1997) – I like to think of this hilariously lame horror film as Twin Peaks 90210. I sometimes toy with I Was A Teenage Shining but that mock title only applies to isolated parts of Fever Lake. Overall, I think the creative team was trying for an imitation Twin Peaks vibe, especially given the time period in which it was made.

This little honey was released theatrically in Europe during 1996 but direct-to-video here in the U.S. during 1997. The credits even refer to much of the movie being shot in the town of Twin Lakes so for all I know that name might have provided spontaneous inspiration for the director or in the way of rewrites.

Fever Lake 2I’ll elaborate on that point in a bit, but for right now I’ll point out the enjoyable kitsch-casting that elevates this turkey slightly above other such dismal efforts. Corey Haim, one-half of the Haim-Feldman Colony Creature, stars as college student Albert. Saved By The Bell‘s Mario Lopez co-stars as college student Steve.

Yes, this is one of those flicks in which NONE of the top dozen or so stars play a character with a last name, except for good old Bo Hopkins the sheriff, who gets no FIRST name. Yet very, very minor characters get full names like “Bud Martin” and “Harry Kemp.” All my fellow lovers of Bad Movies have been there before.

Fever Lake serves up the usual assortment of horny students – all of whom seem fresh from Beverly Hills 90210 – staying at a creepy lakeside house provided by Corey Haim. The filmmakers actually seem to think we viewers won’t immediately realize that he’s the little boy who witnessed the murders in that house during the pre-credits flashback scene.   Continue reading

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COFFIN JOE HORROR FILMS: HALLOWEEN 2017 DRAWS TO A CLOSE

Coffin JoeHere at Balladeer’s Blog we wring down the curtain on Halloween 2017 by revisiting our old friend Jose “Mojica” Marins, Brazil’s notorious King of Horror.

Marins’ most famous character is Ze do Caixao aka Coffin Joe, a figure who belongs alongside Dracula, Freddy Krueger, La Llorona and other horror icons from around the world.

Noteworthy movies include :

At Midnight I'll Steal Your SoulAt Midnight I’ll Take Your Soul (1963) – Brazil’s first-ever home-grown horror film was also the very first appearance of Coffin Joe, an undertaker who relishes exploiting and mocking the religious beliefs of the community.

The transgressive, hypnotic figure lords it over those he considers to be ignorant peasants and lesser beings. Ze’s reign of terror sees him inflict physical and psychological torture on his victims, including gouging their eyes out with his incredibly long fingernails.

The vile but charismatic monster is searching for a superior woman to mate with while killing off male rivals as well as women who don’t meet his expectations.  

This Night I will possess your corpseThis Night I Will Possess Your Corpse (1967) – In this sequel Coffin Joe is even more powerful and depraved as he subjects Sao Paulo to another reign of terror. Ze is still searching for the perfect woman to bear his child and inflicting all manner of torture on his victims but this time around the viewer is treated to even more of the villain’s bizarre philosophy, which seems to be composed of equal parts Nietzsche and de Sade with a healthy sprinkling of Aleister Crowley tossed in. 

This film is black & white like the original but features the acclaimed color portion featuring a trip to a Hell ruled by Coffin Joe himself.  Continue reading

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ZOMBIES OF MONTICELLO (2013)

Thomas JeffersonBy reader request here’s my semi-regular Halloween Season blog post Zombies of Monticello, my mock movie review. I first ran this in 2013, but it may not seem as irreverent this year in the wake of the large-scale criticism of Thomas Jefferson.

ZOMBIES OF MONTICELLO (2013) – Halloween month continues at Balladeer’s Blog with this review of cult director Eddie Wozniak’s blood-soaked combination of horror and commentary.

Learn the REAL cause of Thomas Jefferson’s death on July 4th, 1826! On the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence the zombified corpses of all of Jefferson’s dead slaves rise from their graves and besiege him and his extended family in the Jefferson mansion at Monticello!

The pompous hypocrite who penned noble words about freedom and equality while OWNING other human beings tries everything to wipe out the undead legions pressing in on all sides. Continue reading

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CEMETERY MAN (1994)

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Cemetery Man

Cemetery Man

CEMETERY MAN (DELLAMORTE DELLAMORE) (1994) – This film is based on stories by Tiziano Sclavi, the man at the center of “Sclavian philosophy” from Italy. Michele Soavi directed and Rupert Everett starred as the hero, Francesco Dellamorte. Dellamorte is the gravedigger and custodian of Buffalora Cemetery, Buffalora being a fictional town supposedly in the north of Italy.

If you ever wondered what the Patrick McGoohan series The Prisoner would have been like if it had been done as a horror story rather than sci-fi then Cemetery Man is the movie for you! The film employs the same Kafkaesque themes that The Prisoner did with heavy overtones of Sartre’s work The Myth of Sisyphus.

The dead buried in Buffalora Cemetery tend to come back to life as killer zombies after seven days. Dellamorte, with minimal help from his rotund and simple-minded assistant Gnaghi (Francois Hadji-Lazaro), destroys the undead monsters. Our hero gets no thanks from the living citizens of Buffalora, however, who treat him like a Village Idiot and spread rumors that he is either impotent or a eunuch. Mysterious benefactors pay Dellamorte well for his thankless job via envelopes of cash that they mail to him. Continue reading

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FRANKENSTEIN’S ARMY (2013)

Frankenestein's ArmyFRANKENSTEIN’S ARMY (2013) – Halloween Month continues here at Balladeer’s Blog with this odd mish-mash of a film. Frankenstein’s Army is one of those horror movies which is presented as Found Footage for no reason and even though it’s set during World War 2 it’s being filmed in color for no reason at all and it’s being filmed by a Russian film crew for ABSOLUTELY no reason at all.

Okay, to be serious I will admit that having the story told from the perspective of a Russian army unit is a nice novelty. I think most viewers are pleased that they don’t have to endure yet another group of armed American stereotypes fighting a war while bantering with each other.

It’s the closing weeks of the war in the European Theater of Combat and our Soviet soldiers are on a secret mission to extract Dr Victor Frankenstein, the latest mad scientist descendant of that infamous family. Little do they know they’re in for a nightmarish battle against re-animated, refitted and mechanized corpses even stranger than Herbert West’s creations.  

Frankenstein's Army 2Dr Frankenstein has been doing experiments for the Germans, working on those Top Secret “wonder weapons” that Hitler and his propogandists kept reassuring the suffering German civilians about. Stalin wants our heroes to determine the nature of Frankenstein’s creations and take him into custody to continue his work for the blood-soaked Soviet dictator.

You’d think the camera crew would be along to film ONLY Frankenstein’s work but no, they film EVERYTHING, making this yet another Found Footage flick to piss away its pacing with interludes that are as dull as real life. There are some decent renderings of the nearly post-apocalyptic German countryside but the color footage reveals how inauthentic the movie’s Russian and German uniforms are.     Continue reading

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DYLAN DOG: DEAD OF NIGHT (2010)

Dylan DogDYLAN DOG: DEAD OF NIGHT (2010) Halloween Month continues with a look at the luckless Brandon Routh’s turn as this film’s title character, Tiziano Sclavi’s horror hero from Italian comic books. Sclavi launched Dylan Dog’s series in October of 1986 and under various creative teams the series is still running.

(Years ago I reviewed the film version of Tiziano Sclavi’s Dellamorte Dellamore from 1994.) 

Dylan Dog, an investigator of vampires, werewolves and other monsters, is an international cult hero beloved by comics fans around the world … which, of course, meant that any deviation from what the fan-boys wanted would cause them to hamstring the movie adaptation at the box office. The internet giveth and the internet taketh away.

In my opinion Dylan Dog: Dead of Night does not deserve its bad reputation. Compared to the many, many other films and television programs about heroic battlers of the paranormal this was certainly a top shelf production. The fact that this cinematic adaptation came along decades later than it should have is the main problem.  

Dylan Dog 2Let’s go by the numbers, knowing full well that budget and projected box office returns limited many of the creative decisions:

I. The Dylan Dog comic book was set in London (?). This movie was set in New Orleans, a change of locale that I actually like, given London’s overuse in horror films. Needless to say, this put the worst type of fan-boys in a VERY bad mood right off the bat.

II. The creative team behind Dylan Dog: Dead of Night kept the mood light. I agree with that choice given the inherent campiness and absurdity of an investigator who encounters werewolves, vampires, zombies, etc in horrific settings that are often reminiscent of Film Noir detective stories. The worst type of fan-boys bemoaned the “lack of the sad and serious tone of the comic books.”

III. In the comic book Dylan Dog’s sidekick in his investigations was Groucho, a Groucho Marx impersonator whose built-in craziness caused him to BE Groucho 24/7. For obvious legal and monetary reasons an American film version could not use Groucho as Dylan’s sidekick. The worst type of fan-boys were even more disenchanted.

Dylan Dog 3IV. The cinematic sidekick for Dylan was a new creation – Marcus, played by Sam Huntington, who had previously appeared with star Brandon Routh in the ill-fated Superman Returns (2006).

(Poor Routh. If only he had also starred in Frank Miller’s 2008 movie The Spirit he could have notched an all-time Hat Trick for starring in unfortunate comic book adaptations.)    Continue reading

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FRIDAY THE THIRTEENTH: THE ORPHAN (1977) – MOVIE REVIEW

Friday the 13th The Orphan biggerFRIDAY THE 13th: THE ORPHAN (1977) – H.H. Munro must have turned over in his grave at this adaptation of one of his short stories. This quasi-horror film was re-released in 1979 as just The Orphan and despite the original title it has no connection to the Friday the 13th series of slasher flicks. At least, no REAL connection. I’m surprised some unscrupulous distributor never tried sneaking this into theaters in the 1980’s as a “prequel” to the slasher movies by presenting the insane young boy in the movie as the grandfather of Jason Voorhees.

Even so the title makes it hard not to think of our wealthy young protagonist “David” (Mark Owens) as an ancestor of the hockey- masked slice and dice man from Crystal Lake. In the 1920’s David’s mother accidentally shoots his African Big Game Hunter father Kevin to death during an argument about his frequent overseas trips. David not only witnesses this but sees his mother put the gun in her mouth and kill herself immediately afterward.

Next David gets VERY disturbed when a presumed family member (an uncredited Christopher Lloyd in a “blink-and-you’ll- miss- him” appearance) forces him to kiss his dead father as he lies in his coffin. Continue reading

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