Tag Archives: movie reviews

CURSE OF LA LLORONA: MOVIE REVIEW

masc graveyard newBalladeer’s Blog’s coverage of earlier film versions of The Curse of La Llorona (“The Crying Woman“) has always been popular with readers. Here’s my 2011 review of The Curse of the Crying Woman. And for more of my reviews of neglected Mexican horror films which may themselves be getting big-budget remakes if La Llorona is a hit, click HERE 

Curse of the Crying WomanCURSE OF THE CRYING WOMAN ( 1961 ) – The crying or weeping woman, called La Llorona in her native Mexico, is the undeniable queen of Mexi- Monsters. This ghoulish menace has appeared in many, many films before and after this one, but this 1961 version was the one that added witchcraft to her powers and spawned the “Llorona- mania” that shows no signs of abating.

The most recent Mexican horror film about her in 2007 used the tag line “The legend of La Llorona never dies”.

Since I’m a mythology geek I’ll point out that variations of the story of La Llorona can be traced all the way back to Aztec times, but the Christianized version of her story goes like this: Continue reading

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SLAUGHTER HIGH/ APRIL FOOL’S DAY (1986)

For April Fool’s Day here at Balladeer’s Blog I’m giving a rest to my usual holiday offering, my review of Aleister Crowley’s Clouds Without Water, to review a movie instead.

Slaughter HighSLAUGHTER HIGH/ APRIL FOOL’S DAY (1986) – This is the low-budget horror film made in England and set on April Fool’s Day. There are still VHS tapes and YouTube videos that show the original title, but the title was changed to Slaughter High because of the year’s OTHER April Fool’s Day slasher film with a gimmick ending.

Slaughter High starts off showing us April Fool’s Day of 1976, when a group of “teenagers” including 30-something Caroline Munro go to bizarre lengths to degrade and victimize their nerdy classmate Marty. These “kids” aren’t so much bullies as they are psychopaths, actually.

Slaughter High bAfter an April Fool’s Day “prank” involving nudity, electric shocks and near drowning, Marty is still alive through no fault of his classmates. The supposed popular kids get punished for their criminal assault on Marty, and perversely blame him for it! It’s that kind of movie. Hell, Marty’s tormentors were caught in the act, it’s not even like he peached on them (since this was made in England I couldn’t resist writing “peached on them”).

The psychotic teens-in-their -thirties decide Marty deserves some payback for the way they got in trouble for nearly killing him earlier, so they stage a new “prank” involving tampered-with marijuana, dangerous chemicals … and acid. C’mon, you kidders! Stop giving Marty the business! Just cut off one of his limbs or something and call it a day, ya jokesters! Continue reading

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ENDGAME: MOVIE REVIEW

EndgameENDGAME (1983) – More Weirdness at the End of the World with yet another Italian imitation of The Road Warrior. These Spaghetti-pocalypse movies were to the 80s what Spaghetti Westerns were to the 60s and 70s.

Directed by the legendary Joe D’Amato under one of his rolodex-full of aliases, Endgame is one of the most watchable of these cheapjack end of the world exercises. It’s not good, mind you, just watchable.

D’Amato wasn’t the only one operating under an assumed name in this movie. Laura Gemser, cult sexploitation starlet, stars under the name Moira Chen. She portrays Lilith, a telepathic mutant leader. In Endgame‘s 2025 setting, World War Three has come and gone and mutants are feared and persecuted because of their paranormal powers.

Though there are scattered portions of Post-Apocalypse America where mutants are accepted and other scattered portions where mutants rule, in the big cities mutants are hunted down and killed on sight.

Endgame 2Lilith works like a figurative Mutant Called Moses (with apologies to Harriet Tubman) and has been heroically smuggling mutants out of the cities, Underground Railroad style.  

Her cover was blown recently and she needs to get herself and one last gathering of mutant fugitives out of New York City, to the west and safety. Among those mutants is Tommy, a little boy with so much power that Lilith has been telepathically suppressing it. Unchecked, Tommy could level whole neighborhoods.

The film’s male lead is Ron Shannon, played by Al Cliver aka Pierluigi Conti, fresh off my favorite BAD Post-Apocalypse movie, 2020 Texas Gladiators in 1982. Ron Shannon is your regulation world-weary, burned-out warrior, highly skilled at armed and unarmed combat. Continue reading

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EMPIRE OF ASH WEDNESDAY: MOVIE REVIEW

After a terrific Fat Tuesday it’s time for Ash Wednesday … as in Empire of Ash, the awful series of post-apocalypse movies. From Canada! Brave the Canuckalypse with me! 

Empire of AshEMPIRE OF ASH (1988) – Also released as Maniac Warriors, this post-apocalypse movie is, as you would expect, another of the 1980s’ countless imitators of The Road Warrior. In Empire of Ash our year is 2050 and our main location is an American settlement called New Idaho, with Canadian forests passing for the post-holocaust world. All cities have become uninhabitable so survivalists scrape by in woodland communities.

The plague that destroyed civilization is a blood disease and it continues to be one of the biggest threats, along with the usual mutants and rampaging, gun-wielding gangs. There are some scattered scientists trying to come up with a cure for the blood disease but there are also evil sufferers of the disease who prey upon the unafflicted by consuming their blood and bone marrow to survive a little bit longer.

The disease-ridden have been organized into a bizarre religion and they consider the plague to be God’s vengeance, just like AIDS was being called by assorted zealots at this point in the 80s. The religion and government are run by a preacher called the Great Shepherd (Frank Wilson). Before draining the blood and marrow of “pure-bloods” they baptize them as human sacrifices.  Continue reading

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MARDI GRAS MASSACRE (1978)

After this seasonal post had last year off it’s the return of my review of Mardi Gras Massacre.

Mardi Gras MassacreMARDI GRAS MASSACRE (1978) – Category: A neglected Bad Movie classic, but its hard-core gore will prevent it from ever having a Plan 9-sized cult following

It takes a twisted sort of genius to make multiple disembowelment murders look boring, but that’s exactly what Jack Weis accomplishes in Mardi Gras Massacre! Today may be Fat Tuesday, but let’s rechristen it “Splat Tuesday” in honor of this late 70s splatterfest. 

The actual “massacre” part of this movie is an incredible disappointment. An insane, hate-filled man with a knife – no, not Jim Bowie (rimshot) – is roaming around New Orleans during Mardi Gras targeting prostitutes as sacrificial offerings to the Aztec deities he worships.

That sounds promising for a horror film but the disembowelment ritual is reenacted word for word and movement for movement for EACH VICTIM! There is no variation and also no suspense because after the first killing we know exactly how all the subsequent sacrifices will play out. The only chills come from listening to the awful disco music that plays during the ceremonial slayings. (“NOOOOOOOOOO!”) Continue reading

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ALIEN OUTLAW (1985): MOVIE REVIEW

Alien Outlaw bigALIEN OUTLAW (1985) – Starring Kari Anderson. Written and directed by Smoot … PHIL Smoot (Da dut da DAAA/ Da da-da). Phil was one Smoot operator and showed the imagination that low-budget filmmakers so often demonstrate but whose lack of financial resources prevents them from fully bringing that imagination to life.

Smoot got his start with the Dixie DeMille himself, Earl Owensby, often called “Roger Corman south of the Mason-Dixon Line.” And that wasn’t said as an insult. Like Corman, Owensby specialized in unpretentious B-movies that always made a profit due to budget-consciousness.

Before setting out on independent projects of his own, Phil Smoot worked in various capacities on Owensby’s North Carolina flicks like Challenge, The Brass Ring, Tales of the Third Dimension and many others.

Alien OutlawWith Alien Outlaw, Smoot showed the Owensby influence: North Carolina locations, meandering scenes that begged to be edited down and lots of annoying Southern-Fried humor that wouldn’t have made the cut on Hee Haw. On the plus side he also demonstrated a flair for fun B-movie premises that mixed genres.

Smoot’s other best-known work as writer-director was The Dark Power, a Toltec zombie horror film with Western elements (a work previously reviewed here at Balladeer’s Blog). Like The Dark Power, Alien Outlaw starred old, old, OLD Western actor Lash Larue, who was the middle man in the Whip-Wielding Action Star Trimurti, coming after Don Q: Son of Zorro and before Indiana Jones.

Alien Outlaw JesseAlien Outlaw mixed Western elements with science fiction in a way that made you root for the film, despite the way Phil Smoot defeated himself at every turn. The potential was here to craft a fun, slick, modest money-maker which played like a Western version of a Tom Baker-era episode of Doctor Who. And with a butt-kicking female lead.     

THE PREMISE: An alien spaceship lands in 1985 North Carolina and conceals itself by submerging in a body of water. That body of water is a stream the water level of which couldn’t even conceal a small car let alone a large space-craft.

THE POTENTIAL FIX: A lake or a make-believe cloaking device would have worked better.

THE STORY: A few aliens, wearing back-packs and masks to breathe our air, attack random people, take their guns and begin terrorizing the countryside. We are never told if their ship landed on Earth deliberately or made the best out of a crash landing. Nor are we told why aliens capable of interstellar flight have to confiscate primitive firearms. Continue reading

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HEMISPHERE HORRORS: FILIPINO HORROR FILM BOX SET

-“They Came From the Philippines” you could say. ORDER BELOW. It’s a Five-Movie “Hemisphere Box of Horrors” featuring:

Blood DrinkersTHE BLOOD DRINKERS (1964) Also released as The Vampire People and Kulay Dugo Ang Gabi, this was the very first COLOR horror film made in the Philippines.  

Special Features for The Blood Drinkers:

  • Manong of the Philippines: Interview With Script Supervisor and Gerry De Leon’s AD Dik Trofeo
  • Hemisphere Appreciation by Filmmaker David Decoteau
  • Audio Commentary With Film Historians Nathaniel Thompson and Howard S. Berger
  • Partial Audio Commentary With Hemisphere Marketing Consultant Samuel M. Sherman
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Blood Drinkers Trailer
  • Vampire People Trailer
  • Radio Spot Continue reading

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