The Spooktacular Eight #8: Spookies (1986)

Another classic staple of horror retrospective, the “frankensteined” project that started as something specific, never got made and was later edited, injected with new footage, and eventually released as the obvious hodge potche it became. One that for years was quite elusive, not that well known, and was available on VHS only…. but this changed as it finally got a DVD release in the US and some european contries (surprisingly i didn’t even had to import it, since there’s an italian DVD release).

And of course the title is that kind of cheesy that bode wells for retronauts in search of cult sensations from the bowels of horror history.

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The Spooktacular Eight #7: The House On Skull Mountain (1974)

Blaxploitation isn’t my forte, but there’s a lot of horror movies in this vague “category-label”.

I like to not go for the obvious choice (when possible), and we didn’t spotlight an “old dark house movie” with the more typical murder mystery set-up of always: reading of the will of long distant relative that recently croaked in presence of his nephews, many not having ever seen the old lady or the other cousins before this very occasion.

It just happens the deceased was a voodoo priestess living in her southern estate, and her relatives that stay to hear the will are being killed off one by one with voodoo magic, with the survivors trying to figure out who is the killer before it gets to them as well.

And i guess it worked a bit too well as this was the final film for Mike Evans (Good Times, The Jeffersons, All In The Family), not his final acting role, thought.

As you could guess from the plot and the title, it’s a blackploitation horror film with a somewhat gothic theme, due to the mansion and it taking place on “Skull Mountain”, which means some real estate did Skeletor dirty, so to speak. I say “somewhat” due to voodoo being involved, but it’s magical, supernatural stuff regardless, and it looking at a different tradition makes it less trite.

And as one of the characters puts it “one doesn’t exclude the other”.

In case you disagree, there’s the costant thunder cracking outside the mansion (yes, done in the exact same fashion you expect) that sets the gothic mood, the nearly costant rain and some fog. And “tribal drumming”.

An irksome point is that i feel the characters called there to the house were made cousins and thus related way late into scripting to avoid the very notion of afroamerican and white people (as one of the cousins it’s played by Victor French) having a relationship, which it’s fuckin racist as hell, but even odder since they didn’t change some of the music during the “date” montage to fit this.

It’s iffy, to say the least, but it’s also a sign of the decade it was made, i guess.

Despite what you may think, the “blaxploitation” label it’s kinda ill fitting, as this doesn’t have gratituous gore, nudity or harsh language (it barely has blood), it’s indeed a old dark house type of horror thriller that focuses on the atmosphere, the supernatural events and magic, and it’s fairly effective, a bit on the cheesy side (as there are skull shaped door knockers) but spooky indeed.

It’s a bit slow at times since it’s not a mystery who’s actually causing the murder and how, so you wait for a twist, and after a ritual tribal dance scene that goes on a little longer than i liked (to be honest i had enough of rhytmic african drumming solos for a good 6 months)… you don’t really get it either, as the situation it’s pretty much what you thought was shaping up to be.

But you get a pretty spectacular finale, so it’s definitely more than “fine”.

I honestly don’t have much else to say or to complain about, it’s good.

Solid production values, good atmosphere, good acting, and not really exploitative, so i can conclude i’d recommend giving The House On Skull Mountain a good watch however you can.

And remember, blood and magic are thicker than water or skin pigmentation.

Seriously, it’s a good one not deserving its relative obscurity.

The Spooktacular Eight #6: Dominator: The Movie (2003)

Are you ready to rock and roll with the most unknown Spawn-rip off you never heard?

Are you ever heard of “brit-manga”? Me neither, but apparently Dominator was the “new wave of brit manga animation”, according to what the front cover of the UK DVD release claims.

Yeah, this is some rare shit indeed, an animated movie that involves familiar names in the horror sphere like Doug Bradley, Ingrid Pitt, and metal bands like Cradle Of Filth providing not only the music but the voice acting, based on a series of british comics by Tony Luke, one that was still ongoing in 2006, but has since then been in hiatus.

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[EXPRESSO] The Last Duel (2021) | Power Jousting

Ridley Scott is back with a tale of “chivalry rivalry”, based on a book of the same name by Eric Juager, and set in medieval France between two squires, as Jean de Carrouges (Matt Damon) challenges his friend and equal Jacques Le Gris (Adam Driver) to a judicial duel after Carrougues’ wife, Marguerite De Thibouville, accuses him of having raped her.

So she waits as the outcome of the duel will decide her fate as well, as she could be labeled a liar and burned alive.

As many fellow reviewers, i’m quite sorrowful at the fact basically no one it’s seeing this movie or its even aware it’s out in theathers, but i guess there isn’t much audience for a non-fantasy historical medieval drama that it’s really all about the court’ power struggles and characters, with some battles thrown into the mix but clearly not the focus of the film, which it’s quite bleak, grotesque, and brutal without even mentioning the realistically messy campal battles and the duel itself.

The major reason that might have irked people right away is the subject, in a fear of having a movie trying to retrofit modern stances and angles on the subject of rape into a medieval drama… it doesn’t, it obviously tackling the issue with a modern view of the subject, but it’s handled in a realistic fashion to the time period, and it definitely doesn’t pull any punches or “plays favorites” in a tale about injustice and how truth doesn’t really matter to power and those who hold it.

Not that i need to explain much of this fairly obvious theme of “might makes right” and what it entails,, as the movie doesn’t really go for a subtle approach, nor it needed to.

A bit long, but overall pretty dang good.

[EXPRESSO] Halloween Kills (2021) | TONIGHT!!!

Hindsight it’s a terrific thing, otherwise one wouldn’t be able to say that we’re at a point where 3 different “Halloween 2” exist, this one actually being a follow up to 2018’s Halloween, a direct sequel to the original film that did so well to eventually become the first part of a trilogy by David Gordon Green, with this Halloween Kills being the middle part and Halloween Ends the conclusion.

The 2018’s movie was honestly pretty good and i would have stood as good conclusion to this continuity, but the original Halloween II already proved there’s no final rest in the industry, so i’m not instantly miffed they are making “Part II” again, this series had far worse ideas than that, as most horror fans already know the franchise’s incredibly messy history.

So the plot sees Michael Myers survive the huge fire at the end of the 2018’s movie, and then go back to Haddonfield, Illinois, where everything started, and killing whoever he stumbles upon.

This enrages the locals, haunted for 40 years by Michael’s legacy of terror and finally decide to take the matter into their own hands and end their nightmare once and for all.

I’ll start with the positives: there’s a lot of kills, great gore effects, and it’s pretty entertaining.

…. if you care about anything else, you won’t find it in Halloween Kills, as the plot could make some sense on paper but it’s senseless ridiculous gibberish that pisses all over the good stuff the 2018 movie did, and welcomes all the bullshit it avoided. With the subtlety and meaning of a hammer to the scrotum, nothing at stake, dumb ass characters that should absolutely know better.

One step forward and six backwards, so Halloween Ends will have to work hard to be worse.

The Spooktacular Eight # 5: Land Of The Minotaur/The Devil’s Men (1976)

While Greek mythology is arguably the most overrepresented in media (followed closely by Norse mythology as one of the many “free idea buckets”), you don’t exactly think of horror when you think of Greek cinema, as the many monsters from that mythos often are more used in videogames.

But of course, there are exceptions, odd relics that surface when you start digging hard and long enough, and Land Of Minoutar does have the allure of starring Peter Cushing and Donald Pleasance, which is enough to have it featured here.

Even if this isn’t the first time the two beloved actors worked together, as The Flesh And The Fiends is from 1960.

And because this is a very obscure film, it has alternate titles, like just “Minotaur” and “The Devil’s Men”, the latter being used for its UK release, and my copy as well.

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Medievil PS4 [REVIEW] | Re-re-remaking The Past

While not what you would call a system seller, if you ask anyone growing up in the 90s, Medievil will probably come up in the discussion, so ingrained this little, beloved series of action platformers in the Playstation brand and overall legacy, despite remaining a cult/nostalgia sensation.

Though, when i say series, i mean the PS1 original (still available as digital PS1 Classic release on PS3 and Vita), Medievil 2 exists, but it’s mostly forgotten by the internet hivemind/consciousness, and this isn’t even the first remake of Medievil, as there’s a PSP port, Medievil Resurrection, with upgraded graphics that also changes some of the story, adds new features and remove others.

This is more of a remaster than an actual remake, a complete technical re-built but with minimal changes to gameplay and controls, very few modern concessions, all in order to offer a faithful recreation, for best or worst. Because as much as i like Medievil, this remaster/remake also works as an interesting litmus test of where bringing back the 90s, and – expanding the question – appealing to the nostalgia market eventually leads.

At least without going into the unholy effects of meming fuckin Bubsy (and Shaq Fu) unto life again, we’ll visit these forsaken lands of excrement and death, but not today.

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Resting Them Bones a Bit

Sorry folks, no review today, it’s been hectic and there has been… well not a “lack” per se of new movie reviews, but a combination of the major releases getting dripfeed now, previous weeks having a lot of releases of italian movies that i just don’t imagine even having any appeal or significance on a international scale (with some exceptions, maybe) and a busy period.

I have some cinema catching up to do, indeed.

I’m almost done watching Squid Game on my own leasure pace, maybe i’ll write my own 2 cents on the matter, not that i really care too much to do so, as people have banged on about it and written about it in an obsessive manner, so i don’t think i can add much (or anything), but we’ll see, if need be i’ll just ramble on about in a non spoilery way.

Tomorrow we’ll get back to it by visiting an old, flesh-less friend…

The Spooktacular Eight #4: Big Tits Zombie / Big Tits Dragon (2010)

Based on the manga Big Tits Dragon from Rei Mikamoto (Satanister, Reiko The Zombie Shop, Bloody Deliquent Chainsaw Girl, A Girl of The Iron Ghost), directed and written by Takao Nakano, a famous japanese satirist, or so the Wikipedia page says, in any case i never heard of him before, but giving his background in the japanese adult video market and the cast made out of famous faces from the japanese porn industry (again, so says Wikipedia, i can’t know everything), and given how he did a parody of sorts of Cronenberg’s Shivers (called Sexual Parasite: Killer Pussy, which is up there with Killer Condom as titles you can give movies)….yes, he being involved makes total sense.

It was shot in 3D, which it won’t matter to me since i can’t access a 3D version, and of course there’s no european release of any kind, home video, streaming, nada. Actually, there is a german release and there was an UK release by Terracotta Productions (even had a limited UK theathrical run), but the latter is nowhere to be found, not on their store, site, or even on most ecommerce sites.

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Zombieland – Double Tap: Roadtrip PS4 [REVIEW] | Now without zombie idols

Like it often happens with tie-in games, if the first movie doesn’t have a branded videogame out in time, the sequel will. Though it took quite some time to see a follow up to Zombieland, enough time for tie-in videogames released as retail, proper videogames to feel almost fresh again, opposed to a very cheap freemium game for smarthphones or as promotional events into gacha garbage.

While it’s named after the sequel, Zombieland – Double Tap, and its main characters, the game has its own story set in between the two films, and it captures the spirit and humour of the series pretty well, even if it’s clearly a budget tie-in job, not only from in terms of looks, but as the cast from the movie didn’t provide their voices for the game, leaving other voice actors to do impressions… bad impressions, but i’m not angry as the Harrelson/Tallahassee’s and Eisenberg/Columbus impressions are so bad i find them hilarious and kinda charming, especially the Harrelson one. XD

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