Siberian Lady Macbeth (1962)

Siberian Lady Macbeth (1962) movie poster

director Andrzej Wajda
viewed: 07/04/2018

Siberian Lady Macbeth is a grim little film from Andrzej Wajda. This Polish-Yugoslav adaptation of a Russian property seems to bring viewers to mind more of The Postman Always Rings Twice than the Barf of Avon.

Shot in black-and-white CinemaScope, it also feels as if it could be easily transposed into feudal Japan.

Olivera Marković plays the ambitious and bloodthirsty Katerina, who is also beautiful and severely oppressed in her home life by her coarse father-in-law. When in walks a handsome peasant stranger, and Film Noir ensues.

The levels of bleak rise higher as the film wears on to its dark conclusion.

I actually thought it was pretty interesting.

Blood Harvest (1987)

Blood Harvest (1987) UK VHS cover

director  Bill Rebane
viewed: 07/03/2018

Tiny Tim Wayne Gacy.

A certain type of person, ie me, has a film like Blood Harvest on a bucket list.

A killer and sexual sadist using fast-acting chloroform is troubling a small Wisconsin town. A town, already troubled by the repossession of many family farms by a local capitalist. But more than anything he’s troubling Jill (Itonia Salchek) who has returned home to find her parents missing and an old flame brooding. (The old flame (Dean West) vaguely looks like Jeffrey Combs when he’s pouting.)

And middle-aged Tiny Tim, prancing about in clown make-up, apparently gone dotty over the slaughtering of family pets.  He’s genuinely disturbing, or maybe just annoying.

The film, though turns out to be essentially one about a demented stalker, an obsessed young man tormenting his fixation (Jill) and all of those around her. Their relationship is actually creepy in a real way.

As a slasher, it’s pure oddity, from the mind of Bill Rebane and the farmlands of the Badger State.

Cheerleader Camp (1988)

Cheerleader Camp (1988) movie poster

director  John Quinn
viewed: 07/02/2018

Welcome to Camp Hurrah. Firecracker! Firecracker! Sis Boom Bah!

1988’s Cheerleader Camp could well utilize an alternate definition of camp. It’s equal parts pervy camp comedy and slasher, the former annoying the latter genre fans.

“Lighten up! We’re looking at naked women here!”

So, yeah, nekkid ladies.

Vickie Benson as Miss Tipton is the tops, while the hijinks of Leif Garrett and his Rubenesque comic foil, most painfully in a rap sequence, leave much to be desired.

The movie’s qualities recede as fast as Leif Garrett’s hairline.

The band playing (Sounds of Suksexx) is so incongruous with the environment.

But yeah, that poster is something special.

Don’t Go Near the Park (1981)

Don't Go Near the Park (1981) poster

director Lawrence D. Foldes
viewed: 07/01/2018

Joy.

I bet if Herschell Gordon Lewis ever saw Don’t Go Near The Park he would have been proud and/or envious. Ray Dennis Steckler would have loved it.

“My mom got pregnant all by herself.”

“Brothers don’t go around feeling up their sisters.”

Cannibals and cavemen, runaways and Aldo Ray.  And incest. All in and around late 70’s Los Angeles for a story spanning 16,000 years.

Lawrence D. Foldes dreamed it up. Lawrence D. Foldes filmed it.

So accidentally brilliant, Don’t Go Near the Park transcends levels of general badness cracking through to the sublime.

The House on Sorority Row (1983)

The House on Sorority Row (1983) movie poster

director  Mark Rosman
viewed: 06/30/2018

The House on Sorority Row is a significantly superior slasher, featuring more realized characters and a set up and scenario that works well.

The primary characters are all female, more developed and not standard and stereotypical. While not exactly feminist nor fully fleshed-out, the characterization still starkly contrasts with much of the genre.

Graduating sorority girls run afoul of their house mother by overstaying their welcome and throwing a graduation party. Things go south when a mean prank goes wrong, and an algae soup swimming pool plays a key to the works.

The twist ending deflates it a bit.

Beyond the 7th Door (1987)

Beyond the 7th Door (1987) DVD cover

director Bozidar D. Benedikt
viewed: 06/29/2018

Starring a cadaverous frog with a heavy metal mullet (Lazar Rockwood) and a game if oddly-clad young lady (Bonnie Beck), Bozidar D. Benedikt’s Beyond the 7th Door lies somewhere beyond typical movie making. Rockwood also sports a pronounced Eastern European accent and seems the most curious selection as a lead in a film.

“What the hell you wearing?” Indeed.

Right after Rockwood gets out of prison, his ex (Beck) drags him back into the crime game, targeting her bedridden employer’s castle-like mansion for an easy burglary. Unfortunately for the duo, they land in a series of traps, escaping one door at a time, in trying to get out with both booty and their very lives.

Straight outta Canada, it’s seriously a noble effort. Certainly ridiculous, it doesn’t lack in ambition. Rockwood’s Boris sports a charming utility belt of normal stuff that he puts to use, like a tape measure to try to retrieve something out of reach. It’s proto-MacGyver on a budget.

There is a certain class of us cinephiles that dig this crazy crap.

Deathstalker (1983)

Deathstalker (1983) movie poster

director James Sbardellati
viewed: 06/29/2018

The best thing about Deathstalker is the poster by artist Boris Vallejo. I’ve always thought it was cool.

Light in tone and occasionally comic, the world of Desthstalker is pretty rapey. But there’s also creatures and magic, mud wrestling, and lots of 80s T&A.

Roger Corman wound up producing nine flicks in Argentina, of which Deathstalker led the way. It was followed by other sword and sorcery stuff, the flooding wake of Conan the Barbarian (1982).

“Deathstalker” himself, Rick Hill, doesn’t exude a lot of charisma. Not like Kaira (Lana Clarkson, who would find her brief heyday in this spate of B-movie fantasy junk). Deathstalker also features Barbi Benton, a name that hasn’t crossed my mind in many a moon.

At first I was going to make it a double feature with Deathstalker 2, but I decided I had enough.

Night of the Demons (1988)

Night of the Demons (1988) movie poster

director Kevin S. Tenney
viewed: 06/27/2018

Night of the Demons is superior late Eighties fun. what with your Goth demon stripper dance to Bauhaus, your panty-flashing sex object (Linnea Quigley!), or just that total end of the Eighties vibe.

It would be a good double feature with Evil Dead 2, I thought.

Great nonsequitur ending, too.

The Devil’s Messenger (1961)

The Devil's Messenger (1961) movie poster

director Herbert L. Strock
viewed: 06/26/2018

Extracted from the Swedish television series, 13 Demon Street, which was created by Curt Siodmak and starred Lon Chaney, Jr., The Devils Messenger comes as an anthology horror film of odd pedigree. A Swedish Twilight Zone prototype.

Chaney is Satan himself in the wrap-around, sending Satanya (Karen Kadler) back to Earth to bring back more of the wicked for eternal punishment.

Each of these stories play like little tales of misogyny.  It’s notable that even when women’s boobs were shaped like nosecones of airplanes, the Swedes were explicit about rape. Though men do seem to get punished for their evils, this doesn’t do the women any good?

The most interesting story is the middle one, in which a woman trapped in an ancient ice is released, though through the process mesmerizes one of the scientists behind the scheme.

Doberman Cop (1977)

Doberman Cop (1977) movie poster

director Kinji Fukasaku
viewed: 06/25/2018

Jesus, what did Kinji Fukasaku not direct? The man did it all.

Doberman Cop features Sonny Chiba and Sonny Chiba’s fabulous perm as an Okinawan cop, a fish-out-of-water in Tokyo’s Shinjuku district, tracking the mystery of an Okinawan woman burned to death by a suspected serial killer. 

But just like Chiba’s country bumpkin demeanor, below the surface, things turn out to be different from first glances.

Fukasaku keeps the gritty affair roiling with his agile handheld camerawork and sharp editing. Even if Chiba was taking a nap, Fukasaku keeps the film teeming with verve and energy.

Doberman Cop might not be the wackiest film either Fukasaku or Chiba ever made, but it’s a fun action-packed thriller with a little bit of giallo and a lot of humor thrown in.