REVIEW: THE LOCALS

CAST

John Barker (Coverband)
Dwayne Cameron (Power Rangers Operation Overdrive)
Kate Elliott (Power Rangers Samurai)
Aidee Walker (Step Dave)
Paul Glover (The Ugly)
Peter McCauley (The Lost World)

Image result for THE LOCALS (2003)The film follows two best friends Grant and Paul who hit the road for a weekend of surfing, booze and hopefully . . . girls. With night falling they take a short cut and meet Lisa and Kelly, a couple of babes with a fast car, who invite them to a party. Lust takes the wheel and a game of cat and mouse begins leading them deep into the heartland of evil where they meet… The LocalsImage result for THE LOCALS (2003)This The Locals is one of the best movies from New Zealand that I have ever seen. A brilliant director and writer: Greg Page, and excellent actors: Dwayne Cameron and John Barker. It’s not like other horror films that I have seen and I’ve seen loads. The unusual location and the fact that it’s playing in the dark is great. All the hide and seek in this film makes you wanna run with the characters. And Peter McCauley is so scary and untouchable. A decent horror.

 

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REVIEW: HEMOGLOBIN

CAST

Roy Dupuis (La Femme Nikita)
Kristin Lehman (Andromeda)
Joanna Noyles (Wicker Park)
Rutger Hauer (Blade Runner)
Leni Parker (Earth: Final Conflict)
Jackie Burroughs (Willard)
Christopher Heyerdahl (Van Helsing TV)

John (Roy Dupuis) and Kathleen (Kristin Lehman) Strauss are a couple attempting to uncover the secret to John’s rare blood disease. Along the way, they encounter Dr. Marlowe (Rutger Hauer), who is intrigued by the case. Little do they know that the island which they are about to set foot upon is home to the Van Dam family, mutant-like creatures who have become deformed and bloodthirsty from centuries of inbreeding. Their mutation began with their relative Eva Van Dam, who had an incestuous relationship with her twin brother. Also, they are fully functioning hermaphrodites, capable of reproducing with themselves. They need to survive on (dead or alive) human flesh.

John eventually discovers that he is in fact a Van Dam, who was born normal looking, and was therefore allowed into normal society. His rare blood disease stems from the fact that he needs human flesh and sex with his siblings in order to function properly.

The movie is fairly fast paced, though the insertion of a sex scene comes off as forced and staged, interrupting the film’s progression for the purpose of a few quick breast shots. The creature effects aren’t that great, indeed, they are probably one of the poorer portions of the film. The footage of the underground catacombs though is just wonderful.The film tries to play with atmosphere, and does us the courtesy of not waving badly made up monsters in our face. Indeed, one of the more tense scenes plays out mostly in shadow as the creatures storm the local lighthouse.

REVIEW: PEP SQUAD

CAST

Brooke Balderson (Firecracker)
Amy Kelly (Watch Out)

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Set in and around a small town high school in Kansas, Beth is a naive senior student who asks her two new friends, the slick and outgoing Julie, and her boyfriend Scott to help her cover up the accidental killing of the hated school principal. But they are observed by Terra, a student nominated for prom queen, who blackmails them into rigging the election in her favor. Undaunted, Beth, Julie and Scott turn to the most popular/hated student Cherry to kill Terra for them. Cherry agrees to the hit, but only if she gets Terra’s nomination for prom queen and the crown as well which sets off more complications for all involved.

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The plot is supposed to be insane and it certainly delivers on its mission of weirdness. Yes, the performance of the lead female is a bit stale, although it’s possible she was meant to be that way, given the apathy of her character. If not, then she is the only real drawback to the film. The rest of the cast are decent enough for newcomers and the cinematography is gripping. Kansas never looked so good. The movie has an early John Waters feel to it with a twist of David Lynch. While not very gory or as disturbed, fans of the first Evil Dead or Troma films would still enjoy this movie.

REVIEW: MISERY

CAST

James Caan (Elf)
Kathy Bates (The Boss)
Richard Farnsworth (The Natural)
Frances Sternhagen (The Mist)
Lauren Bacall (Key Largo)

Famed novelist Paul Sheldon (James Caan) is the author of a successful series of Regency romance novels featuring a character named Misery Chastain. Wanting to focus on more serious stories, he writes a manuscript for a new novel that he hopes will launch his post-Misery career. While traveling from Silver Creek, Colorado to his home in New York City, he is caught in a blizzard and his car goes off the road, rendering him unconscious. Paul is rescued by a nurse named Annie Wilkes (Kathy Bates), who brings him to her remote home. When Paul regains consciousness he finds himself bedridden, with both his legs broken as well as a dislocated shoulder. Annie claims she is his “number one fan” and talks a lot about him and his novels. As a reward for saving him, Paul gives Annie his new manuscript. While feeding him, she is angered by the profanity in the new manuscript and spills soup on him but apologizes. She buys a copy of Paul’s most recently published book, Misery’s Child, giving him praise. However, when she discovers that Misery dies at the end of the book, she flies into a rage. She reveals that she lied about calling his agent and the authorities; nobody knows where he is. Paul tries to escape from his room, but she has locked the door.

The next morning, Annie forces Paul to burn his latest manuscript. When he is well enough to get out of bed, she insists he write a new novel titled Misery’s Return, in which he brings the character back to life. Paul complies, believing Annie might kill him otherwise. He also tells her he will use Annie’s name in the book in appreciation of her nursing him back to health. When the first few chapters show continuity errors, Annie chides him angrily and forces him to start again. One day, Paul sneaks out when Annie is away and begins stockpiling his painkillers. He tries poisoning Annie during dinner, but fails. Paul later finds a scrapbook of newspaper clippings about Annie’s past. He discovers that she was suspected and tried for the deaths of several infants, but the trial collapsed due to lack of evidence. Annie had quoted lines from his Misery novels during her trial. Annie later drugs Paul and straps him to the bed. When he wakes, she tells him that she knows he has been out of his room and breaks his ankles with a sledgehammer to prevent him from escaping again.
The local sheriff, Buster (Richard Farnsworth), is investigating Paul’s disappearance. When a shopkeeper informs the sheriff he has sold Annie considerable quantities of typing paper, Buster pays Annie a visit. When he finds Paul drugged in the basement, Annie fatally shoots Buster and tells Paul that they must die together. He agrees, on the condition that he must finish the novel in order to “give Misery back to the world”. He then conceals a can of lighter fluid in his pocket. When the book is done, he reminds Annie it is his practice to have a single cigarette and a glass of champagne after finishing a novel. After he gets them, Paul sets the manuscript on fire, giving him the chance to hit Annie over the head with the typewriter. Paul and Annie fight and Annie is killed.

Eighteen months later, Paul, now walking with a cane, meets his publishing agent Marcia (Lauren Bacall) in a restaurant in New York City. The two discuss his first non-Misery novel. Marcia tells him about the positive early buzz which Paul does not care about, saying he wrote the novel for himself. Marcia asks if he would consider a non-fiction book about his captivity, but Paul declines. While at the restaurant, he imagines the waitress as Annie. The waitress says she is his “number one fan”, to which Paul uncomfortably responds “That’s very sweet of you”.The very best of the Stephen King horror movies, “Misery” is a film which I count among my favorites even though it is so intense I sometimes have trouble sitting through the whole thing. The movie manages to be scary and classy at the same time–a rare feat for a modern horror picture.

REVIEW: MESA OF LOST WOMEN

CAST

Jackie Coogan (The Addams Family 60s)
Robert Knapp (The F.B.I.)
Lyle Talbot (Atom Man vs Superman)
Paula Hill (Hot Cars)
Harmon Stevens (The Day The Earth Stood Still)

The film opens with a brief scene serving as its introduction. A man is being caressed by feminine hands. The next shot includes the face of the woman, Tarantella (Tandra Quinn). A brief kiss between her and the man, ends with his lifeless body falling down. A disembodied voice asks the audience “Have you ever been kissed by a girl like this?” The narrative properly begins in a desert. A narrator (Lyle Talbot) mocks the overblown ego of humanity, a race of puny bipeds which claims to own planet Earth and every living thing on it. Yet, they are outnumbered by the insects, and the Hexapods are likely to survive longer than humans.The narrator then claims that when men or women venture off “the well beaten path of civilization” and deal with the unknown, the price of their survival is the loss of their sanity.
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During this narration, the film introduces its protagonists Grant Phillips (Robert Knapp) and Doreen Culbertson (Paula Hill). The narrator explains that the two of them are lost in the “great Mexican desert”, the “Muerto desert”. They are nearly dead from dehydration and sunburn when discovered by an American surveyor and his Mexican companion. These characters are identified as Frank (John Martin) and Pepe (Chrispin Martin). The two victims of the desert recover their senses in “Amer-Exico Field Hospital”, somewhere in Mexico. Grant starts narrating his story to Doc Tucker (Allan Nixon), foreman Dan Mulcahey (Richard Travis), and Pepe.
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The film flash-backs to events occurring a year earlier in Zarpa Mesa. Famous scientist Leland Masterson (Harmon Stevens) arrives, having accepted an invitation Dr. Aranya (Jackie Coogan). Aranya (name derived from the Spanish araña for spider) has reportedly penned “brilliant” scientific treatises, and Masterson looks forward to meeting him in person. Masterson is genuinely intrigued by Aranya’s theories, but his host informs Masterson that his work is not theoretical. He has already completed successful experiments, creating both human-sized tarantula spiders and human women with the abilities and instincts of spiders. His creation Tarantella has regenerative abilities, sufficient to regrow severed limbs. He seriously expects her to have a lifespan of several centuries. His experiments have had less success in male humans, who simply turn to disfigured dwarfs.
Image result for mesa of lost womenMasterson is horrified and denounces Aranya and his creations, proclaiming that they should be destroyed. In response, Aranya has him injected with a drug, turning him into a doddering simpleton. The front page of a newspaper called Southwest Journal explains that Masterson was eventually found wandering in the desert. He was declared insane and placed in an asylum. Some time later, Masterson escapes the “Muerto State Asylum”. He is next seen two days later, in an unnamed American town of the Mexico–United States border. Also present there are Tarantella, businessman Jan van Croft (Nico Lek), and his fiancée Doreen. They were heading to Mexico for their wedding day, but their private airplane had engine problems and stranded them there.[1] Jan’s servant Wu (Samuel Wu) is seen exchanging glances with Tarantella. It serves as the first sign that he is working with her.
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Masterson is tracked to the bar by his nurse at the asylum, George (George Barrows). The entire bar and its patrons observe Tarantella perform an energetic dance. Masterson apparently recognizes her, pulls a handgun, and shoots her. He then takes Jan, Doreen, and George hostage. He heads for Jan’s private airplane and he forces pilot Grant to prepare for takeoff, despite the pilot’s protests that only one engine is fully functional. The airplane departs with Doreen, George, Grant, Jan, Masterson, and Wu aboard it. Meanwhile, Tarantella regenerates following her apparent death, and leaves the bar.
In mid-flight, Grant discovers that someone sabotaged the gyrocompass, resulting in them flying towards the wrong direction for most of the flight. Wu’s facial expression allows the audience to learn who was the saboteur. The airplane crash-lands atop Zarpa Mesa, where the creations of Aranya were expecting them. For a while being, the creations simply observe them from afar. The film follows the activities of the stranded group for quite a while. There is sexual tension between Grant and Doreen, culminating in a passionate kiss. Meanwhile, the group dwindles with the deaths of first George, secondly Wu, and lastly Jan. Wu is confirmed to have served as an agent of Aranya, but one who outlived his usefulness. The last three members of the group are then captured. Grant soon recognizes that their captor’s name is identical to the Spanish term for “spider”, “araña”. Aranya cures Masterson from drug-induced imbecility, hoping to recruit him. This backfires as Masterson uses his intellect in a suicide attack. He allows Doreen and Grant to escape, then sets up an explosion which kills himself and everyone else. The flashback ends and we return to the hospital. He fails to convince anyone but Pepe of the truth in his story. Yet the finale reveals that at least one of Aranya’s spider-women has survived.Image result for mesa of lost womenThis movie is just plain fun. I consider it a budding cult classic. I say “budding” only because it seems to be relatively unknown. Jackie Coogan, who rocked as Uncle Fester of The Addams Family TV series, rocks as a mad scientist. Harmon Stevens is just as much a hoot as the insane doctor. Tandra Quinn, who plays Tarantella, is a major babe and her dance number shows it. Samuel Wu, who oddly enough plays the character Wu, speaks only in what sounds like an ancient Chinese proverb dialect and comes off as ludicrously funny. The deadly spider-girls are all pretty, the dwarfs are actually all dwarfs, the voice over is cool and crazy, and parts of it are over the top in ways reminiscent of Plan 9 From Outer Space. I love this thing. Its in a class of its own and ought not be compared to other films. It is what it is and needs to be viewed that way. Its a gut buster. Want your own personal cult classic that no one else knows about? Adopt the Mesa of Lost Women.

REVIEW: DO YOU WANNA KNOW A SECRET ?

CAST

Joey Lawrence (Melissa & Joey)
Dorie Barton Down with Love)
Jeff Conaway (Babylon 5)
Jack McGee (The Fighter)
Greg Cipes (Teen titans)
Chad Allen (Battle for Terra)
Brette Taylor (Gotham)

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A college male receives a note under his dorm door that says “do you wanna know a secret?” He assumes it is from his girlfriend Beth (Dorie Barton). He goes into the hallway to find her and is killed by someone in a mask. One year later Beth and her friends, including her new boyfriend Hank (Joey Lawrence), go on vacation in Florida. The group includes Oz (Thomas Anthony Jones), Tina (Leonora Scelfo), Nellie (Elsie Escobar) and Brad (Chad Allen). The first night Brad tries to hit on Beth, but she explains that they are just friends. Brad is attacked on a sailboat while the others are in the house. His bloody shirt is found in the water, though his body is missing. The group sees a message on his computer: “do you wanna know a secret?” One night while drinking, Tina kisses Hank. Beth refuses to talk to him until the next night when he saves her from getting roofied at a club. Beth goes outside the club for air, where she witnesses the boy who tried to drug her being murdered by someone in a mask. When the cops arrive, they find “do you wanna know a secret?” is carved in the boy’s back. An FBI agent (Jeff Conaway) tells the kids not to leave the house, as they are all suspects for both murders.
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The next day while Hank and Beth are showering, Oz is attacked in the kitchen. Outside at the pool, Nellie realizes that Tina’s throat has been slit. Before she can call for help she is attacked from behind and falls into the pool. Oz regains consciousness, and sees the same message written on the wall in blood. He runs outside to find both Tina and Nellie dead. When the cops arrive, Oz is arrested for the murders. The cop who arrested Oz is in the bathroom at the precinct when he sees the message on the wall. He is then murdered by the masked figure. Oz is released. Beth is waiting outside the police station when she sees a truck drive by. The driver is wearing the mask she remembers from the murder at the club. Hank is nowhere to be found so she follows the truck out to the glades and waits for Oz to meet up with her.
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Oz and Beth search for the killer in the dark woods. They are separated and Oz is knocked out from behind. He wakes up in the basement of a church and hears Beth’s scream. Upstairs in the church Beth is tied up in a wedding dress and blindfolded. The man removes Beth’s blindfold and his mask, revealing himself as Brad. Beth sees that the dead bodies of Tina, Nellie, and the pastor are set up in the pews, as if watching. Brad starts cutting Beth’s dress open with a knife, when Oz shows up. Brad and Oz fight but Brad wins and ties Oz up again. Beth asks Brad why he killed everyone. He explains that the secret is he loves Beth so much he would do anything, including staging his own death and killing all the others. He then holds up Hank’s severed head. Beth secretly unties her hands and attacks Brad. He knocks her to the ground but Oz gets untied and attacks Brad. As Brad is about to kill Oz, Beth stabs him through his entire body. As Oz and Beth exit the church, Brad jumps up again and is shot by the FBI Agent. The Agent reveals that the dead pastor was also Brad’s father.Image result for do you wanna know a secret ? (2001)A few small areas of success and a lot of major problems doom this potentially entertaining but ultimately unsuccessful attempt. Had it followed through more on the slasher motives, this would be watchable, but as it is, this is really only recommended for the most die-hard slasher completists or those looking for a solid laugh.

REVIEW: WITCHES OF THE CARIBBEAN

CAST

Joanna Cassidy (Blade Runner)
Nicole Cavazos (Drive Thru)
Nicole Marie Monica (Veronica Mars)
Kelli Giddish (All My Children)
Michael King (Encounter)
Nina Tapanin (Hatchetman)
Helene Udy (Running for Fear)

Image result for Witches of the CaribbeanSeventeen-year-old Angela suffers from a recurring nightmare about a 16th-century witch burned to death on a dark and mysterious beach. To find an explanation to this nightmare and reclaim her life, she flies to a two-week retreat for troubled teens on the Caribbean island of Matau, run by noted child psychologist Professor Avebury. Little does Angela realize that Matau hides a horrific secret history, nor does she know that her nightmares stem from this very spot.Image result for Witches of the Caribbean
Upon her arrival, Angela meets the other troubled teenagers attending the retreat, all of whom seem to play a role in the mystery of her dream. In particular, the enigmatic Bethany claims to be a witch and secretly seduces the other teens into joining her coven. Gradually, Angela realizes that her nightmares aren’t dreams at all, but memories of her past life. As the true nature of the frightening nightmare unfolds, Bethany seems determined to either seduce or destroy Angela. With the witching hour ticking closer, Angela must solve the mystery of the Caribbean island and its legendary witch coven. Image result for Witches of the CaribbeanA campy and predictable movie, but it was something to watch. not in the least bit scary.