Looking back at the scrappy and silly 1985 teen action drama

Those of us who lived and came of age in the 1980s no doubt find it amusing that the decade’s film, music and fashion have become objects for contemporary pop culture fetishists. But that’s how this train rolls. The common zeitgeist almost always becomes exotic, exciting, important.

Still, who knew that director Matthew (DRAGONSLAYER, writer of CRIMSON PEAK) Robbins’ earnest 1985 teen drama/crime caper THE LEGEND OF BILLIE JEAN would emerge as a classic. Certainly not the critics of the period who dismissed its heavy-handed metaphors and cartoonish social statements as kid stuff and fluff, nor the young people it was targeted towards, who mostly ignored it theatrically and got tired of its presence on home video and cable very quickly. And while time hasn’t healed the picture’s ample flaws, there’s an undeniable energy to the piece, with broadly drawn performances by a doozy of a cast and of course, there’s that thundering Pat Benatar song (“Invincible”) that weaves its way into the soundtrack of the film itself. Re-released by Mill Creek Entertainment as part of their retro VHS line of Blu-ray’s as the “Fair is Fair” edition, the movie is definitely worth a watch (or re-watch) and is anything but boring.

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Sound Shock: A Closer Look at Alice Cooper’s PARANORMAL

An appreciation of the iconic rocker’s underrated 2017 album

“I’m condemned
to the long endless night 
and I live in the absence of light…”

Thus begins ALICE COOPER’s 2017 double album release PARANORMAL.

In full disclosure I’ll say that I grew up a big Cooper fan. Eagerly devouring his 70’s and early 80’s releases but kind of lost track and, perhaps, interest after 1983’s DADA while still having a big soft spot for the Coop. So it was with no small trepidation that I approached this release, even being produced and co-mixed with frequent collaborator Bob Ezrin.  I’d seen too many of my childhood heroes become parodies or even worse, pantomimes of themselves. So you won’t have to read this till the end to find out whether or not this reviewer enjoyed PARANORMAL; I frikkin’ LOVED it !

The album’s flow works beautifully-the lead song, PARANORMAL is introduced with a soft guitar jangle befor ebeing punctured with crunching metal chords, flowing into a thumping drum/bass rhythm and swelling guitars before again falling back to a repeat the softer bridge from the opening.

It just sounds like the perfect opening salvo to a night of ALICE!

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Severin releases one of the wildest “bad movies” of all time on Blu-ray

Those who – like me – have cited Ed Adlum’s SHRIEK OF THE MUTILATED as the worst indie American horror movie of the 1970s, obviously never saw his 1972 go-for-broke earlier craptastic creeper INVASION OF THE BLOOD FARMERS. I’d missed it, though had certainly heard many scream its perverse praises for years and now, thanks to Severin Films, we have a new remastered Blu-ray release packed (as the label always does) with wild special features so that hardcore fans and newly minted audience members (like me) can lock their bloodshot glazballs upon it. Naturally, one has to have a healthy streak of masochism in order to fully appreciate the film’s downmarket charms but those bold enough to endure its 77 torturous minutes will be – for better or worse – transformed for life.

Filmed in woodsy upstate New York by Adlum and his co-conspirators, Roberta and Michael Findlay (SNUFF and the aforementioned SHRIEK OF THE MUTILATED), INVASION OF THE BLOOD FARMERS was actually partially shot by future ERASERHEAD DP Frederick Elmes. And while there’s little trace of the future David Lynch collaborator’s singular visual style, the picture absolutely feels like it exists in ERASERHEAD’s bent universe. Nothing in this film makes much sense, either visually, aurally or narratively, with cross-eye-level framing, slipshod special effects and “acting” that is alternately listless and ludicrous. In it, a dopey bush-league student and a effeminate mad scientist stumble upon some sort of bubbly blood that they think is very important because it fills up their beakers magically. Said voodoo gore was drawn from the wounds of a local loser named Jim Carrey (ha!) who bled out all over the local bar. Poor old Jim had escaped the clutches of the titular Blood Farmers, a gang of hayseed Druids lorded over by a  poncy cult leader who needs the blood of the innocent to revive his Queen, who lies comatose in a pretty nifty glass coffin. After his daughter’s dog is killed and eaten by one of the giggling Druid henchmen (a riotous scene where a fluffy canine is replaced by literal fluff), the scientist and his youthful protege find a rusty old key and set-off to solve the problem of the super-blood and unlock the mysteries of the Blood Farmers.

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Blu-ray Review: NEMESIS

Flashing back to video store action classic courtesy of MVD’s Rewind Collection

If you EVER entered a video rental store and made it to the science fiction or fantasy section, you definitely came across some of Albert Pyun`s cinematic opuses. The art on the VHS covers were always dynamic: SWORD AND THE SORCERER with it`s Frazetta-esque painting, CAPTAIN AMERICA with the good Captain coming straight for us (and for once the suit was comic-book accurate!), CYBORG with new action star JCVD facing down a gang of badass post apocalyptic thugs and NEMESIS, with cool painted Oliver Gruner ( think 50% JCVD, 50% Dolph Lundgren ) as a sleek trench-coat wearin`, machine gun totin` terminator with a  babe in the background holding an even bigger hand cannon to sweeten the deal.

Well, courtesy of MVD we now have NEMESIS in a remastered, special edition Blu-ray / DVD set, packaged in a retro looking slipcase with that selfsame cover, with a ‘worn’ look and adorned with video store `stickers`.

NEMESIS is the kind of `serious` 80`s sci-fi film where everyone wears sunglasses and you know what the hero’s thinking because of his serious, baritone voice over.

Before I continue I just want to say that the following review has some spoilers so be forewarned.

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NEKROMANTIK 2 Coming to Limited Edition VHS!

Cult Epics release Jorg Buttgereit’s Gruesome Horror Comedy on VHS for Valentine’s Day

As Valentine’s Day fast approaches, necrophiliacs can rejoice as Cult Epics has just announced the upcoming return of the loving dead – with the official VHS release of Jörg Buttgereit’s NEKROMANTIK 2. Produced in three exclusive variants (some signed), and featuring ghoulish new artwork by Martin Trafford and cover design by Parker Richardson, these numbered editions are strictly limited (with very low numbers), be quick as our previous VHS of NEKROMANTIK was a sell-out last year. Also unleashed is a delightfully gory antique enamel pin based on NEKROMANTIK 2’s original poster art – the perfect gift for your loved one at any time of year (alive or otherwise!).

You have an exclusive window to order the special edition here!

In case you haven’t seen this wild and sick sequel, NEKROMANTIK 2 tells the tale of a beautiful necrophiliac, who works by day as a nurse and prowls by night in cemeteries searching for fresh corpses, finds the grave of Nekromantik’s Rob––and brings him home. When her real-life relationship begins to falter, she has to make a final choice between the living and the dead, with gruesome consequences.

Dig in!


Flashing back to Charles Band’s Gothic Black Comedy

I’m always a bit baffled when I see other members of my generation mist over with nostalgia when regarding the moribund video rental store experiences of our youth. Maybe my own corner video store was somehow that much shabbier than theirs, but I say confidently that modern streaming media are superior, an upgrade in every sense. What was really all that charming about dragging yourself down to the video store, only to be disappointed that all available copies of whatever new release you had your heart set on had already been snapped up? So there you were, stuck either settling on re-watching something or taking a chance on some suspect object with come-hither cover art—anyone else out there stare in the mirror with sour recrimination the morning after renting BARB WIRE? There was also the anxiety of knowing that you might be watching a cut or altered version of the movie you rented, as dictated by stodgy, stuffy store owners—no NC-17 BAD LIEUTENANT waiting for you at a certain blue-and-yellow family-values video chain, just keep on walking. There was also the issue of cost; adjusted for inflation, five bucks then is like ten bucks today. It hurt to know that being sucked in by a cleverly-marketed dud just burned up your entertainment investment. With subscription streaming, picking a stinker only costs you in terms of your time. All the other trappings of the video store—having to remember your membership card, being compelled to rewind VHS tapes that usually stunk of pizza grease and stale weed, dealing with snotty, judgmental film-school-dropout clerks looking down their pimply noses in disdain at the copy of SHOWGIRLS clutched in your grasp—streaming has efficiently sanded all those irritating edges off of the home movie viewing experience. Worst of all was having to arrange one’s day around returning that rented tape, lest the punitive anvil of late fees be dropped upon one’s head. This process might not have been such a hassle to city folks, but for rural people serviced by dirt roads pocked with more craters than the Ho Chi Minh trail after a USAF strafing run, the drive back to the video store could be a trek of Odyssean proportions.

Continue reading “HEAD OF THE FAMILY: A Closer Look”

Blu-ray Review: JACK THE RIPPER (1959)

Severin restores and releases both cuts of this undervalued shocker

The mystery of the Victorian-era serial killer dubbed “Jack the Ripper” has endured the ages, with countless fictionalized novels and films riffing onthe  sordid story of the fiend who once slashed his way through the flesh of London’s ladies of the night. The fact that “Saucy Jack” himself was never caught has only fueled the fantastical, with conspiracies ladled upon conspiracies as to who or what the murderer might have been, most potently in Alan Moore’s FROM HELL graphic novel and the freely adapted (and absolutely undervalued) Hughes Brothers feature film. But one of the more obscure remounts of the Jack the Ripper crimes can be found in Robert S. Baker and Monty Berman’s crackerjack 1959 chiller, simply called JACK THE RIPPER. Working from a script by Hammer Horror vet Jimmy Sangster, the film is a low budget but deft little murder mystery that sends ample chills up the spine, especially in its original UK theatrical cut, the likes of which is represented here – alongside the more sensational American re-edit – on Severin’s snazzy new Blu-ray release.

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Cover Reveal: DELIRIUM #19


Dario Argento graces the cover of DELIRIUM Magazine’s 19th lurid issue

Coming next month, DELIRIUM Magazine slips on our black leather gloves and flips on the color gels for our 19th lurid issue, featuring a brand new interview with the undisputed master of Italian horror, director Dario Argento! The dark, fevered mind that brought you such classics as DEEP RED (PROFONDO ROSSO), SUSPIRIA, INFERNO, TENEBRE, PHENOMENA and MOTHER OF TEARS gets the full-throttle DELIRIUM treatment in this marvelous mag, featuring a lush cover by photographer Ama Lea and designer Ryan Brookhart. The photo features Argento as he is today, saturated in the same reds and greens and violets that stain his signature works like SUSPIRIA and INFERNO and surrounded by imagery from many of his most talked about movies. And the interview inside – by our Italian correspondent Roberto D’Onofrio – is a marvel, with Dario discussing his storied past and upcoming projects.

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Blue Underground’s “Butcher’s Dozen” coming from Full Moon!

12 iconic cult and horror classics coming to Full Moon’s streaming channels starting this month

Director and producer William (MANIAC, MANIAC COP) Lustig’s venerable home video distribution imprint Blue Underground has been lovingly restoring and re-releasing dozens upon dozens of iconic and obscure international cult, science fiction, horror and dark fantasy films for almost two decades. Movies like Lucio Fulci’s ZOMBIE (recently released by Blue Underground in a delirious 4K transfer), Sergio Corbucci’s DJANGO, Jess Franco’s VENUS IN FURS and so many more, have put BU on the macabre map as one of the most respected and acclaimed labels in genre film history.

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A look at Steve Niles and Bernie Wrightson’s magnum macabre opus

FRANKENSTEIN ALIVE, ALIVE! continues the tale of Mary Shelley’s titular creature, beginning in it’s “I am never what they I have also learned it is always best to give them what they expect. Give them what they want. A monster.

At the beginning of the graphic novel the creature is now living a content life as a part of the ‘freak’ portion of a travelling circus and carnival as… ‘The Frankenstein Monster’! Having found a family of sorts who accept people as they are, without preconditions and without questions he can afford to remember back to a time when things weren’t so idyllic. From that prologue, the creature’s thoughts travel back to it’s attempt to the end of Shelley’s novel.  Up in the arctic it tries to end it’s existence as it is haunted by it’s maker, Dr Frankenstein.  Relying on the frigid waters to do the deed,  but to no success.  It seems the creature is, like original sin, immortal.   When it is found and brought to a benevolent doctor’s isolated clinic it finds a peace, living in relative solitude but acceptance… at least for a while. Continue reading “Review: FRANKENSTEIN ALIVE, ALIVE! THE COMPLETE COLLECTION”