Chained Heat (1983)

Paul Nicholas

Linda Blair - Carol
John Vernon - Warden Backman
Sybil Danning - Ericka
Tamara Dobson - Dutchess
Stella Stevens - Captain Taylor
Sharon Hughes - Val
Henry Silva - Lester

Genre - Sexploitation/Women In Prison

Running Time - 95 Minutes

Score - 3 Howls Outta 4

There are a lot of things I want to do in my life. Going to prison is not one of them. I refuse to end up behind bars, bent over for my bigger and meaner cellmate [we'll call the bastard Jerome] while he has his way with me just to brand me his bitch. Nah, my ass is exit only. Sorry to all my male admirers out there, but this Wolf ain't droppin' the soap for NOBODY.

Hell, I wouldn't even want to be involved with the much more dangerous women's prison. While the idea of being a security guard forcing the law upon these ladies may sound alluring to some. But women in jail don't play and they'll punch, kick, pull hair, and most likely kill you if you even look at them the wrong way. CHAINED HEAT is a good example of female convicts who don't play.

Rape them? You're dead.

Snitch on them to a higher authority? You're dead.

Mess with a chick who was once possessed by Satan? You're REALLY dead.

Probably the most famous of Women In Prison films, CHAINED HEAT brings together violence, race issues, humor, and especially nudity show that Hell hath no fury like caged women scorned.

Carol (Linda Blair) is sentenced to 18 months in a correctional facility for running someone down with her car. She calls it an accident, but after throwing up pea soup and having your head spin 360 degrees, I wouldn't be too sure about the lack of intent with the crime. Anyway, Carol is a scared young lady who has trouble adjusting to the ways of this female prison. Although she's befriended by a regular named Val (Sharon Hughes) who's willing to protect her, Carol is traumatized by her new surroundings.

And why wouldn't she be? Drug dealing is rampant. The inmates are used as prostitutes by the evil Lester (Henry Silva). The Warden (John Vernon) brings girls up to his office, seducing them in his hot tub while video taping their every move before, during, and after the act. And there's a race battle between the blacks led by Dutchess (Tamara Dobson), and the whites led by Ericka (Sybil Danning), who has a sexual interest in the innocent Carol. But once the politics of the corrupt prison interfere with their accomodations, Carol and the ladies decide that mutiny is in order. I hope the power of Christ compels these prison officials because the last time Carol was upset, the Gates of Hell were wide open. Hide the crucifixes!!

is probably the widest known of all the Women In Prison films that have ever been released. I mean, it has Linda Blair of THE EXORCIST fame naked for the first time on film. This was a big deal back in 1983. Other than that, the film isn't really "quality" and not recommended viewing for everyone. But hell - it's entertaining as fuck even with the predictability and cliched factors involved!

CHAINED HEAT [and WIP films in general] aren't known for their intelligent and well-written screenplays. They're pretty much all the same in terms of plot device. You have the innocent young woman who's put in a horrible setting and situation. You have the corrupt warden who enjoys preying on these girls. Add some evil prison guards, lesbianism and nudity, and a couple of catfights [preferably naked] and you have a WIP film. CHAINED HEAT has all of these motifs and uses them as well as one of these films could. And while the narrative is straight-forward, I think the creators of CHAINED HEAT were trying for something more ambitious here in terms of story. I mean, how many subplots does this film have? Race issues? Prostitution rings? Pornography blackmail? Killings and a mystery based on these murders? There's a whole lot of crap going on in this flick. Hell, it has to have something for everyone, right? Honestly, I could have lived without some of these things because sometimes less is more. When certain things happen and are just dropped five minutes later without any follow through, they shouldn't have been put in the film to begin with. But at least the massive amount of subplots don't effect the narrative all that much and the story actually engages you into wanting to know how things will play out.

Even the characters for the most part are developed decently. You get a sense of who these people are through their wildly cheesy dialogue and their actions. Sometimes we like to know the backstories of characters, but CHAINED HEAT never made me want to know more than what I was watching. Sure, I would have liked to see the transformation of scared girl to tough bitch a bit more detailed in Carol because it happens way to suddenly for me. Plus, what was the deal with that Bubbles character? To annoy me? Yeah, that had to be it. I wasn't expecting Oscar-caliber material here and my expectations were pretty much met. So I can't complain too much.

The film is pretty edgy for 1983 standards, although modern audiences would probably just shrug most of the sex, language, and violence these days. We get our hints of lesbianism, rape scenes, and gritty murder scenes [I love the bathroom one with the hook - ouch!] that made me glad I stopped writing to that really large female prisoner [a.k.a. my ex-girlfriend/pen pal] years ago. And they're never over-the-top in some of these flicks and more grounded in reality, which I appreciated. I wasn't disturbed by this film, but I didn't laugh at everything I saw either.

Paul Nicholas creates a fine looking film here. It's pretty much a point and shoot affair, but the editing is very good and the pacing is excellent. The film felt a lot shorter than it actually was. The film looks gritty, which gave CHAINED HEAT a ton of atmosphere and mood. And some of the murder sequences had tension. And I can't knock anyone who can get Linda Blair and Sybil Danning nekkid, so kudos to Mr. Nicholas!

The acting is pretty uneven in this flick. Linda Blair plays a great victim as usual but there were times where her suffering didn't seem to come through as strong as it should have. John Vernon, of ANIMAL HOUSE fame, was great as the corrupt Warden who had some hot chicks in his tub. He played the "nice guy" routine just as well as he played the "horny prick" thing. Sybil Danning got naked and acted tough, which was enough for me. She's perfect for this kind of movie. The real star for me was Tamara Dobson, of CLEOPATRA JONES fame. She was convincingly tough, fearless, and commanding throughout the film. Her presence outshone everyone around her. For a cheesy flick, she took it all seriously and I belived her. But then again - if anyone is watching for the acting, they seriously have issues.


- There's a chick in the prison named Bubbles. And just like her virginity, it only takes one prick to make her pop.

- There were three women arguing over which soap was better: General Hospital, All My Children, or The Young and the Restless. As far as I'm concerned, like the sands of the hourglass, so are the Days of Our Lives. Oh that Sami Brady...

- Don't ever be a rat in a women's prison. Remember: snitches get stitches - or death - whichever comes first.

- Sybil Danning and Linda Blair share a kiss on the lips, among doing other things. Maybe it's just me, but I have the urge to masturbate with a crucifix while being part of a weird threesome with two werewolves. I have no idea why...

- There was a nice scene of inmates frolicking in the showers. And from what I can tell, they were all Republicans. I mean they were obviously promoting Bush...

- Linda Blair got her ass kicked for doing the right thing. It still wasn't as painful as THE HERETIC: EXORCIST II. Whoever made that deserves jail time!

- Sybil Danning had a knife fight with Tamara Dobson. I hardly call this fair. Black people use guns, not knives. The ignorance of some people!

- Carol was given a blue dress by some pervert. He better hope it's not that time of the month. That pea soup vomit ruins the mood everytime!

- Val died due to a nightstick being forced in her face. If that's the case, she obviously went to prison for being bad at giving head.

It's not a masterpiece but I can do much worse than spend over 90 minutes watching CHAINED HEAT. It has naked chicks. It has catfights. It has a clear separation of good and evil. It has naked chicks. Sometimes that's all you want in a film late at night, sitting all alone with a bottle of hand lotion and a box of tissues right nearby. Sigh...


The WTF? Worst Films Extravaganza Presents: Shutter (2008)

Masayuki Ochiai

Joshua Jackson - Benjamin Shaw
Rachael Taylor - Jane Shaw
Megumi Okina - Megumi Tanaka
David Denman - Bruno
John Hensley - Adam
Maya Hazen - Seiko
James Kyson Lee - Ritsuo

Genre - Horror/Ghosts

Running Time - 87 Minutes

Score - 1 Howl Outta 4

PLOT - SHUTTER, an Americanized remake of a Thai film of the same name, begins with the wedding of photographer Benjamin Shaw (Joshua Jackson) and English teacher Jane (Rachael Taylor). Ben has received a job in Japan, where he's worked before, so the couple decide to honeymoon there. One night, the couple hit a woman on the road, causing them to skid and crash into a tree. When they wake up, the woman is nowhere to be found. Ben doesn't believe there was ever a woman there, but Jane isn't so convinced.

After a couple of days, they go to Tokyo so Ben can work. Jane starts looking at photos Ben has taken and starts seeing something strange: a white light that distorts the image. While Ben seems to dismiss this phenomenon, Jane decides to do some research. With help from Ben's assistant Seiko (Maya Hazen) and her boyfriend Ritsuo (Jason Kyson Lee), Jane learns about spirit photography - a supernatural occurence where ghosts show up in photographs to send a message. Jane believes that this spirit is haunting her and Ben and wants to know how to get rid of it. Unfortunately, secrets behind this spirit start to come out that could strain Jane's relationship with Ben.


STORY - Sigh. What can I say about SHUTTER? It's boring. It's derivative of other J-horror film remakes. It makes me want to put a pistol to my head and pull the trigger.
SHUTTER brings nothing new to the table except maybe a few white hairs and an ulcer.

Now I have seen the original film, which I thought was decent and kind of creepy. This remake is none of the above. The script, written by Luke Dawson, is pretty bland. Compared to the original narrative, it's not deep at all and dumbed down so pre-teens can shit all over themselves over the "scares" that aren't there. Plot holes galore - especially when it concerns this evil spirit. Why would she wait until Ben and Jane were MARRIED until messing with them? She could have done this while they were dating. Also, why start in Japan? By film's end, it's obvious she could travel all over the world. It just seemed odd that this vengeful ghost would wait until that particular moment in order to scare them. Also, there are hints that Ben may have had some affairs in his past and maybe had them while with Jane, yet they're brushed under the rug and never really followed on. I mean why would they be? Who's gonna care about a plot point like that, right? Oh, I'm such a silly boy.

I also found the character development to be really flat. For a guy who's worked alot in Japan, Ben doesn't seem to know much of the language. That Buena Vista coach really did a great job there! Also, he just seemed too shady to really get behind, predictably letting you know that he was the reason this spirit was haunting him and Jane to begin with. As for Jane, she was a real genius. I mean, the ghost gives her hints in the photos as to where to go to figure out the reason she's around. Yet, she takes these hints and wipes her ass with them because she ends up still wondering where she needs to be.


And when Ben is having nightmares and freaking out a bit, Jane wonders what's wrong with him.

It didn't help that she had to be blonde either. Sorry to all you blondes out there, but she just pushed the stereotype more than it should have gone. Lazy screenwriting from top to bottom.

I did appreciate that the ending was at least left intact and that the plot points leading up to it [the twists], while contrived, actually made some sense. And there was some attempt at something deeper than other similar films fail to do. But other than that, it's pretty much the same script used in ONE MISSED CALL or THE EYE [which also came out last year] but with photos used instead of a phone or optical transplants. Same shit, different film. It needs to end. Really, it does.

DIRECTION - Masayuki Ochiai, who's other work I have yet to seen, didn't do much to impress me here. There was some semblence of style and at times I liked the mood and atmosphere that he visually put into the film. But it was the typical "point-and-shoot" affair for the most part. If the script was stronger, I probably would have let that slide a bit. But the visuals needed to pop here and they didn't. Where's the tension? Where are the scares? The direction was just as lazy as the story.

VIOLENCE/SEX/LANGUAGE [aka THE GOOD STUFF] - It's a PG-13 horror flick. We get some red stuff. Someone's eye socket hollows out at one point. We see a corpse. There's an implied rape scene but there's no nudity from anyone at all. As for language, "shit" is probably the boldest it goes. Very tame horror flick. Bah!

ACTING - While hardly inspiring and great, at least it was decent. Joshua Jackson is a very good actor from his television work and with what he's given, he does a decent job with the Ben character. Too bad the character has no depth at all. Rachael Taylor, who was in SEE NO EVIL and TRANSFORMERS, is hot and has talent - too bad none of that is evident here. She screams well but she can't carry a film like this, especially when the script won't let her. And while I thought her character was stupid as hell, I did enjoy watching her. Everyone else did their part, although I wish John Hensley was in the film more. That dude creeps me out for some reason. Plus he can act too. What a waste of a decent cast.

MUSIC - Your typical J-horror score. Nothing to write home about.

is way better than ONE MISSED CALL and a bit better than THE EYE. Then again, that really isn't saying a whole much. What can be said is that these remakes need to stop, especially when they take an interesting concept and just shit all over it so teenagers can gush over how "scary" these modern horror flicks are. Boy, am I glad I was born in 1981. Crappy story, crappy characters, no mystery, boring pacing - SHUTTER is not worth your time. I'm glad Jackson is on a hit show now and Taylor is doing stuff other than this because they're the only reasons to watch this. Stick to the original SHUTTER and avoid this one. The WTF? Vault has a special place for this one. And I won't be taking a picture - 87 minutes is long enough.


The Last Horror Film [a.k.a. Fanatic] (1982)

David Winters

Caroline Munro - Jana Bates
Joe Spinell - Vinny Durand
Judd Hamilton - Alan Cunningham
Devin Goldenberg - Marty Bernstein
David Winters - Stanley Kline
Stanley Susanne Benton - Susan Archer
Mary Spinell - Vinny's Mother
Glenn Jacobson - Bret Bates

Genre - Horror/Slasher/Thriller

Running Time - 91 Minutes (Uncut Version)

Score - 3.5 Howls Outta 4

If we've been paying sort of attention to the media in recent times, you would have noticed that its obsession with celebrity life has really reached an all time high. I mean, is a crazed fan crashing a Britney Spears concert and proving that people are paying $250 a pop to watch someone lip-sync really more important than the economy right now? Is Paris Hilton's social life more newsworthy than murder, rape, and all the other awful things happening in the world? Absolutely not. But if people need to discuss Kim Kardashian's big fat ass over the rise of unemployment, then hey - I wish them luck stepping back into the real world from fantasy.

At least this obsession isn't hurting someone. But sometimes certain people take it a bit too far. There are sickos out there who will literally dedicate their lives to follow someone famous, secretly living through them to the point where they need to meet them and officially become a part of their life in some way, shape, or form. Most of the time, these people get caught before any damage is done. At other times, it can lead to injury - even murder.

In 1982's THE LAST HORROR FILM, a man who's so desperate to become a world famous director has taken the liberty of following a well known actress to the point where he'll murder anyone who stands in the way of their meeting face-to-face. Inspired by the John Hinckley, Jr. attempted assassination of then-President Ronald Reagan in 1981 over an obsession with Jodie Foster, THE LAST HORROR FILM is a cult classic brought back to the forefront by Troma Films in UNCUT form at just the right time where horror has become stale. Starring Joe Spinell and Caroline Munro, this lost horror classic is made for those who love MANIAC and/or are looking for an 80s slasher that's smarter than it looks.

A New York City taxi driver named Vinny Durand (Joe Spinell) has grand delusions of making an epic horror film with horror actress Jana Bates (Caroline Munro), believing the film will garner him an Oscar. Vinny is ready for his close up. His script is finished. He has a camera. All he needs is his star actress. Tired of his current situation and feeling like a loser, Vinny decides to pack things up and head to Cannes, where Jana will be to accept an award for her work.

Even though Jana doesn't know that she has an obsessed fan stalking her, she has her own issues to deal with. She's going through a separation from her husband and mentor, Bret Bates (Glenn Jacobson), who isn't too happy that Jana is seeing the man who directed her latest film, Alan Cunningham (Judd Hamilton). With all three at Cannes, along with Vinny in the shadows, it doesn't look like it will be a great time for Jana - especially when people she's close to professionally start dropping like flies around her. Scared out of her mind, Jana doesn't realize that she's starring in her last horror film, directed guerilla style by Vinny Durand. Will Jana survive her new role? Or will she be cut out from film for good?

, finally being released to DVD in Uncut form for the first time on May 19th by Troma, is a unique little horror flick. At times it feels like an 80s slasher flick. Some portions has a mystery-thriller element at play. And the film is pure camp most of the time in a grindhouse sort of way [gotta love those discoteque scenes]. But even with all this, THE LAST HORROR FILM is a very cool flick that I'm very glad to see come back for a modern audience who may be interested in horror that doesn't suck.

The story by Judd Hamilton is still pretty revelant even after almost 30 years after the film was written, filmed, and released. We still read and hear about celebrity stalkers and the lengths they will go to in order to get closer to their obsession. Vinny Durand leaves New York City to go to France just to be close to Jana Bates. And then he starts filming her like some paparazzi, creating what he calls Jana's last horror film by filming her reactions when she realizes her friends and colleagues are missing or dead. It's interesting to see both sides to the obsession. While Vinny is obviously deranged and clearly needs a psychiatrist or some shock treatment, we can understand why he would be obsessed with this actress. She's beautiful. She's obviously talented. She's also extremely marketable and fresh. Who wouldn't want to cast her in their film? Sure his methods are a bit extreme, but you can understand why he tries so hard to get her attention. And then we have Jana, who's going through a love triangle and a crossroads in her career. Who needs more drama in the form of a stalker who's offing anyone she's been in contact with?

Hamilton also infuses social commentary to enhance the film's story. The biggest commentary is obviously comparing Vinny's obsession with Jana to John Hinckley's obsession with Jodie Foster, leading both men to murder to get closer to their respective actresses. Apparently the whole "obsession leads to death" theme isn't something new, but works fine here. We also get a bit where there's talk of horror films desensitizing people, blurring the lines between what's real and what's reel. This was probably brought about by the rise of slasher films at the time that many considered violent, sexist, and low rent - especially when it came to Spinell's and Munro's previous collaboration together, MANIAC. While this commentary is obvious, it also puts the film in a time capsule for a bit of nostalgia.

Character development isn't big here. We do watch Vinny's descent into madness build slowly everytime his attempts to meet Jana are thwarted. I love watching crazy people on film - just keep them away from my personal space. While Jana is also developed a bit, Vinny is the real focus of the film and we connect with him more. The supporting characters are just there, really not adding much to the main plot except when they were getting killed. The dialogue is also written well as well. No one comes off sounding silly and help pace the film's story well.

I will say that the different styles and techniques to move the story along do make the film a bit uneven. At times I wasn't sure if was watching a giallo film or a mystery film or just a straight forward thriller with nice shots of blood and gore. Even the "twist" at the end is fairly predictable, with the last moment of the film being truly bizarre and entirely laughable [in a good way I thought]. This was a weird film and I wondered if it that was intentional or not. Either way, I was entertained.

The gore effects in THE LAST HORROR FILM are pretty cheesy in modern terms, but they work for an 80s horror flick. I love the decapitation aftermath with the blood gushing from where the head was detached from the neck. We have a face burnt to a crisp. We also get a death by electricity and an axe to the back. Plus we get a sweet double gunshot to some stupid chick's head which leads to her falling off of a roof and splattering once she reaches the ground below. Not bad stuff at all.

I also liked the cheesy soundtrack too. Very pop-rock, Journey-like and Toto-like music. Plus tracks by Depeche Mode [!] and Al Jolson are used. Definitely fits the time.

The direction by David Winters works well for the type of film THE LAST HORROR FILM is. It's almost shot giallo style, giving the film quite a European feel both in look and in style. You could actually mistake it for a grindhouse flick in a way. The editing was used pretty well I thought. There are scenes of films-within-the-film that transition into the main story that work, blurring the lines of what's real and what isn't. The pacing is a bit slow at the beginning but picks up considerably towards the end. And the guerilla style shooting at the Cannes Festival gives THE LAST HORROR FILM a lot of atmosphere that we don't see much in slasher films. It's a very colorful film, even when it's dark. There are also touches of style, especially during one scene where Vinny is masturbating to Jana's voice while her image is displayed on his body like a spotlight. It's a nice job.

The acting isn't a highlight, as with most slasher films of the time, but it definitely gets the job done. Joe Spinell is obviously the star here as Vinny Durand. He has this sleazy, slimy look about him that wouldn't fly in today's Hollywood, but that's what really makes him interesting. Plus he's a great character actor and his descent into insanity by film's end is fascinating and entertaing to watch. Spinell is silly, kooky, scary, and at times poignant - giving us a multi-layered performance. It's the perfect low-budget performance, although I still feel MANIAC remains his best work. Caroline Munro, like in MANIAC, compliments Spinell extremely well. She can scream and she's hot as hell. Plus she's not a bad actress at all. The other actors did their parts and helped move the story along. But Joe Spinell's mom, Mary, was pretty bad. Wooden as hell, she honestly made me laugh whenever she spoke. And her last line is classic. That's all I'll say about that.

The Uncut DVD is pretty Troma-riffic. The visual and audio has been remastered and I have to say that Troma did an awesome job with the new transfer. The picture looks clear and the audio sounds great. The uncut footage added is a bit dark and grainy, but it doesn't distract too much from the overall presentation.

Plus we get a ton of special features. This includes the "making of" THE LAST HORROR FILM, memories of Joe Spinell by his best friend Luke Walter, and a brief interview with William Lustig who directed Spinell in MANIAC. We also get a short film by Spinell that he made in 1989 called MR. ROBBIE, which was the beginning of an intended sequel to MANIAC. Unfortunately Spinell passed away before it could be completed, but the footage left over would have made a pretty cool slasher flick if Spinell had the health to finish it. We also get a bunch of trailers from Troma and an intro from Lloyd Kaufman himself. All in all, a very cool package for a very cool cult flick.


- Some shadowy figure killed a naked chick in a jacuzzi by quietly sliding a wire inside the water and electrocuting her.

Hot tub + boobs + electricity in the air = my longing for new Blind Date episodes. I need my dating shows, dammit!

- Vinny had a shrine of Jana Bates on his wall. Some may think the man is crazy, but I understand it as his appreciation for her beauty and talent. As a matter of fact, I had a shrine of Pamela Anderson once. But after I drilled a hole near her bikini line, inspected it, and came out with a bad case of Hepatitis C, I've abstained from shrines altogether. But I'm not crazy, no matter what the doctors and the voices in my head keep telling me.

- Bret, the producer, got his throat slashed while shaving. Guess he should have used the Mach 3 instead of the Quatro!

- Four hot nude chicks teased Vinny about his passiveness, implying that he's a shy little boy in a man's body. Remember: women want men, not boys. Unless it's Mary Kay Letourneau. Then it's okay.

- There were a bunch of airplanes flying while waving banners that warned Jana about filming her last horror film. This was followed by another airplane promoting SUPERMAN III. I'm not sure which one I'd be more scared about: someone threatening me or the mention of SUPERMAN III. Yeesh!

- Don't ever ignore an aspiring filmmaker. He'll have an axe to grind with you. Literally.

- Jana believes that people can separate real life from illusion. She's obviously never seen The Hills.

- A killer in a horror film cut out the victim's heart and ate it. I'm sure that's gonna take quite a beating on his digestive system.

- Some annoying blonde chick got shot in the skull twice and fell to her death. I'm sure this startled her since she usually gives head instead of taking it.

is a bizarre ditty of a film that needs to be seen to be appreciated. It's full of schlock and it's really silly, but it's quite creative and clever at the same time. If you're looking for a mainstream horror flick, it ain't here. But if you're looking for a low-budget cult flick that has gore, boobs, a decent story, and entertaining performances wrapped up in a fantastic Troma package, THE LAST HORROR FILM is definitely for you. May 19th - PICK IT UP!!


Red Victoria (2008)

Anthony Brownrigg

Anthony Brownrigg - Jim
Arianne Martin - Victoria
Edward Landers - Carl

Genre - Horror/Comedy

Running Time - 89 Minutes

Score - 3.5 Howls Outta 4

During my lifetime, I plan on writing a horror novel and/or a horror film that will make people shit their pants. It's gonna be suspenseful. It's gonna be memorable. And it'll sure be damn bloody! But you can't just go on and write something horrific. You need inspiration. You need a muse that will lead you to that dark place where evil things grow [similar to Paris Hilton's vagina]. It could be a childhood trauma. It could be a phobia. It could be a hot dead chick who wants to make it with you on your king size water bed after she murders your friends. It's different for everybody.

For Jim in RED VICTORIA, his muse happens to be that dead girl I mentioned in the last paragraph. Some people may say that Jim is crazy to be inspired by a smartass zombie with a fetish for death. But I say that Jim did right by Victoria because RED VICTORIA is a rare example of a horror-comedy that works.

Jim (Anthony Brownrigg) is an uptight writer who is failing in selling scripts in the drama genre. His agent advises Jim to change gears and write a horror script because good or bad, any studio will film it. Jim refuses, feeling that horror is beneath him. Besides, Jim knows nothing about horror. But to keep paying his bills and maintaining his agent, Jim gives in.

Having a rough day with writer's block and lack of inspiration, Jim gets drunk and starts reciting Shakespeare. This magically creates a muse - a sexy homicidal zombie named Victoria (Arianne Martin). Freaked out and thinking he's crazy, he attempts to seek help from his psychiatrist. But before he can get any answers, Victoria murders him and anyone in her way of getting Jim to write some good horror. When Jim's horror fanatic buddy, Carl (Edward Landers), can also see Victoria, Jim wonders what's going on. With Victoria's and Carl's help, Jim attempts in writing a great horror script. But Jim wants to get rid of Victoria, even if it kills him.

is a pleasant surprise from the world of low-budget Indie Horror. It's not really a horror film in the traditional sense, nor is it a comedy in the traditional sense. But something about the combination works in the film's favor, creating a memorable experience.

The story written by Anthony Brownrigg [who also produced, directed, and starred] is pretty smart and somewhat original. With a limited amount of characters, the story moves quickly and we get time with each character to see them develop. Jim, in particular, gives the film a ton of perspective. Here's a guy who doesn't get horror and constantly mocks it because he feels it's beneath him. But once Victoria constantly annoys him, he falls into the horror traps like plotting her demise on hallowed ground, using mythical daggers on Halloween, and so on. It proves the point that writing horror isn't about scaring people. We have to know what's scary before we can scare anyone else. Jim constantly fights this because he doesn't want to be vulnerable and be part of something he may not be able to recover from. It's humanistic in a fantasy realm and many horror writers forget that. Brownrigg doesn't and it helps build RED VICTORIA into a success.

The other main character, being Victoria, is also developed extremely well. We're never sure how she died or why she's really trying to help Jim, but her presence is the catalyst that breaks Jim's walls down. Jim and Victoria are really two sides of the same coin. While Jim likes control and keep his thoughts and feelings to himself, Victoria is the total opposite. She murders people because it's fun. She manipulates Jim because she can. While she's aware of the consequences, Victoria just doesn't care. Victoria also represents the woman Jim needs in his life, as she's the only one who is able to get him to open up in some fashion. They balance each other out and Jim is scared that someone can see right through him, leading to their constant back-and-forth battle.

And then we have Carl, who is pretty much Jim and Victoria put together. He's the big horror fan, reminding Jim and the viewers on the horror rules and what weapons are acceptable or not. Horror fans will relate to him right away, creating a nice in-between guy for us to latch onto.

The dialogue is also great too. The characters sound like real people, dead or not, and don't say things just for the sake of saying them. Each of their words carry meaning. Even the things they don't say are quite powerful. Brownrigg wrote a great piece of literature here, proving that horror can be smart and effective.

Brownrigg also directed the film, which he did a very nice job with. Even with a budget of only $5000, Brownrigg managed to reveal his vision wonderfully. The pacing is quick and the editing is spot-on. The film looks cheap but the cinematography is beautiful, with the framing and composition shots looking extremely professional. The music captured the mood and atmosphere well throughout. Even the special effects are extremely cool, looking better than most big budgeted blockbusters out there. Brownrigg made this film look like a million bucks with his drive and hard work. I would like to see what he could do with a much bigger budget if he can do incredible work with such a small one.

The acting was fantastic. Brownrigg is the star of the film as Jim and carries the film on his back from beginning to end. He's a natural as a struggling writer and I'm sure he took some of his past experiences and brought them into the character of Jim. He had a great sense of playing the nervous time, translating his insecurities and fears on screen. No complaints. Edward Landers as Carl was pretty funny and extremely likeable. But the star here is Arianne Martin as Victoria. She was charming, off-beat in an alluring way, and very hot. She and Brownrigg played off each other extremely well, creating a nice chemistry that captured your attention whenever they were on screen. The makeup job on her could have been a little better, but Martin worked it like a charm.

The DVD also contains a blooper reel, deleted scenes, and behind the scenes stuff. While they don't enhance the experience all that much, they're nice to have and all worth watching at least once if you're interested.


- Jim tried to find his horror muse by attempting to scare himself with his own reflection in the mirror. That only works if you're Michael Jackson or Joan Rivers, pal!

- If you want an undead muse to help with your writing, recite Macbeth while intoxicated in front of a clock. Remember: If you're lost, she can look and she will find you - time after time. If you fall, she will catch you - she will be waiting - time after time.

- The pool guy felt like a fool over constantly coming by to clean the leaves in Jim's pool. I guess like the rest of us, even pool guys are drowning for respect.

- Jim used bullets, a pentagram, voodoo, and even garlic to get rid of Victoria to no avail. Just like Paris Hilton and her crabs, Victoria is impossible to get rid of.

- Jim was upset when a friend of his was splattered by an oncoming bus in the middle of the street. I don't know why. Hello Jim, there's a song that we're singing. C'mon get happy!

- Victoria doesn't mind being asked questions but refuses to answer them. She must have been a Miss USA Contestant in a past life. I'd like to see her thoughts on health care!


I enjoyed the hell out of RED VICTORIA. Subtle, clever, and entertaining - this has to be one of the best indie horror flicks I've seen in quite some time. It has a great script, great acting, blood, guts, and a hot undead chick - what more do you want from a horror film? Definitely worth a look if you're looking for inspiration that good horror still exists out there.


Blood For The Muse [The Omega Edition] (2009)

Whenever we need or want to do anything, it helps if something [or someone] inspires us to do so. That so-called muse gives us drive, determination, and an urge to set out and accomplish something that personally means something. We've gotten great works of art, fantastic novels, incredible films, and even entertaining reviews from our personal muses. But sometimes, a muse can take an artist over that point of no return.

Such is the case in BLOOD FOR THE MUSE, an indie-horror flick based on a 1990's comic book of the same name. And while I can't compare the transition from comic to film, I can say that BLOOD FOR THE MUSE is a great concept with a poorer execution. It's not a terrible film, but it didn't inspire me a whole much either.

BLOOD FOR THE MUSE is about a video store clerk named Josh (Josh Robinson) who lives by going through the motions of life, giving us a running narrative about how the world around him is full of imbeciles who live their lives without a clear future objective. Josh apparently is superior due to his obsession with a muse called Melpomene (Tina Krause), who was the daughter of Zeus that was banished out of Heaven to deal with tragic issues and despair. In order to get closer to his muse, Josh turns to serial killing prostitutes. Josh then proceeds to "sacrifice" these victims so he can be closer to Melpomene.

However, Melpomene doesn't seem to satisfied with Josh's choice of "gifts". Apparently, prostitutes are already suffering and are banished from society's norms, not bringing enough tragedy in the world for Melpomene to appear. Josh is convinced he must sacrifice someone with a pure soul that would be missed by many people. With this revelation, Josh meets Sara (Tina Krause in a second role), who takes a liking to Josh and vice-versa. These feelings make Josh realize that Sara is the soul Melpomene has been waiting for. Will he sacrifice Sara for a muse or will Josh finally realize that the happiness he's been looking for is right in front of him?

Read the rest of the review @ Fatally-Yours.com


Siko Mike's Blind Date (2009)

Siko Mike

Ashley Dinescu - Rachel
Zack Matzganis - Ricky
Ashton Moraski - Caitlin
Siko Mike - Frank
Chris Yeatts - Todd
Jake Lief - Jeff
Brent Basham - Justin

Genre - Horror/Revenge

Running Time - 15 Minutes

Score - 3 Howls Outta 4

PLOT - BLIND DATE is a short film about fraternities, rape, and the victims who want revenge through murder. Some fucked up fraternity are having a great time at some party one night, where asshole Frank (Siko Mike) figures he wants to up the ante by seducing some innocent girl into a night of terror. Unfortunately for Caitlin (Ashton Moraski), she seems to be the object of Frank's obsession. Due to her naivety, she starts falling for Frank, who takes advantage of this by slipping her the date rape drug. Frank brings Caitlin to a room, where he and a buddy begin to forcefully have their way with her. Didn't these guys watch THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT or I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE? Idiots.

Anyway, a year passes and some pledge named Ricky (Zack Matzganis) doesn't really appear to be a perfect fit for the fraternity or Frank's ideas of what a frat should be like. For example, Ricky seems interested in only one girl [who he talks to on the internet] and tries to ignore Frank's urgings that he needs to share his time [and his penis] with more than some girl who's he's never met. What Frank doesn't know is that Ricky harbors a secret that could bite Frank and his frat in the ass soon enough.


STORY - BLIND DATE was first written as a short story by Siko Mike that described the horrors of frat life and how it could affect not only the men involved with the frat, but the women who get seduced by its members. The rape scene is set up perfectly fine for a 15 minute film, as we are able to critique on the members of the frat and how they have learned nothing from their actions a year later. It's not brutal or even that violent of a scene. But just the little things, like the use of a drug and the slow burn into the room before the actual act itself are powerful enough to grab your attention.

The characters are pretty well developed for a short film. Frank is obviously the antagonist of the piece and we pretty much see things through his point of view. The guy is a jerk and a pig [to the point where I believe he originated swine flu]. He preys on those weaker than him - both men and especially women - and feeds his insecurities by taking advantage of them in ways that will benefit his idea of "morality". To see him get his payback is satisfying.

I also liked the Ricky character, as you can relate to him. He just wants to be his own man and wants to be faithful to a girl he's never met. Unfortunately, his 'good guy' ways can't stop the journey Frank has already put him on, making him as much of a victim as Caitlin.

I do have issues with the ending of the film though, as it's confusing and a head-scratcher. It's supposed to be one of those twist endings that makes you see what's really going on here, but it did nothing for me. I think it would work a lot better for a full-length feature, as there would be more time to build into it. But for a short film, it doesn't succeed. I did get it after a couple of more viewings, but by then the effectiveness is pretty much gone.

DIRECTION - Siko Mike directs his second short film here and it's just as good as the first one, being MIDNIGHT SILENCE. The pacing is strong. The lighting and editing could be a bit better but they're minor issues. I also liked the tension during some of the more 'horror' scenes. For a small budget, Siko Mike did more than a nice job.

VIOLENCE/SEX/LANGUAGE [aka THE GOOD STUFF] - For a horror film, it's not all that violent really. Sure the rape scene and some of the murder sequences could be considered violent, but we don't really see them on screen. Just the before and the after. I'm sure this has to do with budget restraints more than anything, so I can let that slide. But for a revenge flick, I wanted to see more revenge. Definitely needed the death scenes in this one. The sex is pretty tame [we don't see the rape scene - it's only implied]. And there is some cussing in the film but nothing to write home about.

ACTING - I liked the acting here. Sure, some of them stumbled their lines and that usually annoys me. But for some reason, I found it realistic. No one speaks perfectly in real life and the whole lack of 'perfect recital' added to the realism of the flick. I thought Siko Mike was very good as Frank. I didn't like that character one bit for all the right reasons. He reminds me why I never joined one of these frats [my criminal record would have expanded because of this dude]. Such a pompous ass of a character. Zack Matzganis was very likable as Ricky and I felt bad for Ashton Moraski as Caitlin. Nice acting for a low budget short film.

MUSIC - Pretty subtle until the death scenes would occur. Reminded me of your standard slasher score where the music would intensify once the real danger would appear. It added to the tension of the film and I liked it alot.

is a good short film that shows that you don't need a ton of cash to make a watchable flick. Sure it has its flaws but they don't take away too much from the actual experience. I would definitely like to see this expanded into a full-length feature, just for the ending really because it needs more time to clarify itself. 2 and 0 for Siko Mike.
You can watch this film at BLIND DATE.

Against The Dark (2009)

Richard Crudo

Steven Seagal - Tao
Tanoai Reed - Tagart
Jenna Harrison - Dorothy
Danny Midwinter - Morgan
Emma Catherwood - Amelia
Stephen Hagan - Ricky
Daniel Percival - Dylan
Skye Bennett - Charlotte
Linden Ashby - Cross
Keith David - Lt. Waters

Genre - Horror/Science Fiction/Action

Running Time - 97 Minutes

Score - 2 Howls Outta 4

PLOT - AGAINST THE DARK is pretty much a 28 DAYS LATER/BLADE hybrid ripoff starring Steven Seagal, who plays the leader of a group of Hunters named Tao - a master swordsman who whispers, grunts, and drops the occasional F-bomb just for effect. Tao and his squad [which includes a Rock-look alike (Tanoai Reed) and two hot chicks that do jack shit] are in the middle of a world where some incurable virus has infected much of the population, turning them into flesh-eating, angry sons of bitches who act like vampires but are probably zombies. Hell, I'm not even sure.

Anyway, a group of uninfected individuals trapped inside a hospital fend for themselves amongst the infected as they try to escape the premises alive before the government decides to blow them up, THE RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD style. Will they get out in time? Will the infected become the new majority? Will Steven Seagal lose whatever dignity he has left, or will he put himself back in the spotlight like he's been putting on weight?


STORY - Here's one of those films that sounds great on paper but doesn't totally execute it properly otherwise. Who wouldn't want to see Steven Seagal kicking some vampiric zombie ass for 97 minutes? I know I would. But there's a problem. You see, Seagal is barely in this film! For the star of the film, he probably has maybe 15 minutes of screen time total. Can you say "misleading the public"? And he barely kicks ass this film anyway! And when he does, it's either edited with quick cuts or he pretty much swings his sword at the camera making us believe he's actually fighting zombies and shit. Very disappointing, I gotta say.

And the screenplay by Matthew Klickstein takes the usual zombie setup with the trapped characters. They're likeable enough, thankfully, but we barely know much about them. What we do know is that they like to argue, betray each other when given the chance, and do the dumbest things just to survive. Especially that one dude who decided to check the dark sewer to see if there was a way out there. Yeah, because evil infected people wouldn't want to hide in a dim and damp location in case some moron decides to check it out for whatever reason. Nice one there, asshole. Hell, the characterizations and dialogue were pretty much laughable in general. And when something interesting would come along, it would be swept under the rug and never discussed again. Oh well.

Also, why have a group of 4 Hunters when two of them [both hot chicks] don't do anything but stand there while the men do all the fighting? Sexist? Yeah. Disappointing? Yeah. Annoying? HELL YEAH! At least make them get naked or something. Geez. What a waste of fine ass.

At least the story wasn't totally horrible and I was entertained for the most part. It was just really generic and amateurish, even for a Direct-To-DVD feature. But I was expecting much worse and didn't get that. So I guess AGAINST THE DARK gets some kudos for that.

DIRECTION - While Richard Crudo does tend to infuse the film with stylistic techniques from time to time, the whole affair is pretty much "point and shoot" with slow motion bits as transitional devices. The editing is a bit weird, especially when the same transitional footage of the infected munching on flesh is used over and over and over again. But at least Crudo adds a drop of tension, some jump scares, and decent action sequences that don't involve Seagal. It gets the job done pretty much.

VIOLENCE/SEX/LANGUAGE [aka THE GOOD STUFF] - The violence is pretty frequent in this one. Lots of blood. Lots of flesh being feasted upon. Limbs and heads flying off everywhere. Stabbings and fight sequences too. Not bad in the violence department. As for the sex and the language, no big deal. No one gets naked and I don't remember a lot of cussing.

ACTING - Pretty much a mixed bag, but better than what I was expecting from this flick. Steven Seagal cashed a paycheck just for walking, twirling a sword, and saying probably a total of five lines in the entire film. I wish I had a career like that. Tanoai Reed was pretty cool kicking ass and was a decent actor to boot. Jenna Harrison was cool too, although she was a bit awkward at reciting her lines at times. But she hit some nice emotional notes and was cute as well. Linden Ashby and Keith David deserve to star in better films than this but a check is a check. In this economy, I don't blame either one of them. Everyone else in the case did their roles pretty well on different levels.

MUSIC - There was music in this film? Gee, I couldn't tell you what it was if there was any.

was better than I was expecting, which was really low to begin with. Even though Steven Seagal is barely in this flick [not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing], the film has decent action and more than decent amounts of blood splattering. It's not gonna change anyone's world but it's a decent time filler for those wanting to waste 90-plus minutes of their lives.

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