This will probably be a new feature, similar to the old monthly LUNAR CYCLE I used to do. I figured I would just post quick thoughts on films I've recently seen, while giving bigger/solo spotlights to more popular/important films. Let's see how this goes.
Directed By: Miguel M. Delgado
Starring: Santo, Blue Demon, Aldo Monti, Agustin Martinez Solares, Nubia Marti, Maria Eugenia San Martin, Alfredo Wally Barron, Jorge Mondragon
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Score: 2.5 Howls Outta 4 (6 out of 10)
Plot: After facing defeat at the hands of Cristaldi the magician, Dracula is back to seek revenge and rule the world. With the help of Wolfman and his legion of followers, victory seems eminent. Professor Cristaldi, a descendant of the magician, is warned about Dracula’s plans and calls upon El Santo and Blue Demon in the hopes that they can put the infamous Count and the werewolf down for good.
Review: Another installment starring the two most famous Lucha Libre wrestlers of their era, SANTO & BLUE DEMON VS. DRACULA & THE WOLFMAN involves a scientist who brings back Dracula and the Wolfman to the living world after being manipulated by a scheming hunchback. Apparently the scientist’s ancestors took care of Dracula centuries before, making him plot revenge on him and his female relatives - one who is dating Santo.
It’s not as good as SANTO & BLUE DEMON VS. THE MONSTERS, but it’s still a fun time overall. Evil Dracula [played by a returning Aldo Monti] bites some people, hypnotizes other people and even tries to get his revenge on a clueless child who has some of the worst English dubbing ever. The werewolf, beautifully named Rufus Rex, uses his human good looks and “heroics” to manipulate the scientist’s daughter. You get your standard wrestling matches [which are done on a soundstage with no visible crowd for some reason], Santo and Blue Demon fighting off vampires and a group of hairy werewolves over a pit and other silliness to pass the runtime. The film was obviously inspired by the Hammer and/or Paul Naschy films of the era, making this film super colorful and visually polished [this film definitely had a budget]. I think fans of Santo, Blue Demon, or both will get a kick out of this one.
Directed By: Rafael Perez Grovas
Starring: Santo, El Hijo del Santo, Nelson Velazquez, Arturo Cobo, Rubi Re, Marcos Vargas
Running Time: 85 Minutes
Score: 0.5 Howls Outta 4 (2 out of 10)
Plot: Chanoc fights alongside Santo’s son against the Killer Vampires.
Review: Before his retirement a year later, Santo appears one last time in his wrestling persona on film as he passes the torch to his real life son in the opening moments of this movie. You’d think with a younger version of Santo, the action and story would be more exciting and modern for a new generation of people. But in one of the worst films I’ve seen all year, CHANOC & THE SON OF SANTO VS. THE KILLER VAMPIRES is a waste of everyone’s time. That includes the people who were part of this production and for anyone who spent 85 minutes suffering through this thing. If it wasn’t for the fact that this film looks alright and there are some decent musical sequences (!), this would be a total dud.
Not only is it dull for the most part, but we’re stuck with two actors playing these annoying old men who are trying to pass as comic relief. I thought this was a Son of Santo film, but he feels like a supporting character in his own movie. The wrestling scenes feel like a parody of what they once were. The action is repetitive. Random scenes pop up to fill up time because there isn’t much of a story here. And those killer vampires? You maybe get five minutes worth with them and they don’t seem to be real vampires anyway. They’re just a gang dressed as them to scare people. It’s really depressing to see how low this series has fallen. I pretty much hated this movie and would never ever watch this again.
Directed By: Emma Tammi
Starring: Josh Hutcherson, Piper Rubio, Elizabeth Lail, Matthew Lillard, Mary Stuart Masterson
Running Time: 110 Minutes
Score: 1.5 Howls (4 out of 10)
Plot: Recently fired and desperate for work, a troubled young man named Mike agrees to take a position as a night security guard at an abandoned theme restaurant: Freddy Fazbear’s Pizzeria. But he soon discovers that nothing at Freddy’s is what it seems.
Review: Based on the popular video game, Universal and Blumhouse apparently hit the box-office jackpot with their adaptation that may have brought Josh Hutcherson back to the A-list. If I were a fan of the games or even younger, I probably would have enjoyed this. But it honestly didn’t do much for me overall. I do love the Jim Henson animatronics, cool practical effects and a well-acted cast who are totally game to bring these ideas to life. But I didn’t find the film scary and some of the screenwriting and twists are odd and predictable. Like characters just buy everything that’s going on in the film without an ounce of skepticism, which didn’t allow enough drama to play out. And there’s so much story in this film that it becomes a bit long-in-the-tooth after a while. I’m glad people watched this in theaters and on Peacock for a successful Halloween weekend. But I’d probably just watch WILLY’S WONDERLAND, since that seems to be more of my vibe.
Directed By: Brian Duffield
Starring: Kaitlyn Dever, Elizabeth Kaluev, Zack Duhame, Lauren L. Murray
Genre: Thriller/Horror/Science Fiction/Aliens
Running Time: 97 Minutes
Score: 3 Howls Outta 4 (7 out of 10)
Plot: A young woman who’s been alienated from her community finds herself in a face-off against a host of extraterrestrial beings who threaten her future while forcing her to deal with her past.
Review: I finally caught up with this Hulu exclusive after all the hype it received last month. While I didn’t think it was the greatest film ever, I did enjoy it for the most part. An alien invasion movie is nothing new and this film doesn’t really reinvent the wheel, instead just turning this into a home invasion/INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS redo. But I liked how the film worked well without much dialogue [I believe only five lines are said throughout this movie]. The lack of dialogue is greatly helped by a wonderful performance by BOOKSMART actress Kaitlyn Dever, whose body language and facial expressions tell you everything you need to know. She carried this movie on her back like a champ. Her character arc was also very interesting, especially how her neighborhood hated her for whatever reason, leading to a reveal in the final act that I wasn’t expecting. I also thought the ending could be interpreted in multiple ways depending on who you are, which I think may have divided many people if social media is any indication. But the CGI aliens are interesting looking enough, but nothing that you’ll remember a month from now. And the film is pretty much just one tough woman defending herself against aliens and her own town, which slowly becomes overrun by pod people. I’m not sure if I would watch this again, unless it was for a podcast or something. But I do recommend it if you’re looking for a science fiction film done mostly right.
Directed By: Chris LaMartina
Starring: Melissa LaMartina, Ted Geoghegan
Running Time: 91 Minutes
Score: 3 Howls Outta 4 (8 out of 10)
Plot: Gorge yourself on candy corn and hunker down for a haunted house party filled with aliens, vamps, and phantom tramps via this hard-to-find flick from an infamous East Coast ’90’s bootleg video operation. Straight from the archives of Trader Tony’s Tape Dungeon, the “Out There Halloween Mega Tape” was assembled from the highest quality source materials available and presented just as it was sold via Trader Tony’s mail order catalog in the 1990’s.
Review: The sequel to the 2013 cult hit WNUF HALLOWEEN SPECIAL, this sequel is actually a lot of fun and gets all the 90s pop culture references and advertisements fairly perfectly. More comedy than its predecessor, OUT THERE HALLOWEEN MEGA TAPE is mainly focused on daytime talk show host Ivy Sparks.
The first half of the feature revolves around her talk show, where she has several guests - including a wife who is cheating on her husband with a female ghost and a vampire who is forced by a family member into one of those makeovers. The vibe of the show is definitely Ricki Lake, mixed with some Maury and Jerry Springer as well.
The second half is a parody of that FOX paranormal show from the 90s, Sightings, which focuses on an impending alien invasion and a Heaven’s Gate like cult who believe the aliens are coming to take them to their home planet since Earth is wasting away due to climate change and pollution. It makes fun of Heaven’s Gate and their beliefs, while poking light at how the government is hiding the truth about extraterrestrials by disrupting their television special. Ivy Sparks, having been fired from her talk show, is now "Out There’s" co-host and pretty much does her schtick to a bunch of annoyed brainwashed cult members.
The real gem with this sequel is obviously the commercials throughout the mega tape, which capture those memorable ads you watched on television during the 1990s. All of them are really funny and I was impressed with the research and time put into each and every one of them. Definitely recommended.
Directed By: Gary Whitson
Starring: Tina Krause, Dave Castiglione, Debbie D, Deana Enoches, Laura Giglio
Running Time: 87 Minutes
Score: 0.5 Howls Outta 4 (2 out of 10)
Plot: Three sorority girls play a prank on their creepy neighbor, Hugo. He is accidentally shot and killed, but returns to life in order to kill them as human sacrifices in order to grant himself immortality.
Review: The only thing that’ll be slaughtered is your time, as SORORITY SLAUGHTER is the longest 87 minutes of your life. Shot on video, this film contains some of the longest scenes of nothing you’ll ever see. Ever wanted to experience a strangle sequence that lasts about 10 minutes? Have you ever wanted to watch characters wash a car for 15 minutes? You ever wished you could have human sacrifices mixed with random T-shirt contests? What about sex scenes where none of the actors seem into it at all? Then this film is for you! Hell, was there even a sorority in this movie?? There’s even an extended cut and a sequel to this! I usually like Tina Krause but this film is just pure torture. Probably the worst thing I’ve seen all week.