An episode of impulse viewing was brought on by the randomness of Amazon Prime’s recommendations recently. My thought process was pretty much, “No matter how bad it might be, I’m willing to give this film a full 69 minutes of my attention.”
Yes, Fright Fans. They deliberately made it with a 69 minute runtime.
2015’s LLAMAGEDDON is the crazy creation of director Howie Dewin who also co-wrote it with James Earl Cox III. Both appear in the film as Rob and Floyd, respectively.
In the animated opening that reminded me of old “Flash” media cartoons, a member of an invading force of space llamas, whose spaceship looks suspiciously like a horse trailer with wings, crash lands on Earth near a family farm in the middle of nowhere. Enter the “Killer Llama” (played by Louie The Llama) who shoots lasers from its eyes, spits mutagenic green goo, and wreaks havoc on the sexually active yet sadly unsuspecting owners of said farm.
Enter nebbish dweeb Floyd and his dominating sister Mel who are given the responsibility of Meemaw and Pep Pep’s farm after their tragic passing. Mel bullies her bro into having a party with her collection of college friends, and the cannon fodder is quickly supplied for the alien’s wooly wrath!
I dare not say more regarding the story or plot, but this movie had me laughing more than I had in a long time. Not once does it take itself seriously, and never is there a care about the quality of a performance or the continuity between scenes. The character Dan (Dany Ambassa) changes his shirt 23 times through the film! Rob’s facial hair vanishes in a hallway when he turns a corner to use the bathroom! You even get the added bonus of watching the movie twice in one sitting if you hang out through the credits . . . because they replay the entire film in 4 minutes. And God bless ’em, they made only one alpaca joke, and it was NOT “alpacalypse” related.
Everything about this film just screamed to me that everyone was having a blast, drinking beers, blowing shit up, and splattering blood, goo, and gore on each other. So I strongly recommend cracking your own beer (or beverage of choice), grabbing some friends, and see how alien llama spit can make someone turn into a were-llama. What have you got to lose?
As I’ve stated before, and as this blog series shows, I tend to watch some obscure and flat-out weird titles from time to time. Rare is the time when I mention to Joe and Jenny a title I’m considering doing a write up on, and one of them has already seen it! Well, this gem scarred Joe in his youth, and now we all can share in the trauma.
Nudist Colony of the Dead was released in 1991, the year I graduated high school. As the opening credits declare, it was “written, rewritten, rewritten, and directed” by Mark Pirro and produced on a budget of about $35,000. The version I rented on Amazon Prime was the remastered version that combined numerous elements to try and make for a better final product. … Yes. This is indeed the better version of the film. (SPOILERS AHEAD)
Following a parody of the old THX sound test, our opening scene finds the parishioners of the Merciful Father of The Holy Guilt Ridden Church in a courtroom battle with the members of the Sunny Buttcheeks Nudist Colony in an effort to shutdown the fornicators and kick them off their property. With Judge Rhinehole (gawd, I’m a sucker for cheap puns!) presiding, the church wins. I must admit now that while watching the movie, I completely missed that the legendary Forrest J. Ackerman played the judge!
The nudist, agreeing that they would rather die than give up their land and way of life, form a suicide pact and literally drink the Kool-Aid. But with her dying breath, the tough as leather (and looking like it, too!) Mrs. Druple curses any bible thumpers that come upon the land.
Jump ahead five years, and Reverend Ritz has planned a retreat to Camp Cutchaguzz Out (formerly the location of the nudist colony) for all of the fornicating and wayward teens of the congregation that need redeeming. This goes ahead, even over the objections of Mr. McRighteous. Objections that remind everyone of the two other groups that were killed at the camp. Well, accidentally died, that is. Especially that group of 47 that all got fed to a woodchipper!
As the kids are all packed into the van, we get our first of many musical numbers, because “God’s Gonna Show Us The Way.” This is the moment I would like to give respect to Gregg Gross, Joyce Mordoh, and Mark Pirro for the ear-wormy and actually pretty funny songs. But is also when we get into the cringey racist humor of the time when we meet “Juan Tu” (“My mother was Mexican, and my father was Japanese”), complete with a bad Asian accent. The rest of the campers have their own little quirks to make them stand out from each other.
Upon reaching the camp, Ranger Bygbutts tries to warn the counselors to leave through the traditional method of rapping a retelling of the last slaughter of churchgoers. But the pious parishioners aren’t put off, of course, because we wouldn’t have a movie otherwise! Bygbutts is brighter, though, and bails right away before the bloodshed begins. On cue, the undead nudists rise from their graves and start the carnage with the counselors.
Blissfully unaware that they are now unattended, the campers great the day with an eye-opening musical number (complete with a random Black man that you see no other time in the film) that seems to be one of the bits that most people might know from it. And I’m happy to share that earworm with you here.
Like any other slasher camp, bodies body parts start to appear. Some of them even talk. As the campers are picked off one by one in several hilarious and creative methods, the zombies have to get in on the musical fun, too. Trust me: the legacy of Thriller is still very secure.
Even though I’ve shared a lot of the plot at this point, I’m going to bury the urge to talk about the ending. I’ll just say that it’s as goofy as the rest of the movie was and gives an unseen twist before the credits roll.
So was this a bad movie? Yes. But was it fully self-aware that it was a bad movie and had fun with it? Oh, indeed it was! And for me, those are the best kind of “bad” movies. From the opening credits, to the thumb in the eye of religious zealots, and the closing credits of this edition that list “Scraggs – Camera Operator’s Seeing Eye Dog” and “Helen Keller IV – Focus Puller” as a nod to the poor visual quality, Mark Pirro and company were 100% in on the joke. I’m glad they chose to share it with us.
**SPOILER & NSFW Warnings Up Front, Fright Fans!**
Through out the history of horror cinema, there have been many films, from the auspicious to the aspiring, that have used the directive of “Don’t” in their titles. This fraternity of fright includes such features as:
Don’t Torture A Duckling (1972)
Don’t Look Now (1973)
Don’t Go In The Basement (1973)
Don’t Go In The House (1979)
Don’t Go In The Woods (1981)
Don’t Breathe (2006) and Don’t Breathe 2 (2021)
There was such a plethora of them that Edgar Wright found it to be worthy of a mock trailer that was featured in 2007’s Grindhouse:
But in 2016, Shawn Burkett had the vision and the balls to put out a “Don’t” title that stood out of this crowd: Don’t Fuck In The Woods!
Every horror fan knows of the classic troupe of sins and vices (i.e., sex, drugs, etc.) that will make you a prime target to most killers and monsters in a horror movie. So why not just say so? The plot involves a group of college friends celebrating graduation by planning a weekend of debauchery in the woods, fueled by booze, weed, and hormones.
Our opening couple, Luke (Scott Gillespie) and Meg (Brandy Mason) get in the tent, and things become intense as a creature attacks out of the dark and mutilates them. This ended up being a bonus to the budget because Scott would be in the creature suit throughout the film!
We then meet the rest of the gang of grads, each helping to fill in some of the cliche’ archetypes we know and love. Efforts fail at first to locate Luke and Meg, but that doesn’t lessen the libidos as the sunsets. Turns out the creature is drawn by the scent of sex. Literally. And you’re not even safe to take matters into your own hands as a pervy hiker learned while spying on some of the ladies at a swimming hole.
From there, the film rolls on with an increasing body count, some fun pop culture winks and references, and as much gore as they could afford. With a runtime of just over an hour, I encourage you to check this out over on Tubi TV, especially if you are a fellow HoopToberer and need an “In The Woods” selection for your list.
If you wish to dive deeper into this one (and I do!), Shawn Burkett made a documentary about the film. The documentary is actually longer than the film and covers the controversy and issues created by going with this title.
Sadly, the documentary has only been out on the festival circuit and not available for streaming. But here’s hoping that changes soon. Because there’s also a sequel out there from 2018 that’s only on festival circuit, too! (The trailer is age restricted and only available on YouTube, or I would share it here.)
Don’t miss your chance to see this! Don’t forget to like and subscribe to this page and the podcast! Don’t forget to be a great human! And most of all . . .
**NSFW Warning – Some graphic images included in this post.**
You know what? Looking back on it, I should have realized it as I was ordering it. Would it have changed my purchase? Probably not.
But I digress. Let me set up the story for you that lead to me watching a sasquatch sex film.
(Yes. You read that correctly. A sasquatch sex film.)
During Vinegar Syndrome’s “Halfway to Black Friday” sale a couple months back, I found this collection at 50% off:
I figured twelve genre films, potentially artsy, indie, and low budget, for the low price of $15 was a bargain. What did I have to lose? They also looked to be a bit on the sexy side, so I bought it.
It seems so obvious now, what with the cover blown up like that, prominently showing “Rated X” there. But my eyes ain’t what they use to be when looking at thumbnails on my laptop! What I thought was a collection of nearly homemade softcore genre flicks turned out to be a dozen hardcore horror films. … Oops?
The first film in the set, 1971’s The Geek, is the focus of this entry in the blog series because it genuinely had me asking myself, “What the hell am I watching??”
There are zero credits on this, so I can’t tell you who made it. Three of the uncredited cast members are listed on IMDb, but who knows who added them. Clocking in at just under an hour, The Geek starts out with the feel of a nature documentary, including a voice over and scrolling text. It made me think of The Legend of Boggy Creek that would come out a year later. Three couples take a trek into the woods, hunting for Bigfoot. Without a weapon in sight, without any obvious camping gear, the party manages to hike “about 30 miles” without any change in the lighting. (Old Hollywood joke: “What’s the difference between a studio film and a porno? The lighting!”)
From here on out, at about 10-15 minute intervals, the couples break off on their own to have some tastefully intimate relations in the realm of nature. Or, to be more honest, they go off to the grope each other and screw in the woods to the accompaniment of some laughably terrible dubbing. Seriously, I was in tears at some of it!
Around the 40-45 minute mark, we finally have a Bigfoot sighting! The make-up vaguely reminded me of how Andre The Giant looked in the classic episodes of The Six Million Dollar Man, but only if you squinted real hard and had had a few whiskeys already.
Now comes the reveal that the guys wanted to use their women as bait to lure in Bigfoot! Whether or not the women were in on this plan wasn’t fully clear, but their reluctance when Sasquatch wants to get sexy is not. The piecemeal costume allowed the actor fairly easy access to engage in what the makers of this production deemed to be the mating rituals of said creature. But the make-up on his hands kept wiping off during the deed, leaving big black smudges on the pale white bums of his female co-stars.
In the end, this was a laughable lark, though a bit rapey, that looked like someone had swinger friends that would be willing to go out in the woods for a day or so with a 16mm camera and fuck on film, under the pretext that they were looking for Bigfoot. Not high art in the slightest, but it’s also not the worst film in the set either so far (I’m only 5 films into it). Other films in the set deal with satanic cults, hauntings, possessions, witches, and more.
Bless Vinegar Syndrome for preserving and distributing stuff like this that would otherwise just vanish from existence or only be talked about in the tones of myths and legends. Just like Bigfoot.
With the range of topics we cover on the podcast, I can travel down some rabbit trails that find the oddities that end up being perfect fodder for this (oft neglected) blog series. May I present to you “Exhibit A”, a film I stumbled into while trying to create a starting list of Satan and satanic cult films for our “Desert Island Picks” episode of them. Though it didn’t even come close to making my list then, it hung out on my Amazon Prime queue anyway.
Devil Times Five also caught my eye for one cast member in particular, and that’s ’70s child star, Leif Garrett. As a child of the ’70s myself, I remember having one of his albums on 8-track (or one of my siblings did) that had his smash disco hit “I Was Made For Dancin'” that came out about 4 years after this film. It also includes his sister, Dawn Lyn, who would appear as his sister again in a couple other productions. So with that twinkle of nostalgia in my eye, I figured why not give it a go.
Turns out that Devil Times Five isn’t even the original title for this! On it’s initial release in 1974, it was titled PeopleToys or People Toys. On re-release in 1976, it was changed to Devil Times Five in the US and UK, and then even changed again to Tantrums for a home video release in UK. And that’s the least confusing or convoluted thing about the film and its production.
Strap in for this ride, Fright Fans.
The quick and dirty synopsis of this delight is that a van loaded with what turns out to be five kids from a pediatric sanitarium crashes in the remote and soon to be snowbound woods. Not everything is revealed about the kids from the start, but you learn right off the bat that Brian (Tierre Turner) has a delusion of being a military commander and can’t actually tell when people are dead. Seriously, he says, “They’re all dead,” to Moe (Dawn Lyn), Susan (Tia Thompson), and “Sister Hannah” (Gail Smale), only to have David (Leif Garrett) stumble out without a mark on him two minutes later. The doctor who was driving comes crawling out of the wreckage not long after the kids have fled.
As for the victims, I mean other cast of characters, Rick (Taylor Lacher) is a doctor and the boyfriend of Julie (Joan McCall), the daughter of “Papa Doc”(Gene Evans), a gruff asshole who owns several medical facilities, including a new sanitarium that Rick is aiming for the director position of. But Rick has competition from Harvey Beckman (Sorrell Booke), who has a hard time standing up for himself, especially when he keeps getting savagely cut off at the knees by his perpetually drunk wife, Ruth (Shelley Morrison). Pour another glass for Lovely (Carolyn Stellar), Papa Doc’s gold-digging wife, as she spreads her own discontent about the scene as well. The six of them are spending a weekend at Papa Doc’s winter lodge, along with the mentally challenged caretaker, Ralph (John Durren). Ralph even talks to his small herd of rabbits.
Yes. … They went there.
The kids find the lodge and break into the wine cellar. Following their trail through the snow, the doctor finds them, only to be dispatched in a gratuitous slow motion, sepia-toned scene of slaughter that drags out for over 2 minutes. Meanwhile, around that same time, Lovely is trying to bed Ralph, who misses every single hint, no matter how blunt. But when Julie walks in on this stunted attempt at seduction, she and Lovely have an argument that quickly devolves into one of the tamest “cat fights” to come out of ’70s cinema.
The kids are found (or reveal themselves) to the other occupants of the lodge, with most of them taking pity on their plight. From here, it’s a steady progression of the kids getting creepier and the adults getting deader, so I won’t go into those details because I don’t want to spoil some of the better parts of this good-bad film.
But what I will go into is some of the batshit craziness that happened behind the camera! Such as rumors that director Sean MacGregor was having a relationship with under-aged actress Gail Smale during the production, and that the reason her character was dressed as a nun was to conceal her albinism. From there, we have tales of MacGregor and producer Michael Blowitz getting physical with each other. MacGregor reportedly punched Blowitz in the face, and Blowitz threw MacGregor through a plate glass window in reply. Add to that that MacGregor was pulled from the film 2/3 of the way in because his work was deemed unusable, and David Sheldon was brought on to finish the film. To cap off MacGregor’s saga, it’s also reported he was admitted to an actual psychiatric hospital shortly after he left the production.
As for other endearing errors within the film itself, play a drinking game for each time Leif wears a wig because he had had his hair cut short for another film he started working on when he was brought back for reshoots. I would say you could do a drinking game around how often night immediately turns to day (or vice versa) or when the snow levels change outside, but I respect your respective livers far too much to abuse you like that.
“Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale, a tale of a mushroom trip…”
A little over a year ago I was at a get-together with my girlfriend’s family, and found myself in a conversation with a lovely, horror loving couple, Ed and Toni. At some point Ed asked me if I’d ever seen ATTACK OF THE MUSHROOM PEOPLE, and went on to say it was basically the horror version (possibly part inspiration?) of GILLIAN’S ISLAND. To say I was immediately curious about the film would be an understatement. I loved GILLIAN’S ISLAND as a kid, and I would often come up with horror scenarios for the characters after watching episodes.
It took me some time after my chat with Ed and Toni before seeing MANTANGO(aka ATTACK OF THE MUSHROOM PEOPLE), but it was worth the wait. This 1963 film was written by Takeshi Kimura, directed by the legendary Ishirō Honda, and was loosely based on William H. Hodgson’s short story, “The Voice in the Night.” Starring Akira Kubo, Kumi Mizuno, Kenji Sahara, Hiroshi Tachikawa, and Yoshio Tsuchiy the movie really is about a trip on a yacht that wrecks off the shore of a seemingly deserted island…and yes, the characters feature a skipper, his mate, a professor, a wealthy man, and a celebrity among others.
As the group makes their way across the island they discover vast growths of strange mushrooms, and eventually come across a shipwreck on the shore. Exploring this ship they find evidence that whoever had been onboard was likely conducting nuclear experiments, possibly the cause of the mutated mushrooms. The longer they’re on the island to more certain individuals begin to unravel. At first they all agree to not eat the mushrooms, but as food is in sort supply some fail to keep that promise. The result is distrust between the members of the group and, once the mushrooms begin to alter the mind and body, upgrades to terror and paranoia. Honda always said the film was about drug addiction, and how people can loose themselves in their addiction. That social commentary does come across in the script, however, the DOCTOR WHO-like make up effects for the Mushroom People has this film far more memorable as a 1960’s slow burn, monster movie to me.
I enjoyed the movie, but I’d actually love to see an update of this plot idea. While MANTANGO is beyond tame by today’s standards, I think a reimagining/remake could really ratchet up the body horror. Using modern practical and visual effects, as the mutated ‘shrooms take over from the inside out, it could be as dramatic a difference as John Carpenter’s THE THING was from THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD. If you’d like to take the (longer than three hour) tour with these castaways over a 90 minute runtime as well, you can currently find the film listed as ATTACK OF THE MUSHROOM PEOPLE on Amazon Prime.
“Heav’n has no Rage, like Love to Hatred turn’d, Nor Hell a Fury, like a Woman scorn’d.”
– “The Mourning Bride” by William Congreve (Act III Scene 2) (1697)
Revenge films are a sub-genre that dances along the edge of horror, but they can often be found diving fully into horror as well. Another sub-genre that is also known to do just that are the “women in prison” exploitation films. The film series I am going to discuss this time around brings all these together in Female Prisoner Scorpion franchise out of Japan.
The four films series from Toei Company ran from 1972 to 1973 with Female Prisoner #701: Scorpion (1972), Female Prisoner Scorpion: Jailhouse 41 (1972), Female Prisoner Scorpion: Beast Stable (1972), and Female Prisoner Scorpion: Grudge Song (1973). Actress Meiko Kaji played the lead role of Nami “Scorpion” Matsushima in all four films with Shunya Ito directing the first three and Yasuharu Hasebe directing the fourth. Based on the manga Scorpion by Toru Shinohara, the stories center around Nami who was wronged in the worst ways by her boyfriend, Sugimi, a corrupt narcotics detective. Set up and abused, Nami attempts to kill Sugimi in front of police headquarters and earns her trip to prison.
In Female Prisoner #701: Scorpion, Nami is subjected to brutal abuse from both the guards and her fellow inmates. But never does she break, because Nami is a bad ass, filled with rage and driven by vengeance. Fueled by this rage and through clever manipulations of her tormentors, things get bloody and gruesome, with many of those said tormentors meeting a nasty end. Outside of the “standard” tortures that Nami is put through, the set piece punishment in this installment was the digging and refilling and redigging of an exceptionally large hole in the prison yard. Events evolving from this led to a riot and escape, allowing Nami to finish her acts of vengeance.
Female Prisoner Scorpion: Jailhouse 41 opens to Nami having been returned to prison and bound up in solitary confinement. But she can still move her head, and she has been holding a spoon in her mouth and grinding it down on the concrete floor to make a shank! Told you she’s a bad ass. The prison riot kicks off early in this one, permitting a larger group to escape and going on the run during a transfer. This one dips into the spiritual and metaphysical a bit when the group of escapees comes across the hut of an old woman who essentially foretells what crimes they committed and how each will meet their end . . . except for Nami. There is still vengeance to be meted out as the warden from the first film survived and continues to torture and torment Nami whenever and however he can. As the road trip continues, it literally gets on the road with the hijacking of a tourist bus that leads to a standoff with the police. The ending takes a bit of a surreal twist, but it works.
Now third film, Female Prisoner Scorpion: Beast Stable, goes off in an odd but effective direction and adds in a bit of gothic horror and supernatural happenings. Yet again, Nami has escaped custody and is on the run. The first person to spot her is a prostitute in a cemetery . . . where Nami is trying to chew through the severed hand of the police detective that is still cuffed to her wrist. And that’s not even the most cringeworthy moment in this one! I don’t want to say much more than that, because I feel this is one you just need to jump into and go with. Just be prepared for the occasional head scratching and the “WTF?!?” reactions now and then.
The final film, Female Prisoner Scorpion: Grudge Song, ended up being the weakest of the films for me, and I can chalk it up to a few reasons. The first being that while on the run (again!), Nami is found and aided by Kudo, a former student revolutionary who was tortured and maimed by the police. More than a third of the film focuses on him instead of on Nami, and it’s suppose to be her film. The second reason is the change in directors. Shunya Ito had a style in the first film that bordered on giallo to me, with his use of creative sets, bolded lighting, and quirky editing tricks. In each of the three films he directed, there was something technique-wise that caught my attention. Outside of one or two slightly trippy scenes in Grudge Song, Yasuharu Hasebe’s direction didn’t really do much for me. And a third thing! Even though Meiko Kaji could convey so much with a look that it allowed for keeping her dialogue to a minimum in the first three films, she had maybe four or five lines in the entirety of Grudge Song, and even those were used as internal monologue instead being spoken out loud.
Overall, it’s not a bad series of film if these are genres you like watching. If you are a fan of Japanese martial arts cinema of the early 1970s, you might recognize Meiko Kaji’s name from the legendary role she would go on to play shortly after this: Lady Snowblood. Like the theme from Lady Snowblood, theme song of this series will stick with you, too.
So, if my musings have piqued your interest, all four films are currently streaming on Shudder. What better way to pass the time in lock down than watching someone else in lock down?
Every now and then, you come across a title in your streaming platform scrolling, and it just jumps out at you. Or in this case, hops out at you.
Godfrey Ho’s (aka Joe Livingstone) 1988 opus, Robo Vampire, just sounded like cheesy, low-budget fun, and the poster even leans into that vibe fairly hard. The core concepts of this production just make you giggle and ask, “Wait, what??”
As simply put as I can, American heroin smugglers in south east Asia get tired of the repeated run ins with “Tom, the anti-drug agent” and his team, so they hire a Daoist priest to train jiangshi (“Chinese hopping vampires”) to fight those darn anti-drug agents.
Are you still with me? Tom and most of his team are killed in their first encounter with the jiangshi. After literally 3 seconds of mourning from his commanders, one asks to use Tom’s corpse for his android experiments. Thus, Tom is resurrected as “Robo Warrior” to continue the fight against the vicious smugglers and their vampires. Keep in mind that “Robo Warrior” is one of the worst RoboCop knock offs you will ever witness. But wait! There’s more!
In an effort to counter Robo Warrior, the Daoist raises a vampire beast. Or at least a vampire in a gorilla mask. The raising of this creature is not without difficulty as its ghost witch (or witch ghost?) lover interrupts the ritual and battles the Daoist as two of the American drug smugglers stand around watching. One of strongest powers of the witch ghost (or ghost witch?) is being able to spew out a crap load of exposition in under 3 minutes.
Often, I use closed captioning just to not miss dialogue. But one of favorite things now is how the CC interprets sounds or actions on the screen. Anytime it says <squelching sounds> during a movie, I know great things are happening on screen! Robo Vampire brought a new level to the experience for me with <mystic whooshing>,<frightened groaning>, and <monstrous wailing/yelling> during the fight scene between the Daoist, the witch ghost (or ghost witch?), and the vampire beast. And just when I thought it couldn’t be topped? They dropped this cherry on my sundae: <intense mystic whooshing>!
Now’s when we cut to the story of Ray being recruited by Chief Thompson to go and rescue Sophie the spy a group of gangsters and smugglers that captured her. And by “cut to,” I mean cut nearly an hour’s worth of footage from the 1984 Thai film Paa Lohgan into this one for all of the gang war and spy story stuff. Keyways to tell which is Paa Lohgan versus Robo Vampire when key characters aren’t on screen? Besides the visual difference in color grading of the film, all the Thai footage uses real guns with blanks. All the Chinese footage uses these weird barrel attachments that contain 5-6 firecrackers (that you can often see) that fire off in quick sequence.
There are a couple scenes of old school “Chinese water torture” under a dripping faucet for Sophie that feel almost quaint now when you think of waterboarding. But it seems to work on her! Ray and Wendy face the same torture later with the same results. But let’s get back to Robo Warrior and the hopping vampires.
A scene that I’ve found the most GIF worth, the jiangshi encircle Robo Warrior on a beach. Immune to most of his bullets, he goes hand to hand for a brief bit with limited results. He then summons his machine gun back into his hand like it’s fricking Mjolnir! This happens at least two other times in the movie, as well as his gun suddenly being able to shoot a rope of flames. Seriously. It’s a flaming rope strapped to the end of the gun!
This movie was just bad in so many ways, from the acting, the dubbing, the effects, and beyond. Man was it fun to watch! The only part I found a bit objectional was a scene out of nowhere that had a woman cutting open the belly of a cow or oxen to stuff several bags of heroin in and sew it back up. Outside of that, Robo Vampire is just straight up laughable. Even the closed captioning made me laugh.
Kick back with a beverage of choice, some snacks, and a few friends (however social distancing permits), and just have a good laugh with this one. Heaven knows we can use a laugh or three right now.
(Holy hell! It’s been a year since I posted one of these?!? I swear, fright fans, that this will be coming out more often again as we continue to create more original content for our site.)
Have you ever had one of those nights where you just want something brainless, short, and funny to watch? A little while back, such a night made me finally dive into an indie micro-budget film that hooked me clear back with its “is-this-real-or-a-parody?” trailer: The Velocipastor!
As told by the writer-director, Brendan Steere, he tried to type “velociraptor” into his phone one day in film school, and autocorrect changed it to “Veloci Pastor.” Kind of weird how a seed gets planted sometimes, eh? Anyway, after a few funding hurdles, Steere secured an investor and $35,000 to make his film.
Clocking in at just 75 minutes and featuring not a single person you’ve probably ever heard of, The Velocipastor is just silly fun that pays homage to low-budget indie films but never taking itself too seriously. Most of the performances (many provided by friends and family members of Steere) are bad in the best way possible. Even the trained actors do a deliberately bad performance, and that makes it even better!
(**Minor Spoilers Ahead!**)
The plot of this film you never knew you needed to see revolves around young Pastor Doug Jones (Gregory James Cohan), who shortly after graduating from “priest college” witnesses his parents die in a fiery car explosion. … Or at least that’s what the placeholder card tells us on the screen. Seriously, this moment was the true hook for me. A brilliant yet hilarious way to save on the budget. It set the tone for me and let me know what to expect from here on out.
Following this tragic event and the not-so consoling words from his mentor, Father Stewart (played by Daniel Steere, Brendan’s father), Doug travels to China. (Trust them, it’s China.) While there, he happens upon a woman wounded by ninjas (yes, we get ninjas, too) in a forest, and she gives him a dinosaur claw that passes the curse onto him. Now, when Doug gets angry, he turns into a velociraptor-sized dinosaur. Or at least a step up from the inflatable T-Rex costumes you see at Halloween.
As fate would have it, Doug is spotted by Carol (Alyssa Kempinski), a lady of the night, when he transforms and decapitates a mugger in the park. Carol then encourages Doug to use his powers for good and eliminate the criminal element in the town. From there, montages ensue, romance blooms, ninjas (like you’ve never seen) resurface, an exorcism is sort of attempted, and an out of left field Korean War flashback help progress the plot to a gloriously “WTF?!? LMAO!!” finale.
I highly recommend checking this one out, fright fans. Go in with the only expectations of having some laughs, some gore, and a good time. It’s not often in this series I can genuinely say, “Go see this!”, and mean it with sincerity. So, go now, my children, and may the blessings of The Velocipastor be upon you.
“I can’t accept this concept of intelligence.” – Mayor Charles Silverdale
Fredric Hobbs must have meant that when he wrote and directed 1973’s Godmonster of Indian Flats, because if he did accept a concept of intelligence, more than one character in it would have had some!
Okay, so let me back up a bit. First, apologies for the time gap between now and my last blog in this series. I’m inherently lazy and will slack off when given the opportunity. Second, the only reason this movie even came onto my radar was due to a search I was doing for films from 1973 that I could use for my “Birth Year Challenge” list on Letterboxd. And third, as soon as I saw the ratings and read the synopsis, I knew this would fit perfectly for the series and get me off my ass to write a post. So there.
(Spoiler Warning – I breakdown the whole film from here on out.)
Our story takes place in Comstock mining region of Nevada and opens with a heavenly choir and fake sheep bleating. The sheep are right there. Why they dubbed them, I do not know. We meet a young shepherd, Eddie, who goes into Reno and promptly gets hustled out of his gambling winnings after being taken by Elbow Johnson (seriously, that’s his name) to the historically restored mining town. Everyone with a position of power in the town is in on the racket, from the mayor and the sheriff, all the way down to the madam of the brothel and the local bartenders.
After getting rolled, Eddie is taken under the wing of Dr. Clemens (from Cambridge!), an anthropologist with a lab in the area. The doc takes Eddie back to his sheep ranch to recover from the beating and the booze. While Eddie is passing out in the sheep pen, a yellow glow and weird lighting begins to happen, accompanied by people just out of frame waving some very confused looking lambs around in the air. Suddenly one of the sheep essentially screams and pops out what looks like a twenty-pound placenta that also groans!
Jump to the next morning with Dr. Clemens and his student and lab assistant Mariposa checking up on Eddie. When they find him hiding in the straw next to the “hybrid embryo” (hybrid with what?!?), the doctor goes into full SCIENCE! mode with this find of the century and takes it back to his lab. I wish I could find some info on what exactly they used for the exterior set of the lab, but you must see it to really appreciate the absurdity of it.
While hijinks ensue at the lab for Eddie, Mariposa, and the doctor as the embryo grows, the parallel plot of Mr. Burnstable, a representative for a European mining corporation, trying to obtain the land rights of the area from Silverdale and his henchman, Philip Maldove, further shows the corruption within the town. Corruption to the point of (brace yourselves for this one) the sheriff having his dog play dead and making it look like Burnstable shot it during a target shoot game. They even have a funeral in the church, with a casket (that barks when opened!), all in an effort to discredit Burnstable and turn the townsfolk against him. I should mention that the sheriff sports a nice set of workman coveralls that he tacks his badge onto.
Cut back to the lab and Dr. Clemens spouting 100% meaningless scientific jargon that almost sounds significant. The hybrid embryo continues to grow and look weirder each time we revisit it. Burnstable, with the help of Madam Alta, manages to escape a “vigilance committee” lynching following another frame up attempt by Maldove and Silverdale. They seek refuge at Clemens’ lab, and in the standoff that features eight or nine tear gas rifles (and cannisters that explode three or four times, depending on which clip gets recycled), the titular “godmonster” breaks loose and kills one of Silverdale’s men.
As hard as it may be to believe, at about the 70-minute mark of this 88 minute movie, we get one of the weirdest and funniest scenes of the film as Mariposa goes after the creature. Weird for the fact that she essentially dances with the thing to calm it down and show she’s friendly. Funny because of the following line: “Don’t be frightened. I’ve been following you all the way from the glory hole!”
The posse of Silverdale’s men and Dr. Clemens recapture the creature, and then the film really goes off the rails. As he’s having Burnstable driven out of town, Silverdale admits to dealing with the mining company directly after he bought up all of the local rights from everyone else in the interest of “conservation” even though he has every intention of reopening the mines. The townsfolk learn of the betrayal, a riot ensues, people are killed, Silverdale rants like a madman, repeating lines he’s spouted earlier in the film, and the creature gets killed in a truck explosion. … Credits.
Low as hell budget, bad acting, bad script, and an unforgettable creature costume of an 8-foot-tall hybrid sheep monster. What the hell did I just watch?? Well, it’s on Amazon Prime at the time of this post, and you can go check it out for yourselves and ask the same question after.