Continuing our weekly theme of all things trash movies that deserve closer scrutiny and the world of Full Moon Features, comes Bad Channels, which surely deserves its own accolade in the B-Movie genre for absurdity.
The premise follows local dj prankster who is setting up an all-night broadcast with the launch of a new radio station when two alien life forms materialise to hijack the radio waves with the aim of stealing female humans, shrinking them and run tests on them. It’s up to Dan O’Dare to save them and humanity from these warped invaders.
The result is a mishmash of B-Grade, low-budget sci-fi horror that the likes of Ed Wood Jr would have been proud to attach his name to. There really isn’t much going for this film that struggles to connect with its audience and if anything ironically alienates them from it completely.
It tries hard to inject some life with a soundtrack led by Blue Oyster Cult who are renowned for their hit Don’t Fear TheReaper, but in this instance, it’s just a mess and never hits the mark.
Whilst the movie does try to tap into the paranoia that hit the airwaves in the US with Orson Welles notorious War of the Worlds rendition, but in this case the aliens really have landed but no one actually believes it, and there is essence in the formula that could have been better if it was executed in another way and played for smarts instead of stupidity.
It’s one note of interest is that it tries to create a multiverse before multiverses were an ‘in-thing’ with the re-introduction of Dollman in the closing credits, who hears of a woman that has been shrunk to his size, so goes to investigate… and opens the door for a spin-off sequel.
This movie tries to play for laughs and absurdity but ultimately girates the brains into a pulp where the DJ and his music pulsate and turns your mind inside out. More D-Movie than B, and probably deserves to stay dormant, but if you’re keen to subject yourself to the pains of Bad Channels or maybe your just twisted and like that kind of thing, then head over to Tubi and cast your own thoughts and post back here 🙂
Australia seems to be bearing a knack of producing brutal, confronting horror films of late with its earnest and gritty portrayal of the Great Southern Land’s dark underbelly. The Furies is no exception, subjecting its audience to a savage tale of survival with a sci-fi twist. As the title of the movie suggests, The Furies could clearly be drawn from Greek mythology and the Erinyes, a trio of female deities who enact vengeance by punishing those who have wronged. In the tales, the Erinyes are formed by a trio of infernal goddesses, who carry out swift judgement on their assailants, although interestingly this trio shifts throughout the films narrative, but primarily centres on our lead heroine, Kayla (played by Airlie Dodds from the brilliant Killing Ground and the much-anticipated The Gloaming) a high school student who is kidnapped along with her best friend Maddie one night, and awakens in a metallic box labelled Beauty, in the middle of the Australian outback.
Confronting her in her ordeal are a series of gruesomely masked antagonists that are hellbent on hunting her and the fellow survivalists down through predatorial and disturbing means that echoes the themes from Richard Connell’s The Most Dangerous Game, but director Tony D’Aquino amplifies the ferocity to keep the pace and tension at its highest throughout the film. Hindering Kayla along the way is her own disability, epilepsy, that is being triggered regularly and when she blacks out, somehow can still see through the masked marauders eyes that are pursuing her and her fellow female survivors. Despite her setbacks, Kayla is determined to turn the tables, find her friend Maddie and soon realises how serious her plight is and must use her wits and strength to play ‘the game’ and find a way out. The subject of hell and its torments are constantly at the forefront in The Furies and there are obvious comments to be held over the subject of how women are treated in society as they are exposed to, but why should they take part this ‘so-called’ game that has for so long been heralded by men. What would happen if women chose not to tolerate this behaviour anymore and reinvent the rules to put the power back in their favour? The pendulum has indeed begun to swing, and God forbid any who have wronged or inflicted any kind of oppressive behaviour towards women. The phrase, “hell hath no fury like a woman scorned’ comes to mind as we begin to champion Kayla’s growing strength and we as the audience will her to enact the vengeance these weak-minded fools behind ‘the game’ deserve. We can only hope that she somehow sees it through to the bitter end and survives, even if she does, what world then awaits her?
The Furies is a savagely brutal insight into what lies beneath the veil of humanity through this bloody, demonstrative tale of survival. It may be a low-budget affair, but director Tony D’Aquino wrangles out enough disturbing and abhorrent scenes that the audience, like Kayla must endure the horror to its conclusion. Another fine entry into the Australian horror scene.
MONSTERFEST AUSTRALIA 2019 SCREENINGS
THU, 31ST OCTOBER, 9.30PM: GU Film House, Adelaide Event Cinemas, Myer Centre, Brisbane Event Cinemas, George St, Sydney Capitol Cinemas, Manuka, Canberra Event Cinemas, Innaloo, Perth
We’re all aware of the stories behind the crazed occults and sexual degradation that lurk in the depths of American suburbia. Sensationalised through the late 70s, the myth that surrounds the wealthy devoting their lives in secret gatherings dedicated to the dark lord Lucifer and his minions, has been bubbling away under the surface ever since. Every so often it will awaken and threaten humanity, driving people into frenzy or a state of panic towards these heathens, only to simmer again. We also aware that there is no truth behind these stories too right? That they are merely the stuff of fancy and whispers generated to send ripples through the neighbourhood to cast a shadow over those who just don’t seem to fit in…. Right?
These moments of hyperbole are at the core of Chelsea Stardust’s directorial feature debut as she rips the world open and ridicules the how the “other half” live with their vain pursuits for eternal life and satisfaction.
Stardust’s muse to subject this world upon is pizza delivery girl, Sam, (expertly played by Hayley Griffith) who ventures beyond the borders of her route in the hopes of getting a decent tip. She gets more than she bargained for through her naivety and stumbles into a satanic ritual in need of a virginal sacrifice.
What follows is a series of comical mishaps as Sam falls from one farcical scenario to another as the heightened mania drives the affluent satanists to extreme measures to ensnare their virgin. The coven is led by the brilliant Rebecca Romijn as Danica who is suitably macabre in her hellbent pursuit and is supported by Arden Myrin as Gypsy, who has pursuits of her own to lead the coven, and a cracking cast of cameos from Jerry O’Connell and Jordan Ladd.
Sam isn’t alone in her turmoil though, as she shares her burden with Danica’s daughter, Judi (Ruby Modine – Happy Death Day) who has her own handy insights into the black arts that could potentially see them through the night and not chained to the sacrificial altar.
Director Chelsea Stardust serves up a delightful platter of blood and mayhem from behind the doors of the rich and the fantastical elements that can be borne from satanic rituals. The effects are gloriously horrific and the cast play beat perfect performances, making this a rippingly fun ride of a movie and well worth your time.
MONSTERFEST AUSTRALIA SCREENINGS
FRI, 1ST NOVEMBER, 7PM: Event Cinemas, Myer Centre, Brisbane
SUN, 3RDNOVEMBER, 6PM: Event Cinemas, George St, Sydney GU Film House, Adelaide Capitol Cinemas, Manuka, Canberra Event Cinemas, Innaloo, Perth
Porno manages to tap into the celluloid lovers mainstream by essentially setting the film entirely within the confines of an art deco cinema with a strictly early 90s vibe and setting. In doing this, film director, Keola Racela catapults the audience into a world that invokes nostalgia and tackles some fun themes reminiscent of the time.
The location is so integral to the central theme of buried, underground sex and shenanigans that we all harbour and fear of letting loose our greatest indulgences; the stuff of taboo that we are unwilling to face the repercussions of our fantasies. There was a time that those who wanted to get there kicks would do so in underground cinemas and lurk in the shadows of the auditorium to satiate these desires. Racela knows this and deliberately pokes fun at our shame by unleashing a sex demon that has been contained within a snuff film deep in the cinema’s basement on the quintet of characters (who just so happen to be Christian, which amplifies their repression) who are subjected to a journey where they must vanquish their inner most thoughts and survive the night.
Forming the quintet is assistant manager, Chastity; projectionsist, Heavy Metal Jeff; Abe; Todd; and the stereotypical jock, Ricky, all of whom quander a secret that they try to keep buried.
In addition we have the cinema manager, Mr Pike, who serves as a minister in the eyes of the youthful contingency, but he too has a concealment that he wishes to contain within his office. All these characters are ripe for a sex demon to seep their way into their minds, and pleasure them to death.
This is pure fun and gloriously plays for laughs in the most puerile of senses, but equally casts the characters into a predicament that requires instincts, strength, faith and a little bit of kink.
Demonic Toys is everything I loved straight to video releases in the late 80s and 90s and thanks to the online streaming platform Tubi, you can watch this little gem for free.
Brought to the local video store in 1992 by Charles Band’s Full Moon Entertainment who were fast making a name for themselves in the rental market (following Dollman and Puppet Master) for low budget, “high quality” pictures.
In this instance, the production team were smart in keeping the bulk of their shoot in one location (an abandoned warehouse) an old toy factory.
It all kicks off with two undercover cops, Judith and Matt, who also happen to be dating, are about to snare a gun dealer. Before the deal goes down, Judith tells Matt that she is pregnant, always a bad sign and an indicator that all will not go well, particularly when Matt seems over the moon to hear this news. Cue botched gun deal and a very dead Matt. Judith takes chase after Lincoln and Hesse (the two dealers) into the afore-mentioned toy factory.
At this time, we’re introduced to the other two players in the field, security guard Charneski and a chicken delivery guy without a cause, Mark. All of them are unaware that the factory contains a dormant demon, waiting to unleash mayhem and take on human form, and his heart set on Judith’s unborn child… naturally.
Hesse who was mortally wounded in the shoot out soon succumbs to his fate, and as he bleeds out on the factory floor some of the toys absorb his energy and spring to life with a swift and deadly act of putting Hesse out of his misery.
From here on out the antics run loose and the cheeseometer spins out of control with the crazed toys stalking and intent on claiming more victims and resurrect their master. And the would-be victims must team together and fight their way out of the factory if they are going to survive the night.
Whilst some critics have come out and labelled this as a rehash of the Puppetmaster franchise, the toys are actually pretty nifty and ooze character, from Baby Oopsy Daisy: a grizzled man baby doll, Jack Attack: a jack in the box clown, Grizzly Teddy: a ferocious teddy bear with claws, and Mr. Static: a robot with lasers.
Demonic Toys definitely won’t set your world on fire, but if you’re in the mood for a cheap as chips. fun ride packed into 86 mins, you won’t be disappointed.
Maybe it’s because I just saw Stranger Things and coming down from an IT high, but this film just seemed to miss the mark for me. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark follows the old folk tales we have heard before but great to see it get a filmic depiction of the cartoon series I remember as a kid called Freaky Stories, which I heard from a friend of a friend of mine was very enjoyable with little twisted tales like the woman had spiders in her beehive hair doo. This movie emulates these old folk tales with the fantastical contribution of monsters designed by Guillermo del Toro.
It felt as though this style would work better as a Netflix or Stan episodic series as elements didn’t know where they wanted to be. It definitely felt half-baked like they were still mixing the ingredients together.
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark follows a group of kids living in the suburbs of USA in the mid 1960’s, while breaking and entering an old mansion they steal a book from a dead girl that causes all manner of spookiness to ensue.
Scary stories are written in the book as they appear to devour those who were there when the book was taken. Mischievous hijinks abound.
The monsters were great but with a half-baked ensemble from the get go. It was difficult to get hooked. Take two episodes of Stranger Things with a glass of IT twice a day to wash out the taste.
Dr. Richard Lovegrove and Anesthesiologist Kelsi Williams
If you haven’t already come across Tubi yet, you’re missing out on some little gems from this online streaming platform. And best yet. It’s free.
We’re going to be looking at some of these movies in a regular feature that we’ll call Trash Night Tuesdays on Tubi with a weekly recommendation. First up: Dollman.
When Charles Band formed production and distribution company Full Moon Features, he had one goal in mind: To create horror, sci-fi, and fantasy movies on a low budget with a quality look and feel. Surprisingly, one of their earliest films spawned a cult franchise in Puppet Master and tapped into the home entertainment scene. With its use of small scale figures running amok in a larger world, it was somewhat fitting that the movie would come to represent a metaphor of the production outfit.
Using the same principles, Band then took to creating another film series that features intergalactic space cop Brick Bardo who whilst in pursuit of his greatest enemy, Sprug, inadvertently travels through an electric band that shrinks him to 13 inches in height and transports him to planet Earth.
Bardo (played by Tim Thomerson who was already cast in another film series Trancers spearheaded by Band as the hard-boiled Jack Deth) is an archaic representation of testosterone-fuelled, no shit, full-attitude masculinity with the Dirty Harry vibes that was typical of action films from the time. For some, this may appeal to their appetite for action and adventure on a small scale, but possibly more interesting to me was the appearance of Jackie Earle Haley (A Nightmare On Elm Street) in one of his earlier roles and he certainly stands out as Braxton Red, a low-life thug who runs a group of degenerates in the Bronx, New York. Braxton is suitably unhinged and when on-screen adds enough menace to the fold to give Bardo a challenge and keep the pace of the movie going.
It won’t set the world alight, but its short running time (79 minutes) ticks along nicely enough with and lifts it above your run-of-the-mill low budget flicks of its time.
TheDead Don’t Die is a classic example of how marketing can abuse the cinema-going public into flocking to the cinema in anticipation of a certain type of movie based on its trailer, only to be completely underwhelmed. Packed with an awesome cast in Bill Murray, Adam Driver, Chloe Sevigny, Tilda Swinton, Tom Waits, and Danny Glover, to name but a few, we’re led to believe that the film would tap into a beating, bloody pulse, with rampaging zombies and killer comedy lines akin to Shaun of the Dead. In some ways, it felt like “they” were trying to market an independent, off-beat film and project it into mainstream culture to ride the coattails of a genre that is hot property right now. You could argue, that this is the job of a production distributor, and if they are comfortable with pulling in the punters and forego the negative backlash, then so be it. In this humble writers mind, it sets the movie in a bad light and the shadow that this may cast will be forever enveloped in darkness.
Those who are more familiar with director Jim Jarmusch’s work though, may have gone in with a more open mind and curious to see how he would weave a horror-themed element into his minimalist narrative. There’s a reason that big-hitter names are constantly drawn to his style of work as Jarmusch favours character development and eccentricity tends to be brought to the fore among a slow-yet-comedic pace. Movies such as Night on Earth, Dead Man, and Ghost Dog: Way of the Samurai resonated with the cinema-going public in search of an alternate view on the celluloid screen. So, I was hopeful that TDDD would pep along and perhaps add something to the genre that would offer something fresh to the mix. Unfortunately the offering is stale and weak in comparison to Jarmusch’s early work and there is nothing new on the slab to satiate fans of the genre. It’s almost ironic that the look and feel of the movie is reminiscent of B-Movie horror films of the 50s, (possibly an area true to Jarmusch’s heart) in that TDDD is trapped in this time and place and feels content to sit in its world, unwilling to conform with modern trends and interests. Similarly, its leads Chief Cliff Robertson (Murray) and Officer Ronnie Peterson (Driver) are stuck in the middle-town sentiments, that they are the rest of the town are doomed to the post-apocalyptic zombie crisis that has fallen on them. In fact, it’s the bumbling hermit (Waits) who is content in living amongst the wild and restless that may outlast and outwit them all, which in of itself poses some interesting questions. Questions that by the films conclusion, most viewers would have lost interest.
The acting was strong and a stand out for me was Caleb Landry Jones (Get Out) as the gas station attendant and is fast becoming an actor to watch, but ultimately there wasn’t enough substance to grip my attention.
For horror fans, this movie is D.O.A.
For Jarmusch fans, it’s full of nods and references, but it isn’t on par with his best movies. One for completists only.
Two years ago, I walked into an auditorium to sit down and watch It: Chapter 1 with some horror-loving friends, some of whom were devoted Stephen King fans eager to see what a modern adaptation would look like. I was admittedly a little apprehensive, as I had strong pangs of nostalgia from the 90s mini-series starring Tim Curry, which had its scares but was ultimately let down by its weak ending, which left room for improvement. Further reservations were also abound by my underwhelming reaction to Mama, Andy Muschietti’s directorial feature debut, but I was willing to forego any misgivings and not judge on a token outing from the director and I was also open to seeing Pennywise in the 21st Century and how he would relate to the current cinema-going audience.
It turns out that Warner Bros. marketing team tapped into the social platforms of the “connected” generation and elevated the dancing clown into the pop culture mainstream, thanks partly to the look that was generated by the production team and Bill Skarsgård respectively. Whilst the movie itself didn’t resonate with me the same way it appeared to with the younger demographic, as I found the film lacked in decent scares, resorting to jump scares and it didn’t shift into dark enough territory for me, and Pennywise never terrified or disturbed enough, so I was left wanting as a result. It did however tap into one of King’s strongest elements in his writing and that is in its young misfit characters that unite against a common enemy that was imperative for the movie to have any chance of impacting at all. Here, Bill, Beverly, Ben et al had such a strong connection, that we were willing to go along for the ride for good or ill.
Fast forward to today and the passing of time has seen some changes in the Surgeons team. Some have left for other ventures or simply shifted into a whole new reality, and on this occasion I found myself without my usual horror-loving fiends alongside me and would have to face Pennywise on my own, a juxtaposition to the comrade of adult characters in the film, who depend on one another to defeat Pennywise once and for all.
My expectations were considerably low this time around following the first movie, but I was pleasantly surprised by this second instalment. The scares were still absent, but the adventure packed scenario that The Losers were confronted with this time around were made for entertaining viewing, mainly thanks to Bill Hader (Richie) and James Ransome (Eddie) who churn out strong performances and in many ways overshadowed the more A-list actors, James McAvoy (Bill) and Jessica Chastain (Beverly) who could have just phoned it in and weren’t really able to add much depth to their characters despite the near 3 hour running time.
So if character development isn’t packed into the time frame, then what exactly fills the narrative? It has a fairly weighty narrative, and to Muschietti’s credit, he manages to sandwich in a fair amount of the original story or concept into his version with a few notable exceptions, and in doing so, I was happy to one again be taken along the journey to its CGI-filled conclusion. One that was questionable but still managed to tug at the heart-strings in the quest for victory.
Pennywise still failed to scare despite Skarsgård’s unique portrayal and Chapter 2 feels content to rest on a more feel-good, fun ride to conclude the Loser’s Club’s adventures against the dancing clown. Horror fans will once again feel robbed of what could have been a dark and destroying creature that feeds on our greatest fears, but will be entertained nonetheless.
The ultimate test will be if it resonates with the audience for the production distributors to warrant another visit to Derry and spark an ongoing franchise into the mythology of Pennywise. Time will tell.
Like comedic relief, Bill Hader has the best lines, but it felt like the director was playing for laughs rather than decent scares.
IT chapter two is a fun romp sadly ending in just one more film about the fear devouring Macroverse entity who appears to cheerfully as a psychotic clown. Bill Skarsgard reprises the role as the young’uns return to Derry, Maine 27 years after thinking they had defeated IT. The adult cast all delivered stellar performances channeling their younger personas but Bill Hader’s Ritchie was a personal favourite. As a fan of the 80’s miniseries I personally liked the updated take on this terrifying journey.
CM Punk is on the precipice of leaving the wrestling ring and embarking on a career in horror movies, including the much-talked about remake of Cronenberg’s Rabid by the Soska Sisters.
First up though is Girl On The Third Floor, which sees Punk as a married man about to embark on a home D.I.Y. project of an old Victorian house in time for his pregnant wife to move in, but not all is as it seems within the house, including its token living component. Surprisingly, Punk was incredibly convincing in the lead role (Don Koch) who appears to be the dedicated, hard-working husband but slowly reveals that he is a guy used to getting his way in business and the bedroom, and is easily led astray by his many vices. Punk is used to putting his body through the extreme measures in both his martial arts and wrestling years, and at times his facial expressions channel those of Bruce Campbell’s Ash as he is pitted against otherworldly sights.
When Don meets the mysterious neighbour Sarah, he succumbs to temptation, and ends up with more than he bargained for when he treats her as a one night stand. Just like his renovations, Don soon finds the walls tumbling around him and his life falling apart, revealing some disturbing sights, hidden within the house.
Director Travis Stevens weaves a world that oozes slime, puss, and blood that seeps into the crevices and delicately shifts between mystical suspense and body horror that ticks along at a decent pace. The shifts in tone and narrative position are equally strong, as the audience continuously shifts their perception of the characters, none-more-so than Don’s wife Liz, who comes across as a little vapid and overbearing until she is given her moment to shine and present a more rounded, complex character facing a tough dilemma that thrusts her front and centre and taking charge of the situation.
Stevens serves up a promising debut feature that questions our discernment of the characters at play, and challenges our preconceived ideas by lifting the lid on what we wish to remain buried. In doing so, he exposes our inner thoughts and desires and rips them apart so that there is nowhere to hide. Can we face those demons and is there strength in us to change our ways or be forever damned?