Friday, December 25, 2015

Scary Christmas: A Christmas Requiem

For some, Christmas is just another work day. Even so, once in a while, they can stop and bring a just a small amount of Christmas cheer to an otherwise miserable existence...

A Christmas Requiem (2013)
Starring: Trisha Hershberger, DJ Wooldridge, Josh Calvin, Sam Bashor, and Lexi Burrows
Director: DJ Woolridge
Rating: Eight of Ten Stars

This is a well-made, depressing little film that suffers from a bad casting choice in the sense that the two male leads are too similar in appearance. They're both good in their parts, with Woolridge in particular showing a nice range of emotions in his performance, but when the scene changes, viewers will momentarily think we may be in a flashback.

Scary Crhistmas: A Gift for the One Who Has Everything

This is the story of a woman who doesn't understand the meaning of the words "Christmas Spirit."

The Gift for the One Who Has Everything (2014)
Starring: Zoe Wilson and Martin Yates
Director: Martin Yates and Calum McPhaill
Rating: Seven of Ten Stars


Thursday, December 24, 2015

Scary Christmas: Here Comes Santa

Seriously, kids. Don't try to sneak a peek at Santa. You may not live to regret it. Here's another cautionary tale about a youngster too clever for his own good.

Here Comes Santa (2014)
Starring: Oscar Malcolm and Tom Stanley
Director: Chris Thomas
Rating: Eight of Ten Stars

Scary Christmas: Christmas Fire

Atmospheric, creepy... and guaranteed to make any Christmas spirit you're feeling vanish like a puff of smoke.

Christmas Fire (2013)
Starring: Alessio Morello
Director: Alessio Morello
Rating: Eight of Ten Stars

Scary Christmas: Deathly Presents

Continuing our mini-Christmas marathon, here's another holiday chiller. It doesn't make a whole lot of sense, but it's pretty scary!

Deathly Presents (2015)
Starring: Oliver Ebsworth, Sian Breckin, and Jonah Russell
Directors: Ben Franklin and Anthony Melton
Rating: Eight of Ten Stars

Scary Christmas: Santa

We're celebrating Christmas the only way we know how ere at Terror Titans... with scary movies! Feel free to join us every six hours (or so) for the next two days!

We're kicking it off with a cautionary tale you want to watch with the kiddies... it shows why it's a bad idea to wait up for Santa.

Santa (2013)
Starring: Maria Olympiu, Achilleas Sakelariou, and Apostolis Tampaksis
Directors: Dionysis Atzarakis & Manos Atzarakis
Rating: Nine of Ten Stars

Sunday, November 1, 2015

31 Nights of Halloween: Wait 'Till Next Year

The big day has come and gone. I thank everyone who swung by to check out the short films. Maybe we'll see each other again next October? Maybe I'll even post a review or two between now and then.

In the meantime, I'll leave you with this last film.

Wait 'Till Next Year (2014)
Starring: Nicholas Aster and Brandon Elonzae
Director: Tessa Lopez-Scott
Rating: Nine of Ten Stars

Saturday, October 31, 2015

31 Nights of Halloween: Selfie

The big night is here... and Drew Daywalt brings us one more, well-constructed mini-chiller to kick it off. Will you be taking any selfies this Halloween? (Daywalt mixes up the closing jump scare a bit. That earns this one another star.)

Selfie (2013)
Starring: Jenny Kendall Jones
Director: Drew Daywalt
Rating: Eight of Ten Stars

Halloween is here... and the big sale is almost over!

Your chance to get one of more of NUELOW Games's 33 scariest releases for 33% off is almost over! There are just a few more days left on the big Halloween sale! Don't let it pass you buy!

I particularly recommend "Werewolf Hunter" Vols. 1 and 2, as the first one has all-new fiction by yours truly and the second all-new fiction by Angela Beegle... and chilling werewolf tales by Robert E. Howard, fantastic comics introducing Armand Broussard, the Werewolf Hunter himself!

Click here to view the entire listing of titles on sale.Get some now to make your Halloween extra scary!

Friday, October 30, 2015

31 Nights of Halloween: Playing with the Devil

Three sisters and a Japanese spirit summoning ritual... how can this end anything but badly?

Playing with the Devil (2014)
Starring: Rachel Frain, Valerie Trevherz, and Jessica Hadlock
Director: Nick Stentzel
Rating: Ten of Ten Stars

Thursday, October 29, 2015

31 Nights of Halloween: Dollface

Halloween is just a couple nights away. I hope your Halloween doesn't turn out like it does for the characters in today's film. I'm not sure it makes much sense, but it's pretty scary!

Dollface (2013)
Starring: Jen Dede, Kimberly Atkinson, Nick Holmes, Roma Maffia, and Shelly Wenk
Director: Colin Campbell
Rating: Seven of Ten Stars

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Anthologies of Egyptian-themed Horror Comics on Sale Now!

With Halloween drawing near, NUELOW Games is having a sale on all of its horror titles. Among these are "Horrors of Egypt" (with stories illustrated by such great talents as Joe Kubert and Al Camy) and "The Curse of Egypt" (with art by the legendary Steve Ditko). Each title also contains new feats and other material by yours truly, intended to bring Egyptian-flavored supernatural themes to you d20 System-based roleplaying characters and campaigns.

Both "Horros of Egypt" and "The Curse of Egypt" are currently available for 33%  off the usual price, so now would be a perfect time to get yourself books full of great comics and RPG material that will get you in the Halloween spirit. (The sale prices continue though November 2, 2015.

(Each is also available for an even lower price in the Bundle of Horror collection--which holds 20 different anthologies and game products brimming with Halloween goodness (including short stories by yours truly and the legendary Robert E. Howard) for the price of the very Halloweenish price of $13!)

31 Nights of Halloween: Delete

Tonight's entry's is familiar to lovers of Japanese horror, even if this one is from Malaysia.

 Delete (2014)
Starring: Koe Yeet, Kylie Chong, amanda Chong, Alicia Tan, and
Director: Sidney Chan
Rating: Seven of Ten Stars

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

31 Nights of Halloween: Malum

A young woman returns to the place her family died... to get revenge on the thing that killed them in tonight's micro-fright.

Malum (2013)
Starring Alexandria Lightford
Directed by Michael Benton Newman
Rating: Nine of Ten Stars

Sunday, October 25, 2015

31 Nights of Halloween: The Old Chair

I'm a fan of Drew Daywalt, and I think after this little cautionary tale about deals off Craigslist, you will be too. (If his previous films I've featured here at Terror Titans haven't converted you already.)

The Old Chair (2012)
Starring: Kaylee Score and AJ Bowen
Director: Drew Daywalt
Rating: Ten of Ten Stars

Saturday, October 24, 2015

31 Nights of Halloween: Skypemare

Halloween is almost here. Here's a chiller with a classic set up--it's Halloween night and a murderous lunatic is on the loose--but with a 21st century twist. I promise this one will creep you out.

Skypemare (2013)
Starring: Cerina Vincent and Annika Marks
Director: John Fitzpatrick
Rating: Ten of Ten Stars

Saturday Scream Queen: Cerina Vincent

Cerina Vincent first found fame as the Yellow Galaxy Ranger in "Power Rangers: Lost Galaxy" (1999), but she soon became a familiar face to horror movie fans. On her expansive horror movie resume include "Fear Runs Silent" (2000), "Cabin Fever" (2002), "It Waits" (2005), "Seven Mummies" (2006), the just-released "Tales of Halloween" (2015), and more.

Vincent can also be seen later today in the 31 Nights of Halloween short "Skypemare". Watch for it at 4:44pm (PST)!

Friday, October 23, 2015

31 Nights of Halloween: Japanese Ghost Story

Funeral arrangements for one become funeral arrangements for two...

Japanese Ghost Story (aka "Japanese Horror Movie #2")
Starring: Masako Todoroki, Mitsuru Ozawa, and Tomomi Yamazaki
Director: Ryo Moroe
Rating: Six of Ten Stars

Art by Gregory Thomas

Thursday, October 22, 2015

31 Nights of Halloween: Having a Drink

We've all had the kind of day at work where we just want a stiff drink. Fortunately for us, we don't stop in at dumps like Oges Tavern to get it. (This is one of the few werewolf short films I've come across, so I thought it was fitting in include it here during the last few nights before Halloween. The sound is a bit rough and some of the acting a little wooden, but it's still worth watching. Evenmoreso because the obvious twists are not what the filmmakers go with here.)

Having a Drink (2014)
Starring: Ray Besharah, Ellen Manchee, Celine Filion, and Nicolas M. Di Gaetano
Director: Randy Smith
Rating: Five of Ten Stars

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

31 Nights of Halloween: Hi

Can you feel the chill in the air? The sense of doom as Halloween grows near?

I think the good doctor in tonight's film can...

Hi (2014)
Starring: Monica Gill and Vipassana Kapoor
Director: Bahaish Kapoor
Rating: Seven of Eight Stars

Trivia: Monica Gill, the star of tonight's film, was Miss India of 2013.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

31 Nights of Halloween: Selfie From Hell

As the title implies, this is another film that involves cellphones and selfies. It;s a scary one, too!

Selfie From Hell (2015)
Starring: Meelah Adams
Director: Erdal Ceylan
Rating: Nine of Ten Stars

Monday, October 19, 2015

31 Nights of Halloween: Alexia

Tonight's short film uses social media and "memorial pages" as its jump-off point. It's creepy,  and even if it gets a bit muddled at the end, it's a pretty effective little film.

Alexia (2015)
Starring: Sergio Beron and Carla Carruega
Director: Andreas Borghi
Rating: Six of Seven Stars

Sunday, October 18, 2015

31 Nights of Halloween: The Last Train Home

Who can you trust in the subway? Especially on the last train of the night?

Photo by Tod Fisher

Last Train Home (2008)
Starring: Lara Fisher, Danny Jensen, Jamie Relis, and Andrew Craig
Director: Scion Griffiths
Rating: Seven of Ten Stars

Saturday, October 17, 2015

31 Nights of Halloween: Jack

This is the shortest of all the short films featured during the 31 Nights of Halloween film festival. It's also one of the subtlest. Blink and you'll miss something really creepy....

Jack (2010)
Starring: Abigail Daywalt
Director: Drew Daywalt
Rating: Nine of Ten Stars

Friday, October 16, 2015

31 Night of Halloween: Incarnate

A serial-killing couple go looking for victims in the wrong house... and find something worse than they are. (Writer/director Michael Golderman says that today's film was made in six hours with a three-person crew--and one of said crew also appeared in front of the camera.)

Incarnate (2014)
Starring: Alexis Cassandra and David James Ryan
Director: Michael Goldernman
Rating: Six of Ten Stars

Thursday, October 15, 2015

31 Nights of Halloween: Coffer

Lotta Losten and David F. Sandberg are back. And poor Lotta's in for another rough time...

Coffer (2014)
Starring: Lotta Losten
Director: David F. Sandberg
Rating: Eight of Ten Stars

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

31 Nights of Halloween: Bad Moon Rising

Good werewolf films are few and far between. They're even rarer in the short film genre. So do enjoy this little gem.

Bad Moon Rising (2012)
Starring: Todd Levi, Anthony Edwards, and Jared Robinson
Director: Scott Hamilton
Rating: Eight of Ten Stars

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

31 Nights of Halloween: Scrambled

Faisal Hashmi (the writer/director of "Cold Feet" is back with another mini-chiller). It's a cautionary tale about the danger of the Blood Fairy.

Scrambled (2013)
Starring; Abidur Rahman and Linnea Sage
Director: Faisal Hashmi
Rating: Eight of Ten Stars
Rating: Eight of Ten Stars

Monday, October 12, 2015

31 Nights of Halloween: First Night in the New House

Getting used to sleeping in a new place can be challenging... especially when you have a roommate.

First Night in the New House (2015)
Starring: Katelyn Marie Marshall and Mariam Roth
Director: Marc Fratto
Rating: Ten of Ten Stars

This is one of the absolute best shorts you'll see during this festival of mini-films. The attention to detail in it is amazing--especially the sound design. (I thought I'd spotted a flaw and the evil critic in my shot to the surface with 'AHA! Only Nine Stars for you!"... but when I watched it a second time, I realized that it was *me* that hadn't paid quite enough attention.

Fratto and the rest of the gang at Insane-o-Rama Productions are releasing this short film as an invitation to contribute to a Crowdfunded feature film that will star Katelyn Marie Marshall in a similar role, but the dangers threatening her and her family in the new house are far more numerous and deadlier than in "First Night in the New House."

Click here to learn more about Insane-o-Rama's efforts to raise funds for the feature film "Crazyhouse." Their desire to build a community among the contributors/investors looks especially interesting.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

31 Nights of Halloween: Mannequin

This evening's mini-fright fest presents a twist on the doppleganger legend. Good stuff.

Mannequin (2013)
Starring: Amelia Gotham
Director: Deric Nunez
Rating: Seven of Ten Stars

Saturday, October 10, 2015

31 Nights of Halloween: The Closet

A pair of sisters plan a surprise for their Mom on her birthday; what could possibly go wrong? (Well, this IS the Terror Titans blog, and IS a mini-film from Drew Daywalt, so whatever goes wrong, it's probably pretty horrifying.)

The Closet (2011)
Starring: Brea Grant, Kaylee Score, and Bonnie Aarons
Director: Drew Daywalt
Rating: Eight of Ten Stars

Saturday Scream Queen: Emma Roberts

Emma Roberts, daughter of B-movie icon Eric Roberts, is on the verge of making the transition from child star to adult A-lister. It remains to be seen how her future career unfolds.

She made her horror movie debut with "Scream 4" (2011), and she currently appears in the television horror/comedy series "Scream Queens" She was fated to be among the Saturday Scream Queens here at Terror Titans, especially taking into account that she will have a recurring role in upcoming and will have a recurring role in upcoming episodes of the horror series "American Horror Story" and is the star of "Nerve", a thriller slated for release in 2016.

Friday, October 9, 2015

31 Nights of Halloween: The Whistler

Relationships are tricky....

The Whistler (2013)
Starring: Kate Cobb and Joshua Schell
Director: Josh McGuire

Thursday, October 8, 2015

31 Nights of Halloween: The Clown Statue

It's not a Halloween film festival (even a mini one) if there isn't at least one creepy clown film. So... here we go! It even has the bonus of featuring a Babysitter in Trouble (which was a common theme the last time we did 31 Nights of Halloween here at Terror Titans.).

The Clown Statue (2013)
Starring: Meghan Smith and Brad Mirtes
Director: Aaron Mirtes
Rating: Eight of Ten Stars

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

31 Nights of Halloween: Hello

I've noticed that cell phones are a central feature of many of the shorts I've looked at this year, and many of the ones I've selected. Do we perhaps have the sense that even though the ability to call for help is closer than it's ever been before, we are just as isolated and exposed to the monsters as we've always been?

A cell phone is center to the horror in today's selection (including the habit they have of going missing...)

By the way... this one got knocked down from a Nine to an Eight rating due to some odd choices in sound mixing. It was distracting the way voices moved from left to right in stereo for no reason.

Hello (2013)
Starring: Claire Loy and Hugh Sweeny
Director: Hugh Sweeny
Rating: Eight of Ten Stars

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

31 Nights of Halloween: Cold Feet

Today's offering is really creepy, but also a little unsatisfying, because it ends without the viewer getting much of a hint as to what might going on. But everything up to the very end is very well staged and executed.

Photo by Mike Irish of Firechariot Design

Cold Feet (2014)
Starring: Christian Martin, Abidur Rahman, and Zerleena Kahn
Director: Faisal Hashmi
Rating: Six of Ten Stars

Monday, October 5, 2015

31 Nights of Halloween: I Heard That Too

Here's another short film to get you in the Halloween spirit. It's not even two minutes long, but it's scary and intense.

I Heard That Too (2014)
Starring: Colleen Malone and Ellen Malone
Director: Al Meadows
Rating: Eight of Ten Stars

Sunday, October 4, 2015

31 Nights of Halloween: Daddy

Darn kids... they're always waking up early. As you'll see in today's short excursion into horror.

Daddy (2012)
Starring: Sam Boxleitner, Elodie Hursley, and Sasha Boggs
Director: Lee Boxleitner
Rating: Six of Ten Stars

Saturday, October 3, 2015

31 Nights of Halloween: Bedfellows

Here's the first film for his year's 31 Nights of Halloween from multi-talented director/author Drew Daywalt. He's one of my favorite creators of micro-horror films.

Bedfellows (2010)
Starring Kerry Finlayson
Director: Drew Daywalt
Rating: Seven of Ten Stars

Saturday Scream Queen: Kerry Finlayson

Kerry Finlayson is an up-and-coming actress whom you'll see in at least one of the horror short films featured here at Terror Titans during our 2015 31 Nights of Halloween mini-film festival. 

Finlayson is a British actress who moved to the U.S. in 2006 where she has been making a name for herself both in front and behind of the camera. Her horror credits include several short films, as well as feature films like "Blood Rush" and "Horror House" (both in 2012), the forthcoming films abruptio and "Horror House 2", and many others.

Blah blah

Friday, October 2, 2015

31 Nights of Halloween: Turn Around When Possible

Two girls, on an isolated forest road. What could possibly go wrong?

Turn Around When Possible (2014)
Starring: Megan Prescott and Holly Hoyle
Directors: Dave Caleb and David Mead
Rating: Six of Ten Stars

Thursday, October 1, 2015

31 Nights of Halloween: Attic Panic

A creepy little film that looks like it takes place in a basement than an attic. But that's a minor quibble.

Attic Panic (2015)
Starring: Lotta Losten
Director: David F. Sandberg
Rating: Six of Ten Stars

David F. Sandberg is a Swedish filmmaker and composer. He has 11 short films to his name. Actress Lotta Losten, also from Sweden, has appeared in seven of them.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

I'm not sure what's more hideous--the monster or the film itself

I am regretting the wisdom of deciding to do a Jess Franco Week here at Terror Titans.

Devil Hunter (aka "Sex Cannibal") (1980)
Starring: Ursula Fellner, Antonio Mayans, and Al Cliver
Director: Jess  Franco (as Clifford Brown)
Rating: Two of Ten Stars

When an actress (Fellner) is kidnapped and held for ransom, adventurer Peter Westen (Cliver) is hired to rescue her. But when she falls into the hands of savage natives who intend to sacrifice her to their vile, living god, Westen's job becomes far more difficult. Will he be in time before the monstrous devil-god drives her mad or eats her?

I wasn't more than 10 minutes in before "Devil Hunter" made me feel dirty for just watching it. It was suich a slasp-dash effort technically and the way the camera lingered on a shot of female genitalia made it clear what Franco was wanting emphasize. And that was before we got to the rapes and scenes of the Devil literally eating a woman's pussy.

I thought "Oasis of Zombies" had to be worst Franco film. I was wrong. This is movie's even worse. It's more sloppily put together, more chaotic in its story-telling, and even more embarrassing technically. It's like no effort whatsoever went into color correcting different bits of film, or even considering that shots of characters that are supposed to be together at the same time should be standing in the same light. is the worst Franco film. The pacing is glacially slow at all times, causing even the interesting bits to become tedious. And the Foley work is generally so awful that it's probably the worst seen outside a student project that received a failing grade.

And the soundtrack? Oh my God... the soundtrack! It's performed entirely on a Hammond organ, and it sounds like it was being ad-libbed as the film was running. It's everything you'd expect from a parody of a cheap horror film from the 1950s. (The score is credited to Franco himself, so I guess this means he's as good at slapping music together as he at a film.)

Amusingly, whoever did the English dub that I watched seemed to care as much about making a quality product as Franco did. At roughly the 1:10 mark, the characters stop speaking English and are instead speaking in Spanish. The English dub resumes at about the 1:17 mark. Fortunately, dialogue isn't that important, because there's no story to get in the way of the plot.

So why am I even giving Two Stars?

Because the scenes with the Devil were actually very creepy and even downright scary. If Franco could have done the entire movie this skillfully, he might actually have made something decent. The use of sound whenever the mutant cannibal devil is creeping about in search of some pussy to eat is damn effective. (Of course, it might also just seem so, because everything surrounding it is so ineptly done.)

The final 10-15 minutes of the film are also pretty intense. They are by far the best part of the movie, and I suppose Franco might have been keeping in mind that if you finish strong that's what the audience will remember, and they'll have a better opinion of the film than it deserves. On the other hand, it could just be an accident. Or maybe I had just been ground down by the rest of the film, and I had stopped fighting and was now accepting of my fate.

"Devil Hunter" has a running time of 1:47. Maybe if chopped down to 1:10 or maybe even just 50 minutes it could be bearable. As it stands, however, it's just a movie to be avoided.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

'Succubus' is a confusing, confused mess

Jess Franco Week continues...

Succubus (aka "Necronomicon") (1967)
Starring: Janine Reynaud, Jack Taylor, and Adrian Hoven
Director: Jess Franco
Rating: Three of Ten Stars

Lorna (Reynaud). the star of a successful S&M-themed nightshow act, begins having dreams so vivid they become indistinguishable from reality... and soon dream-murders are mirrored by deaths in the real world. Has she snapped mentally, or is her soul--and body--being stolen by something supernatural?

Often, the questions at the end of those little summary blurbs I open these reviews with is rhetorical. In this case, it's not. It's really isn't clear in "Succubus" what's going on. My best guess is that Lorna is a psychopath with a split personality--something which is supported by dream flashbacks to sessions with a psychiatrist, but equally undermined by the weirdness of the sessions. It may well be one of the most incoherent movies I've seen, as it drifts apparently randomly from scene to scene, most of which are populated with characters who spout random nonsense. In some ways, it felt more like one of Ed Wood Jr.'s film than most of the other Franco movies I've seen--and in this case I mean that as a compliment. The random "film-noir" style voice-overs and characters reciting lists of authors and filmmakers are particularly amusing.

The film's strong point is its engaging visuals, with strong colors and interesting camera angles. The random, free-form  atmosphere that permeates the way the film is put together is also engaging, and it's what ultimately earned it one more star that I was going to give it. Unfortunately, there isn't a scene in the film that doesn't go on for too long, and viewers will spend more time wishing that something else would happen than wanting to find out what's really going on. Even worse, those who patiently stick with the film in the hopes that it will coalese and reveal some answers and explain what the point of it is, will be very disappointed. If anything, the ending makes everything that has gone before make even less sense.

 Somewhere, in the bloated, disorganized mess that is "Succubus," is one of the hour-long episodes of "Night Gallery" screaming to be let out. It's trapped in Jess Franco's slapdash, self-indulgent film, however.

(On a historical note, this was Franco's first color film, as well as the first film he made after leaving his homeland of Spain in disgust over the censorship imposed on the arts by the dictatorship that had ruled there since his childhood.)

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

'The Bloody Judge' is one of Franco's greatest

Jess Franco week continues with another of Franco's best movies. It shows that the budget one has to work with can make a difference.

The Bloody Judge (aka "Throne of Blood", "Throne of the Blood Monster", "The Witch's Trial" and "Witch-killer of Broadmoor) (1970)
Starring: Christopher Lee, Leo Genn, Maria Rohm, Margaret Lee, Hans Hass, and Milo Quesada
Director: Jess Franco
Rating: Six of Ten Stars

A hypocritical judge (Lee) illustrates why a little rebellion among the peasantry can be a good thing every now and then.

Loosely based on the final months of notorious and controversial historical 17th century British hanging judge George Jeffries, this film is one of the best works I've seen from Spanish director Jess Franco. The plot is coherent and engaging, the camerawork and sets are fairly decent, and there's actually a few well-staged action scenes. To top it off, the characters are even interesting... as repulsive as Jeffries comes across, he is emerges as a fascinating character... and Maria Rohm's pure-hearted peasant girl (who is forced to have sex with the vile Jeffries in exchange for her sister's life) is a character that the viewer can feel real pity for.

Unfortunately, the film also has all the hallmarks of some of other Franco's pictures, such as unnecessary torture scenes and nudity and just general crap thrown in to guarantee an R-rating at the very least. (Franco must have been the role-model for the fools who were in charge of "Snakes on a Plane" as far as that approach goes.)

Interestingly, this film would have been stronger if a scene that apparently was only included in the German-language version of the movie had been in all the edits. Although repulsive for some of its sexual/torture content, it does make some later part of the film seem a little less unmotivated plot-development wise.

This "lost" scene and other bonus material included on the "Blue Underground" DVD release of the picture actually makes up a very worthwhile package for fans and scholars of "exploitation cinema" and other B-movies. It's material that gives excellent insight into rare insight into the production and marketing processes that went into these multi-national European productions of the 1960s and 1970s. (Yeah, the liner notes are a little ridiculous--the reviewer who wrote them seems to hold Franco's body of work in much higher regard than a sane person should--and the interview with Christopher Lee makes him seem like a pompous ass, but it's all very interesting.)

Monday, September 21, 2015

It's so bad even the zombies are embarrassed to be in it

Well, Jess Franco Week here at Terror Titans got started with one of the man's best. Here's one of his worst.

Oasis of the Zombies (1981)
Starring: Actors who didn't want their real names on the film
Director: Someone who was too embarrassed to admit who he really was (even if the world now knows it was Jess Franco, making a worse-than-usual movie, even by the low expectations we have of him)
Rating: Zero of Ten Stars

Two competing groups head to a distant oasis in search of Nazi gold. They are eaten by Nazi zombies, who are guarding the treasure for who-knows-what-reason. These Nazi zombies are of a special variety of zombies who always fondle a woman's crotch while attacking her; they don't seem to do the same to their male victims, though. No siree, no homos in the Third Reich, not even among zombies! In the end, a pair of survivors, our cypherous hero and our bland heroine, discover the meaning of life... but they never do find the treasure.

Yes, I spoiled the movie by giving away the ending.

Actually, I can't really spoil it, because it's one of the absolute worst movies ever made. I wouldn't have thought someone could go wrong with Nazi zombies guarding a massive haul of loot... but leave it to Jess Franco to screw up a sure thing.

Don't get ANY of the standalone versions, even if they're probably copied from better quality prints than the one I viewed (which was included in "Chilling Classics" and was so faded at points it was impossible to see what was going on. Which was probably a blessing.)

I've written far more about "Oasis of the Zombies" than it deserves, but I feel it's my duty as a compassionate human being to warn the B-movie lovers of the world that in the case, the "B" stands for "Bowel-movingly Bad". Not even the sexy chicks in short-shorts and tight tops make this film worth watching.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Jess Franco almost at his best!

As I attempt to perform blogging necromancy on 'Terror Titans' in lead-up to the 31 Nights of Halloween festival I'm throwing next month, I welcome you to Jess Franco Week! Yes--nothing but reviews of movies from a gentlemen who loved filmmaking, spent his life making movies, and whose output ended up being less than impressive. Interestingly, Franco himself knew that most of movies were drek, and he widely acknowledged them as such. However, he also rightfully said that when he had appropriate time and budgets, he was able to create films that weren't entirely awful.

On that note, we start Jess Franco Week at high point.

The Awful Dr. Orlof (aka "Screams in the Night") (1964)
Starring: Howard Vernon, Diana Lorys, Conrado San Martin, Ricardo Valle, Maria Silva, and Perla Cristal
Director: Jess Franco (as "Jess Frank")
Rating: Five of Ten Stars

A former prison doctor turned mad scientist (Vernon) is abducting party girls with the intent of grafting their skin onto the body of his daughter who was horribly burned in a fire. A none-too-bright Police Onspector (San Martin) is assigned to catch him, but it's the Inspector's lovely girlfriend (Lorys) who does much of the detective work to break the case... and then falls into the maniac's clutches.

If you've ever wondered what Hammer Films' celebrated gothic horror flicks would have looked like without the touch of an brilliant director like Terrence Fisher, you don't have to look any further than "The Awful Dr. Orlof".

What we have here is a film that's pretty damn good by the standards writer/director Franco sank to later in his career, but when compared to other entries in the gothic horror genre from the late 1950s and early 1960s, it's visually flat, unevenly plotted, and generally un-engaging due to the fact that we never get a real sense of how the various characters in the film fit together. Sure--we know the Inspector and his ballerina girlfriend are soul-mates, but why on earth do Dr. Orlof's henchmen stick with him? Why did he break them out of prison in the first place? And why is he using a blind man to help him with the killing--it's a creepy twist, but it doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Without knowing the answers to these, we never really understand what motivates half the film's main characters... although it's clear Franco thinks we should empathize with them for some reason or another.

This film could have been a crushing bore if not for some fairly effectively staged murder scenes (featuring hints of the gratuitous nudity and sadism that is a hallmark of most of Franco's and the occasional visual flourish where Franco takes full advantage of the black-and-white medium. (The still above is taken from the very best of these... a scene so effectively lit and staged that it's what made me think of Fisher's efforts for Hammer Films.)

"The Awful Dr. Orlof" was not as bad as I had expected it to be, but there are far better films in this genre to check out before you get to this one. That said, I suspect Franco fans will love it, if they haven't already checked it out.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Many of the books I've edited are on sale for 15% - 20% off!

For the rest of this week, many of the horror anthologies I've edited or written for NUELOW Games for  are discounted between 15% and 20% through September 30, 2015. If you like comics, horror fiction, or d20 System roleplaying games, one or more of these books will have something you'll enjoy.

Many of the projects I've produced for NUELOW Games collect great stories that have sat forgotten for 70 or more years while the world fawned over the likes of Superman and Batman. In fact, many of them have never been reprinted before, nor collected in a single volume. Check them out... but make sure you keep a light on as you read, because the glow of the iPad or Kindle screen only makes the shadows around you seem deeper.

You can click here to a listing of all the books that are available...

Here are a few of the covers.