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Rosso Sangue Reviews

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( Decided to start reviewing some of the gory shit I watch for y'all.
For quick access to any of my reviews, please click here: Archive )

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03/12/2013 21:50:10

SIMONETTI HORROR PROJECT (1990, ITALY, DR. FELIX & CLAUDIO SIMONETTI)
Fabio Pignatelli might be the only member of the badass Italian prog-rock band Goblin who stayed with the band in every incarnation, but Claudio Simonetti was undoubtedly the band’s true backbone. Simonetti was the biggest force behind the band’s creative sound, and it doesn’t take much to prove this statement—just compare any album between Deep Red and Zombi, or even the later albums Tenebre (which, let’s face it, IS a Goblin album, you retagged it the moment it was loaded onto iTunes if it wasn’t retagged already) and Nonhosonno to the more commercial sound of the Simonetti-less Patrick-Buio Omega-Contamination era and you’ll immediately see what I mean. So what does Simonetti do when the 90s come and Goblin is going to be out of commission for a while? He goes solo and reworks some of his classic Dario Argento themes, that’s what!

The first album released under his Simonetti Horror Project (before he went solo-er and released soundtracks for new Argento flicks and albums like X-Terror Files under just his last name) was released with a 45-minute music video compilation, featuring every song on the album with video footage of Simonetti live in concert, interspersed with footage from the movie Simonetti is covering the theme of (which apparently caused the video to be removed from circulation, since the footage was used without Argento’s permission). For the purposes of this review, I will be covering the VHS version, which has a different tracklist than the version released to LP, CD and audiocassette, and I will also tell you right now that the audio versions are much easier to obtain a physical copy of.

From the first half of the compilation, it becomes apparent almost immediately that these videos are going to take you for a wild cheesy ride—the concert footage is all overdubs and shot in an otherwise empty warehouse, loaded with public access-grade videotape effects, more keyboards than your average Emerson, Lake & Palmer concert, bitchin’ hairdos on top of everyone involved, anything that can turn the cheese factor up to 11 is here, and Simonetti’s passion oozes out of every gloriously cheesy moment. Simonetti, as well as all of his co-conspirators, are having the time of their lives up on stage (watch for Simonetti’s wicked Van Halen keytar jump IN SLOW MOTION), and you’re with them for the ride every step of the way. In addition, watch out for the segment for his theme from Demons, which must have been intended as a single at some point since it comes equipped with an awesome MTV-style music video.

And then, the real magic happens: a full-blown hip-hop remix of his famous theme to Dario Argento’s Deep Red, complete with original lyrics from late 80s italo-disco rapper Dr. Felix. Some of you may have seen this video on its own and already know how fucking awesome it is, but for those of you who haven’t experienced it yet, chuck any prejudice you might have against the rap game and click here for maximum ear pleasure. While Dr. Felix’s contribution loses a few points for having “English isn’t my first language” lyrics (although he sure knows how to tear it up onstage), Simonetti has done absolutely phenomenal work in reinventing his own classic; with breakbeats that would make any modern beatmaker hang their heads in shame, a perfect sampling of the original composition, and awesome guitar and keytar shredding, I guarantee you that you’ll never hear such a perfect blend of progressive rock and late-80s hip hop ever again. Why this song hasn’t been licensed for an awesome splatter-comedy or become a new Monster Mash for Italian horror fans, I’ll never know… but that needs to change, and fast.

After those five minutes of badassery, the video unfortunately starts to lose steam, as the lesser tracks on the album start getting their video play. Throughout this side, it becomes apparent that this whole compilation was probably shot in sequence, and Simonetti realized there was no way to top the spectacle he turned the Deep Red theme into, so he started to settle down and experiment far less. It’s not that the tracks are bad, per se, since even Nas couldn’t top his legendary Illmatic, but they’re more straight reworkings of Simonetti’s work with Goblin, sometimes to the point where it’s nearly impossible to find any distinction between the two. (The VHS version was probably the original tracklist before the record company demanded switching it around, since the songs on this side are more spread out from one another on other formats, and the Deep Red remix is the fifth track here rather than the second.) The nadir of this side has to be the “Rock Version” of the Deep Red theme, which is a totally straight cover of the original composition and feels tired by comparison.

Despite the less fun second half of the video, I would recommend that any Goblin fan or any fan of Italian horror in general either find and watch this compilation (or watch each of them individually on YouTube in better quality than my VHSrip, directly from Simonetti’s YouTube channel) or get the album by any means necessary and play the shit out of it. Simonetti Horror Project did release a second LP called Days Of Confusion, which has Simonetti covering other people’s badass horror themes, but unfortunately no music video compilation emerged from it; regardless, if you can get it, check that album out too. It’s a cool precursor to Simonetti’s heavy metal project Daemonia that shouldn’t be ignored by any true Goblin or Simonetti fan… and goddamnit, the sooner that Deep Red remix becomes a bigger hit in the horror community, the better.
Also Check Out: Metallo Italia, Deep Red, Phenomena, Demons, Suspiria
This compilation is not available on DVD, but Claudio Simonetti has posted each music video in the compilaton individually on YouTube. Watch them in the proper sequence if possible, please.

SIMONETTI HORROR PROJECT (1990, ITALY, DR. FELIX & CLAUDIO SIMONETTI)

Fabio Pignatelli might be the only member of the badass Italian prog-rock band Goblin who stayed with the band in every incarnation, but Claudio Simonetti was undoubtedly the band’s true backbone. Simonetti was the biggest force behind the band’s creative sound, and it doesn’t take much to prove this statement—just compare any album between Deep Red and Zombi, or even the later albums Tenebre (which, let’s face it, IS a Goblin album, you retagged it the moment it was loaded onto iTunes if it wasn’t retagged already) and Nonhosonno to the more commercial sound of the Simonetti-less Patrick-Buio Omega-Contamination era and you’ll immediately see what I mean. So what does Simonetti do when the 90s come and Goblin is going to be out of commission for a while? He goes solo and reworks some of his classic Dario Argento themes, that’s what!

The first album released under his Simonetti Horror Project (before he went solo-er and released soundtracks for new Argento flicks and albums like X-Terror Files under just his last name) was released with a 45-minute music video compilation, featuring every song on the album with video footage of Simonetti live in concert, interspersed with footage from the movie Simonetti is covering the theme of (which apparently caused the video to be removed from circulation, since the footage was used without Argento’s permission). For the purposes of this review, I will be covering the VHS version, which has a different tracklist than the version released to LP, CD and audiocassette, and I will also tell you right now that the audio versions are much easier to obtain a physical copy of.

From the first half of the compilation, it becomes apparent almost immediately that these videos are going to take you for a wild cheesy ride—the concert footage is all overdubs and shot in an otherwise empty warehouse, loaded with public access-grade videotape effects, more keyboards than your average Emerson, Lake & Palmer concert, bitchin’ hairdos on top of everyone involved, anything that can turn the cheese factor up to 11 is here, and Simonetti’s passion oozes out of every gloriously cheesy moment. Simonetti, as well as all of his co-conspirators, are having the time of their lives up on stage (watch for Simonetti’s wicked Van Halen keytar jump IN SLOW MOTION), and you’re with them for the ride every step of the way. In addition, watch out for the segment for his theme from Demons, which must have been intended as a single at some point since it comes equipped with an awesome MTV-style music video.

And then, the real magic happens: a full-blown hip-hop remix of his famous theme to Dario Argento’s Deep Red, complete with original lyrics from late 80s italo-disco rapper Dr. Felix. Some of you may have seen this video on its own and already know how fucking awesome it is, but for those of you who haven’t experienced it yet, chuck any prejudice you might have against the rap game and click here for maximum ear pleasure. While Dr. Felix’s contribution loses a few points for having “English isn’t my first language” lyrics (although he sure knows how to tear it up onstage), Simonetti has done absolutely phenomenal work in reinventing his own classic; with breakbeats that would make any modern beatmaker hang their heads in shame, a perfect sampling of the original composition, and awesome guitar and keytar shredding, I guarantee you that you’ll never hear such a perfect blend of progressive rock and late-80s hip hop ever again. Why this song hasn’t been licensed for an awesome splatter-comedy or become a new Monster Mash for Italian horror fans, I’ll never know… but that needs to change, and fast.

After those five minutes of badassery, the video unfortunately starts to lose steam, as the lesser tracks on the album start getting their video play. Throughout this side, it becomes apparent that this whole compilation was probably shot in sequence, and Simonetti realized there was no way to top the spectacle he turned the Deep Red theme into, so he started to settle down and experiment far less. It’s not that the tracks are bad, per se, since even Nas couldn’t top his legendary Illmatic, but they’re more straight reworkings of Simonetti’s work with Goblin, sometimes to the point where it’s nearly impossible to find any distinction between the two. (The VHS version was probably the original tracklist before the record company demanded switching it around, since the songs on this side are more spread out from one another on other formats, and the Deep Red remix is the fifth track here rather than the second.) The nadir of this side has to be the “Rock Version” of the Deep Red theme, which is a totally straight cover of the original composition and feels tired by comparison.

Despite the less fun second half of the video, I would recommend that any Goblin fan or any fan of Italian horror in general either find and watch this compilation (or watch each of them individually on YouTube in better quality than my VHSrip, directly from Simonetti’s YouTube channel) or get the album by any means necessary and play the shit out of it. Simonetti Horror Project did release a second LP called Days Of Confusion, which has Simonetti covering other people’s badass horror themes, but unfortunately no music video compilation emerged from it; regardless, if you can get it, check that album out too. It’s a cool precursor to Simonetti’s heavy metal project Daemonia that shouldn’t be ignored by any true Goblin or Simonetti fan… and goddamnit, the sooner that Deep Red remix becomes a bigger hit in the horror community, the better.

Also Check Out: Metallo Italia, Deep Red, Phenomena, Demons, Suspiria

This compilation is not available on DVD, but Claudio Simonetti has posted each music video in the compilaton individually on YouTube. Watch them in the proper sequence if possible, please.

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03/10/2013 23:31:04

IL TUNNEL SOTTO IL MONDO (1969, ITALY, LUIGI COZZI)
If my reviews of Paganini Horror and Contamination hadn’t told you already, I’ll say it again: Luigi Cozzi is easily one of my top three favorite Italian directors, and even has a quality to his work that greats like Fulci and Argento lack—consistency. While Fulci and Argento have made some of the best works of Italian horror ever created, they slipped and directed piles of unwatchable dreck at some point, their respective nadirs being The Ghosts Of Sodom and Phantom Of The Opera. Maybe it’s that Cozzi gave up directing after the 80s ended, but if you watched Cozzi’s entire directorial filmography you’d be hard-pressed to find a movie that wasn’t in some way worth watching, and after seeing where it all began for him, I can happily confirm such consistency has been true from the start.

The film is very loosely based on the Frederik Pohl short story of the same name, which, astonishingly, Cozzi had single-handedly gained the rights to adapt from Pohl himself. However, his adaptation of the story reaches far from what Pohl had done; while Pohl’s story is more of a jab at corporate power over the masses and the advertising business, Cozzi’s film is more… um… Santa Claus assassins… St. Peter… a sniper dude in a tower… it’s more of an avant-garde clusterfuck, I should say. I noticed a few elements of the original story in there, like how the same day would keep repeating with subtle changes to the day’s events in order to test people’s reactions to things, and I could tell the Bruno character was supposed to be Burckhardt, but other than that, it’s very much different, more than simple cosmetic differences.

In that regard, Cozzi’s film, as a movie adaptation of a short story, is as big a failure as The Lawnmower Man or Johnny Mnemonic, but if you had watched this film without knowing anything about Pohl’s story, you’d think it was really cool. With this film, we have Cozzi at his rawest and youngest, before his movies were more producer and trend-driven and before his budgets were big enough to show off the filmmaking talent he really possessed, and this means that beginner mistakes are noticeable, such as the shadow of the huge-ass camera used being visible on Bruno’s back. However, it being his first film and all, the mistakes are forgivable, especially when you know what greater things the young chap behind this will be directing someday.

Even at Cozzi’s young age (compare 22-year-old Cozzi as seen in his cameo to how he looks now, you might think that Cozzi killed this kid and stole his identity), you could tell he knew damn well what he was doing, despite apparently possessing no filmmaking experience beforehand. For an avant-garde film, the editing is quite tight, the soundtrack is suitably creepy for a sci-fi acid trip, the optical effects present in the title cards look like they’d be cool to see on a big screen in the early 70s, and the probably-improvised dialogue and narration fit the tone well, even when offset with such bizarre images as a group of Santa suit-clad hired killers. The narrative is still very jumbled and is far from telling a completely coherent story, but even the greatest of Italian genre films are guilty of stretching suspension of disbelief to ridiculous extremes. It’s just that watching this is like watching the Italian equivalent of Eraserhead.

As I was watching this film and seeing how talented Cozzi was at his first swing behind the camera, I began to wonder what would’ve happened if after Cozzi finished Starcrash, he decided to retire early from filmmaking after creating what he believed to be his magnum opus. With only six films in his oeuvre, not counting Cozzilla, for film fans to shuffle through, would he be a more celebrated filmmaker today? Would this film become a cult classic like Eraserhead or the Rocky Horror Picture Show, and would his Door Into Darkness episode and The Killer Must Kill Again be considered two of the greatest gialli of all time? Would The Nude Porter and Take All Of Me have deluxe DVD treatments courtesy of The Criterion Collection? Would Cozzilla be cherished by Toho as an important, daring retooling of their 1954 masterpiece (probably not) and would Starcrash have a following as big as Star Wars? Then I thought about how Cozzi’s career turned out, and I thought that some of that stuff might happen if he stepped out of the shadows and came back with the biggest comeback film of his career, and I began to hope… but I know that he’s happy working the Profondo Rosso shop, and I’m happy for him.

How would this film stand for someone who isn’t a hardcore fan of Luigi Cozzi? I’ll be perfectly honest: it doesn’t. This film isn’t for someone who doesn’t know jack shit about Italian genre cinema AND avant-garde films, because you’ll either complain about not getting what the movie’s trying to say or think it’s too damn weird to stomach. Those criticisms are very justifiable, and I can even see fans of those two things getting turned off by this film for possibly cranking the artsiness up too high. Thankfully, however, the film is extremely hard to find, with its only known DVD release being on the French 2-discer of Contamination, which acts as a filter for those who wouldn’t get the film in the first place; if you know enough about Luigi Cozzi to know that this film exists, and you have the desire and the knowhow to be able to successfully track it down and watch it, then this film is most definitely for you.
Also Check Out: Starcrash, The Killer Must Kill Again, Hercules, Paganini Horror, The Lawnmower Man
This film is not available on Region 1 DVD as of yet.

IL TUNNEL SOTTO IL MONDO (1969, ITALY, LUIGI COZZI)

If my reviews of Paganini Horror and Contamination hadn’t told you already, I’ll say it again: Luigi Cozzi is easily one of my top three favorite Italian directors, and even has a quality to his work that greats like Fulci and Argento lack—consistency. While Fulci and Argento have made some of the best works of Italian horror ever created, they slipped and directed piles of unwatchable dreck at some point, their respective nadirs being The Ghosts Of Sodom and Phantom Of The Opera. Maybe it’s that Cozzi gave up directing after the 80s ended, but if you watched Cozzi’s entire directorial filmography you’d be hard-pressed to find a movie that wasn’t in some way worth watching, and after seeing where it all began for him, I can happily confirm such consistency has been true from the start.

The film is very loosely based on the Frederik Pohl short story of the same name, which, astonishingly, Cozzi had single-handedly gained the rights to adapt from Pohl himself. However, his adaptation of the story reaches far from what Pohl had done; while Pohl’s story is more of a jab at corporate power over the masses and the advertising business, Cozzi’s film is more… um… Santa Claus assassins… St. Peter… a sniper dude in a tower… it’s more of an avant-garde clusterfuck, I should say. I noticed a few elements of the original story in there, like how the same day would keep repeating with subtle changes to the day’s events in order to test people’s reactions to things, and I could tell the Bruno character was supposed to be Burckhardt, but other than that, it’s very much different, more than simple cosmetic differences.

In that regard, Cozzi’s film, as a movie adaptation of a short story, is as big a failure as The Lawnmower Man or Johnny Mnemonic, but if you had watched this film without knowing anything about Pohl’s story, you’d think it was really cool. With this film, we have Cozzi at his rawest and youngest, before his movies were more producer and trend-driven and before his budgets were big enough to show off the filmmaking talent he really possessed, and this means that beginner mistakes are noticeable, such as the shadow of the huge-ass camera used being visible on Bruno’s back. However, it being his first film and all, the mistakes are forgivable, especially when you know what greater things the young chap behind this will be directing someday.

Even at Cozzi’s young age (compare 22-year-old Cozzi as seen in his cameo to how he looks now, you might think that Cozzi killed this kid and stole his identity), you could tell he knew damn well what he was doing, despite apparently possessing no filmmaking experience beforehand. For an avant-garde film, the editing is quite tight, the soundtrack is suitably creepy for a sci-fi acid trip, the optical effects present in the title cards look like they’d be cool to see on a big screen in the early 70s, and the probably-improvised dialogue and narration fit the tone well, even when offset with such bizarre images as a group of Santa suit-clad hired killers. The narrative is still very jumbled and is far from telling a completely coherent story, but even the greatest of Italian genre films are guilty of stretching suspension of disbelief to ridiculous extremes. It’s just that watching this is like watching the Italian equivalent of Eraserhead.

As I was watching this film and seeing how talented Cozzi was at his first swing behind the camera, I began to wonder what would’ve happened if after Cozzi finished Starcrash, he decided to retire early from filmmaking after creating what he believed to be his magnum opus. With only six films in his oeuvre, not counting Cozzilla, for film fans to shuffle through, would he be a more celebrated filmmaker today? Would this film become a cult classic like Eraserhead or the Rocky Horror Picture Show, and would his Door Into Darkness episode and The Killer Must Kill Again be considered two of the greatest gialli of all time? Would The Nude Porter and Take All Of Me have deluxe DVD treatments courtesy of The Criterion Collection? Would Cozzilla be cherished by Toho as an important, daring retooling of their 1954 masterpiece (probably not) and would Starcrash have a following as big as Star Wars? Then I thought about how Cozzi’s career turned out, and I thought that some of that stuff might happen if he stepped out of the shadows and came back with the biggest comeback film of his career, and I began to hope… but I know that he’s happy working the Profondo Rosso shop, and I’m happy for him.

How would this film stand for someone who isn’t a hardcore fan of Luigi Cozzi? I’ll be perfectly honest: it doesn’t. This film isn’t for someone who doesn’t know jack shit about Italian genre cinema AND avant-garde films, because you’ll either complain about not getting what the movie’s trying to say or think it’s too damn weird to stomach. Those criticisms are very justifiable, and I can even see fans of those two things getting turned off by this film for possibly cranking the artsiness up too high. Thankfully, however, the film is extremely hard to find, with its only known DVD release being on the French 2-discer of Contamination, which acts as a filter for those who wouldn’t get the film in the first place; if you know enough about Luigi Cozzi to know that this film exists, and you have the desire and the knowhow to be able to successfully track it down and watch it, then this film is most definitely for you.

Also Check Out: Starcrash, The Killer Must Kill Again, Hercules, Paganini Horror, The Lawnmower Man

This film is not available on Region 1 DVD as of yet.

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03/03/2013 20:14:00

SONIC (2013, USA, EDDIE LEBRON)
This is a project I remember hearing about a long, LONG time ago, but had completely forgotten about by the time it was eventually released. Long ago, in the days of YouTube when the Irate Gamer was still relevant and warred over, Darknessthecurse was still making videos, yadda yadda yadda (yes, I do consider this time nostalgic, get at me), I remember a video by BigAl2k6 that was a rant aimed at the ever-infamous Spax3, and at one point in the video he brings up Spax attacking the makers of the Sonic The Hedgehog fan film for taking some sort of dramatic license with the character. Naturally, I was interested by the idea of a Sonic fan film, since I had been a fan of Sonic’s stuff up to about Sonic Adventure 2, and I decided to google it, but my lazy attempts at searching for an answer came up empty-handed, and I had probably forgotten about it by the next morning. (NOTE: I have been informed by BigAl that Spax was not actually bashing THIS Sonic fan film, but an unreleased one by Richard Kuta. My apologies.)

Jump to about early January of this year, and on BigAl’s Facebook account, he posted that he had seen a Sonic fan film he had provided contributions to, and was pretty much appalled with what he’d seen, and all of a sudden, the memory just snapped back into my brain. At this point, one thing was certain: I HAD to see this movie, no matter what it took. If it meant buying a DVD, torrenting it off The Pirate Bay, I would sit down with popcorn and Monster Energy in hand and see what desecration had been brought onto the Sonic franchise… until I found out the entire thing was just available for free on YouTube, which made watching it much easier. Did that make the movie easier to sit through at all? NO. NO IT DID NOT.

The 18-minute fan film (or “spec film”, as the title feels necessary to call it) is a gritty and serious take on everyone’s favorite blue hedgehog (is there really any other?), that begins with Julian Kintobor’s airborne invasion of the streets of New Y… erm, Station Square from Sonic Adventure. People begin to talk on TV about the dangers of this invasion, when Kintobor, changing his name to Robotnik, begins his fast tyrannical takeover of Mobius. All of a sudden, S… the “Blue Blur” escapes from the now-destroyed South Island of Mobius and begins to aid the GUN soldiers sent out by the government to try and stop Robotnik and his robotic minions.

I’ll begin with what the good things about this thing are before the real rant begins, just so the people who like to suck on Blue Core’s dick can’t say I’m just a hater. First off, I have to hand it to them for managing to get Jaleel White to reprise the role of Sonic’s voice, even though it’s clear that his voice has aged hard from either the years of doing the Urkel voice for the fans he meets walking down the street or what the drugs have done to his vocal cords. I always liked Adventures Of Sonic The Hedgehog, and how it’s no good if someone tries to touch me in a place or a way that makes me feel uncomfortable and whatnot, so it was good to see him come back. To make things a little more tolerable, the cinematography in this movie, despite being done on digital cameras (grrr…), looks way better than 98% of fan films, most of which can’t even handle a fucking tripod right. Finally, the best actor in the movie is undoubtedly the guy playing Robotnik; he looks like he’s probably the director’s uncle and I would’ve preferred if he at least looked that abominable “realistic” Robotnik in Sonic ’06, but he was pretty good.

NOTHING else in this pile of smegma works, however. Absolutely fucking NOTHING. For starters, let’s get down to the main reason anyone would watch this thing, which is to see what Sonic himself would look like in a live-action movie, and the answer to that is LIKE DOGSHIT. Normally, I would condemn this sort of thing right off the bat just because Sonic is CGI, but even seasoned horror fans have to know that movies like this and modern superhero movies basically need CGI to do half of what they’re trying to do properly; hell, The Avengers is a CGI-fest and yet almost all of it looks amazing. However, thanks to seeing how CGI can utterly destroy horror and exploitation flicks (The Stendhal Syndrome’s thankfully few CGI scenes are among its worst), I’m still extremely tough on badly-done CGI, and never have I seen CGI more awful than the After Effects bullshit Lebron is trying to pawn off as Sonic here.

The decision to make his character model for this movie reflect the more modern look of Sonic, with the controversial green eyes and all, was admittedly a pretty ballsy move on the part of the filmmakers, but they still manage to fuck it up by attempting to make him “realistic”. For example, look at his retarded-ass wispy hairline and try not to think that it’s some part of his wireframe that some moron working visual effects left in for some stupid political statement. Look at how their decision not to include some kind of motion blur to Sonic’s movement makes him look like he’s running at five miles an hour. Look at how, at one point, SONIC LITERALLY JUMPS INTO THE LETTERBOXING, WHICH IS SOMETHING THAT HAPPENS A FEW TIMES WITH BOTH HIM AND THE ROBOTS. Take note, Lebron; CGI can be good if used properly, but if you don’t keep it under intensive and meticulous care, your movie will look cheaper than a Vietnamese whore who got mail-order-brided onto the Sunset Strip. Saying that movies on Syfy and from The Asylum look better than this is a fucking understatement.

Poor CGI aside, the rest of the movie is inexcusably and excruciatingly painful. The cameos that only 15 percent of the audience would notice are especially disgusting; Brentalfloss looks like the director just happened to notice him walking around in New York and asked him for a few shots, the Angry Video Game Nerd looks almost embarrassed to be here and almost breaks into laughter from saying “Kintobor”, I’ve seen better expressions of shock from mummies than the Nostalgia Critic, I get the impression from Stuttering Craig that he’s finally come to terms with being a washed up Internet celebrity, and on Game Grumps, when Egoraptor mentioned his role in the movie, he sounded like he was pretty close to trashing it but didn’t want to offend Blue Core. I would put the rest of the actors in this kind of light, but quite frankly, none of them are noteworthy enough to give any real criticism.

I’ll end the review on one final point so that my self-indulgence doesn’t go off the charts, in that this movie not only contributes significantly to the stereotype that all fan films are intrinsically worthless, it also nullifies all of the progress fan films have made in all the years they’ve been produced and comes close to turning that stereotype into a fact. If “spec film” means to them what I think they’re trying to say, I really hope that Blue Core don’t even think of expanding this to an actual feature-length runtime, and I also hope that if they even try, Sega will block them from doing it and publically vow never to make a Sonic movie, since these people have destroyed any possibility of a live-action Sonic film amounting to anything more than bargain-bin worthlessness. I guess the only thing I have left to question is… what did Spax think about Sonic’s eyes being green in this?
Check Out Instead: Super Mario Bros, Street Fighter, House Of The Dead, Silent Hill, Postal
This movie is not out on DVD, and it would be very illegal to sell this in any format.

SONIC (2013, USA, EDDIE LEBRON)

This is a project I remember hearing about a long, LONG time ago, but had completely forgotten about by the time it was eventually released. Long ago, in the days of YouTube when the Irate Gamer was still relevant and warred over, Darknessthecurse was still making videos, yadda yadda yadda (yes, I do consider this time nostalgic, get at me), I remember a video by BigAl2k6 that was a rant aimed at the ever-infamous Spax3, and at one point in the video he brings up Spax attacking the makers of the Sonic The Hedgehog fan film for taking some sort of dramatic license with the character. Naturally, I was interested by the idea of a Sonic fan film, since I had been a fan of Sonic’s stuff up to about Sonic Adventure 2, and I decided to google it, but my lazy attempts at searching for an answer came up empty-handed, and I had probably forgotten about it by the next morning. (NOTE: I have been informed by BigAl that Spax was not actually bashing THIS Sonic fan film, but an unreleased one by Richard Kuta. My apologies.)

image

Jump to about early January of this year, and on BigAl’s Facebook account, he posted that he had seen a Sonic fan film he had provided contributions to, and was pretty much appalled with what he’d seen, and all of a sudden, the memory just snapped back into my brain. At this point, one thing was certain: I HAD to see this movie, no matter what it took. If it meant buying a DVD, torrenting it off The Pirate Bay, I would sit down with popcorn and Monster Energy in hand and see what desecration had been brought onto the Sonic franchise… until I found out the entire thing was just available for free on YouTube, which made watching it much easier. Did that make the movie easier to sit through at all? NO. NO IT DID NOT.

image

The 18-minute fan film (or “spec film”, as the title feels necessary to call it) is a gritty and serious take on everyone’s favorite blue hedgehog (is there really any other?), that begins with Julian Kintobor’s airborne invasion of the streets of New Y… erm, Station Square from Sonic Adventure. People begin to talk on TV about the dangers of this invasion, when Kintobor, changing his name to Robotnik, begins his fast tyrannical takeover of Mobius. All of a sudden, S… the “Blue Blur” escapes from the now-destroyed South Island of Mobius and begins to aid the GUN soldiers sent out by the government to try and stop Robotnik and his robotic minions.

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I’ll begin with what the good things about this thing are before the real rant begins, just so the people who like to suck on Blue Core’s dick can’t say I’m just a hater. First off, I have to hand it to them for managing to get Jaleel White to reprise the role of Sonic’s voice, even though it’s clear that his voice has aged hard from either the years of doing the Urkel voice for the fans he meets walking down the street or what the drugs have done to his vocal cords. I always liked Adventures Of Sonic The Hedgehog, and how it’s no good if someone tries to touch me in a place or a way that makes me feel uncomfortable and whatnot, so it was good to see him come back. To make things a little more tolerable, the cinematography in this movie, despite being done on digital cameras (grrr…), looks way better than 98% of fan films, most of which can’t even handle a fucking tripod right. Finally, the best actor in the movie is undoubtedly the guy playing Robotnik; he looks like he’s probably the director’s uncle and I would’ve preferred if he at least looked that abominable “realistic” Robotnik in Sonic ’06, but he was pretty good.

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NOTHING else in this pile of smegma works, however. Absolutely fucking NOTHING. For starters, let’s get down to the main reason anyone would watch this thing, which is to see what Sonic himself would look like in a live-action movie, and the answer to that is LIKE DOGSHIT. Normally, I would condemn this sort of thing right off the bat just because Sonic is CGI, but even seasoned horror fans have to know that movies like this and modern superhero movies basically need CGI to do half of what they’re trying to do properly; hell, The Avengers is a CGI-fest and yet almost all of it looks amazing. However, thanks to seeing how CGI can utterly destroy horror and exploitation flicks (The Stendhal Syndrome’s thankfully few CGI scenes are among its worst), I’m still extremely tough on badly-done CGI, and never have I seen CGI more awful than the After Effects bullshit Lebron is trying to pawn off as Sonic here.

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The decision to make his character model for this movie reflect the more modern look of Sonic, with the controversial green eyes and all, was admittedly a pretty ballsy move on the part of the filmmakers, but they still manage to fuck it up by attempting to make him “realistic”. For example, look at his retarded-ass wispy hairline and try not to think that it’s some part of his wireframe that some moron working visual effects left in for some stupid political statement. Look at how their decision not to include some kind of motion blur to Sonic’s movement makes him look like he’s running at five miles an hour. Look at how, at one point, SONIC LITERALLY JUMPS INTO THE LETTERBOXING, WHICH IS SOMETHING THAT HAPPENS A FEW TIMES WITH BOTH HIM AND THE ROBOTS. Take note, Lebron; CGI can be good if used properly, but if you don’t keep it under intensive and meticulous care, your movie will look cheaper than a Vietnamese whore who got mail-order-brided onto the Sunset Strip. Saying that movies on Syfy and from The Asylum look better than this is a fucking understatement.

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Poor CGI aside, the rest of the movie is inexcusably and excruciatingly painful. The cameos that only 15 percent of the audience would notice are especially disgusting; Brentalfloss looks like the director just happened to notice him walking around in New York and asked him for a few shots, the Angry Video Game Nerd looks almost embarrassed to be here and almost breaks into laughter from saying “Kintobor”, I’ve seen better expressions of shock from mummies than the Nostalgia Critic, I get the impression from Stuttering Craig that he’s finally come to terms with being a washed up Internet celebrity, and on Game Grumps, when Egoraptor mentioned his role in the movie, he sounded like he was pretty close to trashing it but didn’t want to offend Blue Core. I would put the rest of the actors in this kind of light, but quite frankly, none of them are noteworthy enough to give any real criticism.

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I’ll end the review on one final point so that my self-indulgence doesn’t go off the charts, in that this movie not only contributes significantly to the stereotype that all fan films are intrinsically worthless, it also nullifies all of the progress fan films have made in all the years they’ve been produced and comes close to turning that stereotype into a fact. If “spec film” means to them what I think they’re trying to say, I really hope that Blue Core don’t even think of expanding this to an actual feature-length runtime, and I also hope that if they even try, Sega will block them from doing it and publically vow never to make a Sonic movie, since these people have destroyed any possibility of a live-action Sonic film amounting to anything more than bargain-bin worthlessness. I guess the only thing I have left to question is… what did Spax think about Sonic’s eyes being green in this?

Check Out Instead: Super Mario Bros, Street Fighter, House Of The Dead, Silent Hill, Postal

This movie is not out on DVD, and it would be very illegal to sell this in any format.

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03/03/2013 16:02:04

DARK SKIES (2013, USA, SCOTT STEWART)
And here we are, three reviews into my return and I’m already writing the review that could signal the death of my horror cred. As many angry filmgoers know, the Weinsteins, while also being the producers that put Kevin Smith and Quentin Tarantino on the map, are notorious for not only destroying a somewhat long-running horror franchise (if you thought Rob Zombie’s Halloween remakes were bad, watch Halloween: Resurrection), but also sanding down many of their potentially potent films into piles of mediocrity just so they don’t miss out on the “teen dumbass” market, with most of the movies made under their Dimension Films label getting recut by the Weinsteins at some point so they don’t offend anyone. This very recent film was also a Dimension Films release, something I didn’t know until the opening credits, and lo and behold, it’s pretty much devoid of any identity it could’ve had.

The Barretts are a typical American family who are starting to celebrate the Fourth of July when the father, Daniel, not only gets rejected for a new job interview, but also finds out that the mortgage is 90 days past due. In addition to the family’s financial troubles, weird shit starts happening around their house, such as arranging all their glasses in the kitchen to arrange some weird symbols, all of their alarms go off at the same time, most of the family members start having bizarre fits at some point, and of course, no one else in the neighborhood believes them. The mom notices it seemingly has to do with nightmares her son Sammy is having about aliens, and Daniel, not believing her, starts trying to find less crazy solutions to the problems (although probably worsening his money troubles by doing so). However, when his wife continually pushes him to an expert on the matter, he finally gives in and finds out what’s going on is much worse than he could’ve imagined.

While thinking about what to write for this during the ending credits (I would’ve written one on opening day, but it was during my few months of laziness), I came to the conclusion that this movie had been made from a screenplay that had clearly been around for a while and no studio wanted to touch it until Paranormal Activity became a hit, and then the Weinsteins picked it up and got some ghostwriters to modernize it and add elements of Paranormal Activity to produce a surefire hit. The reason I say this is because I remember that the movie made some obsolete reference to either technology or pop culture (I can’t remember what exactly it was, but the movie might as well have thrown in a palm pilot or a milkman) while shoehorning in a few clearly forced and very cringeworthy references to pop culture, like when Jesse is staying at his wigger friend’s house for “an epic game of Modern Warfare”.

The inclusion of the one element of Paranormal Activity that the Weinsteins clearly wanted felt very lazily implemented as well. The only real piece that they stole from the Paranormal Activity franchise is the presence of a multi-camera setup to watch the house in case they happen to see the aliens while the family sleeps, but its existence in the film is extremely pointless; it doesn’t really do much to advance the plot at all other than show that the aliens can fuck with cameras, and the only time it does anything to move the plot along is a scene that easily could have been done otherwise. The inclusion of the cameras also opens up a glaring plothole I didn’t think about until later: so you’re telling me that, despite the family’s deep money troubles, Daniel was somehow able to afford six security cameras and the computer software linking them all together? Nice try, Weinsteins.

However, either by total accident or by the director secretly slipping in quality through the cracks in the Weinsteins’ vision, the movie does do some cool shit and make some good points about humanity. When Daniel and wife finally go to see the expert played by Cave Johnson, he quickly establishes that not only is he a better actor than pretty much the rest of the cast (seriously, the kid that played Sammy needed some House By The Cemetery-esque dubbing to make him TOLERABLE), but he’s the reason why that scene is the only one with the capability to bring genuine chills to the audience; he’s a man who’s experienced this sort of thing many times before and tells them straight up that there’s no way they can ever truly get out of what’s going on, and he’s got the newspaper articles to prove it. The end of the flick throws in the clichéd horror movie stupidity, but here its presence actually does make sense, because we would be way too stupid and unevolved to defend ourselves if aliens actually came for us, and we’ve got a long way to go before we can even think of standing a chance. Go fuck yourself, Emmerich.

With that in mind, the question still remains: Should you still check this movie out? To be perfectly honest, I would see it again and I’d recommend giving it a shot, but if you’re a seasoned horror veteran, do understand you’ll need to dramatically lower your expectations of identity to have a good time with this. A mainstreamer might watch this and get some enjoyment because the Weinsteins know how to dumb a movie down for the “scary movie” mentality, but they’d probably still complain that isn’t as classic as something like the Nightmare On Elm Street remake anyway. You’ll still get some entertainment out of this movie and might notice the clever shit going on if you’ve been around the block plenty of times, so don’t totally write it off, just don’t be inexperienced before going in.
Also Check Out: Apollo 18, Paranormal Activity 3, Pontypool, Children Of The Corn III: Urban Harvest, Alone In The Dark
Dark Skies might still be in theaters if the Weinsteins haven’t buried it by now.

DARK SKIES (2013, USA, SCOTT STEWART)

And here we are, three reviews into my return and I’m already writing the review that could signal the death of my horror cred. As many angry filmgoers know, the Weinsteins, while also being the producers that put Kevin Smith and Quentin Tarantino on the map, are notorious for not only destroying a somewhat long-running horror franchise (if you thought Rob Zombie’s Halloween remakes were bad, watch Halloween: Resurrection), but also sanding down many of their potentially potent films into piles of mediocrity just so they don’t miss out on the “teen dumbass” market, with most of the movies made under their Dimension Films label getting recut by the Weinsteins at some point so they don’t offend anyone. This very recent film was also a Dimension Films release, something I didn’t know until the opening credits, and lo and behold, it’s pretty much devoid of any identity it could’ve had.

The Barretts are a typical American family who are starting to celebrate the Fourth of July when the father, Daniel, not only gets rejected for a new job interview, but also finds out that the mortgage is 90 days past due. In addition to the family’s financial troubles, weird shit starts happening around their house, such as arranging all their glasses in the kitchen to arrange some weird symbols, all of their alarms go off at the same time, most of the family members start having bizarre fits at some point, and of course, no one else in the neighborhood believes them. The mom notices it seemingly has to do with nightmares her son Sammy is having about aliens, and Daniel, not believing her, starts trying to find less crazy solutions to the problems (although probably worsening his money troubles by doing so). However, when his wife continually pushes him to an expert on the matter, he finally gives in and finds out what’s going on is much worse than he could’ve imagined.

While thinking about what to write for this during the ending credits (I would’ve written one on opening day, but it was during my few months of laziness), I came to the conclusion that this movie had been made from a screenplay that had clearly been around for a while and no studio wanted to touch it until Paranormal Activity became a hit, and then the Weinsteins picked it up and got some ghostwriters to modernize it and add elements of Paranormal Activity to produce a surefire hit. The reason I say this is because I remember that the movie made some obsolete reference to either technology or pop culture (I can’t remember what exactly it was, but the movie might as well have thrown in a palm pilot or a milkman) while shoehorning in a few clearly forced and very cringeworthy references to pop culture, like when Jesse is staying at his wigger friend’s house for “an epic game of Modern Warfare”.

The inclusion of the one element of Paranormal Activity that the Weinsteins clearly wanted felt very lazily implemented as well. The only real piece that they stole from the Paranormal Activity franchise is the presence of a multi-camera setup to watch the house in case they happen to see the aliens while the family sleeps, but its existence in the film is extremely pointless; it doesn’t really do much to advance the plot at all other than show that the aliens can fuck with cameras, and the only time it does anything to move the plot along is a scene that easily could have been done otherwise. The inclusion of the cameras also opens up a glaring plothole I didn’t think about until later: so you’re telling me that, despite the family’s deep money troubles, Daniel was somehow able to afford six security cameras and the computer software linking them all together? Nice try, Weinsteins.

However, either by total accident or by the director secretly slipping in quality through the cracks in the Weinsteins’ vision, the movie does do some cool shit and make some good points about humanity. When Daniel and wife finally go to see the expert played by Cave Johnson, he quickly establishes that not only is he a better actor than pretty much the rest of the cast (seriously, the kid that played Sammy needed some House By The Cemetery-esque dubbing to make him TOLERABLE), but he’s the reason why that scene is the only one with the capability to bring genuine chills to the audience; he’s a man who’s experienced this sort of thing many times before and tells them straight up that there’s no way they can ever truly get out of what’s going on, and he’s got the newspaper articles to prove it. The end of the flick throws in the clichéd horror movie stupidity, but here its presence actually does make sense, because we would be way too stupid and unevolved to defend ourselves if aliens actually came for us, and we’ve got a long way to go before we can even think of standing a chance. Go fuck yourself, Emmerich.

With that in mind, the question still remains: Should you still check this movie out? To be perfectly honest, I would see it again and I’d recommend giving it a shot, but if you’re a seasoned horror veteran, do understand you’ll need to dramatically lower your expectations of identity to have a good time with this. A mainstreamer might watch this and get some enjoyment because the Weinsteins know how to dumb a movie down for the “scary movie” mentality, but they’d probably still complain that isn’t as classic as something like the Nightmare On Elm Street remake anyway. You’ll still get some entertainment out of this movie and might notice the clever shit going on if you’ve been around the block plenty of times, so don’t totally write it off, just don’t be inexperienced before going in.

Also Check Out: Apollo 18, Paranormal Activity 3, Pontypool, Children Of The Corn III: Urban Harvest, Alone In The Dark

Dark Skies might still be in theaters if the Weinsteins haven’t buried it by now.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

03/03/2013 01:07:24

SPIDER LABYRINTH (1988, ITALY, GIANFRANCO GIAGNI)
By looking at this movie’s cover, watching its balls-to-the-wall trailer, or just reading that Sergio Stivaletti was involved in making this movie’s visual effects, you might believe that this film is one of the biggest special effects extravaganzas to be forgotten by most of the world after Italian horror’s prominence came to an end, an Italian horror flick on par with John Carpenter’s The Thing, and you’d wonder why the fuck people ignored this flick in the first place. While the main factors contributing to this movie’s obscurity are a mass early-to-mid-80s nostalgia when it comes to Italian horror and that Italy’s horror distribution got shitter and shittier as time went on, it’s also that this film just ISN’T the kind of movie its trailer or cover promises. Is it still a good movie? Fuck yes! However, you’ll have to tone down your post-trailer expectations if you really want to get the most out of this film.

Alan Whitmore is a professor involved in a top-secret study project of a mysterious cult who is sent by his superiors to Budapest to make contact with Professor Roth, a man who was providing significant information to the project before ceasing all communications with them. Alan arrives in Budapest shortly after and finds Professor Roth, who has become visibly nervous from his studies and tries to get Alan away from what he’s doing. It isn’t long before Professor Roth is found hanged where he was studying, and from there, Alan gets deeper and deeper into Roth’s studies, finding out that a bizarre woman who had claimed to be Roth’s wife is committing supernatural murders left and right. With the help of a secretary named Genevieve, he begins to find out the terrifying truth about the cult, how widespread it really is, and its relation to a terrifying childhood memory involving a spider that had been haunting him in his nightmares for years.

The reason why I say this movie isn’t what its trailer or cover promises is that what the trailer seems to push as its strongest aspect, the stop-motion effects provided by Italian FX god Sergio Stivaletti, doesn’t appear nearly as much as the trailer wants you to think. The special effects are undoubtedly the strongest aspect of the film, but beyond the five shots of stop-motion (not counting repeats), Mrs. Roth’s rampages and the absolutely amazing revelation in the ending clearly taking something from The Thing, the special effects are used very sparingly. The low usage of special effects open the film’s biggest issue, that it has a tendency to drag for a good amount of its runtime. If it had indeed been the special effects extravaganza as advertised, it definitely wouldn’t be as slow-paced as the final version is.

But what comes in to patch up the dragging 75 percent of time is Giagni’s great handling of atmosphere. As Alan’s world begins to cave in on him, the film’s lighting begins to resemble that of Dario Argento’s classic Inferno, and there’s a few kills that would make Argento or Bava blush, including a fantastically creepy set piece taking place in a labyrinth of white sheets resembling a spider web, and when the man who warned Whitmore of his doom gets pulled up by Mrs. Roth’s spider-witch powers and stabs him to death. It also helps that there’s always something off about the people in Budapest, whether it be the distrust of Whitmore by the villagers or Genevieve’s odd ritual of stripping down naked in front of her window where Whitmore can see her, and the orchestral soundtrack, from an era where heavy metal soundtracks were becoming standard in Italian horror, is as frightening as something Goblin or Ennio Morricone could have composed in the giallo’s heyday. The great atmosphere, however, doesn’t give you that “less is more” effect with the special effects all of the time, and there are still some scenes bogging the film’s pacing down, such as Whitmore’s somewhat long search for an antiques shop where he finds the owner killed by Mrs. Roth anyway.

Despite all that, I would recommend this flick to anyone looking for a really good example of a post-1985 Italian horror flick that ended up making it to theaters, but do understand that it’s far less than what advertising tries to tell you. This movie has stellar special effects from the Tom Savini of Italy, but it doesn’t use them as often as it should, and tries to have its really good atmosphere take its place for them. Still, if you can make it to the very end of the flick, the finale is one of the coolest examples of just how awesome special effects can be in Italian horror, and that ending alone is worth the price of admission.  My only hope now is that someone will do a deluxe edition of the film on DVD or Blu-Ray, so a wider audience can check the movie out and see that, despite being a bore in spots, it’s one of the better movies to come out of the later era of Italian horror.
Also Check Out: Inferno, Dinner With A Vampire, Short Night Of Glass Dolls, Buio Omega, Gli Occhi Dentro
No Region 1 DVD of the film is available at this time.

SPIDER LABYRINTH (1988, ITALY, GIANFRANCO GIAGNI)

By looking at this movie’s cover, watching its balls-to-the-wall trailer, or just reading that Sergio Stivaletti was involved in making this movie’s visual effects, you might believe that this film is one of the biggest special effects extravaganzas to be forgotten by most of the world after Italian horror’s prominence came to an end, an Italian horror flick on par with John Carpenter’s The Thing, and you’d wonder why the fuck people ignored this flick in the first place. While the main factors contributing to this movie’s obscurity are a mass early-to-mid-80s nostalgia when it comes to Italian horror and that Italy’s horror distribution got shitter and shittier as time went on, it’s also that this film just ISN’T the kind of movie its trailer or cover promises. Is it still a good movie? Fuck yes! However, you’ll have to tone down your post-trailer expectations if you really want to get the most out of this film.

Alan Whitmore is a professor involved in a top-secret study project of a mysterious cult who is sent by his superiors to Budapest to make contact with Professor Roth, a man who was providing significant information to the project before ceasing all communications with them. Alan arrives in Budapest shortly after and finds Professor Roth, who has become visibly nervous from his studies and tries to get Alan away from what he’s doing. It isn’t long before Professor Roth is found hanged where he was studying, and from there, Alan gets deeper and deeper into Roth’s studies, finding out that a bizarre woman who had claimed to be Roth’s wife is committing supernatural murders left and right. With the help of a secretary named Genevieve, he begins to find out the terrifying truth about the cult, how widespread it really is, and its relation to a terrifying childhood memory involving a spider that had been haunting him in his nightmares for years.

The reason why I say this movie isn’t what its trailer or cover promises is that what the trailer seems to push as its strongest aspect, the stop-motion effects provided by Italian FX god Sergio Stivaletti, doesn’t appear nearly as much as the trailer wants you to think. The special effects are undoubtedly the strongest aspect of the film, but beyond the five shots of stop-motion (not counting repeats), Mrs. Roth’s rampages and the absolutely amazing revelation in the ending clearly taking something from The Thing, the special effects are used very sparingly. The low usage of special effects open the film’s biggest issue, that it has a tendency to drag for a good amount of its runtime. If it had indeed been the special effects extravaganza as advertised, it definitely wouldn’t be as slow-paced as the final version is.

But what comes in to patch up the dragging 75 percent of time is Giagni’s great handling of atmosphere. As Alan’s world begins to cave in on him, the film’s lighting begins to resemble that of Dario Argento’s classic Inferno, and there’s a few kills that would make Argento or Bava blush, including a fantastically creepy set piece taking place in a labyrinth of white sheets resembling a spider web, and when the man who warned Whitmore of his doom gets pulled up by Mrs. Roth’s spider-witch powers and stabs him to death. It also helps that there’s always something off about the people in Budapest, whether it be the distrust of Whitmore by the villagers or Genevieve’s odd ritual of stripping down naked in front of her window where Whitmore can see her, and the orchestral soundtrack, from an era where heavy metal soundtracks were becoming standard in Italian horror, is as frightening as something Goblin or Ennio Morricone could have composed in the giallo’s heyday. The great atmosphere, however, doesn’t give you that “less is more” effect with the special effects all of the time, and there are still some scenes bogging the film’s pacing down, such as Whitmore’s somewhat long search for an antiques shop where he finds the owner killed by Mrs. Roth anyway.

Despite all that, I would recommend this flick to anyone looking for a really good example of a post-1985 Italian horror flick that ended up making it to theaters, but do understand that it’s far less than what advertising tries to tell you. This movie has stellar special effects from the Tom Savini of Italy, but it doesn’t use them as often as it should, and tries to have its really good atmosphere take its place for them. Still, if you can make it to the very end of the flick, the finale is one of the coolest examples of just how awesome special effects can be in Italian horror, and that ending alone is worth the price of admission.  My only hope now is that someone will do a deluxe edition of the film on DVD or Blu-Ray, so a wider audience can check the movie out and see that, despite being a bore in spots, it’s one of the better movies to come out of the later era of Italian horror.

Also Check Out: Inferno, Dinner With A Vampire, Short Night Of Glass Dolls, Buio Omega, Gli Occhi Dentro

No Region 1 DVD of the film is available at this time.

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