Saturday, February 19, 2011

Celluloid Horrors Movie Reviews

Zombiethon (1986)
Director(s): various
Cast: various

Review written by Steven M Duarte

Ever wanted to just see the good parts of some shitty zombie films from the 70’s and 80’s? Well look no further as Zombiethon contains just that along with some original filmed footage just for this compilation piece. Zombiethon is basically a film that shows various pieces of film from older zombie titles from around the world. While majority of the films are bad we do get a pretty long segment of sequences from the always awesome Lucio Fulci’s Zombi. The infamous zombie vs shark scene and splinter in eye scenes are highlighted. A couple of the films whose scenes are included are The Invisible Dead, Oasis of the Zombies, Zombie Lake and Astro-Zombies.

The original footage filmed for the compilation either ends up being funny or just falls flat. Much like the films highlighted the footage usually involves a hot looking female being pursued by a zombie. One scene to take particular note of was a movie theater full of zombies watching the zombie clips. This will create some laughs as the projectionist is a zombie who has trouble with the film clips.

With the exception of The Invisible Dead I had seen all the previous movies highlighted but it was a treat to get to see the best parts of the film without having to sit through the entire film all over again. Again the exception to this rule would be Zombi which I can sit through numerous viewings. The run time of the compilation is only 74 minutes but considering that it is a compilation piece it’s about right for how long it is.

Final Thoughts:

I’m a self proclaimed zombie freak so in the realm of horror I’m pretty much drawn to anything zombie. Seeing as I had previously seen a majority of the films highlighted there wasn’t really anything new brought to my plate. What I did enjoy was the campy zombie inserts that served as filler between the different movies. Zombies can be funny and this is a good example of it done right. This compilation would also be great to show to friends who wouldn’t normally sit through an older foreign zombie film. Just for the sake of seeing the best parts of the movie.

3 1/2 OUT OF 5 STARS
--Steven M. Duarte


Director: Rolfe Kanefsky
Cast: Bonnie Bowers, John Carhart III and Craig Peck

review written by Brian M. Sammons

Hey, remember SCREAM? Remember how everyone loved that it was so self-referential and aware of all the old tropes of horror movies? Yeah that was great and refreshing and ah…this movie did it first. Those really cool horrorheads already know this and now, so do you (just in case you didn’t already). So it gets points for being firsties for self-aware horror, but is it any good? Well come on, we’re off for a weekend in the woods, and don’t worry, “There’s nothing out there…”

The story begins, as it does with many of these movies, with a bunch of high school kids going off to a house in the woods for a little partying, sex, and overall fun. Too bad for them that a little, green alien thing that kind of looks like a bigmouthed frog with two tentacle-like arms is running around those very same woods. This little ugly bugly loves eating the guys and doing implied naughty things (although it’s never shown) with the ladies and it has its glowing green eyes firmly set on the parting teens.

Lucky for the kids (ok the obvious twenty-somethings pretending to be teens) they have Mike, a guy that’s seen every horror movie on video and knows all the warning signs when he sees them. What’s not so lucky for the partiers is that none of them believe Mike’s paranoid ravings until it’s too late. So you get the old standbys of people wandering off in the woods alone for some nookie getting bumped off by the alien with the munchies. Eventually a few of the friends do get hip to the idea that they are getting bumped off and then it’s movie nerd Mike leading the way in the final battle.

Ok, so the story is none too original, but that’s part of its charm and all part of the joke. It’s supposed to be clichéd and the fact that the teens are so obvious trapped in a horror movie to Mike, yet his friends can’t see it, is one of the best jokes in this surprisingly effective comedy. This movie runs the comedic gauntlet from silly jokes, to dirty jokes, to in-jokes for horrorheads, to slapstick and pratfalls, even some forth wall breaking nods and winks. No, not all of the jokes are winners, and some miss the mark by more than a mile, but more hit it than not and that can’t be said by a lot of comedies and rest assured, that is what THERE’S NOTHING OUT THERE fully is. If you are expecting a horror movie, you may be disappointed. However if you want a funny and fun flick with some nice nudity, some ok gore effects, and has the added bonus of being first to do something, then you’ll dig this flick. I sure did.

That said, the new two disc, 20th anniversary DVD from Troma is sort of a mixed bag. Now it’s great that this movie is available at all on DVD, however the picture quality is pretty damn bad. There are tons of pops, cracks, scratches, grain, jumps, and in one scene I kid you not, even a wild hair on the screen. Maybe there is just no better print of this movie in existence, but really, could no effort have been put into making this movie look even the slightest bit better? But again, it’s just kind of cool that this
overlooked gem is on disc at all.

As for extras, there are quite a few, and quite a few more that oddly have nothing to do with THERE’S NOTHING OUT THERE. There are two introductions to the movie, one by writer/director Rolfe Kanefsky and another by Troma mastermind Lloyd Kaufman. There are two audio commentaries, one from ten years ago with the director and some of the actors and the other with just director Kanefsky, newly recorded for this DVD. Rolfe Kanefsky also does a pretty lengthy interview where he discusses the film and even shows off the original muppet-looking alien creature. There are the usual trailers, stills and a short behind the scenes stuff all about this movie, but then there are a bunch of extras that have nothing to do with TNOT. Kanefsky’s first short film is included, although it’s not really noteworthy, but another short called “Mood Boobs” with the always amazing Tiffany Shepis is very good and funny. There is also a behind the scenes making of for the “Boobs” short. So yeah, that’s a bit odd to have all that on this disc, but it was enjoyable.

THERE’S NOTHING OUT THERE is a very fun film that I really enjoyed. If you’re a horror fan then consider it mandatory. Not only is there a ton of humor in it just for us, it really is part of Horror History 101. So be one of the cool kids and get this new DVD today. You’ll be happy you did.

--Brian M. Sammons