Thursday, May 28, 2015


$kumbagz is the latest tale of debauchery from Florida's horror/exploitation powerhouse The Sleaze Box. I was first introduced to The Sleaze Box shortly after the release of Amerikan Holokaust  (which John Miller wrote). I was immediately taken aback by the amount of sleaze and style that was poured into nearly every shot. To this day I have still not revisited that film, not because I didn't like it, more because Bob Glazier looks EXACTLY like my uncle and happens to be naked a good chunk of his time on screen. It was a traumatic experience that I still haven't quite recovered from. I am also still avoiding contact with my uncle. 

The film opens with music from Eigh8t the Chosen One AND a woman fingering herself. From this moment on, I knew I was in for a fun ride. Stephanie is 25 and still living at home, much to the dismay of her parents. Her father thinks she is lazy and simply doesn't understand why she can't move on from hopping to different burger flipping jobs. Stephanie heads off to work after being ridiculed over her laziness. Once she gets to her dead-end job, her boss tries to get her to blow him. Stephanie makes a face when he gives some juicy details regarding his sexual quirks, and he fires her on the spot. Frustrated with life and without a way home she sits against a building and stews over another shitty day in her seemingly shitty life.

Before long, a man offers her a ride to his place for a drink. She gladly accepts and before she knows it she's drug and forced into a life of prostitution and abuse. Her $kumbag, drug addicted pimp is far from efficient. Most of Stephanie's clients are giant sacks of shit. Eventually, Stephanie finds her way out when her pimp ends up dead. Luckily, she finds a home with a drug dealer who isn't opposed to getting into the pimp game. Here she is getting a far better lifestyle and things seem to be going great. SPOILER ALERT! This is the fucking Sleaze Box, things won't stay great for long.

$kumbagz is a movie that definitely lives up to its title, and the label it is released on. The level of sleaze coming from the low-budget scene in Florida is enough to balance out the lack-thereof elsewhere in recent years. There isn't really a likable character in this movie (aside from possibly Stephanie and 6-9), but that is actually beneficial to the film. $kumbagz is a journey into some of the crime going on in Florida and all throughout the United States. Some of the settings here don't feel too far off from the area I'm in and I love it. The grit is here, the sleaze is here, and so is the violence. Some of the stylistic choices shown in Amerikan Holokaust are also on display here, but not nearly as often. In exchange for more of those moments, we get montages of ladies shaking their asses backed by rap music. These lengthy scenes were about as far from problematic as you can possibly get for me. 

Overall $kumbagz is an extremely gritty unique experience, and at the same time it managed to be fun as hell. There are many familiar faces from past Sleaze Box flicks and they all turn in awesome performances. Miller's warped sense of humor is still sprinkled in as usual and lands perfectly. This isn't a movie for the easily offended, but if you're easily offended you shouldn't be looking to places with the word sleaze in their name to get your entertainment. If you don't want exploitation, look elsewhere. All you other twisted bastards out there need to check this one out. GET IT!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Captain Z & The Terror of Leviathan

Captain Z & The Terror of Leviathan is a new horror comedy from director Steve Rudzinski. Rudzinski has been doing low-budget, comedic genre films since 2006. This time around he's tackled a story about a resurrected pirate fighting off demonic entities.

The film revolves around a group of employees working for a museum focused on the local pirate lore in their area. Their dull lives get a strong jolt when an occult professor shows up seeking more information about the legendary Captain Z. He has come in pursuit of a medallion that the Captain allegedly had in his possession. Meanwhile, a group of braindead fishermen pull that very medallion up on their reel and madness ensues. Captain Z is resurrected, and so are the demonic forces that tried to take him out 500 years prior. Now, the museum workers must join forces with the ass kicking pirate, or be forced to walk the shit deck!

There's pirates, demons, a token braindead bombshell, and nerdy references aplenty! Captain Z has a fair share of comedy that works, but unfortunately, it only goes well about half of the time. The acting is okay, the creature effects aren't very prevalent, but when they pop up they look solid. I will say I had a good time with it just for it's charm alone. It's clear that everyone involved in the creation of this film had a good time making it. Admittedly, I wasn't exactly excited to pop this in. Off title and cover alone it just didn't appear to be up my alley, but with that being said, I genuinely ended up enjoying this quite a bit more than I expected. Given my prejudice towards pirates, this on its own is an impressive feat. I refuse to drink Captain Morgan strictly due to its pirate connection, in fact I loathe pirates nearly as much as I loathe grapes.

The movie is definitely not without flaws. Although overall it is decent lighthearted fun, there are a number of things that weigh it down. The first thing that sticks out, is a flaw that many films of this nature are guilty of. I'm all for self referential flicks when they are more comedic based, but like many others coming out lately, Captain Z does not know when to end them. Many of the jokes in the movie go about 2 beats longer than they should, and it nearly kills the humor completely. Luckily, it does not happen enough to make the film unwatchable, but it does weaken the overall viewing experience. The twist at the end (if you want to call it that) is extremely predictable as well. This isn't a horrible detriment as I didn't really expect a movie about a resurrected pirate to pack many surprises.

Overall Captain Z is decent enough Lovecraftian inspired comedy. It's fairly in line with a much cheaper The Last Lovecraft. It won't wow you, but it also won't outright offend you. When the comedy works it is truly great, but when it doesn't it falls pretty hard. It's pretty apparent while watching that the cast and crew were all big film nerds that just wanted to make a movie. If you're a Lovecraft enthusiast and low budget film fan, I'd say give this one a look on a rainy day. Outside of that though, I'd have a hard time recommending this to anyone outside of that demographic, and even then films like The Last Lovecraft, Beyond the Dunwich Horror or The Dark Sleep would come to mind first. SOFT RECOMMENDATION FOR LOVECRAFT GEEKS AND HORROR COMEDY LOVERS. PROCEED WITH CAUTION TO EVERYONE ELSE.

The Sins of Dracula


The Sins of Dracula is a new film directed by Richard Griffin. Griffin has spent over a decade making his mark on the horror scene. His efforts have shown strong promise since the very beginning. Feeding the Masses and Raving Maniacs certainly show signs of a director getting his start, but these flicks also display a distinct style he has been sharpening throughout his career. Griffin already proved that he can do vampires well with his 2006 film Pretty Dead Things, so I was excited to see him back to deliver another flick with some bloodsucking villains.

Billy is a young man who's entire life revolves around his relationship with God. His sheltered lifestyle starts to collapse around him when his girlfriend convinces him to join the local theater for their next play. Billy has a very hard time adjusting to the diverse group working on the play. When he left his secluded bubble of Christianity, he wasn't anticipating encountering drug addicts and homosexuals among other things. Being around all of these sinners gets him thinking about committing a sin of his own. This temptation comes to a head when Billy has a very intimate conversation with God about his urges to beat his meat into amputee status. Meanwhile, there's a much larger problem occurring back at the theater. The head honcho of the theater department has plans to raise Dracula. Billy's concern about what to do with his junk will soon become the least of his problems.

The Sins of Dracula is essentially a cross between a Hammer horror film and a satire of Christian scare films. The movie is pretty heavy handed with the comedic elements but never really goes into full on parody mode. Many of Griffin's films walk this line. Over the years he's really managed to master the craft of finding the perfect balance between the two. The effects throughout are solid. The flick goes from great, to fucking awesome when the finale comes around. Billy ventures back into the theater to kick some vampire ass, and it is by far the highlight. That being said the first third of Sins is a truly excellent satirical setup. The movie also sports an awesome theme, although I must admit it sounds extremely similar to the training cut scenes from the NES classic Punch-Out.

Overall, The Sins of Dracula is a stellar low budget horror flick. All the jokes in the movie hit their mark perfectly and during the finale it packed some genuine surprises. I've come to the point where I expect quite a bit going into a new Griffin film and he's yet to deliver a disappointment in my book. When I've had a bad streak of indie horror flicks, I can always dig back into his filmography and find a reminder of why I fell in love with movies like these in the first place. If you're looking for a fun vampire flick this is it. GET IT!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Mad Max: Fury Road


Fury Road marks the triumphant return of Mad Max on the big screen, after a 30 year absence. Being a huge fan of the original three films, I was obviously a bit excited for the release of this. Whether it was the classic revenge oriented flick Mad Max, the genre defining Road Warrior, or the larger than life epic Beyond the Thunderdome there was one thing the series always guaranteed; An action packed viewing that left me in awe throughout my entire childhood. Going into the theater, I'll admit I was a little nervous about how this flick would turn out. It seemed odd to finally have a new addition to the series from Miller after a three decade break. The moment the lights dimmed and the screen lit up, all of those nerves completely vanished. 

Fury Road makes no excuses or compromises about what it is. This is a post-apocalyptic film that is loaded with balls-out action from start to finish. Insane stunts litter the screen throughout the entire runtime, and a significant amount of them happen to be practical. Whether an effect is practical or CG has very little relevance in this film. It's all badass. Hell, you could re-imagine the whole movie in CG animation and it would still annihilate ten times more ass than any action flick I've seen in the theaters the past decade. 

This movie is damn near a wall to wall chase scene. It's 2 epic hours of non-stop, pulse pounding action. A full movie of constant action can easily turn into a steaming pile of shit, but Fury Road manages to avoid that, by developing characters amidst the action sequences. The character development in this film is fantastic. Our group of central characters turn in amazing performances, and manage to give themselves an impressive amount of depth, without the need for much in terms of dialogue. This is one of the many factors that made this flick flourish as well as it did. Any movie that can push the film forward without ever slowing its full throttle momentum is an extremely impressive achievement. 

Overall, Mad Max Fury Road is a modern day anomaly. I can't believe something like this has hit theaters in this day and age. They just don't make them like this anymore. Fury Road is extremely reminiscent of a classic 80's action/adventure film. I strongly urge everyone out there to go give this one a shot in theaters. Maybe if this makes a boatload we can get a renaissance of awesome action flicks, or possibly even a stream of future movies exploring the Mad Max universe. GO SEE IT IN THEATERS, THEN BUY IT WHEN IT COMES OUT. OBEY.



Malignant is a 2013 mad scientist flick directed by Brian-Avenet Bradley. Bradley has been directing horror films since the early 2000's. Somehow, I've managed to go until now without seeing any of his work, but I have heard high praise for his last feature length effort, Dark Remains. Although it may seem strange to take an 8 year break after your most successful film, Malignant is a very good indicator that if Bradley had it then, he's still got it now.

Gary has been leading a rough lifestyle since the untimely passing of his wife. Getting blackout drunk every night has become the main objective of his after-work routine. One day, he leaves the bar and remembers the good old days, when his significant other was still present. A strange man shows up and jerks him back to reality. The man offers help to Gary, hoping to free him from the grip of alcoholism. He wakes up the next day at his lonely house with a freshly stitched up scar on his chest.

Gary is understandably a bit bothered by this fresh wound, and decides to get it checked out at the hospital. He gets a rude awakening when he is told by the nurse that he had just been checked in the previous night for a "bar fight" he was supposedly involved in. Things aren't making sense, and a nice liquor filled evening is in store. After getting blackout drunk once again, he wakes from his stairway slumber covered in blood. An email from the man who tampered with his insides gives a bit of insight. That fateful night, Gary had a device planted within him. This device allows the mysterious man to take control of Gary's mind whenever he pleases. If he drinks at all, people die. Sometimes it takes a little tough love to put an addiction to rest.

Things pick up at a rapid speed that never really lets up. The only complaint I have about the film, is that the ending didn't quite pack the punch I was anticipating during the build up. Even that doesn't manage to overall damper the viewing experience. The film keeps you guessing throughout, and there's a genuine interest to learn more about the mysterious villain. Along with the thick tension, there is also a fair amount of violence. The film isn't an all out gorefest, but there are definitely a few scenes that are quite gruesome. If eye violence is your kryptonite as it is mine, there are without a doubt a few cringe-worthy moments to be found here.

Malignant's plot is pretty unique, to say the least. The idea of a man tearing apart what is left of someone's life in order to end an addiction is interesting. All the while the mystery man is indulging in an addiction of his own; human experimentation. Brad Dourif's performance as The Man is stellar. His role as the film's villain was, without a doubt, a make-or-break kind of character. Luckily, they put the role in good hands, and Dourif delivered a performance that fit the mood of the movie perfectly.

Overall Malignant is a damn fine indie flick. The movie has a very engaging, well paced plot that keeps things moving along at a fast, yet tension building speed. Between Dourif's performance and the strong writing there's more than enough here to leave most satisfied. There really aren't many movies about mind control in recent years so this plot was a breath of fresh air. GIVE IT A WATCH!