Sunday, September 20, 2015

Midnight Cinephile Podcast Episode VIII - Tribute to Wes Craven

Episode VIII is here and this time the boys and I pay tribute to the late maestro, Wes Craven.

So grab a cocktail and make yourself comfortable!

Midnight Cinephile is a proud member of the throwback're home for great retro themed podcasts.

You can also find us on iTunes and Stitcher!

Friday, September 4, 2015

The Chill Factor - Demonic Slasher on Ice

The Chill Factor
D: Christopher Webster
W: Julian Weaver

S: Dawn Laurrie, Aaron Kjenaas, Connie Snyder
Rated R - Approx 93 Minutes

Just when you thought it was safe to go back on the slopes.....

Alternate Titles:
Demon Possessed

"Stop whining you stupid girl, we have to get Tom to a hospital!"

It's late on a Thursday night.  The Mrs is in bed and I'm already in a few cocktails on my way to feeling pretty nice.  Sure, I could pop in a Night Flight disc and lose myself in a sea of ancient and obscure music videos but instead I'm feeling the urge to watch some ancient and obscure horror flicks.  And so, I delve down the Amazon Instant Video rabbit hole.....down past the usual suspects (World War Z, Leprechaun, etc) and down to the bottom of the digital barrel.  The place you can only reach by clicking the "Customers Also Watched" section.   Seriously.  How did they also watch these flicks?  They pop up NOWHERE else!  It's quite amazing, really.

That;s where this film lives.  This time up we're taking a look at a little supernatural slasher gem called The Chill Factor.  Apparently it's also known as the more blasé title Demon Possessed, which I think is an absolute crap title.  I mean, The Chill Factor is such a flavorful yet ambiguous title.  Is it referring to actual temperature or frightful chills?  An intriguing question!  If you were watching under the Demon Possessed moniker, you would pretty much know what you were getting (though not really, but kinda sorta in this case...we'll talk about that in a bit.).

See, there's a group of friends who go on a snowmobile trip up north.  While they are enjoying a meal and some brewskies, two of the fellas get into an argument about who's snowmobile is faster.  You know, real meaningful stuff.  They ask the waitress, who gets shit done (according to her hat), where they would be able to find some wide open land to race their machines and definitively determine who's the king of superfluous seasonal vehicles.  They're told about Black Friar Lake (which apparently the locals have shortened to just Black Lake) which sounds like a perfect place to race crotch rockets attached to skis!

I know that this is going to come as a shock to you, but one of the lads is injured during their race.  He hits a rather nasty snow mound and catapults himself into a tree, sustaining some considerable injury.   Being that the group is something like 30 miles from town, the seek shelter at an old summer camp.  After assessing their friend, one of them decides to go back to town to get help.  The others stay behind to watch over their wounded friend.  This is where they find the dumbest looking Ouija Board I've ever seen.  They decide to use it to "kill time" and end up summoning up a demon that possesses their unconscious friend. 

So now this guys laying on a bench in front of a fire and he miraculously wakes up.  Everyone's all super excited.  Of course they don't pick up on the fact that he's acting strange.  This is where the film becomes a slasher as the possessed guy kills off his friends.  Well, sort of.  He actually just lays there all bandaged up on the bench while stuff happens to his friends, but it's insinuated that he's the cause when the camera pans to a close-up of him with a goofy evil smirk on his face.  Though we do see the shadow of a robed figure with long, bony fingers with sharp fingernails stalking the victims.  I'll go more into the various killings when I run the tally at the end of the review.

I was rather surprised by this film.  I went into this expecting bottom of the barrel production values, bad acting and laughable effects.  I pretty much got what I was expecting, but I wasn't counting of the fact that it was all going to coalesce into a charming, quirky trashterpiece that will definitely become a staple in my winter horror flick rotation.  The music is a cross between an After School TV Special and someone rocking out on their Casio keyboard in the basement.  The wonky dialog is accentuated by the hilariously terrible acting (see the quote that begins this review).  The cinematography is pretty straightforward but there are a few nice shots once the gang is in the camp.

There's a decent amount of blood in this one, yet it still manages to be tame.  For your money you get a snowmobile accident resulting in a bloody face and severely lacerated hand.  A guy on a snowmobile catching a face full of barbed wire, a strangulation, an icicle through the eye and  a few more kills to boot.

There's a little skin on display here too!  Not a ton, but we do get to see two different girls in their bra & panties, some side boob and a brief flash of nipple.  Hey, it's better than nothing, right?


Well, there's the shadowy figure that I'm guessing is the demon that is doing the possessing.  There's also the guy who gets possessed. 

Final Thoughts
This would make a great winter afternoon flick.  Especially if you ran it as a double feature with They (aka. Invasion From Inner Earth).  Picture it:  The afternoon sun is hanging lazily in the sky casting it's golden light on the white snow while prisms of light dance on the wall courtesy of the icicles hanging outside your window.  There's some chili that's been simmering on the stove all afternoon and a nice warm fire in the fireplace.  You are snuggled up next to your significant other (or favorite pet....I don't judge) on the couch....all while a chilly doubly shot of questionable horror plays across your television screen.  If that isn't a slice on Heaven on Earth, I don't know what is!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Midnight Cinephile Episode VII

It's time again, kiddies to sit down by the campfire and listen to The Midnight Cinephile Podcast Episode VII!

Please join me in welcoming my good friends Tony Skowronski (aka Captain Cinema) and Chas Klimczak (from Watch And Be Amazed Productions) as they have accepted co-hosting duties on the show!  It's another epic conversation, though there were gremlins in the phone lines.

Tune in and Chill Out!

Midnight Cinephile is a proud member of the Throwback Network!  You're source for Retro Themed Podcasts!

Midnight Cinephile is also available on iTunes and Stitcher Radio.

Find Captain Cinema on Facebook

Find Chas Klimzcak on Facebook and check out Watch and Be Amazed Productions on YouTube!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Loony In The Woods - A Modern Video Nasty

Loony in the Woods
D: Leo Leigh
W: Leo Leigh

S: Leo Leigh, Oliver Maltman, Dean Puckett 
Unrated - Approx 70 Min

 - If You Go Down To The Woods Today.....

Alternate Titles:

  "Can I have the lamb stew?"

Nice gloves!
You know, there is an amazing phenomenon that occurs when you are going down the rabbit hole that is Amazon Instant Video.  For instance....when you are searching for films, say by genre, you are given the option to check out a list of films that are similar to the one you are currently looking at.  If you start doing this long enough, you will end up in a place that contains films like Loony in the Woods.

Loony in the Woods was originally filmed in 2007, where it then sat on the shelf for 6 for six years until it was discovered by Troma and picked up for distribution.  Troma decided to make Loony in the Woods a VHS only release and it went on sale in 2013.  Somewhere between then and now, it became digitally available on Amazon Instant Video.  

Working out with Bouffe!
Meet Buttons!
The film follows a rather misogynistic  fitness instructor named Bouffe and his pals as they take a camping trip to - where else?- the woods!  Bouffe's brother wears a strange contraption on his neck that allows him to communicate.  It's a like a jacked up, homemade voice box......though it seems to speak for him....his mouth never moves...which is fine because you can't understand a damn thing the machine says anyway.  His name is Buttons.

As for the rest of the cast, there's a big breasted chick who likes to manhandle dudes (and she may or may not have some sort of psychic powers, there's a meek blonde and her shy redheaded friend.  Some dude with brown hair that seems to do the majority of grilling.......and that's about it.  The characters are there simply to serve as fodder.  

This is weird.  Really weird.  I mean like way beyond Devo and Yes mixed together weird.
It's the Loony!
The film is only just over an hour, so we don't have to wait long for the carnage to begin.  As a matter of fact we're treated to two murders before the opening credits!  A girl is choked to death and a guy takes a hatchet to the back of the head. The first night goes fine for the group, except for a very strange guitar/electronic beatbox tune played by Bouffe and Buttons.  It's totally off the wall and totally goofy and I think that I very well may make it my ring tone.  I may use it to make those record-your-own-message-greeting-cards and send them to friends and family.  I think they'll like that.  

Who am I kidding?

Eye see you!
That is going to cause a massive headache.....
Anyway, when the gore hits, it's balls out ridiculous ultra low budget gore, and I'll go more into detail in the designated GORE section at the end when I run the film's totals.  For now, I'll suffice to say it's extremely cheap and hilarious and it goes a long way to lending the film a certain charm.  Strangely after each murder, as the shot lingers on the corpse, the screen itself turns red.  Kinda weird.  Kinda pointless, but hey...whatever.  

LitW does a great job of emulating the type of films that would have been labeled Video Nasties back in the 80's.  The whole package has a great retro feel to a matter of fact when I first started watching, I thought I might have actually stumbled across some lost British SOV slasher flick!  I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that this flick doesn't get seen to often.  I've yet to find an actual review online (YAY ME!  FIRSTIES!) and the IMDb page doesn't even have complete information on it.  

He looks like he could use a hand.                Too soon?
What the fuck happened to her???!??
No Buttons, No!!!!!!  This scene was shocking. 

It's like I'm now part of some ultra elite and secretive club that's seen this movie.  If there's not a club then there should be and I'm just the guy to start it.  We're gonna have a secret clubhouse, with a secret password to get in.....secret handshakes, decoder rings, t-shirts....the whole nine yards!  You are SO going to want in on this one!

Oh yes, there is gore!  A man gets his arms chopped off after having his face slammed down on a blazing hot grill.  A girl has fireworks strapped to her head and ignited.  There's a head impalement complete with eye poking out of the head, a nasty electrocution and another victim (shown on the box art) has their face completely removed, leaving a nasty, bloody mess.


Nothing!  We get to see some women exercising in Bouffe's class, but that's about as racy as it gets.....oh except for a brief make-out scene between the big breasted manhandling possibly psychic chic and the brown haired grill guy....but skin.


There's a Loony in the Woods!  Said Loony wears a too-large for his head ski mask, a plaid shirt, and pants with rope used for a belt.  We DO get to see his face at the end.......and he's just some redneck dude.  Huh.  Go figure.  

Like I said before, the film does an excellent job of emulating the SOV slasher flicks of the 80's that would have filled up video shops of the time.  I could absolutely see this being added to the list of Video Nasties.  It's not a good film by any means.  The plot is threadbare.  The actors are about on par with local access TV and the sounds is absolutely atrocious.  You can barely make out what people are saying most of the time.  HOWEVER!  If you're in the mood for that sort of thing, then you're probably going to get a kick out of Loony in the Woods.  Definitely a flick to watch with friends over beer and pizza.  Add a little MST3K style commentary and a good time should be had by all!
Shadow of the Loony.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Witchboard - Ouija Worries

D:Kevin S. Tenney
W: Kevin S. Tenney
S: Todd Allen, Tawny Kitaen, Stephen Nichols  

Rated R - Approx 98 Min
Paragon Arts International

 - Never play it alone
 - This game could be fatal. Don't play it alone.
 - Pray for survival till dawn

Alternate Titles
Ghost Killer - Brazil
Maelstrom/Bewitched Circle - Finland
Play Magic & Death -  Greece
Demonic Game - Hungary
Spellbound Board - Russia

"Oh man, multiple sadness!"

I've had Witchboard in my collection for quite sometime but I've never watched it before.  As a matter of fact, I actually saw one of it's sequels (Witchboard III) way back in the day when it was making it's run on cable, but I somehow never got around to watching the original.  It was not until I started listening to Rob "Flack" O'Hara's excellent Multiple Sadness podcast, which is a podcast devoted to bad movies.  The show takes it's name direct from this movie.  The line is uttered by Lloyd after his friend's tire is flattened by a supernatural presence.  It's such a perfectly odd thing to say and it apparently resonated and stuck with Rob and his friend, who then would continue to quote the line to each other and ultimately ended up as the title of a b-movie podcast!  Rob, you can mail the advert check direct to me.  ;-)

 As you may have surmised, this is a film about the dangers of using a Ouija Board.  Jim and Linda throw a party for their friends at their apartment.  Among the invitees is Brandon, who is not only Linda's former boyfriend, but also used to be Jim's best friend when they were kids.  You can tell that the tensions are running a bit high with these fellas.  Brandon has brought along his Ouija board and with a little coaxing from Linda agrees to give the group a demonstration.  He contacts a familiar spirit that he's talked before named David....the spirit of a ten year old boy who drowned.  Jim isn't buying any of the hokum and is openly mocking Brandon and David.  The spirit becomes agitated, the board flies up off of his lap.  There is a loud bang outside.  That's when our boy Lloyd looks outside and says "Oh man, multiple sadness" and notices that Brandon's tire is blown out.  

Linda borrows Brandon's Ouija board and against his advice starts to use the board by herself.  She begins talking with David and they strike up a friendship.  They talk about the possibility of David reincarnating into her unborn child (which David declines because he does not like Jim) and the little ghost tyke even helps her find her lost diamond ring, which fell in the bathroom sink drain.

It's right around this time that Jim and Lloyd are taking a break at their job on a construction site.  Jim has misplaced his hammer...which is actually a hatchet.  But apparently that is the standard issue at that construction company.  Weird.  He and Lloyd have a nice lunch and just as they're about to go back to work, a bunch of sheetrock that was on the second floor of the house frame falls on Lloyd, killing him.  Bummer.  

Linda is becoming more and more obsessed with the Ouija board and Brandon is concerned, which causes even more friction between him and Jim.  Brandon starts asking if Linda's been displaying any strange symptons...which he calls Progressive Entrapment.  In short....if she is being targeted by a spirit she will have mood swings, get nauseous, etc.....which are also signs of pregnancy....and Linda believes she is pregnant.  

Brandon brings a medium to the apartment to try and rid the couple of the malevolent spirit.  At first, the session appears to be a success, but things quickly go from bad to worse when Linda is hospitalized after a ghost attack.  The boys put aside their differences and head up north to investigate the circumstances of David's death and it is there that they begin to mend their friendship.  It is also there that they discover the truth behind the evil entity that has been plaguing Linda.

I enjoyed the film quite a bit.  It was rather reserved for an 80's horror flick.  There are no real ghost effects to speak of, save for some objects moving by themselves and doors slamming by themselves.  I found that at once refreshing and also disappointing.  I was expecting some monster/ghost effects for the big reveal.  I mean, c'mon, it's 1986!  Let's get a dude in a rubber suit or something and shine some neon purple and green lights on him and call it a ghost!  Nope.  Not at all!  

The acting is exactly what you would expect from a mid 80's horror flick.  Wonky dialog and questionable line delivery add up to a pretty damn good time.  You need look no further than the "multiple sadness" line.  Ah, left us much too soon.  Really, they should have kept Lloyd around longer.  I can only imagine what magical nuggets of wisdom may have spewed forth from his mouth had he only NOT laid down on the job.  DAMNIT LLOYD!

There's a few gore gags in here....Lloyd gets a pile of sheet rock dropped on him and subsequently bleeds out of most of his orifices.  Another character gets an axe to the head.......etc.

There is a brief scene of Linda in the shower and we get to see pretty much all of her.

Well, there's a malevolent ghost, but like I said there's no monstrous form to the ghost.  We do get to see the corporeal form of the ghost briefly.

This film got me thinking.  I've got an open mind.  My grandmother had a psychic gift (so says my mother...I never met my grandmother) and was quite impressive from what I hear....and I've had my own paranormal experiences.  One thing that always gets me though is the amount of people who have Ouija board stories.  It seems that everyone and their uncle has some personal horror story to relate about Ouija boards.  The thing is......I don't buy it.  "Don't use those...they're SO dangerous!  You can lose your soul!  You can summon The Devil!"  Blah blah blah.  Nope.  First off, I've tried.  Extensively.  I guess I'm no susceptible to the ideomotor response, which is primarily how Ouija boards work.  The leading Ouija boards are made by Hasbro and Parker Brothers.  I'm sorry, but you're not going to get your soul sucked out by a toy that you bought in Aisle 13 of Toys 'R' Us.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Space Raiders - Swashbuckling Space Pirates!

Space Raiders
D: Howard R. Cohen
W: Howard R. Cohen

S: Vince Edwards, David Mendenhall, Patsy Pease
Rated PG - Approx 84 Min

 - The ultimate adventure in space
 - He's 10 years old and they've taken him 10-million miles into space.

Alternate Titles
Star Child - US Alternate Title
Robber (Ryövärit) - Finland
Space Pirates - West Germany

"These aren't real onions, are they? They're some kind of alien yucko onions. Wonder if this is real cheese?"

Oh boy, here we go again.  Another review starting with a Video Paradise story/memory.  I'm starting to feel like that one particular Uncle that always tells stories about his time in the Navy:  "Did I ever tell you about the time we sailed right into a rogue wave in the Navy?  Did I ever tell you about the time I got syphilis while on shore leave in the Navy?  Did I ever tell you about the time that I peeled a potato that looked like Jay Leno's head while I was on KP in the Navy "  That or Sophia on The Golden Girls:  "Picture it....Sicily....1945...."

It's a laser gun shoot out! 

Awww...the cute little alien bug is going to eat some corn.....

Anyway....Video Paradise....Circa 1987.....a young me is taken to the video store on a Saturday afternoon to rent a video for the weekend.  My first instinct is to head directly for the animated section and grab a copy of Gumby for President.  Seriously, I must have rented Gumby about eight million times.....I was obsessed.  It was bad.  This time, however a I decided to check out the sci-fi section.  I was already a card carrying Star Wars fanatic, so I figured "What the heck!" and took a chance.  After milling up and down the aisles for a bit, lingering over the movies that I didn't have a shot in hell of renting yet (I'm looking at YOU Return of the Alien's Deadly Spawn!), I came across Space Raiders.

It had everything I could possibly want!  Lasers, spaceships, aliens, space pirates.....what more could a boy ask for!?  I brought it home and popped it in the VCR and was instantly in love with it.  I think I watched that tape about seven times that weekend.  It became another "go-to" movie when I didn't know what else to rent.


Last year, I came across a VHS copy of it while out flea marketing.  There's a flea market up in Hollis, NH that has a Video Barn.  Literally.  It's a barn stuffed to the gills with VHS tapes.  It's a giant mess and cramped with tapes strewn about everywhere.  In other words, it's beautiful and amazing and one of the most happiest places in my world.  As I squeezed and contorted my way around the cramped confines of the barn (no easy feet for a larger fellow such as myself!) I came across that old familiar box art and immediately scooped it up.  I paid a dollar for it and I regret nothing.  I finally popped it in the ol' VCR this past weekend and watched it for the first time in nearly thirty years.  The Mrs. Cinephile watched with me as well.  So how did it hold up to thirty year old memories?  Surprisingly well!

Space Raiders is a Roger Corman flick.  Oh sure, it was written and directed by Howard R. Cohen (whom you may know as W/D of Saturday the 14th, writer of Deathstalker III & IV and writer of Rainbow Brite and the Star Stealer!) but you can always tell when a film is produced by Roger Corman.  Most notably in this flick is the fact that the same ship from Battle Beyond the Stars is used as the Raider's ship.  You know....the ship with boobs.  Seriously.  The spaceship has breasts.  I'm not kidding!  LOOK!

See!  Ship Boobs!

This ship is well endowed.
The story involves a young boy, named Peter (David Mendenhall....who provided the voice for Daniel Witwicky in the original Transformers cartoon and animated movie!), who ends up aboard said breasted ship, which belongs to a motley crew of space pirates, led by Hawk.  Hawk is your typically rough around the edges with a heart of gold type.  After learning that the kid is on the ship, he promises to get him back home.  Peter and Hawk bond and develop an almost father/son relationship.  You really get the feeling that Pete's real father isn't that much of a stand up guy.  Sure, he's trying (sort of) to get Peter back, but you really don't get a sense of urgency from him.

We follow along on their adventures as the crew tries to get Peter home while fending off Company fighters (The Company is your standard futuristic "we own everything" type of deal.  Either you're with The Company or your not.  The Raiders steal from The know how it goes.) as well as the henchmen of evil alien Zariatin.

The evil Zariatin.

Flying 'n' stuff

There are laserblasts a plenty.....though I should specify that we never see any laser beams coming out of any guns.....just a bunch of sparks shooting out of the muzzle.  There are lasers that shoot out of spaceships though, so you can get your laser fix there.

Most of the film plays out like a swashbuckling space pirate adventure....though there really isn't much in the way of actually swashbuckling.  As a matter of fact, I don't even know why I said that.  Probably so I could keep in the pirate them.  Oh well.  At any rate, there's plenty of action and for the most part, it's a kinda feel good action flick.  The Raiders are clearly the good guys and the bad guys are gonna get their comeuppance.  There's also lots of robots!  Not like really cool robots....more like guys wearing spandex with plastic parts hot glued onto them.  Which is totally fine.....just didn't want to get your hopes up too high.

Flying 101 with Hawk.

The obligatory outdoor scene.
Like I was saying before getting distracted by the plays out like a feel-good kinda action flick for the most part.....and then in the last twenty minutes or so it gets dark.  I'm not going to spoil it, but I have to say that I didn't remember how it all ended up going down and I was a bit shocked at the rather violent and downbeat ending.  Oh yeah, and Peter is a total ingrate.  Just saying.

There's a little bit of blood here and there.....squibs and whatnot.....and the blood is of the ketchup variety.


No such luck, amigo.  This is a PG flick.

There are a few different varieties of alien the aforementioned robots.  Oh yeah, and a really swanky stop motion alien bug.

The poor mans Mos Eisley......
.......has intergalactic pizza fights?!?!?

This still holds a very special place in my heart.  It's wonky, sure, and it's cheap, but it's got charm and it's a hell of a lot of fun, so why not give it a shot?  I watched my VHS copy of the film, but there is a limited edition Blu Ray that was put out September, 2014 from Scorpion Releasing.

"Get outta here kid......go get a copy of Space Raiders!"