Killing Spree ~ 1987, Tim Ritter, USA

The man, the myth, the legend- ladies and gentleman, I give you the star of Killing Spree, Mr. Asbestos Felt.

Before we go any further, I need to describe the Asbestos Felt approach to acting. My chosen method for doing this is to use Car metaphors, but full disclosure; I know nothing about cars. OK, so here we go:

In the world of actor/car analogies, Robert DeNiro is sorta like a Rolls Royce. George Clooney would be a Mercedes Benz, and Clint Eastwood is some sort of bad ass Cadillac that still understands how America works. Asbestos Felt, however, would be a Dodge Gremlin, the interior would smell like urine, it would have no doors, and a shattered windshield. It would also be missing three tires, the one tire it did have would somehow be taken off of a monster truck, and the engine is whatever the fuck they put in Indy Cars. Also, the whole car would probably be filled with possums, all of whom are on fire. Simply put, Felt goes fucking hard. While he can’t give you what you need, he can give you a manic, irrational enthusiasm which is almost certain to leave a trail of broken victims in its wake.

Just look at him! He looks like a scarecrow who found a magic lamp, and it’s first wish was to be human, but its second and third wishes were both just for heroin.

But, he’s our boy, and I wouldn’t change a thing. Killing Spree is a true experience, and while it starts so slow that you’ll find yourself expecting it not to live up to all the hype, by the end of the film, it fucking delivers… and then it keeps on delivering, long after your mangled corpse has been abused past the point of recognition.

The Plot: Tom and Leeza are a happily married couple- If by “happily married” you mean inexplicably mismatched and terrifyingly dysfunctional. Their problems all stem from one single root cause; Tom’s old fashioned views on gender equality- and by old fashioned, I mean sociopathic/amish. Leeza isn’t permitted to work. Or really do anything but stay at home. Toms been burned before, you see, so he’s not open to giving Leeza a fucking ounce of freedom, for fear that she’ll up and leave him, and he doesn’t exactly keep a cool head about the whole thing. Even in the face of this controlling, revoltingly unfair treatment, Leeza remains loyal, calm and compassionate, for reasons I cannot begin to imagine. This is not an evenly matched marriage.

Just look at the love.

I mean, WHY would Leeza stay with Tom? She’s utterly gorgeous, and in addition to being controlling and manipulative, Tom looks like a homeless muppet that survived a tornado. What’s the fucking deal?

I mean, level with me; is THIS what women want?!

So, things get worse from here. Despite Tom’s best efforts to Rapunzel his wife away, hidden from the world, he begins to suspect her of infidelity all the same, and his suspicions wind up being aimed at literally every many he can reasonably assume she’s has had contact with ever. This includes a gardener, about a hundred friggin’ repairmen, and even his best friend (a charming old man who’s also a total sleaze-ball).

He’s also a statutory rapist, so maybe doubting his loyalty isn’t such a crazy thing to do after all.

To be fair, Tom’s got his reasons to be suspicious. You see, while lounging about the house one day, our boy finds what he believes to be a journal written by his wife- outlining numerous graphic, sexual encounters between herself and… Well, basically every dude who dares even to approach her. Yep. Pretty damning evidence, I know I’d feel uncomfortable. What he doesn’t know, however, is that this is not a journal, but rather a series of erotic short stories, written by Leeza as a means of exercising her creativity while she’s bored as fuck, toiling away in her house all day. It’s not just for fun, either, Leeza plans is to sell these to an interested publisher, thereby secretly adding an additional income stream to the household, which is meant to help out after Tom’s pay is slashed due to corporate mismanagement. In truth, she is 100% faithful to him, aside from her insistence on bringing in a little bit of money, and what she does she does for the good of their marriage. See, this is why communication is so important in a relationships, without it, blood spattered rampages are almost unavoidable.

This is just a screen grab from the Asbestos Felt episode of MTV Cribs, it’s not even in the movie!

Tragically, Tom would not wait for all the facts before putting into motion his plans for revenge… Awesomely creative revenge. He starts small, but by the end of it he’s kind of the Rembrandt of killing people in broad daylight. It goes without saying that these scenes are the strongest bits in the movie, but there’s other good stuff, too, Like when we get to learn the mysterious origins of a man called “The Stew-Master”.

That’s right, folks, the epic tale of The Stew-master can finally be told.

Who is he?! What does he want!? How could he have come by such a unique accolade? Well, turns out he’s just some dude, and the reason they call him “Stew-master” is because he’s really good at making stew. Yep! It’s pretty much exactly what you’d assume, and it never comes up in the movie again, so the inclusion of this scene defies literally all rational thought. Typically when you’re writing a script, you  make it a point to cut out all the stuff that doesn’t make sense, serve the story, or which kills the pacing… but not with this script. If we were to cut out the bits that didn’t make sense, Killing Spree would simply cease to exist at all. And we can’t have that.

Now, while it’s certainly wacky as fuck, up until this point, Killing Spree has operated more or less within the confines of the revenge/serial killer sub-genre, albeit an atypical one. It would be logical to expect it to continue upon its established trajectory through it’s final act as well, and that’s the biggest reason why you should probably expect it to switch shit up immediately. And it does! In it’s third act, Killing Spree suddenly embarks into uncharted territory and serves us up a helping of zombies, more or less completely out of nowhere and with no explanation. These ghouls (who come with their own enjoyably funky music) are the inexplicably reanimated corpses of Tom’s many undeserving victims, now back from the dead and hungry for vengeance. Oh shit! Hens come home to roost, boys and girls. So, what happens next? Well… I recommend you check the film out and see for yourself. I’ve been told to stop spoiling the end of these movies, so this is all you’re gonna get from me.

Okay, I’ll give you this, too. Spoiler alert- whatever the fuck this is happens. Apparently.

Killing Spree is not a technicality impressive movie. It’s also not an attractive movie… or even a competent one. Does any of that matter to you? This is a splatter film, and the degree to which you enjoy or despise it is entirely dependent on your openness to that brand of low budget, run and gun, shot on video storytelling. Think about it like sushi- if you don’t like sushi, don’t eat it. If you do eat it- I’d imagine you’re not going to like it. Meanwhile, there are plenty of people out there who DO enjoy sushi, and they don’t need to hear you bitch about how gross it is (Full disclosure: I don’t eat sushi. It is gross.) If you’ve managed to stumble across my writing, then odds are you already know how you feel about movies like this, so I suggest you proceed according. For splatter enthusiasts, however there’s a whole second world of options to explore and enjoy, and Killing Spree is a fantastically fun and entertaining example of what’s out there. Every flaw in it is like a generous gift to openly ridicule and enjoy, and these flaws are plentiful, friends. Killing Spree is satisfyingly violent, and frequently hilarious by reason of insanity.

How far away could the next house possibly be that this isn’t going to draw some suspicion? 

This movie was re-released by some unscrupulous distributor with the title I WIll Dance On Your Grave: Killing Spree, in an evident effort to suggest that it was part of the Dance On Your Grave series, themselves something of a degenerate spin-off franchise meant to follow the legendary Video Nasty I Spit On Your Grave. This association is dubious as balls, ladies and gentlemen, and even worse is the tagline on the poster they used, which read:  “Better Run For Your Life, There’s A Babe With A Knife!”

…Yeah… And that babe is this guy:

“You just got Felt, bitches!”

Anyway. The posters for the Dance On Your Grave release of the film are still pretty solid.

Something about this does appeal to me more than Asbestos Felt does, if I’m being honest.

Highly recommended!


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Monster Brawl!

Monster Brawl ~ 2011, Jesse Thomas Cook


Monster Brawl should win an award for having one of the most straight forward and least misleading titles of all time. It’s called Monsters Brawl, that’s what it’s about, that’s what happens, and that’s what you’re going to see.  Monsters, who brawl. The movie has essentially no storyline, just the minimal exposition needed to show us each monster and then to explain that they’ll be brawiling. There’s a ring, two announcers, a ref, and monsters, who brawl… And that’s about it. Presumably, the financial backing for the film was handled by some kind of secret coalition of third graders.  It’s an exercise in simplicity, anything that doesn’t serve the purpose of working toward the brawling of monsters is stripped away and discarded. It’s more than a little juvenile, but you can’t really hold that against it, since you’re watching damn Monster Brawl. Who are you to judge? Plus, it’s well made. The low budget is apparent, but this is easily forgivable because the film doesn’t take itself very seriously. Monster Brawl clearly has one priority, to facilitate the brawling of monsters, and if you aren’t too cynical, you might have fun watching it. It won’t offer much for those demanding of less shallow viewing experiences, the truth is that if you’re willingly watching what basically amounts to Wrestlmania with werewolves and swamp monsters, you’ve sorta waived the right to complain about your movie being goofy. Plus, if it’s a choice between Monster Brawl and whatever Michael Bay abomination is stinking up your local multiplex theater, Monster Brawl is never the wrong choice. On the other hand, having read the description, if Monster Brawl doesn’t sound like something you’d enjoy, you’re probably right.


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Skinned Deep

Skinned Deep~ 2004, Gabe Bartalos

In the bonus features on the Skinned Deep DVD, various cast and crew members speak of director Gabriel Bartalos as though he were some sort of mad genius… That’s a hard sell. I just don’t think if I can buy that, however, I will say this; there is a moment in Skinned Deep where the movie suddenly takes a hard right turn out of inept, and into insane. After this point, the rest of the film is cast an an entirely new light, it stops feeling like it deserves to be lopped in with other low budget, shot on video horror films of the era, like O-Zone/Street Zombies or Darkwalker, and more like it should be viewed as landing somewhere between Basket Case 2/3 and The Last House on Dead End Street. Having seen the whole film, it’s clear that Skinned Deep is a special case. That being said, I’m not sure how to feel about it.

The plot feels unimportant; it’s your typical “Girl get’s kidnapped by mutants and weirdos in the middle of nowhere” type scenario, a cross pollinated descendant of both The Hills Have Eyes and Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, but the experience feels more like House of 1000 Corpses by way of Fred Olen Ray. The frustrating thing about the movie is that while some areas of the film’s production appear feeble or dangerously malnourished, there are other areas where talent, effort, and forethought are incredibly evident. Again, I’m not one to jump on the “Bartalos is a genius” bandwagon, but I get the feeling that with a proper budget and a good producer to keep things on track, he might be able to achieve something really special. As it is, this film’s execution is incredibly uneven, and there are more than enough flaws to turn off any audience which isn’t accustomed to this sort of straight to video bullshit.

No review of Skinned Deep would be complete without addressing the film’s real claim to fame, however, and that is the fight scene between Shakes, and Plates. Let’s get into this:

In the movie, Veteran little person actor Warwick Davis plays a deranged mutant (I guess?) called Plates, a name he earned due to his lethal use of dinnerware as projectile weaponry. Yep, he wings dishes at people. Plates and his tribe of freaks come up against a motorcycle gang made up of senior citizens, and one of these over the hill roughians is Shakes, an old man, who shakes a lot. With the stage set, the confrontation between bikers and mutants blossoms in a Psychotronic treasure which is the full on, knock down, drag out, King Kong VS Godzilla style fist fight of the New Millennium; the battle between a shaky old man and a dwarf who throws dishes at people. The Shakes VS Plates scene is worth the cost of admission alone. O-Zone can’t compete with that shit.

So, Bartalos has done lots of stuff, but he’s only directed one other film, which is a shame. I’d like to see more out of him. As it is, Skinned Deep is a curiosity, it doesn’t fit in with it’s peers, and is not so easily dismissed as other shot on video horror films of the past twenty years. I recommend it, because of the Shakes VS Plates scene, but I can’t honestly say that you will like it. More than anything else,  this movie exists as a strange detour, and as evidence that Bartalos may be some sort of relatively undiscovered talent waiting for an opportunity.

Of course, who knows what we would get out of him if he had to play by studio rules.


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Crimes Against Humanity: Tim Burton


Tim, Tim, Tim. You’re done, son. At one time, a strong argument could be made for Tim Burton being a strong, unique artistic voice. That time was called the early nineties, and much has changed. Now, he’s a machine that takes old, boring ideas, goths ’em up a little bit and farts out complete and utter tripe. He sucks now, and everybody knows this. I have no illusions about this blowing anyone’s mind, I’m beating a dead horse with this article, and I know it. Sometimes, though, that’s fun to do. I think. Come, join me as I kick this guy while he’s down! The following is a brief list of some of his foulest crimes; may God have mercy on his soul.

  • Becoming Messiah for millions of Devoted Hot Topic Shoppers because he directed a movie he didn’t direct: Tim Burton did not direct Nightmare Before Christmas. He was involved heavily with the project, but he didn’t direct it. By now, most people know this, but it needs to be acknowledged here. Does it matter? I’m not sure. I’m not sure about anything anymore.
  • No originality in 11 years, very little over all: Tim Burton is basically ‘The Nothing’ from Neverending Story.
    He’s a bleak, colorless cloud of intellectual death gobbling up ideas and spitting them out as Danny Elfman/Johnny Depp goth-pop bore fests. He doesn’t really do new ideas at all. Big Fish, 2003. That’s the last original thing Tim Burton did. Before that he had fumbled his goth ass through a shabby damn Planet of the Apes remake, as well as a somewhat original/still based on existing source material filmed versions of Sleepy Hollow, Mars Attacks, and a comedy/drama adaptation of the life of Ed Wood. The film prior to that was his Batman sequel, so we’re really reaching far back into his filmography to desperately grope for something original, and the truth is there really isn’t much there. As it turns out, Tim Burton’s strengths aren’t so much in new ideas, he’s more about that all too recognizable Tim Burton aesthetic, and it seems that his goal in life is to reshape the world into this distinct (boring) style franchise by franchise. He could also be compared to the Borg. It’s similar.
  • Trying to make Nicholas Cage Superman: YEP! He did this. He wanted this. This was going to happen. Don’t even try to tell me that it isn’t fair to judge a film that never came out, and I’m also disinterested in the defense that Michael Keaton was also a controversial choice for Batman, because there comes a time when enough is enough. This was that time.
  • Frankenweenie: At a time when Burton was taking tons of heat for his continued drought of original ideas and his zest for remaking movies that were already good without him, he made the brilliant decision to actually remake his own movie. Good work, genius. Next up; a remake of Edward Scissorhands, now with every single cast member being played by either Johnny Depp or Helena Bonham Carter. In one scene an angry mob will be made up of over a thousand Johnny Depps, Tim Burton’s ultimate fantasy. Speaking of which….
  • Johnny Depp overdose: Painting Johnny Depp some shade of pale and giving him stupid hair is not an idea.
  • All that weird Helena Bonham Carter/Johnny Depp crap: And what the hell is going on here? Not only is Johnny Depp 90% of the screen time for any Tim Burton project, he also has a romantic entanglement of some sort with Helena Bonham Carter in pretty much every film. The weird thing about that is that Helena Bonham Carter is Tim Burton’s common-law spouse, thereby lending credibility to the theory that Tim Burton, himself pale-ish and with stupid hair, is actually trying to live vicariously through Depp as some sort of weird, Hitchcock style on screen surrogate… Let’s all be honest with ourselves; if Tim Burton came home to find Johnny Depp in bed with Helena Bonham Carter, do you really think outrage would be his reaction? My guess is it would be more something along the lines of “Oh, is it six o’clock already? Sorry, guys, let me get my pervin’ chair and my reading glasses. Don’t let me slow you down, looks good.”
  • Alice in Wonderland: Wow, this movie. This was so, so horrible. I really can’t pardon this, it’s extraordinary. The movie acts as a semi-sequel, if you haven’t seen it, with Alice returning to Wonderland. What for? I guess to kill a dragon and fulfill a prophecy, or something. In other words, the most bland and recycled fantasy film storyline ever, but with Alice In Wonderland garbage smeared all over it, and then Tim Burtonified. Also, she get’s to pal around with her very best friend in the whole world, The Mad Hatter! Remember how tight those two were? No? That’s because they damn weren’t, not at all, but Tim Burton has painted Johnny Depp purple, gave him dumb hair and called him the Mad Hatter, so you know that role had to be expanded and transformed into something that could justify more Depp screen time.
  • The end of Dark Shadows: Dark Shadows isn’t a movie I was excited to see, because it basically looked like Tim Burton was actively crapping all over the source material and making some sort of vampire Austin Powers, but imagine my surprise when I watched it and found that the experience was much, much less excruciating than I anticipated… Until the end. Actually, before we get there, I need to point out that Chloe Moretz (the annoying, sneer faced little girl you’ll remember from such films as Kick Ass, and whatever the hell else she was in) is uncomfortably sexualized periodically throughout this film… And that’s creepier than anything Burton has ever done since Large Marge. F’ed up. Now, the end of the movie; the final act of Dark Shadows has the single worst thing I have ever seen in a movie ever… And I own the Traces of Death boxed set. I’ve watched Slaughtered Vomit Dolls. I’ve watched humans die on film, and that’s much less offensive, existentially, than what happens at the end of this movie. It’s a jaw dropper. Hold up, ~~~SPOILER ALERT~~~So, maybe I wasn’t paying enough attention, but from what I remember this came without any foreshadowing whatsoever; in the third act during the climactic battle between vampire Austin Powers and the witch lady, Chloe Moretz’s room is broken into, revealing her all furry and monster style. She yells “Get out!!” In a dumb monster voice, leaving the viewer to say “Oh, I guess she’s a monster?” A few moments later, she stomps down into the room that the main throw down is happening in, now clearly a werewolf of some kind, she turns to the camera which zooms up on her face, and she says, and I shit you not, “Yeah, I’m a werewolf, let’s not make a big deal out of it.”And that’s the single worst thing ever. It is so, so stupid. I can’t believe it ever got filmed. Forget the rest of the list if you like, This alone erases the glory of the 1989 Batman. Tim Burton did that. We should cram his ass in a wicker man and light that thing up, before he remakes The Wickerman with Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter. And that could happen at any time.

Fantastic Crap The Movie Casting Call; KROTAR!

I really wish I could make a Fantastic Crap/Architeuthis Joe movie, for a million reasons. If ever this were to happen, I’ve got a list of which actor I want for which character, as seen in previous inane and largely unread blogs on this wasteland of a blog page. Behold; my pic for Krotar, issue 3’s villain; non other than Ray Wise of Robocop and Twin Peaks fame. Some drawings of Krotar actually look a lot like Ray, we’d just paint him green and pop a big foam head on him. It would cost like, three bucks. If, for whatever reason we couldn’t get Ray Wise, my second choice would be Hugo Weaving, but the truth is that I’ve wanted Ray to play Krotar since I first made the character up way back around 1999.

Krotar"Jeepers Creepers 2" Los Angeles Premiere