Society– 1989, Brian Yuzna, USA



In the psychotronic community, Brian Yuzna is mostly known for three things; One; his long, fruitful working relationship with horror film icon Stuart Gordon. Two; he directed the two Reanimator sequels because Stuart apparently had better things to do, and three; he’s the dude behind The Dentist, parts one and two. Those are probably the best known highlight’s of Yuzna’s long, active career, but he’s done all kinds of other shit throughout the years, too, and of all the projects he’s ever laid his grubby little mitts on, Society, his first directorial effort, is far and away the finest accomplishment that he can rightfully claim to be his own. He really set that bar pretty high with this one, and never, ever came close to shining this bright ever again.

Seriously, this masterpiece came from the same dude who farted out Return of the Living Dead 3? Don’t get me wrong, I liked Riverman, but that movie… Damn…

Society is the story of a young man from a well-to-do family who becomes suspicious of the superficial class system into which he was born. Bill (Played by some bozo called Billy Warlock) feels alienated from his peers, and soon, he starts to see a darker, more perverse side of wealth, privilege, and social status, which casts his family, friends, and society as a whole, in a terrifying new light. As things become more and more bizarre, Billy quickly begins to suspect that there is more going on in his upper class community than appearances would suggest, and as he attempts to get to the bottom of it, the bodies begin to pile up.

Society touches on a lot of ideas regarding nepotism, class warfare, and even regular-ass teenage angst, but regardless of how specific, or universal, the message in this film feels to you, one thing is for damn sure; it’s spattered some seriously creepy sequences, and the pay off in the third act is tremendous. The special effects (All practical, mind you, this was ’89, after all) really steal the show, and give Society one set in stone reason why all horror fans should count this film as required viewing at least once in their lives. It’s much, much more over the top and silly than what you’d see in early Cronenberg films, but I’d still say that Society is a classic of the body-horror sub genre, so it does occasionally draw comparisons to David’s many forays into that territory. Even more importantly, it’s a pretty good time, and the “frustrated 80’s teen who can’t get the adults to listen to him” trope keeps the film feeling fun, and light, regardless of it’s somewhat subversive, anti-establishment message.

But it isn’t perfect. Society has a few bothersome flaws that hold it back from living that fly Criterion life. For one, the score is cheesy and obnoxious. Additionally, The lighting is bland for 98% of the runtime, and the cinematography is flat and lifeless throughout. If you’re familiar with Yunza’s catalog, then you already know that this is typical of his style, but in the case of Society, you could almost assume that it’s deliberate, like some sort of bizarre, self aware, Paul Verhoeven stlye attack the American social class system wrapped up in the trappings of a twisted, Hallmark Channel movie of the week. If you look at the film’s aesthetic in this way, it becomes an easier pill to swallow, but it still nags at the back of my mind as a legitimate drawback, because he clearly didn’t do this shit on purpose. I can pardon all of that, however, and if you’re anything like me, you can too, because Society is also a movie where THIS happens:

society-imageNo caption needed!


Recommended Double Feature: Society and Brain Damage, OR Society and Flesh For Frankenstein!

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Resident Evil: Apocalypse!

Resident Evil: Apocalypse ~ 2004, Alexander Witt (written by Paul W.S. Anderson- Boo!)


What happens when you take a step down from terrible? Sometimes it seems like it would just be easier to make a good movie. Have we not yet hit rock bottom? Is it even possible to make a worse movie than we are already used to?! Today; the race to be the biggest idiot possible is a dangerous, fast paced, highly competitive arena. Trend setters in every avenue of the human experience anxiously push the limits of how stupid they can be, and no other field of human accomplishment shows as much innovation, or as much tireless zest.


In film, this competition is especially fierce. Titans of incompetence like James Nguyen, Tommy Wiseau, and Michael Bay loom formidably in the distance, unreachable points on the horizon. Yet, even now, courageous idiots dauntlessly strive to reach new levels of ineptitude. Take Alexander Witt, director of Resident Evil: Apocalypse. Just as Paul W.S. Anderson had established himself as a rampaging juggernaut of utter tripe, Witt steps up to the plate and boldly agrees to follow in Anderson’s footsteps with a sequel to Resident Evil. In so doing, he somehow manages to craft a film which is stupid in striking, unexpected new ways. Now, Witt joins with Paul W.S. Anderson and company, themselves the NASA of stupid bullshit, on a quest to dumb down the human race to the utmost of their abilities. Nobody else can suck as reliably, and with such fevered enthusiasm as these guys can. They are truly pioneers on the very boundary of what we as humans dream we can achieve.

THE PLOT~ Following the events of Resident Evil, zombies have infested Racoon City. A number of adults of bellow average intelligence fight to escape, including:

1. Alice- Milla Jovovich’s character. She’s horrible. Who cares? She ends up being a mutant.
2. Some mercenaries- Whatever.
3. A super racist portrayal of a black man – “Please, mutha fucka, my shit is custom!” (When we meet this guy he is literally handcuffed to a zombified prostitute.)
4. Another LESS cartoonish black man, so this way we can say “See, not all black people in this movie are criminals,  this black guy is a cop! This movie isn’t racist!” But it totally is still super racist.
5. Other assholes
6. A little girl with an English accent

This turkey does ONE thing right where the first movie couldn’t- we have a lot more zombies this time around. That having been said, they aren’t particularly interesting or well done, and Witt keeps filming them in a blurry, low frame rate smear, which I guess is supposed to be cool? Or scary? Really sucks. Looks cheap, it’s a terrible technique. Otherwise, the production is fine, but the acting isn’t anything to write home about. Scut Farkus is especially bad.

scut old new

Yes, you get to watch the bully from A Christmas Story die, so I guess that’s a plus.

The biggest problem here is that all of the characters are idiots. They make decisions that only a child could believe a capable adult would make. For instance:

 Quick; you’re a cop, there’s an outbreak of a deadly virus in your city, what do you do?!?

If you answered “Charge into a crowded police station and open fire on suspects in custody while numerous innocent civilians and police stand in your line of fire without any explanation, and refuse to even warn people with a “Heads up,” and then act like a total dick when they react to your behavior,” then you are a moron, and you’re probably going to get your face shot off your fucking head. That’s the bad news. The good news is, you might like Resident Evil: Apocalypse, because that’s just the sort of thing that our characters do in this movie. Jill, one of our characters, does this exact thing, in fact. When asked what the hell she is doing, she responds curtly “They’re infected.” …Okay. Well, that’s your opinion… Totally uncool for you to just shoot people like that. Also, you could have easily killed someone who WASN’T “infected.” We’re cops and you don’t get to just shoot people because you think you know what’s going on. You’re a shitty character, and you’re stupid.

That’s not the only ridiculous, imbecilic action committed by a character in this movie, pretty much anything anyone does is stupid, Alice’s antics in the church sequence jump to mind, but that’s what we get when our writer, and likely our director, aren’t very smart, and aren’t any good at what they do. Resident Evil: Apocalypse is really, really shitty.

One thing that happens in Resident Evil: Whichever one this is called which I think is especially depressing; at one point, Alice realizes she is being watched through a video surveillance camera, and she uses her crazy mental powers to actually sense the person watching her, where ever that person might be in the world, and then kill that person, Michael Ironside style. The implications here are nothing to sneeze at, either her weird, biological powers allow her to somehow “hack in” to electronic circuits and trace the outgoing signal to whichever monitor it is routed to, and then somehow read the viewer, and somehow kill that person, making her powers both biological and technological, OR she is basically a god at this point. And that’s a far cry from the bumbling, remedial Jedi you’ll see her present herself as in the next movie. The reason for this is simple; the people who make these movies are idiots. They want the end of every movie to be epic, but then they regret how little room they’ve left for themselves to grow when the next sequel begins, so they try to retcon a decent chunk of what they’ve just finished doing every time the next installment kicks off. Watch, they do this over and over.

Also, the next one is even worse.




The Guyver ~ 1991, Screaming Mad George, Steve Wang, USA, Japan


The Guyver is a real roller coaster. When you first hear about it, you like “An America adaptation of a Japanese Ultraman style superhero? That sounds like it’s going to suck really, really aggressively.” But then you find out it has Jeffery Combs in it, and you’re like “Oh… Okay. That’s kinda cool.” Next, at five minutes into the film, you’re thinking “Whoa, this is awesome! How is this movie not huge?” But then, as the credits roll, you think “Oh. That’s why.” After that, you’re just really sad.

As you’ve no doubt guessed, The Guyver starts strong- really strong. Right away the movie does its best to win you over by putting its very best attribute front and center- that being film’s numerous and remarkable creature effects. Suitomation, animatronics, makeup effects, holy smokes, you guys, The Guyver does all of this, and it does it WELL. Rad monsters abound, and these are the sort of practical effects that Hollywood realy doesn’t want you to know are even possible. Too bad, Hollywood, The Guyver spilled the beans. We now know that not every movie has to be Mark Wahlberg standing in front of a green screen for three hours, you’re more than capable of making physical effects that actually look awesome, you just don’t want to, and I’m sick of your bullshit. Go to hell, and take your lowsy CG with you.

But I digress.

Although The Guyver goes off with a bang, it has absolutely no stamina, like a long distance runner that hauls ass at top speed for four minutes, topples over sideways, and never even comes within eyeshot of the finish line. One gets the feeling that directors Screaming Mad George and Steve Wang (Wait, really?) knew things weren’t quite panning out, and so from early on we see them attempting to compensate… With humor. The Guyver becomes progressively zanier as it lags on, but its exhaustingly short on legitimate comedy, and shitty jokes are a real ineffective consolation prize when you’re watching a film that should, by any and all logic, be epic as hell. And The Guyver is NOT epic. Films like this needs a big third act, something that would take place on a space ship, or hopping across rooftops trying to repel an alien invasion, Avengers style- what we get instead is a made-for-TV budgeted costume drama where the bulk of the action takes place in one of two abandoned warehouses, or in a secret, underground laboratory which looks very similar to an abandoned warehouse with a  few computers scattered around. Your eyes will try to call in sick twenty minutes into this virtual snoozestraveganza of bland locations and disinteresting bullshit, and you won’t hold it against them. The Guyver gives us everything it has in the first ten minutes, and after that, it flounders about wildly.

It does have a virtual Sega Dreamcast of beloved genre actors, however, which helps. In addition to the aforementioned Jeffrey “Herbert West” Combs, here playing a scientist called “Dr. East” (cute), we also have Mark Hamill (who is NOT the lead), Michael Berryman, David Gale, and, most importantly, Jimmy Walker, of Good Times fame. Walker plays a character called Striker, who is, more or less, the comic relief, which means that he a shit load of screen time. At one point, in an example of truly desperate and shameless pandering, Striker busts out Walker’s classic sitcom catch phrase, “Dyno-mite,” which is really sad. It’s worth mentioning that the Striker character periodically raps (horribly), and also transforms into a monster which looks something like what you’d get if you fed Jar Jar after midnight.

jar jarYeah… That’s him on the right… I’m not proud of myself for gathering this screen shot, by the way.

Other than the effects, and the wealth of familiar faces, absolutely nothing in The Guyver shines. The music is obnoxious, the characters are lame, and the actual lead actor is one of the blandest humans I’ve ever had the displeasure of knowing. In addition, the editing is actually kind of obnoxious, this is the first film in recorded history which has somehow engineered a transition effect even more objectionable than the oft reviled Star Wipe. I’d say the film is worth watching for that alone, and you’ll know it when you see it. Afterwards, however, slide this puppy back in the Netflix envelope from whence it came and part ways with it forever, as this is a classic cinematic wasted opportunity that you don’t need to sit through.


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Queen of Black Magic (AKA Black Magic Terror, apparently.) ~ 1983, Liliek Sudjio

Black Magic Terror US Twilight Video VHS

In the 1970’s and 80’s, Asia kicked it up a notch and hit us, the people of Planet Earth, with nigh countless bad ass genre films in a variety of enjoyable and distinct subgenres. One such subgenre was the magic/superstition/horror movie, which produced a number of rock solid genre classics, like Black Magic, Seeing of a Ghost, and Eternal Evil of Asia. Queen of Black Magic is an Indonesian contribution to this rich horror lexicon, and while it’s clearly a less technically sophisticated production than many of it’s Chinese predecessors, damn if it’s not impressive and entertaining all the same. Queen of Black Magic in particular has earned a reputation over the decades for it’s special effects, which are both gruesome, and impressive, given the film’s low budget, and scant resources.

Honestly, all of these movies are at least a little bit entertaining, because they draw on such a rich and fascinating folk tradition, which most Westerners are totally unfamiliar with. And there are hundreds of them! Probably most American horror fans have never even dipped their toe in the Asian Magic Horror Film well, and that well is deeper than you could ever imagine. Time to dive in.

THE PLOT~ Times are tough for Murni. Some time ago, Kohar, local lady-killer extraordinaire, charmed his way into her Jungle Pants, and she was powerless to resist his advances, because he is Kohar. Actually, let’s get to know this guy a little bit before we proceed.


No woman can resist Kohar. Here are some of his finer points.

eyesback daggerkiltstacheThese qualities speak for themselves, Kohar is manhood incarnate, and a force to be reckoned with. The sad truth, though, is that he’s also a total dick. Having successfully executed Operation: “Bang Murni,” Kohar decides to temporarily pacify his deeply upset female conquest with the promise that everything was totally okay, because he was for sure gonna mary her real soon, Scount’s honor. Well, looks like the only Merit-Badges Kohar ever earned were in seducing ladies, Dope-Ass Back-Daggers, and being a fucking liar, because here we are, present day, and he’s marrying some other girl, while Murni is stuck sitting around like chopped liver. Totally uncool!


I can’t tell if she’s crying because she’s sad, or if it’s because of that giant onion she’s caressing.

She’s pretty broken up about it, obviously, but Murni needn’t be too jealous for very long. You see, unbeknownst to anyone in the village, this here wedding is about to get kyboshed super hard, black magic style, because some unknown third party has decided to place a gnarly curse on Kohar’s blushing bride to be, thereby disrupting these nuptials but good. Enraged, Kohar decides he wants to bring justice to whoever the hell just ruined his big day; but, sadly, he has no idea who that person could be. “I’ll just blame Murni,” he thinks. “I probably haven’t ruined enough of her life yet, anyway.” Using his raw animal charisma and remarkable gift for public speaking, Kohar convinces a good chunk of his fellow villagers that there is at least a 15% chance that Murni totally did this, and is definitley a witch. Instantly, a mob is formed, and Kohar leads his fellow villagers through the balmy jungles of Indonesia on a quest to brutally murder an innocent girl who he had personally de-virginized only weeks prior. Long story short, neither Murni, or her mother, whom she lives with, end up having a very nice evening. Murni is drug out, beaten, and tossed off a cliff. When her mother pleads with the group to have mercy on Murni, Kohar slaps her unconscious and burns her house down. He’s a friggin’ dick.

kohar doucheSo, Murni tumbles down the cliff, shattering every bone in her body on the countless branches and stone outcroppings that she strikes on the way down, but thank goodness, some weird jungle hermit somehow catches her and takes her back to his secluded hell-cave, which just so happens to be littered with spooky black magic paraphernalia. No big deal! This Satanic Samaritan kindly nurses Murni back to health, before he hits her with some hardline, Darth Sidious style manipulation. “Listen, yo,” he says. “Them fools tried to kill you. You gotta get your revenge- black magic style! And I’ll train you in the ways of the dark side, so you can totally do it. You have to kill all of those people, or else.” Murni isn’t exactly elated with this proposal, but manipulative douche bags seem to have a way with her, and she agrees. Soon, Murni returns to the village to get her vengeance, which, and I can’t stress this enough, is really awesome. Highlights include a man who grows giant, disgusting blood blisters all over his face and arms, and of course, the demise of Kohar, who is actually forced to yank his own head off.

blister diegnarly drownedkohar no head 1Kohar no head 2Just… Just so, so awesome.

But the movie isn’t over. Next, a pious stranger from the city arrives in town, eager to pray at the local mosque, which the superstitious locals have long since abandoned. When he learns of the many black magic related issues the village has been dealing with in days of late, this wandering holy man decides that all they really need to turn it all around is some good ol’ fashioned churchin’ up. He takes it upon himself to lead this wayward flock back into the light, which actually kinda works, and that just pisses off Murni’s reclusive jungle mentor like you can’t believe. It’s clear that this town ain’t big enough for the two of them. Can these two opposing forces embrace one another and learn to coexist, or will the bad guy literally explode at the end of the movie?!?

Spoiler alert

Spoiler alert?

So, Queen of Black Magic is a story about redemption, but it’s also about resisting temptation. Murni’s problems all stem from how easily swayed she is, first by Kohar, and next by her black magic mentor man… Which, admittedly, murdering people with the powers of hell is a lot worse than banging some skeezeball, but it’s the same basic principles. In the end, the moral also stresses the importance of owning up to the wrongs you have committed, and accepting the punishments associated with them. Also, Murni almost marries her brother, but incest doesn’t really seem like a problem in this film’s self contained universe. Listen, just go watch this movie, it’s awesome.

As I mentioned above, the special effects in Queen of Black Magic really stand out as being pretty excellent for a low budget film of this caliber. They’re bloody, imaginative, and fantastically well executed, meaning that amateur films being made today have absolutely no excuse for shitty CG effects. You’re all lazy, do better.

Highly recommended.


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