Monday, February 18, 2019

Zombraella's S.O.V. Theater - Las Vegas Bloodbath

Zombarella takes a look at David Schwartz's misunderstood shot on video sleaze-fest classic Las Vegas Bloodbath! Comparing the two releases of the film, the original VHS version from Dead Alive Productions and the work-print version released on DVD by Pendulum Pictures.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Review - Night Of The Living Babes (1987)

Night Of The Living Babes 1987
Review By Tony Masiello

A couple of yuppies named Chuck (Andrew Nichols) and Buck (Louie Bonanno) decide to look for a little adulterous action at a mysterious brothel called Madam Mondo's Zombie Fantasy Ranch.

The duo are both married to smoking hot wives (Connie Woods, and Scream Queen Legend Michelle Bauer!), but Chuck (the sleazebag of the two) convinces Buck (the happy husband) to accompany him on the trip regardless.

Little do they know that Madam Mondo's isn't quite what it seems. You see all the "girls" at Mondo's are actually former patrons (guys), who have been transformed into sex starved she-vixens from a blast from Mondo's sex-change raygun.

When Chuck and Buck don't return home the following day after their night of "bowling", it's up to their trophy wives to save the perverted duo before they permanently lose their manhood's.

Night Of The Living Babes has the look and feel of an 80's adult film, which is not very shocking as it was directed by legendary adult film director Gregory Dark (New Wave Hookers).

Many of the cast and crew were also comprised of individuals who worked in the adult film industry, including cinematographer Junior "Speedy" Bodden, which accounts for the aforementioned adult film aesthetic.

Due to this fact, many people would probably discount NOTLB as a cheap soft porn knockoff, but that assessment would be far from correct. The thing that separates NOTLB from other similar adult turned legitimate productions (such as Fred Lincoln's Wild Man) is the stellar acting from it's two leads.

Andrew Nichols (Cafe Flesh) and Louie Bonanno (Wimps) both give great performances and have good screen chemistry as the horn-dog yuppies. Oh, and did I mention Michelle Bauer is in this! (If you can't tell I kinda have a thing for her)

Not all the cast shines in the film, though. Connie Woods lives up to her name and comes off wooden and stiff in her performance. Forrest Witt as Madam Mondo is a little bit too over the top for my taste with his Rocky Horror inspired performance.

There's also surprisingly not as much nudity in the film as you would expect especially considering the talent involved, which in this reviewer's opinion is a good thing. NOTLB doesn't rely on nudity for it's thrills, but rather a silly fun light-hearted script and the aforementioned comical acting chops of it's leads.

The movie does tend to slack a bit in the second half, but with it's brief 60 minute run-time it doesn't really hurt the film much. I do wonder if there was ever possibly a longer and harder version of the movie (doubtful), as that was common practice for many adult films of the era.

Overall NOTLB is a silly fun horror comedy with some great performances that makes for a mondo fun time. Oh and did I mention Michelle Bauer is in it!

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Review - Easter Bunny Bloodbath (2010)

Easter Bunny Bloodbath (2010)
Review By Tony Masiello

In 1967 on Easter Day, young Peter sees the Easter Bunny decapitate his older sister. 20 years later, Peter and a group on five friends venture off to his father's cabin that he recently inherited to party it up for Easter weekend. Though soon after arriving, Peter is plagued with visions of the Easter Bunny and his friends start to slowly disappear, one by one.

Easter Bunny Bloodbath is the first feature film from director Richard Mogg (author of the great SOV book Analog Nightmares). As you can probably tell from the synopsis, EBBB is a throwback to the great 80's holiday slashers.

The movie is supposed to take place in 1987, but there is little attempt to make it appear as such. You see many newer cars driving by the "isolated" house. In the flashback scene that is supposed to take place in 1967, the characters are watching TV on a newer television set. The movie is played more for laughs, so maybe those things were intentional, but I found them more distracting than comical.

Speaking of odd choices - in the 1967 prologue, the actor playing Peter is white and then when we are introduced to the older version him he is now played by an Indian actor. Cleverly, though, they put up a card that re-introduces him and proclaims him to be "no longer white".

The lead actor Shayan Bayat, who plays Peter, does a good job in the role and it is obvious why he was cast. He is easily the best actor in the lot and he gives a solid performance.

My main issue with EBBB is the bad CG kills. Pretty much every kill in the film has added digital blood which just looks bad. The worst thing about it, is during each kill they keep doing the same effect were blood splatters on the camera lens. This wouldn't be too bad if it happened once or twice, but it happens repeatedly throughout the movie.

The weird thing is, with all these faults I still enjoyed EBBB for what it was. Richard Mogg is obviously a huge fan of the genre and it shows. The script is fun and very reminiscent of the 80's slashers. Is it great? Not by any means, but it makes for a decent flick to watch on Easter Sunday as you shove your face full of chocolate.

Buy Easter Bunny Bloodbath here:

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

An SOV Manifesto by Matt Watts


Differing sub genres of film are a slippery slope to fall down. For example, saying you are a fan of “horror movies” is a pretty broad statement. To some folks, horror begins and ends with the Universal classics. Others would think of sixties Roger Corman or William Castle type thrillers. A good majority of horror fans would think of the seventies and eighties explosion of slasher flicks. And somewhere waaaaaay at the bottom of that slippery genre slope, rest the enthusiastic fanatics of SOV horror.

I say “fanatics” because there are not many people who are on the fence about appreciating shot on video movies. In fact, a vast, vast majority of filmgoers are outright repulsed by movies shot on video. I’ve heard such creative colloquialisms as “shot on shit-eo” or the more appropriate “shit on video” spouted out on any number of film message boards. To some, there seems to be no greater affront on cinematic existence than to dare to make a movie on anything other than film or whatever the current level of unnecessarily high definition digital format is. But for those of us crammed down at the bottom of the barrel of cinematic taste, there is no greater joy than witnessing a movie shot on consumer grade VHS.

Sure, it’s an acquired taste. When I first started stumbling onto SOV horror movies, it was in the early 2000’s, when I was dedicated to renting every horror movie at my local rental place. I wasn’t a very discriminating renter, so anything with a halfway decent cover ended up coming home with me. Inevitably with a practice like that, I would occasionally end up with a movie that would reveal itself to be shot on video. I would typically let out a bit of a groan, but I must say, seeing that home video look never made me outright stop the tape. I was a gorehound goddammit, and as long as the flick delivered on the red stuff, I was forgiving of the quality.

After awhile, I began to develop an affinity for these SOV affairs. Around this time, discovering the movie was a trashy SOV picture usually meant I was going to see not only a fair amount of bloodshed, but also a fair amount of clothing shed. The holy trinity of blood, boobs, and beasts were ever present in these kinds of movies, much to my enjoyment. This was right around the time of the advent of digital video, which at the time seemed like a big jump in quality for low budget movies, while still not breaking the budget of the flick.

But it wasn’t until I finally got around to getting a DVD player that I really discovered the prime, original, eighties shot on video movies. While a lot of these flicks eventually got special edition treatments by many fine speciality labels, once DVD’s caught on with the mainstream purchasing audience, it wasn’t long before a glut of budget priced multi movie packs hit the shelves. I was in trash heaven. Suddenly, movies I’d only read or heard about were within reach. Splatter Farm? Blood Cult? Zombie Bloodbath? Video Violence? No longer only available though “convention edition” copies of copies of copies, here there were, transferred in high quality! You could actually make out night scenes! You could revel in the slowly congealing puddles of Karo Syrup blood! Thrill to tracking issues present in the masters! Just the fact that movies once thought to to swept under the rug by a generation of video renters were back, and back with a vengeance, was cause for celebration to a fan of schlock such as myself.

Another crucial advantage of these movies being available on DVD was a perk of the format; special features. Making of documentaries, interviews, and the all important director commentary tracks proved to be often just as entertaining as the movies themselves. These were not big budget, or even small budget studio affairs. Hearing the tales of what the makers of these movies did to get their flicks finished was always inspiring. The details of renting video equipment or borrowing dad’s camcorder in order to unleash on onslaught of homemade gore was invaluable to an aspiring trash filmmaker. What did Jon McBride and company use to make those awesome entrails in Cannibal Campout? How did Gary Cohen manage to shoot in that sweet video store in Video Violence? How did the Polonia Brothers feel about the sick implications of the teenaged sexual violence of Splatter Farm? And just what the fuck was anyone involved with Boardinghouse thinking?! Most of these questions, answered. And those that weren’t, well, maybe the mystery was part of the enjoyment anyway.

Maybe that was part of the appeal of SOV movies. Wether you went into the viewing of the movie with aspirations of making your own or not, by the time an open minded horror fan got through, how could you not want to make a movie? What these filmmakers explained sure seemed a lot more attainable than what someone involved in a giant Hollywood epic would offer. If all else failed, grab some friends, stir up some fake blood, jot down an idea, head off into the woods and BAM! You’ve got a movie! And was this really much different than what filmmakers a generation before the SOV pioneers did? Sam Raimi and company did essentially what I just described to make the seminal Evil Dead, only they were fortunate enough to find a way to finance a film production. Texas Chainsaw Massacre? Night of the Living Dead? Same difference right? A different time and place allowed these filmmakers access to more traditional filmmaking methods. The advent of video in the eighties allowed for a cheaper, easier format in which an aspiring filmmaker could learn their craft. Most of the early SOV directors, Todd Sheets, Donald Farmer, the Polonia Brothers etc, started out making shorts on 8MM film. But the format was costly, finicky, and time consuming. With VHS camcorders becoming more affordable, the new format gave these young, creative people a way to craft not only shorts, but actual features for a mere fraction of the cost of film.

SOV filmmaking is filmmaking in its most democratic form. There’s no excuses. Far fewer technical limitations to wrestle. If you had an idea, access to a camera and a blank tape were all you needed. So is this something that should be held against those who made their movies on video? Is a movie automatically less interesting or valid because of its shooting format? Now, I understand that to someone who has only had a diet of strictly mainstream film, an SOV movie is probably pretty jarring. But horror fans by and large are much more forgiving of quality for something that includes the previously mentioned three b’s (blood, boobs, beast). That is surely a reason that a staggering majority of shot on video movies are in fact in the horror genre. But really, when it comes down to it, what kind of camera used to shoot a movie is a pretty asinine reason to disavow it, don’t you think?

I think that’s where the appeal lies for the majority of us SOV horror fanatics. It’s bare bones filmmaking. It’s pure, sick trash, in the most beautiful way possible. Once I fell down the shot on video rabbit hole, it was pretty hard to come back out. These movies, and their makers, were my film school and teachers. For most, the decision to shoot on video was one of necessity. The look and feel of their movies were shaped by the format. And while it may have been seen as a nuisance or hinderance to some, others were inspired by video, viewing its shortcomings as positives. SOV movies are unique and unmistakable.

I’ve directed two features and a handful of shorts that I shot on VHS. I was careful to try to convey that I was not doing this to do a period piece or a “retro throwback”. Rather, I wanted to try my hardest to put myself in the same situation that the filmmakers that inspired me were in, hoping I could capture some of the same feeling found in those SOV classics. I have a saying in regards to effects in my movies; “it doesn’t have to look real, just real gross”. Even though most of my gore gags were accomplished with bare bones things like liquid latex soaked paper towels doused liberally in fake blood, they seem to elicit a sense of revulsion in most viewers. I think this has to do with the fact that most people of a certain age are predominantly familiar with VHS quality footage through their own home movies. Having mostly seen that kind of look from an old tape of their 8th birthday party that their uncle shot, seeing explicit, if not amateurish, gore spilling out of the screen seems to trigger a reaction more akin to watching a snuff film than just another low budget horror movie.

I guess that’s it. There’s a certain, unmistakable reality to be found in SOV horror. The serial killers seem more vicious, the zombies more hungry, and the sleaze that much sleazier. What kind of crazy person shoots a movie on video?
-Matt Watts

Trailer for Matt Watts FATAL PREMONITIONS

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Review - Twisted Tales (1994)

Twisted Tales (1994)
Review By Tony Masiello

Twisted Tales is a horror anthology from Kevin J. Lindenmuth's, Brimstones Pictures, featuring 3 horror tales in the EC comics styles. Each tale is directed by a different filmmaker including Lindenmuth, frequent collaborator Mick McCleery, and Rita Klus.

The movie starts off in a bar with a guy on stage belting out what may be one of the best theme songs for a SOV movie ever (next to Las Vegas Blood Bath). It's a loungy rap number that gives you a brief glimpse into the stories that are about to unfold. It's silly, fun, and I dare you not to get it stuck in your head.

This portion, without giving anything away, also ties itself to the last story. It's a nice, clever way of having a wraparound sequence for the movie.

First up is "Nothing But The Truth" directed by Rita Klus. This tale focuses on a sleazy guy named Joey, who has a bad habit of embellishing the truth. One night after attending an art show on a date, Joey is mugged. He later brags to his friends about the incident, changing the details to make it sound like he is a real tough guy hero. Well, afterwards he gets mugged again but this time the incident mirrors the tale he told his buddies. So what is a pathological liar to do? Embellish the truth yet again, of course. Once again his lies become a reality. Will Joey learn his lesson or will his lies lead to his ultimate demise?

This tale was fun piece, and actor Freddie Ganno really shines as the lying sleazebag Joey. The ending left a bit to be desired, but the strong acting of Ganno keeps you intrigued throughout it's running time.

The next tale is "The Shooting" directed by Mick McCleery. This tale opens on a man named Tommy who is fleeing from the scene of a shooting with the gun still tightly clutched in his hands. It is then revealed that Tommy has just killed his verbally abusive brother. Taking refuge in an old warehouse, Tommy meets a mysterious stranger who knows what he has done and leads Tommy down a path that ultimately leads to his doom.

This was my least favorite segment of the movie. It's not a bad story and has a nice twist, but it seemed a little over long. When compared to the other tales, it just doesn't seem as strong.

Our final tale directed by Kevin J Lindemuth is called "Hungry Like A ... Bat?". This one stars Mick McCleery as a guy named Charlie. Charlie has been persuaded by his brother to see a psychologist for some problems he has been having. What's the problem you ask? Well, it seems Charlie is not only a werewolf, but he's also a vampire! And to make matters worse, Charlie is falling in love with a girl who recently moved into his apartment complex.

This was the stand out tale of the movie. The synopsis makes it sound silly (and it is), but it's also a fun and inventive take on the classic monster cliches. Lindemuth shows why he is one of the best indie horror directors of the 90's. His segment has a great creative script, solid acting (especially by Mick McCleery and his Addicted To Murder co-star Laura McLauchlin), and a great payoff.

Overall Twisted Tales is a solid horror anthology that is a welcome addition to any SOV enthusiast collection. The VHS from Brimstone Productions also features some short interviews with the various directors talking about how the project came about after the film concludes.

For more info on Brimstone Productions check out: