Tuesday, March 19, 2019
AN INTERVIEW WITH RICHARD MOGG
This episode we take an inside look at Richard Mogg's great book about our favorite genre ANALOG NIGHTMARES.
Purchase Analog Nightmares
Wednesday, March 13, 2019
Review By Matt Watts
Three brothers (two maternal, one step) find themselves home alone for a weekend when their mother has to work a double shift. After one brother, who is of a... diminished mental capacity, has a chance encounter with a neighboring monk (You read that right), the boys each begin to experience strange dreams, until their nightmares converge and spill over into reality. Will the brothers be able to band together and survive the horror, or will they succumb to their HALLUCINATIONS?
Hallucinations is a special movie. Part adolescent slumber party time capsule, part maddening fever dream, and one hundred percent no budget cinematic bliss. This is the Polonia Brothers’ first completed feature, as the preceding Church of the Damned had been left unfinished, and its superiority to it is apparent. Something frequently mentioned about their more notorious film, Splatter Farm, is its lack of adult characters, which adds to its uncomfortable, raw authenticity, and that same characteristic is found in Hallucinations. This is a movie made by three teenage boys, and, as such, their portrayal of said characters is entirely authentic. Of course, Mark and John have no problem being relatable siblings on camera, and Todd Michael Smith does well playing the slightly older, perhaps a little cooler step brother, looking down on the slow Mark while perceiving John as more of an equal.
In true Polonia form, the boys’ believable performances soon play second fiddle to the onslaught of surreal, watery gore and multiple puppet/creature attacks. Individually, Mark battles a possessed Christmas elf, Todd wrestles with a microwaved fetus, and perhaps most memorably, John grapples with a dryer hose worm creature while stark naked in the shower. That creature may be the least effective prop in and of itself, but its creepy, slow motion shower attack definitely burns an image in your mind. Surely, in a professionally made movie, the inevitable “creature in the shower” scene would have featured a gratuitous view of a buxom horror starlet, half heartedly struggling as the beast lingers long enough to make sure the audience sees where the budget went. And maybe the Bros would have preferred such a scene in Hallucinations, but the seedy glimpse of John bare in the shower during the attack again furthers the discomfort and enforces the existence of the films own reality. This scene fits the narrative of the film and furthers the story in a way that a purely exploitative female shower scene would not.
In addition to the unforgettable creatures, some impressive gore effects make a splash on screen. Of particular note is a scene in which Mark has his chest charred with a blow torch before being poked with a machete, yielding expectedly gruesome results. The chest piece, a latex creation, is thoroughly convincing, and their enthusiasm in creating the effect shows. In a scene that would later be recycled in the original cut of Splatter Farm, John vomits up an impressive length of intestine before excreting a knife straight into the toilet bowl. Close up shots of John clutching at his blood drenched tighty whiteys never fail to make underprepared viewers squirm. The sticky, goopy, and, uh, intimate nature of such scenes add something to this movie not found in a “traditional” low budget flick or less adventurous amateur affair.
After suffering their individual nightmares, the three boys reconvene and encounter, in Mark’s own words, a “low rent poltergeist” (harsh but fair) as clocks spin, lights flicker, cabinets open, and pillows fly through the air. Mark and Todd encounter an amusing demon-type entity; sort of a discount store Freddy in an Adidas jumpsuit. Once these episodes begin, the movie only escalates, until the boys battle a slew of creatures in the climatic confrontation.
The films final shot is surprisingly effective. Mark and John have survived the horror and embrace, leading to a shot of a childhood photo of the two. After a brief pause, a knife rips through the back of the picture, coming directly between the brothers, slowly creating a rift between them. Now that’s some symbolism for you! This is just one example of the supernatural elements of the movie that elevate it above the expected notions of the Friday the 13th clones one may expect to see from excitable teen filmmakers.
As I alluded to earlier, part of my enjoyment of Hallucinations stems from the feeling that the movie captures a moment in the lives of the people on camera beyond the characters they portray. The movie was shot over a winter break, and the film almost feel like it unfolds in real time, with its shooting schedule not that far off. Mark Polonia has stated that there was little more than an outline for the movie when they started shooting, and it was essentially shot in sequence, the events of the film were as much a mystery to its creators as its characters! I think that certainly is what gives Hallucinations such an immediate, rewatchable enjoyment. I reached out to Mark for his comment on the movie, and he had this to say: “It’s an accidental classic! Surreal, shocking, and unbridled. A small step into the Polonia Brothers pool”.
With all I’ve rambled on, I’m still not sure I’ve clearly explained my love for Hallucinations. It’s certainly near the top of my most watched Polonia pictures. Perhaps the reason I enjoy it so much is so simple that it makes it difficult to explain. Three teenagers wanted to make a movie, so they did. That simple. Here, decades later, I’ve purchased the movie three times over on three different home video formats. Still, a movie like Hallucinations probably isn’t for everyone. There’s enough gore to scare off some. I know the words “shot on video” are enough to send some cinephiles scrambling back to their Criterion collections. And I’ll admit, this is quite literally a home movie. However, Hallucinations is full of everything I love about movies, and filmmaking as art. The movie was made because those involved LOVED movies, not because it would make them cool, or because it would make them money, but because they simply wanted to, and the enthusiasm and effort is undeniable.
In 1986, Mark and John Polonia made a movie for very little money, mostly by themselves. I’m glad they never stopped.
Monday, March 4, 2019
By Tony Masiello
How did you get involved in Blood Lake?
A friend of mine, though I can’t remember to be mad at, knew Doug was looking for a place and put us in contact with each other.
I believe Blood Lake was your first acting role, did you do anything special to prepare for it?
Uh, do you really need to ask? Lol, I wish I would have!
The movie was shot at your parents lake house, did this cause extra stress on you during the shoot?
Yes, it was stressful. My father was a minister and had very strict rules which were all broken during the filming. I was constantly worried that something would happen. I remember Doug threw a cigarette in the grass and I stepped on it while it was still hot. I went ballistic. I had seen lots down there catch fire plus it really hurt!
What was it like working with Doug Barry as a producer and as your on screen boyfriend?
He could be charming and funny at times. He tried to be easy going but there were other stresses that I’m sure were on his mind. He has never reached out to me since the filming.
What was it like working with Tim Boggs?
Tim was cool. He was fun and easy going. I enjoyed working with him.
Can you tell us anything about the other cast members of Blood Lake?
My brother and his friends were the boys that were killed in the movie. I had gone to school with Andrea Adams so we knew each other. She was really funny and made us laugh a lot.
Can you discuss shooting the scene near the end of the movie where you are tied up in the shack and get stabbed?
Yes, that was recorded south of Norman. You can tell I had not watched many horror films. I try to put it out of my mind as much as possible, lol.
As we see in the final scene of the movie the lake bed dried up, did the lake ever return?
Yes, they rebuilt the dam and it is full again. I have gone down there to just drive around the lake. My parents sold the property about a year after the filming.
Do you have a favorite memory of working on Blood Lake?
I loved skiing and being on the lake. As a family we spent the majority of our time skiing every weekend and throughout the week during summer. I enjoyed trying to teach everyone how to ski.
Looking back what was the most difficult thing about working on the movie?
Being in close quarters with everyone 24/7 for that long. We all stayed there for over a week. I needed time away from them.
Blood Lake was your only feature film role, did you consider pursuing more acting roles after the film was completed?
Hell no! I was a performing arts major and loved dancing and being in musicals.
Any other interesting stories you can share about Blood Lake?
We were never paid a dime for any of it. That left a bad taste in my mouth. Doug's girlfriend was there for the entirety of the filming and made it very awkward. I don't think she liked me playing his girlfriend.
What did you think of the completed movie after it was released?
I never got a copy to be able to see it.
What did your family think of the completed movie?
One of my brothers found a copy to rent. He never gave his opinion about it.
Some critics consider Blood Lake to be one of the worst horror films of the 80's does that bother you?
I agree with them. We all were so green that there is no wonder it was terrible. However Andrea played her character really well.
How do you feel about the movie finally getting a DVD release?
I wish it wouldn’t. I feel like we got ripped off. You can’t tell me that it didn’t make a little bit of money. Even $50 at that time would have at least shown that our time and efforts were worth something. Part of me wants to fight it. Either pay us or don’t put our work out there.
Tuesday, February 26, 2019
Review By Tony Masiello
Marv decides to throw a movie marathon pizza party for his friends, consisting of the most gory and gruesome movies he can find online. The group of friends (all played by Bellamy) have a gory good time until Marv discovers that he forgot about one VHS tape. A tape adorned with a label made of human flesh! The friends put on the VHS, which besides it's abstract and gory images, also contains a warning that anyone who watches it will be cursed by Satan. Now the friends must fight for their survival before they become the next victims of The Tape Of Karma!
The story, though derivative of other works, is fun. There are some great lines such as when the characters are examining the mysterious VHS tape and one proclaims, "It smells like a dog shit sundae".
The gore is cheesy but there are gallons of blood on display which will please most gorehounds. We get such gory goodies as a sledgehammer to the chest, gut ripping, a decapitation, a head explosion and a guys balls falling off.
It's really impressive what Bellamy is able to pull off here and I think Bellamy is a indie filmmaker to watch for. He obviously has a great love for the genre and the passion and drive to achieve his vision regardless of budgetary and casting setbacks which is very admirable. Overall, I had a blast with The Tape Of Karma and highly recommend it.
To learn more about Michael Bellamy and his Shot On Videos Films label check out:
Monday, February 18, 2019
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.