Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Trailers and Updates

I know this will probably sound like a shameless plug or just me asking for more followers but sometimes I post things directly to social media when I don't feel like writing an entire post about them. (Like a trailer or a single picture for example) I didn't even realize about how much readers were missing, so I will try to do more summary posts like this one. But if you don't want to miss anything, please follow Z-portal on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

[Warning: My Twitter is a shared account that I also use for my Retrospective Geek blog, so there will be some comic book, video game, tokusatsu, and pro wrestling stuff mixed in. I haven't felt the need to start a separate Twitter account specifically for this stuff... yet!]

Ash vs. Evil Dead

Bruce Campbell and Sam Raimi are teaming with STARZ to bring us new original series set 30 years after Army of Darkness. The new series is set to premier on Halloween and it looks GROOVY!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Shudder - A New Horror Streaming Service!

Horror fans rejoice! AMC and DramaFever have teamed up to bring us a new 24/7 horror streaming service. Shudder promises to deliver "Screams on Demand" for only $4.99/month or $49.99/year.

With more than 200 full-length, ad-free horror movies available, powered by DramaFever's video streaming platform, Shudder gives you access to horror content curated by "leading industry experts." Currently available only in the US but hoping to expand worldwide soon, the Beta version is only available through your web browser with apps for iOS, Android, and Roku launching in the coming weeks.

People who signed up for the Beta have been receiving invites over the last week and a half for an exclusive 60-day free trial offer. Visit their website at Shudder.com to sign up now. I received my invitation today and eagerly signed up to see what was available on their site.

They offer a variety of movies including an impressive selection of foreign films such as:

The ABCs of Death (2012)
Dead Hooker in a Trunk (2009) by the Soska Sisters
Doghouse (2009)
Dream Home (2010)
Faces of Death (1978)
I Saw the Devil (2010)
Sick Nurses (2007)
The Machine Girl (2008)
Tokyo Gore Police (2008)
Tucker & Dale vs. Evil (2010)

alongside classics like Germany's silent Gothic horror Nosferatu, Mario Bava's seminal slasher film A Bay of Blood, and Italian gore maestro Lucio Fulci's first installment of his unofficial "Gates of Hell" trilogy City of the Living Dead. All of which are separated into "collections" such as:

A-Horror (Asian Horror)
Psychos and Madmen
Socko Spoofs
Into the Wild
Comedy of Terrors
Gross Anatomy
The Unblinking Eye: Diabolical Documentaries
The Unraveling Mind
Urban Decay
Weird Science
Zombie Jamboree
Cult Masters: EuroHorror
Foundations of Horror
Monster Mash
Possessions: The Devil Made Me Do It!
Bad Genes & Killer Kids
Not Your Ordinary Bloodsuckers
School's Out... Forever
Spectral Encounters
...and more!

What impressed me the most were the titles I couldn't find on Netflix, not even for DVD rental. Movies like:

Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky - An insanely gory and violent adaptation of a Japanese manga that everyone should see (and probably have seen clips from) but is no longer available to rent from Netflix. I know I've rented this from them previously but maybe someone didn't return the disc.

Trail of the Screaming Forehead - From the same people who brought us the genre spoofs Dark and Stormy Night, The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra, and The Lost Skeleton Returns Again comes this parody of old Sci-Fi movies that doesn't even turn up in a search of Netflix's database. In fact, the only copy I could find was a Region 2 import on Amazon.

Death Bell - Another movie that doesn't even show up on Netflix's radar. I was after this Korean horror for a list of school-related horror films I was compiling. I understand that Netflix can't possibly offer every obscure movie in the world, but they also have an inexcusably poor selection of foreign films.

Werewolves on Wheels - Alright, I'm not going to act like it's a crime if Netflix doesn't carry an exploitation film that mixes biker films with werewolf movies. I'm sure most people would just scroll past it even if they did stream it. For people like me that want to see it though, the disc is currently unavailable to rent and this is NOT the kind of movie you want to buy to watch for the first time.

Chaw - Another Korean film, this time a black comedy about a mutant killer boar, is also not available for streaming or rental. Once again, this is less about criticizing Netflix for not having every movie I want available and more about emphasizing the selection that Shudder does have. This just happens to be a movie I was looking for recently and I can watch it now thanks to Shudder.

In addition, Shudder also has a pre-programmed feed called Shudder.tv that airs a continuous loop of horror programs like a TV network.

Not all of the films have closed captions or subtitles, but they're working to bring more to the site. All of their non-English language content is subtitled across all their supported platforms, but it isn't possible at this time to enable CC on English language films except on their website. Members can also request titles to be added

If their initial selection of films is any indication of what's to come, I'm extremely excited to see what will be added next. AMC is known for their Fear Fest marathons every Halloween and have brought us shows like the wildly popular Walking Dead and the highly-anticipated, upcoming companion series Fear the Walking Dead. If anything, AMC has shown it understands what the horror community wants. Maybe the ads are right.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Halloween Night (2006)

Background: Following When a Killer Calls, they made a cash-in on The Omen called 666: The Child, both of which dropped on the infamous release date of June 6, 2006. I wasn't able to get ahold of the movie but it might've been decent considering it gets a sequel the following year. At first glance, this appears to be a cash-in on the Halloween franchise but claims to be an original film as opposed to the typical mockbusters The Asylum is known for. Written by Michael Gingold, the editor of Fangoria since 1990.

Plot: A psycho escapes from an insane asylum and goes on a killing spree after crashing a Halloween bash in this scary slasher film based on actual events that took place in 1982. Derek Osedach, Rebekah Kochan, Scot Nery, Sean Durrie, Alicia Klein, Erica Roby. Directed by Mark Atkins. - Rotten Tomatoes

Rebekah Kochan, who played the babysitter in When a Killer Calls, and Derek Osedach (Frank, the fuck up) are both in this.

The movie starts with a kid hiding under the bed as his parents are being held at gunpoint by two intruders wearing masks. The mother is molested before being shot.

The father says something about how they weren't "supposed" to kill her. The mother is barely alive when they shoot her again in the head, the effects for the headshot are actually pretty decent! The bullet exiting her skull hits a steam pipe that the kid is now inexplicably standing next to (why is there a giant pipe in this room?) and the steam burns his face. The scene crossfades to a white mask that looks an awful lot like the Michael Myers mask from Halloween.

Skip ahead 10 years and it's Halloween day, the burnt kid is now in an mental institution. He no longer has lips and his entire body looks like beef jerky, so I'm just going to call him Jerky-Man.

Two orderlies are taunting Jerky-Man by wearing a masks the same masks the intruders were wearing while raping and killing his mother, causing him to (understandably) go apeshit and kill both of them before escaping The Asylum. (har har)

The effects of Jerky-Man ripping out the orderly's throat are decent but his disfigured face is so obviously a mask because his mouth doesn't move when he grunts inside it. 

Cut to a group of young people visiting their friend who's preparing for a Halloween party. The group heads into the house where we're treated to a lesbians make out session.

And tits!

The guy throwing the party, David, goes to the bus station to pick up some generic leather jacket and sunglasses wearing "bad boy" named Daryll.

This is part of an elaborate "prank" that doesn't really make sense. Todd and his girlfriend are transporting a costume and bunch of medieval weapons that are illegal in the state they're in. They pass a police checkpoint where they find out the Jerky-Man escaped

Jerky-Man was hiding in one of the stalls at a random gas station. Luckily for him, Todd picks this particular gas station bathroom to change into his costume, bringing a big box of knives and weapons with him that Jerky-Man conveniently uses to kill Todd and steal his costume.

The similarities to Halloween are hard to ignore but they address one of the issues people usually have with the Carpenter classic. In Halloween, Michael Myers escapes the mental institution and steals a car. Fans have always questioned how someone who spent a majority of their life institutionalized would know how to drive. After killing Todd and stealing his costume, the Jerky Man gets into the car with Todd's girl and tries to drive the car. He's shown fumbling with the vehicle and not being a very competent driver

Jerky-Man runs into the babysitter from When a Stranger Calls and recognizes the necklace she's wearing as the same necklace his mother wore.

Alright, the big "prank" at the party, this is where the plot really breaks down for me. So the prank is that Daryll, who no one at the party is supposed to know, is crashing the party and hitting on all the girls there. After being asked to leave the party by David and refusing, they get into a scuffle before Daryll pulls a gun on Todd, who was supposed to be in on the whole thing. Fake cops are supposed to show up and Daryll is supposed to take the cop's gun, car, and Todd as a hostage.

There are a couple problems with this, if Todd was supposed to be taken hostage then why did he need all the medieval weapons? This wasn't just one axe or knife, there was also a large variety of swords. Why risk crossing a police check point with a ton of illegal weapons if Daryll was just going to pull a gun? Turns out Todd was killed and replaced with Jerky-Man, so it was lucky he smuggled a bunch of illegal weapons past the police checkpoint or the killer would have to rip everyone's throats out with his Slim Jim fingers.

Another thing that bothers me about this scene was how intimated Jerky-Man is when Daryll pulls a gun on him. Slashers are usually maniacs that aren't afraid of guns but this guy cowers and drops his axe when Daryll points a gun at him.

There's a Juggalo at the party!

After strangling Daryll with a seatbelt and disemboweling him with a giant sword, Jerky-Man returns to the party and kills a couple having sex. 

Jerky-Man puts The Iron Claw on the babysitter then ties her up.

Tits and lesbian sex scene!

Some chick is eating some weird looking cake in a bubble bath while a nerdy jester is reading more about Jerky-Man online.

Bathtub tits!

This is probably the best kill of the entire movie. Jerky-Man stabs a sword down through the top of his head then pulls it out the front of his face, splitting his face in half. The effects are decent but there's this strange pause when Jerky-Man stabs him.

David calls the babysitter and she desperately tries to reach for her cellphone. He hangs up before she can get to it, so she gives up on trying to reach for her phone completely and takes a nap instead.

Jerky-Man tries to interrupt the clam rubbing session and totally gets his ass kicked by one of the lesbians before pulling off this awkward kill with a random coat hanger.

WTF was up with that?

David grabs a gun before seeing the Nerdy Jester's laptop still open to the article about Jerky-Man. When the camera zooms in, the laptop's screen also zooms in on the article.

David finds the babysitter tied up and tries to free her. Instead of yelling something helpful like "BEHIND YOU!" she just keeps yelling "David, David!" repeatedly until Jerky-Man knocks out him out from behind.

We see flashbacks to the night Jerky-Man's parents were murdered. His father hides his mother's corpse in the wall before committing suicide. Jerky-Man tears down the walls to find his mother's corpse

The babysitter frees herself and grabs David's gun, which only had two bullets for some reason, and shoots Jerky-Man.

After the police arrive, the bodies are taken outside and one of the cops is interviewing the babysitter. One of the body bags sit up and she shoots him with the cop's fun. Turns out David was in the bag and Jerky Man is still on the loose.

The movie ends with Jerky-Man getting picked up by a shirtless redneck

Final Thoughts: I feel like I should be doing Joe Bob Briggs Drive-In Totals for this movie

16 Dead Bodies

13 Nekkid Breasts

Throat Ripping

Throat Slashing

Lesbian Beatdown

Axe to the face

Sword through the skull

Sword through the face

Face melting steam

Mummified Mommy

While it's difficult not to draw a comparison between this and Halloween, this movie manages to miss some key components of the slasher formula. First off, the killer is awkward and clumsy. Even if not supernatural, the killer in slasher movies tend to be more threatening. Jerky-Man was afraid of guns and one of the lesbians just smacked the axe out of his hand with little effort.

The final girl is also typically the smartest or most competent one of the group, able to overcome the killer. This final girl is stupid, she doesn't do anything to survive and actually ends up shooting her boyfriend.

There are a lot of things left unexplained like what the significance of the necklace Jerky-Man recognized on the babysitter was. Why did it seem like his father was in on the home invasion? What was the point of him hiding his wife's body and then committing suicide?

The movie wasn't all bad, the effects were pretty decent but they used a lot frenetic editing that obscured some of the kills. There's also a funny gag in the movie's end credits

it's funny because the movie claims to be based on actual events at the beginning of the movie. There was also a ton of nudity and lesbian sex, so this movie gets some extra points for that. They're obviously just going through the motions but unfortunately they couldn't be bothered to steal the better parts of movies they're ripping off. Ultimately, this ends up feeling uninspired but was still a lot more watchable than When a Killer Calls and some of the Asylum's earlier mockbusters like H.G. Wells' War of the World and King of the Lost World, which were painful to sit through.

Monday, March 16, 2015

When a Killer Calls (2006)

Background: This movie is a knock off of a remake of a movie based on an urban legend.

Plot: A babysitter begins receiving threatening phone calls from a man who has just killed an entire family.

Main menu on DVD has a metal band blasting over it on a short loop

Wow, this movie looks like it was filtered through someone's asshole.

Haha, landline.

This is borderline bondage porn, some white girl is hogtied in her panties while some creep snaps pictures with his cellphone.

Damn, that's a shitty old cellphone.

That looks like Smucker's on the knife. 

00:06:18 - Dead kids, even shows them struggling to get away. That's pretty brutal.

This killer is very tidy, even clean up after himself!

*67 blocks your number from caller ID, I never knew that.

This movie is so damn generic, there's nothing to really say about it.

00:28:50 - Last time she checks on the girl she's babysitting, this chick sucks at her job!

Boyfriend, Matt, shows up with idiot friend, Frank, and some chick running from the cops because Frank pulled a gun on someone at the bowling alley.

Frank the fucking idiot starts smoking weed at someone else's house. This isn't even their friend's house, she's just babysitting for people. We all have that one friend who's a royal fuck up in life.

This sex scene doesn't any contain nudity.

Boyfriend tries to act hard over the phone

After seeing a news report about a triple homicide, the babysitter finally realizes the pictures she thought were fake earlier are real.

01:01:07 - Finally checks on the kid again, she's dead. Worst babysitter ever.


Boyfriend sacrifices himself for her, good guy.

Final Thoughts: This pretty much had the same premise as When A Stranger Calls because both were based on the same urban legend. Unfortunately, this manages to be really dull despite a decently written script. Of course this wasn't going to have the same polish as the Hollywood version, which had a $15 Million budget, but the slow pacing really killed it for me. With 3 dead kids, boobs, and an R-rating, you'd think this would be more interesting. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

King of the Lost World (2005)

Background: After ripping off War of the Worlds, The Asylum turned their attention to Peter Jackson's King Kong remake. The original featured special effects by stop-motion animation pioneer Willis O'Brien. The Asylum version is loosely based on Arthur Conan Doyle's novel The Lost World, which also featured stop-motion effects by Willis O'Brien when adapted for the big screen. What's messed up is they actually claim to be the "epic story that inspired King Kong and Jurassic Park" on the front cover as if this movie predates both of them.

Plot: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's action-adventure classic, four plane crash survivors encounter danger in a world that time forgot.

No trailers

Movie starts with a plane crash

Some chick is trapped in a tree but gets snatched by a giant ape that looks like it was animated by the Walking with Dinosaurs effects team.

Back at the crash site, two guys survey the damage and notice that part of the plane is missing.

Cranky guy with brief case seems shady.

The Pastor who took the alien money shot to the face in War of the Worlds plays John Roxton, who leads a group of survivors through the jungle.

A member of the group is attacked by a giant spider that mummifies him and digests him in a split second.

Slimy, digested skeleton still has eyeballs

The spider looked worse than the ones from Eight Legged Freaks!

The group stumbles across a cockpit from a different plane that crashed.

They decide to camp out in the cockpit for the night and build a fire, when Mr. Shady Briefcase catches up to them.

Guy is attacked by killer vine.

Dead dragon?

00:24:00 - "I didn't sign up for this" cliché

Tribesmen seems kinda racist

They're going to wrap maggots into this chick's wound, old school medicine!

Buddha's Palm?

The soldier that Jake Busey shoots in War of the Worlds is in this too.

Mr. Shady Briefcase actually tries to hotwire a missile while smoking a cigar.

00:40:22 - "This place is surreal... it's not right, it's out of place." Ya think?? Giant spiders, killer vines, fucking DRAGONS?!

Giant scorpions! The one from earlier was just foreshadowing. I didn't think Asylum films were capable of competent writing.

The pastor who took a load of alien jizz to the face in War of the Worlds gets penetrated by giant scorpion stinger.

Giant scorpions are afraid of camera flashes, good thing this chick brought her camera with her!

00:50:43 - TITS!

Almost an hour into this movie and "King Kong" only showed up for like 5 seconds.

Girls are given mind-control drugs, guys are the real sacrifices.

Wrong Kong suffers from the same fuzzy photography syndrome that Bigfoot does. Even in still shots, he looks blurry as shit. 

I think King Kong (1933) had better special effects than this movie.

"I'm acting sad!"

Huge nuke goes off 10 feet away, no nuclear fallout and only a small crater.

"Yeah, we're probably good right here."

Hero gets two bitches though!

Final Thoughts: Considering this was a mockbuster of King Kong, the giant ape is barely in the movie. Although, I will give them credit for knowing their limitations. If it's going to look like shit, don't put it on screen for longer than you have to. I'm actually a pretty big fan of all the King Kong movies, I'm just glad this wasn't nearly as long as Peter Jackson's version. I'm not sure I would be able to handle that. This movie is unfit for human consumption.

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