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Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Terror of the Master (1998)

For me Jeff Kirkendall comes from the many roles he has played in Polonia Bros films. But as fine an actor as he is, he also does a great job behind the camera. His anthology film Halloween Horror Tales (2018) is outstanding and very original. 

So, when the opportunity to see his 1998 feature Terror of the Master came along, how could I say no? Being a huge fan of the old school SOV films I was glad to see that this was of that particular genre. 

It's the tale of Drew Thompson (Maitely Weissman) who, along with her sister Amelia (Jennifer Birn) own a small antique shop. Drew is also a reporter for a local TV station, mostly doing fluff pieces even though she wants, like all reporters, to find that big break. When a terrified young woman comes into her shop and leaves as quickly as she arrives, Drew finds out that she is the latest victim in missing young women.

The answers to all the disappearances are supernatural in nature, vampires to be specific, but a clever one who uses a ring of bank robbers to keep him safe and supplied with the virgin blood he needs to survive. Now Drew and Amelia must defeat this monster and save each other from his grasp.

This is a fun vampire movie. My biggest point of curiosity was that Jeff Kirkendall, Tim Hatch and James Carolus were all in it and it is from the ancient times of 1998. Twenty four years ago. I feel it necessary to pick on Jeff, a little, for the mullet. I barely recognized a younger, thinner James and to be honest, I needed to read the credits to realize that Tim Hatch was the kindly station worker Leon.

SOV from the 90s are notorious for being hit or miss. Terror of the Master is a definite hit and I had a great time watching it.

Thanks Jeff. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2022


 Coming soon from filmmaker extraordinaire, Steve Rudzinski (CarousHELL 1 and 2) The anthology film you didn't know you needed.

But let's hear it from the director himself;

Shingles the Movie is a hilarious, weird, and bloody addition to the horror anthology genre that I believe fans of the book series and new audiences that never heard of Shingles will appreciate and have a blast with. As a lifelong fan of horror, I have seen plenty of Horror Anthology films. Over the years one of my biggest takeaways was how there were many that used a different creator on each short story, leading to interesting tonal or style differences. On one hand this can be great, as it exposes the audience to different takes on the genre in one film. On the other hand this can make it so folks always have one single story in an anthology they don’t like at all (or even cases where one story is all they enjoy). This feeling always gave me the interest in making an anthology with only me as the director: multiple stories with one main creator that would, for better or for worse, make the whole film feel more cohesive and connected. This was something I never got around to making. Until the day I was found by the Authors & Dragons. They were a group of authors who wrote multiple books, had a relatively large fanbase around the world, and were big fans of CarousHELL. They approached me to adapt their book series Shingles into a feature film as a Producer and Director. They already adapted five books from their long running series into a screenplay and wanted me to read it to both gauge the budget and just if I’d be interested. I never felt the need to mention I always wanted to make an anthology. We went back and forth a bit, as they were used to only writing for the page and I had to explain some stuff in the script was not needed or far too expensive for a single gag, but we came to a wonderful compromise on a final script and I gladly accepted the job of turning THEIR babies into something people would watch for years. I immediately brought on Aleen Isley as my Line Producer and Scott Lewis as cinematographer/editor to complete the Trinity, knowing how well we make fun films together after nearly a decade of being a team. We talked about ideas and how to best work this creatively. Scott introduced handling the different ways he would handle the camera between each story, such as explicitly sticking with a tripod for most of one story while wanting to be all handheld for another story. I introduced the simple idea of each story having its own specific color lighting. Aleen solved many of the questions we had in the story of where and how we could shoot certain sequences, being completely invaluable in processes of both pre-production and production. As we approach the final product, I have to say I’m really happy with the sort of Horror Anthology we delivered. I think the Authors of the books will love how their vision has been adapted to screen, I think fans of the books will enjoy seeing how the films both differ from and embrace the book stories, and I think new audiences will be able to love what they’ll think is a brand new & original wacky comedy with a bunch of cool practical effects. It scratches a sort of nostalgic itch with what feels like the soul of 90s horror books while also feeling like a fresh new take on horror anthologies. At the end of the day I make movies because I hope they make people smile and feel good, even if it’s only temporary. I truly hope Shingles the Movie makes that happen to folks for years to come. -Steve Rudzinski 

Sunday, November 7, 2021


So, this is what you would call an impulse buy. Severin Films was selling it for three bucks. Three bucks, how can you go wrong with three bucks? Plus, Al Adamson directed it? Sure, what could go wrong?

So, Carnival Magic tells the story of a small carnival that is failing. The biggest draw would be the tiger tamer, Kirk (Joe Cirillo). An alcoholic, abusive jerk. Stoney (Mark Weston) and his daughter Ellen (Jennifer Houlton) try to keep things going, but they need a miracle.

The miracle comes in the form of their magician Markov (Don Stewart) who happens to have a friend named Alex who happens to be a talking chimpanzee. With the addition of Alex to his act soon the carnival is thriving, much to the dismay of Kirk.

To add insult to injury, Markov saves Kirk from a mauling by a tiger because he was drunk.

Now Kirk, along with an evil doctor, who wants to study Alex hatch a plot to get rid of Alex once and for all.

Carnival Magic is one of those unique films that defies description. The driving force behind the entire film is producer Elvin Feltner who produced one other feature Teenage Strangler (1964). Listening to the commentary by Feltner on the DVD he explains how he directed a few of the scenes, lent the production his girlfriend for a silly chase scene where the monkey is driving a car, and wrote the original story as well. 

When you watch it you need to realize that he spent nearly a quarter of a million dollars to make Carnival Magic. That sounds like a lot, but he used 35mm, actually paid his actors and released it when there were not a lot of kiddie flicks being made. And that's what this is; a G rated kiddie flick. 

The disc by Severin is just full of extras. There's an additional Al Adamson kid flick called LOST, with Jack Elam and Sandra Dee. A ton of outtakes for Carnival Magic, the aforementioned commentary. A TV Spot and Movie trailer and something where people I have never heard of talk about the film. Probably gonna skip that. The commentary with Feltner is required listening. There are rushes for an unproduced film called The Happy Hobo.

A lot of the quotes and reviews of the film seem a little mean spirited and I just don't see it. I had a great time watching this movie. It's like a time capsule for a more innocent time. The scenes of the carnival at night in the warm summer air filled me with a wonderful sense of nostalgia.

Carnival Magic is a great film.  

Sunday, September 19, 2021

CarousHELL The 2nd


Time is funny. If you told me it had been five years since I attended a viewing of the original CarousHELL at Cinema Wasteland I would say it felt much shorter. The first film gives us the blood soaked rampage of a unicorn from a carousel named Duke. It is such a gory, funny, sleazy film.
When director Steve Rudzinski told us he was going to make a sequel, well how could you say no to something like that?
After a successful Kickstarter, we are finally graced with the finished product.
At a brief 70 minute run time we are given the actual 'why' behind Duke and his need to just kill everyone.
Duke discovers that he has a son from his wild and crazy sex from the first film. Where Duke is a relatively motionless carousel unicorn, his son, Robbie, is realized with a well done puppet that reminded me a little of Falkor The Luck Dragon from Neverending Story.
We also discover that Duke is the result of Nazi experimentation and those responsible haver discovered a form of immortality using human blood.
Led by the despicable Ilsa (Of course, she had to be named Ilsa) they are now ready to capture Robbie to see what secrets he holds and use him as bait to recapture Duke after all these decades.
Where the first film is a literal rampage, this sequel brings the tenderness of discovering your roots and a child you never knew you had. Duke is absolutely invested in his son and will do anything to stay with him. But, Duke knows he's a monster and never tries to hide that fact from anyone.
Except for his son.
There are some great kills in this movie. I like the nod to Friday the 13th Part 5. 
The bumbling Nazis are hilarious, especially one who is constantly using different disguises, but looks exactly the same and gives way too much back story anytime he comes into contact with Duke.
The bumpers after the credits add fuel to the fires of future films and this is how you do a sequel. Make it something new and different.
Just when you think you've figured out how this should go, it takes a sharp left, invites you along for the ride and you're glad you did.
If you were foolish and didn't manage to back the Kickstarter, you can still order the film at Rudzinski's web site at;

And if you haven't seen the first one, order that one as well. You kind of need to see that first. I mean you can watch just the sequel, but the first one is not only awesome, but kind of necessary here, folks. 

Sunday, September 12, 2021

The Butcher #20: Hollywood Assassin


Before we get started; this is the only book I have read in this series. I'm more of a Nick Carter guy, but who am I to judge?
So this fella Bucher, they call him The Butcher. He used to be a top man for the syndicate but then decided he wanted out.
No one gets out of the syndicate so now he has a quarter of a million dollar price tag on his head. He also now works freelance for a secret government group called White Hat. And some government officials young daughter has been seduced by the bright lights of Hollywood.
Only problem is that one of the biggest studios has been taken over by the syndicate where they shoot high end porn.
So, Bucher needs to find her and not get killed by his former employers in the process.
Seems pretty easy, right?
This is a pretty violent and graphic book. We get a lot of gruesome descriptions of what happens when Bucher shoots someone. Gun noises also factor in quite a bit.
It was a fast enjoyable read, but there really is nothing here to make me search for other books in the series.

Saturday, September 4, 2021

Slasher Season 3: Solstice


Okay, so Season 3 is over. Apparently I will have to wait for season 4 to be completed over on Shudder before Netflix gets it. I'm fine with that. Netflix encourages binging. 
This time around we have a killer named The Druid who killed party boy Kit Jennings a year ago. This happened in the courtyard of the apartment building that is the focus of the season. It reminded me very much of the Kitty Genovese murder that Alan Moore popularized in his comic Watchmen. Hell, they even called him Kit so you knew that was what they were going for.
A year later people from the apartment building that just sat in their apartments and watched Kit get stabbed to death are getting murdered. A mobster gets his head cut off in broad daylight. A biology teacher gets dissected in her classroom. A snotty barista gets turned into a French press.
Lots of innovative killings in this season.
They make sure to throw in a few red herrings like any good slasher flick.
I have to say that the interior of the apartment building is the most hideous thing in the show. Just a trash fire of bad decorating.
With all that I got the killer right by episode two. Sure, there was a little twist I really did not see coming, but I was still right.
But, here's the thing. The Druid is on a path of vengeance, but for a different reason that becomes clearer as the season progresses. When you do that, if you stray from that path it just makes no sense.
This season did that with at least three victims who there was no reason to kill. 
Baraka Rahmani as Saadi is the best thing in the show. Saadi survived the horrors of Afghanistan as a child to come to America where it's supposed to be better. Unless, you are living in a building with a lunatic, serial killer.
Of the three seasons so far this one is probably the goriest and bloodiest. The Druid has a pretty cool look for a slasher. Better than season One's Executioner because he just looked like a Sleestak in a robe to me. Season Two's killer is nameless with more of a Pamela Voorhees vibe. The best thing Season Two had going for it was a winter slasher flick just doesn't get done. 
So, if I was to rate best to worst of the seasons, Three is the best because it just gets right into the gory, slasher vibe right away. Two would be next for the Winter thing and they managed to trick me with the killer. Pretty impressive trick. One just tries too hard and felt the most padded out of the bunch.
I would like to see them try a real time Slasher season. Three did take place in a 24 hour time frame, but with a multitude of flashbacks, it's not really real time. 
Season 4 is already on episode 5 and that means it will be on Netflix soon enough.
It is described as; 
Slasher: Flesh & Blood  follows a wealthy but dysfunctional family gathering for a reunion on a secluded island. Their old wounds and competitive rivalries flare up when the family realizes a masked killer is on the island, intent on cruelly picking them off one by one. 
That doesn't really sound like a slasher movie to me, but we shall see how it goes.

Saturday, August 28, 2021

Slasher Season 2


If Season One took a large amount of cues from Halloween, this one is definitely a I Know What You Did Last Summer kind of beast. It begins and camp when a judgement against Talvinder, a decidedly creepy girl who does her best to get in with the cool kids and then it all comes back to bite her in the ass hard enough that her corpse gets shoved in a hole. 

Five years later this group of five is forced to face what they did when the campground where they buried what they did is going to be the spot for a new resort and Talvinder is resting where the tennis courts will go in.

In the dead of winter they return to the camp that has become a community of peaceniks who aren't real crazy about the new visitors.

Then the body count begins.

Summer camp always means Friday the 13th to me and there are nods to that, but this is one of those series where everyone is severely damaged. No secrets are sacred and the more people hide the worse it's going to get. There are some cool kills by snowmobile, auger drill, chainsaw and much, much more. It gets pretty gruesome early on and doesn't slow down. 

The character Glenn is played by Ty Ollson who I remember as the vampire from Supernatural. There's a cute in joke there as well.

So, this could have also used some trimming, but I get that they are just filling time to get their 8 episodes. I understand how TV works. I also give them a pat on the back because while I knew who the killer was by the second episode I couldn't have been more wrong, yet right at the same time. It was a pretty good twist.

Time for Season 3.

I'll be back with that report. 


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