FINAL GIRL explores the slasher flicks of the '70s and '80s...and all the other horror movies I feel like talking about, too. This is life on the EDGE, so beware yon spoilers!

Jun 29, 2011

Eclipse Babies are here!

YOU GUYS. Do you know what came out on DVD this week? Umm, only one of the best ever movies about killer kids: Bloody Birthday, duh. I just thought you should know.


Jun 27, 2011

where the grass is green and the girls are grody

You guys, I'm not really sure what to say about Nightmare City (1980). You know how it is with those movies that don't make you feel strongly in any particular way. It's over and you can take comfort in the fact that if someone asks, "Have you seen Nightmare City?", you can respond with a resounding "Yes!" It is the small things in life, I suppose, that ultimately provide one with pleasure.

The zombies of Nightmare City are zombies of the 28 Days Later ilk, meaning that everyone calls them zombies but they're not undead. Here they're not victims of some virus but of radioactive contamination. No one gets a Silkwood shower fast enough after the exposure and because of this, the victims turn into meatball-headed killers constantly in a search for fresh blood to keep them alive. Hmm. I guess the zombies of Nightmare City are actually zombies of the vampire ilk.

4 out of 5 meatball heads chew Dentyne sugarless gum

So, the meatball heads run around wreaking deadly havoc, turning the city into a total nightmare city (SEE WHAT I DID THERE). It's all quite fun for a time, certainly. Even if you consider this a straight up zombie flick, there's novelty to these villains as the actually wield all manner of weaponry- from guns to machetes- in their search for blood. Though there's ample gore (including some really gnarly breast and eye trauma), I guess it wasn't as extreme as I was expecting, especially considering that the film comes courtesy of director Umberto Lenzi, the man behind the notorious Cannibal Ferox. Overall, Nightmare City is not even Fulci-level grody.

that's alotta meatball heads

I'd call the lengthy aerobic dance scenes gratuitous, but then, can an aerobic dance scene ever truly be gratuitous? Really, every movie should feature one. I mean, think of how much better On Golden Pond would be if Jane Fonda randomly put her aerobics skills to use at some point. It's a foolproof notion!

this is never gratuitous

Nightmare City's first half hour or so is energetic, chaotic, and had me swooning. Things slow down, as I suppose they must, and the fact that Hugo Stiglitz is an incredibly dull leading man doesn't help matters at all. Just as it truly wears out its welcome, however, there's a terrific finale atop a rollercoaster that includes a sequence I had to watch three times in a row. Then it's all over, and here we are.

Nightmare City? Why yes, I've seen that!

the gun is way more exciting than he is, trust me

Jun 24, 2011

hammer time

Holding true to the instrument of destruction for which it is named, the 1983 film Sledgehammer will bludgeon your psyche until all that remains is an unrecognizable pulpy mass. I'm not sure what I was expecting from this movie, purportedly the first shot-on-tape slasher flick made for the home video market...okay, maybe I expected a few things, considering it hails from David A. Prior, the writer/director of a little something called Killer Workout. I expected some laughs. I expected lots of, you know, 80s-ness. That "shot-on-tape" angle had me expecting crappy quality and the onset of a large bout of warm fuzzies (you know I loves my VHS). I got all of that, certainly, but then I got so much more, so much I had no way of anticipating. You see, you don't watch Sledgehammer, oh no. Sledgehammer HAPPENS TO YOU.

The film opens with a shot of a nice farmhouse nestled in a lush valley. After lingering on this farmhouse for 20 seconds or so, we become privy to the horrors that wait within: mom's a big ol' slut who's here with her lover, but also with her son. She finds a quick resolution to this problem by locking her son in a closet. At this point, we witness the Sledgehammer's first egregious use of slo-mo. The time it takes to zoom from here:

to here:

is 30 seconds. 30 seconds! It's obvious that the slo-mo represents the idea that being locked in a closet totally messes with the boy's mind; it takes longer for the viewer to realize, however, that it also means that Sledgehammer is messing with your mind. Sledgehammer plays by its own temporal and spatial rules, but the thing is, it actually HAS no rules. Sledgehammer does what it wants! Sledgehammer says FUCK YOU.

As mom and lover are about to get down, someone wielding a sledgehammer- go figure, right?- also gets down, but, like, in a death-making way, not a love-making way. That would just be sick!

Ten years later, a group of...of...people, I guess...okay. I know they're people, yeah, but that's the best I can figure out as to who these people are. In my notes, I wrote "Van full of___________?" They're a group of people. They're driven to the house in a van, then dropped off. I guess they're friends...? There are some couples. They're all too old for college. They unpack their bags from the van in slo-mo. They really enjoy going "Woo! Wooooooooo!" a lot. I guess it doesn't really matter who they are or why they're at this house, beyond that most horror movie of reasons: a weekend of partying. Woo! Wooooooooo! Sledgehammer plays by its own rules, period.

One of the couples, Chuck and...girl, are apparently having problems. Chuck insists that for this weekend, at least, they should forget their troubles and have a good time (Wooooooooo!). It's a good attitude to have, for it saves the writer of Sledgehammer the bother of things like "explanations" and "character development". All we need to know about Chuck is this: he is played by Ted Prior, star of Killer Workout and brother of director David. He walks around barechested most of the time. He plays the acoustic guitar whilst barechested. He looks like a walking, talking page from the International Male catalogue. I love Chuck! All we need to know about his girlfriend "girl" is this: she puts up with Chuck.

In a sequence meant to show that Chuck and girl are, I guess, forgetting their troubles, tender flute and guitar music plays as the couple walks...and walks. Then Chuck grabs a handful of girl's hair and yanks her backwards.

Then they walk some more, pointing to something offscreen. Then they walk. Then Chuck puts his beer can on girl's head, then their romantic walk is over. Oh, by the way- this all happens in slo-mo, and the scene takes TWO MINUTES.

Hold on, I just got a telegram from Sledgehammer!

After a party scene where the guys go "Woo! Wooooooooo!" and crush beer cans, there's a dinner scene. Chuck dumps mustard on girl's head, and this leads to a food fight and more "Woo! Wooooooooo!"-ing. This group continues to baffle me, particularly girl. Chuck, our hero, is an a-hole!

That night, Chuck decides they should hold a seance. He tells the story of Easy Mom, the Lover, and the Boy in the Closet, and we see...everything we saw at the beginning of the film. Again. Slo-mo included. Chuck and one of the other guys have set up some practical jokes to go along with the spirit summoning, but as you might expect, the real spirit of the boy in the closet is resurrected. I think? I don't know.

As you know by now, Sledgehammer does as Sledgehammer wants, and what Sledgehammer wants is not to explain squat. All I know for sure is that years of living in a closet didn't stunt the sledgehammer-wielding dude's growth at all, because he's 10 feet tall. No really...he barely fits in the hallway!

Is it the boy? Did he survive and grow up, like, in the closet? Where did the (admittedly creepy) mask come from? You'll never know what's going on- not ONLY because nothing is explained, but because like I said: Sledgehammer follows its own rules of time and space. The man is there, then he's gone, then he's the boy, then he's the man, then he's in two places at once. It's even suggested that the hammer itself is a ghost- a ghost sledgehammer!- I guess. At least, that's what I understood when it faded from view. There's no logic to ANY of it. Oh Sledgehammer, you so crazy!

All of this mindfuck is wrapped up in a fuckier mindfuck: the INSANE amounts of slo-mo and freeze frames used throughout, and oh honey, the score. The synth track drones and drones and drones and persists in your earholes until it becomes something akin to tinnitus. It's possible that you're not even really HEARING it anymore, but it's there, always there, knocking at the back door of your brain. There's a lethargy to the entire affair that you cannot escape. Eventually it's over, but's never really over. Again, this is a movie that happens to you and once Sledgehammer is in your head, my friends, I fear it will never leave.

What's going on here? Your guess is as good as mine.

And that is nothing short of awesome! It's rare that you meet a movie that doesn't give a flying fuck about things like rules and logic and reality and what YOU think- and I mean all that not strictly in regards to filmmaking acumen, but more in regards to...I don't know, the accepted laws of SCIENCE. Sledgehammer just IS, and you can either get with that program or not. It's SO goddamn VHS, from the "Director of Videography" credit to the fonts used in those credits to the impression you get that it was largely edited in-camera to the feel...the feel of it! The sound of it! The slight blur, the white hallways, the washed-out colors, the tin can audio...Sledgehammer feels less like a horror movie and more like an ambitious home-made commercial you'd see on public access.

Chuck has had ENOUGH

If this has you on your knees crying "I need to see Sledgehammer!", then my work here is done, because you DO need to see Sledgehammer. Gather your friends, lock the doors, sit back, and let Sledgehammer pummel you into submission.

Kids, looking for a fun drinking game? Read this review aloud and drink everytime you say "sledgehammer"!

Jun 23, 2011


A few days ago, I mentioned that after watching Paura, I really didn't feel that I knew the director any more than I did before I watched the documentary about him. After watching Spine Tingler! The William Castle Story, I'd have to say the exact opposite holds true for me with regards to director/producer William Castle. Man, I feel like I know him so well now that I may actually BE William Castle!

If you're a horror fan, you know Castle's work. Even if his name doesn't immediately ring a bell, surely you've heard of more than a few films in his pantheon- movies like House on Haunted Hill, 13 Ghosts, The Tingler, Homicidal, and so on. While his movies seldom rose above the typical schlocky B-movie genre fare of the late 50s-early 60s, it was his ingenious marketing schemes that earned Castle's work a spot in the history books. Each film received a bit of a road show as Castle traveled with them, hanging out at theatres during shows to meet and greet fans. He'd hand out insurance policies as nurses stood by vigilantly lest anyone die of fright; he brought to life several gimmicks with names like "Percept-O" and "Emerg-O", the latter of which included a skeleton "emerging" from the screen and flying over the audience during House on Haunted Hill. A carnival-like atmosphere surrounded the theatre when a Castle flick came to town, and the dollars piled up.

During Spine Tingler, we learn about how Castle got started in the business and we follow his career through his A-list triumph as producer of Rosemary's Baby. Through interviews with friends, family, co-workers, fans, and admirers such as Stuart Gordon, John Landis, and John Waters (who, as my friend aptly put it, is always the most interesting person in the room), viewers get incredible insight into Castle's motivations, foibles, and personality. Film buffs, horror buffs, anyone who likes a good documentary...I can't recommend Spine Tingler highly enough. Of particular interest to Final Girl folk is the lengthy segment given to Strait-Jacket, a former (awesome) Film Club choice, and its star Joan Crawford. It's a delight, I tells ya. A delight.

Perhaps I should come up with a gimmick to really drive the point home? Maybe "Recommend-O", wherein my thumbs-up-givin' hand flies out of your computer screen into your face. Hey, whatever it takes!

Jun 22, 2011

exhibit A

It's a tough world out there for the indie horror filmmaker- even more so if you're giving a go at a subgenre that most fans are so sick of, they could puke their pants. How do you get noticed? How do you say "Hey, horror fans, don't puke your pants quite yet! At least wait until you see what I have to offer."? If you're director Dominic Perez, you send your P.O.V. horror flick Evil Things in some very clever packaging that includes a confidential letter purportedly from the FBI, asking for assistance in a missing persons case. The DVD, you see, is evidence and I, your humble horror blogger, will finally get a chance to get all Columbo up in the joint. Well, I get my Columbo on insofar as I get to watch the DVD. That's for the best, really, as I've recently spent some time playing L.A. Noire and if there's one thing the experience has taught me, it's that I'd make a pretty lousy detective. I'm pretty good at watching things, though, if I do say so myself...although since that sentiment goes for pretty much anyone with workable vision, I shouldn't brag.

While I was relieved that the "official" envelope from the government didn't contain a letter censuring me (for once), I can't say I was too gung ho about another new indie P.O.V. flick. Honestly, I should censure myself for that because dammit, P.O.V. is one of my favorite subgenres (there, I said it) and the best of the best tend to come from IndieLand. What can I say? My world-weariness (yes, I have that now) had me putting off and putting off Evil Things, but dudes and y'alls, the time has come for me to clean house! I'm watching all these movies I've been avoiding and/or ignoring, and so I hunkered down, quite eager to see if the witty packaging of Evil Things would distract from a craptacular movie or enhance a good one.

The setup won't surprise anyone who's seen...well, just about any horror movie (and certainly any P.O.V. horror movie): five college-age friends go away for a weekend birthday celebration, five college-age friends are now missing. One of the five, Leo, is an aspiring filmmaker and as such, totes his videocamera along, pointing it at his buddies at every opportunity whether they want him to or not. Evil Things follows the kids as they head out of Manhattan and journey upstate through a snowstorm, finally reaching their destination: a sprawling and isolated house owned by the birthday girl's aunt.

Their simple weekend of drinking and lite debauchery is thrown out of whack almost immediately upon leaving the confines of the city as some douchebag in a black van starts harassing them. Tailgating and honking lead to outright stalking: the van appears when the kids stop at a convenience store and again as they're eating at a diner along the way. The driver, however, is never caught on Leo's camera and his motives are never clear.

Once they arrive safely at the house, the kids convince themselves that the jerk in the van is long gone. But is he? Dun dun dunnnnnn! Hint: if the jerk in the van was long gone, then the FBI probably wouldn't need my help, now would they? WOULD THEY?

Again, this does all sound very familiar, doesn't it? Also again, though, don't puke your pants quite yet! Evil Things may be of a tried-and-true formula, but that certainly doesn't mean it can't be a good movie, and it boasts several strengths that many indie films can't, be they P.O.V. flicks or not. More often than not in this type of movie, the "aspiring filmmaker" character barely knows which end of the camera houses the lens. Here, however, the camera work and video quality are terrific, a particularly startling notion given the 1st-person conceit. Chances are that it won't immediately induce motion sickness- always a plus!

The acting was also a pleasant surprise, meaning that it actually leaned toward the good or, at least, the believable end of the spectrum. The dialogue likely comprises a good deal of improv and none of it was painful. Also a highlight is the fact that these actors look and act like real college kids, not Hollywood college kids. They've got spots and braces and little purple backpacks and they're going away for the weekend because-heaven forfend in a horror movie- they're friends who want to spend time together. This is know..."missing persons" case so I figured that the five kids would meet bad ends, but they were likable enough that I didn't want them to.

But maybe they didn't! You'll have to check out Evil Things to see for yourself...and see it you should, when it gets its long-awaited release this summer. It's not without flaws, mind you; the sudden onset of ambient music takes some getting used to, although both the music and the ending suggest that Evil Things is more about the man in the van than it is about the missing college kids. I haven't yet decided if that's a mistake or not. More than a little time is spent on the setup- it's 40+ minutes before anything "happens". This may try your patience, but I found that instead, my curiosity as to what fate awaited the birthday girl and her friends kept climbing. The house feels truly isolated in its snowy environs, surrounded by (not always) quiet woods, and because of this Evil Things becomes quite an unsettling, creepy movie. I really enjoyed it, and I've kicked myself three times for waiting so long after its arrival in my mailbox to check it out.

Okay, I've only metaphorically kicked myself three times. Still though, I'm going to hop over to the FBI's official site and see if there have been any new developments. I'd really kick myself three, four times!...if I could crack this case and I was busy watching, you know, fucking DeathBed or something instead.

Jun 17, 2011

Paura- Fulci Remembered: Volume One

Love him or hate him, there's no denying that even after his death, Lucio Fulci remains one of the most interesting filmmakers in the horror genre. That, of course, is putting it rather mildly. His films tend to be short on plot and long on total gross-outs and shocks. Ask anyone about, say, Zombie (aka Zombi 2) and there's a good chance you won't start talking about the story- you'll start talking about the underwater zombie vs shark fight, or the scene where a piece of wood goes through a woman's eye. You may not remember the character's name, but you'll remember the scene in City of the Living Dead where that character pukes up her own guts.

When horror fans are subjected to scrutiny for non-fans, the question that begins the barrage is often "How can you watch that stuff?" I consider myself to be a lite Fulci fan- that is, I really like some of his films, don't like others, and in the end, probably haven't seen all that much. Still, when I think about Fulci, I find myself asking "How can he make that stuff?"- not in a judgmental way, or a way meant to imply that he shouldn't be making these films, but rather that I'm fascinated by someone who would. Fulci's extreme approach to horror is doubly fascinating considering all of the work outside the genre, from westerns to comedies and everything in between. You'd think someone whose horror work is so hardcore would focus exclusively on that genre.

I don't know anything about Fulci, really, beyond his reputation as a hardass director and a misogynist. Does the latter stem from his actual beliefs and behavior offset, or is it simply fallout from the violence against women in his films? I figured that the documentary Paura: Lucio Fulci Remembered, Volume One (2009) should give me some insight and answer more than a few questions I have about this complex, enigmatic filmmaker.

Paura sets out to provide answers to only one question: What is your fondest memory of Lucio Fulci? Answers are given by men and women who fall into one of three categories: accomplices, peers, and victims. The interview clips aren't assembled into a cohesive whole as much as they're plopped onto DVD. You can choose to "play all", or simply jump to the response by a particular person. Each is introduced by a written mini-bio that lists his or her relationship to Fulci (ie, which films they collaborated on) over the same ten-second loop of Fulci-inspired (or, more to the point, Fabio Frizzi-inspired) music. I was glad I opted for the "jump around" approach, as listening to that loop for each of the near-90 interviews on the disc would have driven me mad.

I introduced some friends to City of the Living Dead the other night, and their response to scenes like the maggot storm and the aforementioned guts-puking-uppening was "Oh, those poor actors". By all accounts, Fulci's actors endured more than a few hardships during the making of his films- not just having, say, maggots whipped at their faces, but also the unpredictable temperament of the director himself. Given all this, I decided to jump in by checking out the "victims" section. I began with Catriona MacColl, who'd worked with Fulci on more than one occasion, and who I'd just seen in City of the Living Dead. Surely she'd have some insights.

And she did, as she talked about a photograph of Fulci that she feels is symbolic of the director: he sits on the memorable bridge used in The Beyond, sitting in his chair with his arms folded. According to MacColl, it's very representative of his isolation and his defiance. She hinted that she had much more to say about the man, but "you wanted my fondest memory". How frustrating!

As the subjects are answering the one question, the clips tend to be brief. The level of revelation about Fulci is quite varied: Cinzia Monreale of The Beyond gave a terrific, lengthy answer discussing the man's roughness, rudeness, and humor. They got along well and she found him amusing. On the other hand, Adrienne La Russa, titular star of Beatrice Cenci, shared a mutual enmity with the director. She told an amusing story about how she wouldn't do nudity in the film, so Fulci hired a less-than-flattering body double for her as payback. If that's her fondest memory of him...but alas, curiosity about the rest of the relationship is not to be satisfied on Paura: Volume One. Then there are responses that perhaps should have warranted the addition of a "deleted scenes" section. Barbara Bouchet's fondest memory of Don't Torture a Duckling is simply the fact that Fulci hired her, while director Bruno Mattei doesn't say much more than "I liked him".

Paura is indeed a noble undertaking, and Fulci fans will find much to love. With seven years of filming and more than 100 of the director's colleagues interviewed, the mountains of footage surely comprise an unwieldy, intimidating beast for Paura director Mike Baronas. Unfortunately, I don't that this beast was wrangled in the most effective manner. I don't feel I know Lucio Fulci much better than I did before I gave the DVD a whirl. Sure, some of the anecdotes are interesting and on more than one occasion it's said that Fulci should have been more recognized as a filmmaker, but his lack of diplomacy stifled his career. I wanted to dive into that idea. I wanted to get a real idea of this curious man. The limitations presented by the format simply don't allow for this. I imagine that Volume Two may feature everyone's "least favorite" memory of Fulci, and that will probably provide more insight into his nature. Still, the material would have been best served as a straight-up biography of the man, or perhaps a walk through his work in horror where more questions are asked and answered at once. As a companion to other, more in-depth works about Fulci, Paura is undoubtedly invaluable; as an ignoramus taking in the film on its own, however, I feel like I'm standing at a party where I don't know anyone. Like maybe they're all speaking Italian and laughing at inside jokes while I nervously sip my Riunite on ice and blankly smile. When oh when will I belong?

Jun 13, 2011

let's do this

By "this", I mean BRING BACK THE FILM CLUB! Yes, it's time. Because I have time! So let's take the time to watch...

Cold Prey (2006)

Can't lie, dudes and dudettes- I've seen this Norwegian slasher before. I've yet to see the sequel, though, so I'm using this as an excuse to have a "double" "feature". Cold Prey is quite good! At least I think so. It's widely available on DVD and it's on Netflix instant watch, so you can judge for yourself.

The movie: Cold Prey (aka Fritt Vilt) (2006)
The due date: Tuesday, July 19
What you do:
  1. Review the movie on your site. Add a link to Final Girl in there somewhere. If you've reviewed the film before, that's fine- but you must retrofit your review with a link to FG in order to be included in my round-up.
  2. Email your link to me at stacieponder at gmail dot com. Put 'film club' or some such in the subject line.
  3. Bask in the warm, glowing, warming glow of Film Club Day. Easy, breezy, et cetera et cetera.

Jun 7, 2011

The Something That Somethings

If I had a nickel for every time I've been asked whether or not I've seen DeathBed (you know, the bed that eats), then I would have no fewer than two nickels. I mean, that title! People of a certain persuasion cannot resist a movie with such a title. Of course, by "people of a certain persuasion", I obviously mean "people with exquisite taste".

The thing is, though, in this case the title and tagline for the movie are almost least for me. Whenever I'm asked if I'm in The DeathBed Club, I have to respond with "No, I'm not...but do club members get jackets? Perhaps jackets meant for DeathBed Club members only?" In order to ensure that I'm perceived as a person with exquisite taste despite the fact that I've not yet seen DeathBed, I have to follow up my initial response with "B-but I have DeathBed! On my shelf! On a DVD with Castle Freak, which I love because, you know...who doesn't? I keep meaning to watch DeathBed, but there always seems to be something else to watch first."- and none of that is even a lie. Again, the title and tagline have always satisfied me. The film doesn't even have to exist, really, and there's always something I'd rather watch.

But I oh so desperately want to be "cool" and "with" "it"- not to mention I want to get my mitts on one of those jackets- so I finally decided to make my DeathBed and lie in it.

DeathBed opens with black and white footage of a couple getting up to some lite S&M shenanigans as Charleston-esque music plays. There's a shot of a Victrola so we know that director Danny Draven isn't simply attempting some artistic conceits- this S&M is happening in yon 1920s or 30s. The shenanigans quickly escalate to murdernanigans as the girl is strangled to death with a necktie.

black and white Victrola: not just art

In yon modern times, a young couple moves into a loft apartment and all seems well enough. However, anyone who's seen a horror movie knows that when characters move into a new house or apartment, bad things will happen. I mean, every time, right? Has anyone ever moved into a new place in a horror film and not had, you know, corpses pop up in the pool (because only the headstones were moved) or the house telling the new tenants to GET OUT or their child taken to some weird netherworld or they discover that a man's heart is stonier or whatever? NO. Something always happens, and it's always negative! So, as soon as landlord Joe Estevez (I love you Joe Estevez, you Kmart Martin Sheen, you) was all "Garsh, I don't know what's behind that locked door!", I knew what was behind it. It was the DeathBed, waiting. Patiently. Biding its time, as all evil beds do.

So our young couple- let's call them "the guy" and "the girl"- are enjoying a bit of fornication in their new apartment...or, should I say, the guy is enjoying it. The girl seems decidedly uncomfortable, complaining that it hurts. The guy is sympathetic and thinks she might enjoy it more if she would just get on top for once, as he's asked so many times. At this point, I feel that I know an awful lot about their sex lives.

When she hears squeaking bedsprings from beyond The Locked Door, the girl decides to find out what's what. Et cetera et cetera, it's the DeathBed.

it waits

She hauls it out, cleans it up, and promptly becomes the sort of girl who gets on top- if you know what I mean- much to the delight of her fella.

now she's one of THOSE girls

Blah blah blah, why hasn't the bed done any eating in this movie? This bed does not eat! "Man, they should have called this movie SexBed," I said to no one in particular. Then the light hit me: is this the wrong DeathBed? Can there actually be more than one? Have I had on my shelf all this time not DeathBed: The Bed That Eats, but instead DeathBed: The Bed That Bores? When it was all over and, you know, the girl learns all about the murderous history of the bed and goes crazy, it was apparently so. This bed is not a murderer. It's simply a soft, cushy place where murder happens! In the end, the only thing this bed ate was 80 minutes of my time.

My friends, disappointment does not even begin to describe what I was feeling. This was not the eating DeathBed of '77, no! This is The Bed That Lames (that doesn't make sense, but go with it) from 2002. This means I still haven't seen The Bed That Eats! STILL! And now when someone asks, I can't even claim to have a copy on my shelf waiting for me! At this rate, I'm never going to get one of those jackets.

don't ask

Castle Freak (1995) doesn't disappoint, though...but then, how could it? It's pure Stuart Gordon perverto magic, chock full of gore and sex (often combined) and Jeffrey Combs and Barbara Crampton. A troubled American family inherits a castle in the Italian countryside...but little do they know that the castle comes complete with Giorgio, its very own freak chained up in the cellar. Like all good gorked out, chained up, and abused cellar dwellars, Giorgio goes completely nutso once he breaks free, chewing and screwing- or at least attempting to- his way through anyone around.

Giorgio: total yuck mouth

If it sounds like Hell Night, that's's reminiscent of Hell Night. Instead of Hell Night's horny teens, though, Castle Freak features a married couple dealing with guilt and alcoholism; instead of Linda Blair in a flouncy top, we get an Italian prostitute in a bikini top. Either way works for me, as I'm a sucker for weirdo locked away in the attic or cellar flicks. Maybe if DeathBed had featured such a weirdo relaxing on the DeathBed I would have enjoyed it more. Alas, it wasn't so.

"Castle Freak, please put on some clothes."

Say, does one get some sort of jacket or commemorative plate if one is a member of The Castle Freak Club? Because my dues for that shit are all paid up.