Thursday, February 28, 2019

Phil's Exploitation Cinema: THE WAGES OF SIN (1938) from Something Weird Video - February 14, 2019

THE WAGES OF SIN DVD Cover
THE WAGES OF SIN (1938)

Starring Constance Worth, Willy Castello, Blanche Mehaffey, Clara Kimball Young, Carleton Young, Paula Bromleigh
Cinematography by Harvey Gould
Edited by Robert Jahns
Produced by Willis Kent
Directed by Herman E. Webber
Originally released by Willis Kent Productions (as Real Life Dramas)
Released by Something Weird Video

Welcome everybody to a brand new installment series entitled Phil's Exploitation Cinema! In case you don't know the term, an exploitation film, "is a film that attempts to succeed financially by exploiting current trends, niche genres, or lurid content; are generally low-quality B-movies." Since the dawn of cinema, exploitation films have been part of the movie-going experience. Case in point, imagine if you will: The year is 1939. The two biggest films of the year GONE WITH THE WIND and THE WIZARD OF OZ are battling it out at their respective theater chains. But down the street, around the corner, and down an ally way there's an independently owned movie theater where they're showing a different kind of motion picture. One that offers something different, more adult, and more scandalous. The film in question is the exploitation classic THE WAGES OF SIN.

The film's official synopsis: The sole support of her worthless family, Marjorie Benton (Worth) works during the day in a sweat shop. But when Florence (Mehaffey), a co-worker, asks her to go on a blind date, Marjorie’s taken to a roadhouse where she gets her first taste of booze and drugs. Marjorie promptly gets shitfaced and attracts the attention of slimy Tony (Castello). With big plans for her future, Tony arranges to have Marjorie fired from her job, then asks her to move in with him, promising to marry her in the morning. Three months later, they’re still not married when Tony decides to pimp her out. By the time another three months pass, Marjorie’s a hard boiled hooker turning tricks at a local hotel under the “professional name” of Judy. Starting to “look seedy,” Tony finally ships her off to Fat Pearl’s whorehouse. All of which ends with Marjorie on trial for murder and a contest for the audience: “What will the verdict be? $1,000 in cash prizes will be given for the best answers. Mail your opinion in not over 300 words to Real Life Dramas, 4376 Sunset Drive, Hollywood, CA...”

Original Theatrical Poster (1938)
Australian born actress Constance Worth was originally brought over by RKO, but then was dropped her after her first two American features films (1937's CHINA PASSAGE being one of them)  failed at the boxoffice. She worked for about three years at Columbia while also appearing in poverty row films and B-westerns like BORROWED HERO (1941), CITY WITHOUT MEN (1943), and WHY GIRLS LEAVE HOME (1945). She even has an uncredited role in Alfred Hitchcock's 1941 film SUSPICION. Willy Castello was notorious for playing the "heavy" in many B-movies! Look for him playing almost the same character in other Willis Kent films like SMASHING THE VISE TRUST (1937), RACE SUICIDE (1938), and MAD YOUTH (1939). Actress Blanche Mehaffey started off as a dancer with the Ziegfeld Follies before appearing in Hollywood comedies, westerns and dramas. She starred opposite Charley Chase and Glenn Tryon in several short comedies for the Hal Roach Film Company from 1923 to 1929, before leaving to go study voice and languages for more than a year in New York City. She made her return in 1931 film THE SUNSET TRAIL starring opposite Bob Steele. She went on to appear in other B-movies and westerns like RIDER OF THE NORTH (1931), BORDER GUNS (1934), and THE SILENT CODE (1935). She would retire from the movie business after the completion of this movie. 

Producer Willis Kent is one of the most famous producers out of what was dubbed "The Forty Thieves," a group of directors and producers that operated outside the Hollywood Production Code during this time of cinema. Kent started off producing cheap, low budget B-movie westerns before churning out some of the most infamous exploitation films, such as THE PACE THAT KILLS, COCAINE FIENDS, and MAD YOUTH (all available from Something Weird Video), as well as SMASHING THE VISE TRUST, RACE SUICIDE, and his infamous film CONFESSIONS OF A VICE BARON. The reason why this was one of his infamous films was that it was mostly made up of scenes from earlier exploitation films with new footage of actor Willy Castello as a prisoner about to be executed who dictates the the story of his life of crime added on to the front and end of it! Overall, Kent produced 43 films from  1929 till 1958. He passed away in Los Angeles on at the age of 87.

Something Weird Video was founded in 1990 by Mike Vraney, a former concert promoter who worked at several theaters during his teenage years. Named after the Herschell Gordon Lewis film, his Seattle based company would specialize in, "in releasing a rich array of low-grade trashy out-of-the-mainstream independent fare on both VHS and DVD alike that runs the gamut from horror features to softcore flicks to vintage classroom scare items to TV commercials to hardcore X-rated smut to theatrical trailers to collections of nudie loops and burlesque clips." He would go on to release the film libraries of some of the greatest exploitation filmmakers of all time, including Lewis, David F. Friedman, Harry H. Novak, Joseph W. Sarno, Doris Wishman, William Grefé, Bethel Buckalew and Barry Mahon. Unfortunately, Vraney died from lung cancer on January 2, 2014. He was only 56 years old. His wife Lisa Petrucci now runs the company and continues the legacy of her late, beloved husband.

THE WAGES OF SIN is one of most famous, funny, cheesy, and ludicrous exploitation films of all time! It's a highly entertaining, wonderfully absurd and bonkers movie that diehard exploitation fans will love and new viewers will get an education on the dangers of drugs, vice, and sex!! If you have never seen an exploitation movie before, this is the perfect place to start!! It doesn't get any better than this!! 5 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!!


THE WAGES OF SIN is available on DVD-R from Something Weird Video. To purchase a copy for yourself, please visit their website at www.somethingweird.com

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show! 

Phil sees HAPPY DEATH DAY 2U at the Cinelux Almaden Cafe & Lounge - February 13, 2019

HAPPY DEATH DAY 2U

Starring Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard, Phi Vu, Suraj Sharma, Sarah Yarkin, Rachel Matthews, Ruby Modine, Charles Aitken
Written by Christopher Landon
Cinematography by Toby Oliver
Edited by Ben Baudhuin
Produced by Jason Blum
Directed by Christopher Landon
Released by Universal Pictures

When I first saw HAPPY DEATH DAY back in October of 2017, it became one of my favorite horror films that year. It boasted a clever script, fantastic acting from its cast, especially from its lead actress Jessica Rothe, and was awesomely directed by Scott Lobdell. The film went on to dominate the boxoffice, as both horror fans and moviegoers alike helped the film earn a whopping $56.3 million worldwide! Blumhouse, the production company that helped produce the movie, announced last year that they were planning a sequel to capitalize on the fandom of the first film. Low and behold, I found myself making my way over to the Cinelux Almaden Cafe & Lounge to see the latest installment of the series entitled HAPPY DEATH DAY 2U!

The film's official synopsis: Having survived the farcical but utterly life-threatening events HAPPY DEATH DAY, the feisty sorority sister, Tree Gelbman, finds herself in the same college dorm, thankful to be alive. However, this time, it's Carter's roommate, Ryan, who claims that he is reliving the same paradoxical day over and over again, as a mysterious paranoid killer in a single-toothed baby-faced mask with a big kitchen knife has made a habit of murdering him. Under those circumstances, a valiant but vain attempt to face the challenge, once more, will send Tree back to square one, trapped in an all too familiar and blood-drenched time loop. How many deaths separate Tree from a truly happy birthday?

I must give credit to the filmmakers, the cast, and crew: They went there! They went there, took pictures, and came back! Writer/director Christopher Landon took the sequel in a totally different direction, one that I did not see coming, which was very clever on his part. Landon is no stranger to the horror genre, having helming films like PARANORMAL ACTIVITY: THE MARKED ONES and SCOUTS GUIDE TO THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE and was the writer for DISTURBIA, VIRAL, SCOUTS GUIDE TO THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE and PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 2-4 and the THE MARKED ONES. Landon 's script borrows more from films like BACK TO THE FUTURE: PART II (which was referenced in the film, like GROUNDHOG'S DAY in the first film) and leans more towards the sci-fi/comedy genre than the slasher genre. However, I found this quiet refreshing! It's no different than what Sam Raimi did with 1987's EVIL DEAD II: DEAD BY DAWN and his 1993 cult hit ARMY OF DARKNESS. It's this progression that really made me sit up and take notice. Landon is one evil genius and I'm hoping that he gets to make the third film of this new series!

Our heroine Tree Gelbman is portrayed by the very talented Jessica Rothe. Tree isn't your typical sorority rich bitch. There's a reason she's a self-absorbed, snotty and downright rude; she's been through a lot and throughout the movie she evolves and changes, but still has that cunning and at the end, she becomes that bad ass final girl horror fans have grown to love. Her companion on this never-ending day trip is Carter Davis, played by Israel Broussard. Both have great on-screen chemistry and it was great to see their characters interact with one another, especially Tree remembering everything and Carter always is the same person but not in the same sense as the previous day.

As I mentioned earlier, I hope that Blumhouse gets Landon to make the next sequel, and let's face it, if this film blows up like the first one did, then it's a given! Also, this has nothing to do with the film's after credit scene that sets this up for a sequel. But, it's tongue-in-check and it might have been taken seriously, but you never know! It could very well become a reality in the very near future! 

HAPPY DEATH DAY 2U is a clever, funny, and entertaining sci-fi/horror/comedy/thriller that will keep you guessing all the way to the final scenes!! Don't give this movie a pass! Go to your local theater, grab some popcorn, snacks and drinks, and then sit back and have a good time!! 4 1/2 out 5 stars!! Highly recommended!!


HAPPY DEATH DAY is currently playing in theaters nationwide, including at the Cinelux Theaters here in the Bay Area. To view showtimes, visit their website at www.cineluxtheatres.com.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the screaming!

Phil's Shudder Picks: HORROR NOIRE: A HISTORY OF BLACK HORROR - Feb. 9, 2019

HORROR NOIRE: A HISTORY OF BLACK HORROR (2019)

Starring Jordan Peele, Keith David, Tony Todd, Rachel True, Miguel A. Núñez Jr., Loretta Devine, Paula Jai Parker, Ken Foree, Kelly Jo Minter, Richard Lawson, Ernest R. Dickerson, Rusty Cundieff, Ken Sagoes, Tina Mabry, William Crain
Written by Ashlee Blackwell, Danielle Burrows
Based on the book by Robin R. Means Coleman, PhD.
Cinematography by Mario Ricardo Rodriguez
Edited by Horatiu Lemnei, Scott Strobel
Produced by Ashlee Blackwell, Danielle Burrows, Robin R. Means Coleman, Tananarive Due, Phil Nobile Jr., Kelly Ryan
Directed by Xavier Burgin
Released by Shudder

February is Black History Month, and it is a time we celebrate the extraordinary achievements, accomplishments, and contributions made by African Americans. It's also a month that we reflect on the past; how these individuals and ancestors were mistreated, exploited, and ridiculed. One of these areas that African Americans were blantedly stereotyped was in the cinemas. Since its inception, movies have portrayed them as less than human; a bigoted slant that they were forced to see on the silver screen. This is true even in the horror genre; as they subjected to the same stereotypes and is usually the first to fall victim. But over the years, fans of the genre have witnessed a resurgence of new horror films told from a black perspective, courtesy of black filmmakers who have the courage and talent to tell their stories to a mass audience. The first of its kind, HORROR NOIRE: A HISTORY OF BLACK HORROR is a documentary about a subject that has long been overlooked, and quiet frankly, needed to be told!

The film's official synopsis: Delving into a century of genre films that by turns utilized, caricatured, exploited, sidelined, and finally embraced them, Horror Noire traces the untold history of Black Americans in Hollywood through their connection to the horror genre. Adapting Robin Means Coleman’s seminal book, HORROR NOIRE: A HISTORY OF BLACK HORROR will present the living and the dead, using new and archival interviews from scholars and creators; the voices who survived the genre’s past trends, to those shaping its future. A SHUDDER ORIGINAL.

Based on the 2011 book of the same name by Robin R. Means Coleman, PhD., the film examines how African Americans were portrayed in American films, and the racist stereotypes that Hollywood made into the norm. Starting with the 1915 film BIRTH OF A NATION, the documentary goes through the decades leading up to the transformative horror film NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, which was released in 1968. Directed by the late, great George A. Romero, the movie shattered the norm by having a black actor as its lead and hero, giving orders to the white people in the house that they are all hiding in, killing white zombies, and then being killed at the end, The movie was made during the height of the civil rights movement, and was released right after the assignation of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

HORROR NOIRE: A HISTORY OF BLACK HORROR is one of the best documentaries of 2019, period!! Insightful, informative, and eye opening, the movie shines a light on a topic that has been living in the shadows for far too long! In this day and age, it's a reminder that history does repeat itself, if we don't learn from it. With the current administration, the climate of America is one of fear, racism, and idiocy. To combat these, we possess education, enlightenment, and to keep us moving forward! The same came be said in Hollywood, and in the horror genre! If this doesn't inspire you, then nothing will! It's now time more than ever for new voices to be heard, and the horror community welcomes it with open arms!! 5 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!!


HORROR NOIRE: A HISTORY OF BLACK HORROR is now streaming exclusively on Shudder. To view it, sign up on its website at www.shudder.com.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the education! 

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Phil's Horror Watch: SKINNER (1993) from Severin Films - February 8, 2019

SKINNER Limited Edition Slipcover Blu-Ray
SKINNER (1993)

Starring Ted Raimi, Traci Lords, Ricki Lake, David Warshofsky, Richard Schiff, Blaire Baron, Christina Engelhardt, Roberta Eaton
Written by Paul Hart-Wilden
Cinematography by Greg Littlewood
Edited by Jeremy Kasten, Fred Roth, Peter Schink (as Peter Schenk)
Produced by Mark Beychok, Nelson I. Korchak, Dan Sales (as Daniel Sales), Tamar E. Glaser, Jeff Pollon, James H. Rutt, Brad Wyman
Directed by Ivan Nagy
Originally released by A-Pix Entertainment
Released by Severin Films

Over the years, there have been a resurgence of horror films from the early 1990's that people are finally discovering. Granted, this was not the best time for the horror genre; with the slasher genre dead and most being cheap direct-to-video releases, there were little choices for fans. But there were some diamonds in the rough, but they were few and far between. Some of these lost gems have gone on to become cult classics, attracting new viewers with each passing year. One of these films was a down-and-dirty horror flick that became somewhat popular for several reasons. Make no mistake, SKINNER is still shockingly weird and disturbingly fun after all these years!!

The film's official synopsis: It’s been called “sleaze-oozing” (Flick Attack), “gut-churning” (The Bedlam Files) and “incredibly tasteless” (Cult Reviews). It featured the most intensely graphic scenes yet by KNB EFX Group (The Walking Dead). Uncut, it remains perhaps the most disturbing – and rarely seen – shocker of the ‘90s: Ted Raimi (Xena: Warrior Princess) delivers an unnerving performance as psycho drifter Dennis Skinner who wears flesh-suits he slices from doomed prostitutes, falls for a lonely young housewife (Ricki Lake of HAIRSPRAY fame), and is himself hunted by a horribly scarred survivor (an equally unhinged performance by Traci Lords). Richard Schiff (The West Wing) co-stars in this still-potent sickie from veteran television director – and one-time Heidi Fleiss boyfriend – Ivan Nagy, now scanned in 4k from the original camera negative and including the complete hooker-flaying sequence.

Original VHS Box Cover (1995)
I recall seeing parts of the movie back in the day, but this was the first time for me of actually watching the whole thing, and in its restored edition! Ted Raimi is flat out crazy awesome in the film, and he brings his A-Game to the antagonist Dennis Skinner. Traci Lords is just as crazy as the scarred Heidi, whose thirst for revenge will take her on a dangerous path! Ricki Lake's character Kerry Tate is the only normal person to be found in the movie, even though she's alone all the time, so it's only natural that she would start to have feeling for Dennis. He's calm, listens to her, and is quite good looking, for a serial killer! C'mon Kerry, wake up! He's totally creepy, and there's plenty of clues to his behavior! Why did he always carry that tool bag around? Why was he coming and going at all those random times of the day and night? Weren't you curious as to where he came from? Oh, he's got money for rent and such. OK, but where the hell did he get it all? Yeah, there are a couple of holes in the script, but overall, I was very entertained.

The film was released on VHS from A-Pix Entertainment, the company that brought other 90's direct-to-video titles such as JACK FROST, EVIL ED, BREEDERS, THE ICE CREAM MAN, and UNCLE SAM. It was eventually released on DVD by Image Entertainment, but the transfer of the picture wasn't all that great, plus it was the edited version as well. Then in November, Severin Films announced that they obtained the rights and were finally releasing the unedited version.

Bless the hearts over at Severin Films, as they restore some of the best forgotten, overlooked, and infamous movies of all time! Who else would take the original camera negatives and make a brand new 4K scan of this 90's cult classic? These guys of course! The picture quality is fantastic, looking so sharp and crisp! When this title was announced as part of their Black Friday sale, it featured an exclusive Limited Edition slipcase. As I am writing this review, I believe these copies are now sold out, but the standard Blu-Ray copies are still available to purchase.

The special features on here are not only awesome, but informative and cool! Included are the following: A Touch of Scandal - Interview with Director Ivan Nagy, Under His Skin - Interview with Star Ted Raimi, Bargain Bin VHS For A Buck - Interview with Screenwriter Paul Hart-Wilden, Cutting Skinner – Interview with Editor Jeremy Kasten, Flaying Sequence Outtakes and Extended Takes, and the film's trailer.

SKINNER is a lost 90's fright flick that will transport you back when direct-to-video movies were all the rage at your local video store!! For the first time, you get to see the uncut, unrated, and uncensored version of the this sick and twisted cult classic! What more do you need? Make tonight an outrageous 90's horror movie night!! Just make sure you don't invite anyone named Skinner to cover and watch it with you! 4 out of 5 stars! Highly recommended!


SKINNER is available on both Blu-Ray and DVD from Severin Films. To purchase a copy, visit their website at severin-films.com.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the screaming!

Phil’s Horror Watch: ZOMBIE (1979) from Blue Underground - February 7, 2019

ZOMBIE Limited Edition "Bridge" Slipcover Blu-Ray
ZOMBIE (aka ZOMBI 2) (1979)
Starring Tisa Farrow, Ian McCulloch, Richard Johnson, Al Cliver, Auretta Gay, Stefania D'Amario, Olga Karlatos
Written by Elisa Briganti, Dardano Sacchetti (uncredited)
Cinematography by Sergio Salvati
Edited by Vincenzo Tomassi
Produced by Fabrizio De Angelis, Ugo Tucci, Gianfranco Couyoumdjian
Directed by Lucio Fulci
Originally released by The Jerry Gross Organization (USA), Variety Film (Italy)
Released by Blue Unnderground

For today's installment of Phil's Horror Watch, I visited the land of Italy, home to some of the most intense, gruesome, gory, and celebrated horror films of all time! What made me want to visit this far and away land? I have two words for you: Lucio Fulcio! You see, late last year Blue Underground re-released one of his greatest films of all time, in a brand new, 3-Disc, 4K restoration! And, it came with not one, not two, but three different lenticular slipcovers! Granted, the film itself is enough to make any horror hound happy! If you don't believe me, then you have never seen the film ZOMBIE, especially in high definition!!

The film's official synopsis: In Italy, it was considered the ‘unofficial sequel’ to DAWN OF THE DEAD. In England, it was known as ZOMBIE FLESH EATERS and banned as obscene. In America, it was called ZOMBIE and advertised with the depraved tag line “WE ARE GOING TO EAT YOU!” Tisa Farrow (THE GRIM REAPER), Ian McCulloch (CONTAMINATION), Al Cliver (CANNIBALS), and Richard Johnson (THE HAUNTING) star in this worldwide splatter sensation directed by ‘Maestro Of Gore’ Lucio Fulci (CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD, THE HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY) that remains one of the most eye-skewering, skin-ripping, gore-gushingly graphic horror hits of all time!

Original Theatrical Poster (1980)
Sounds like a very intriguing film indeed, but the backstory of the film is even more fascinating. In 1977, American filmmaker George Romero teamed up with Italian filmmaker Dario Argento, who would help with the financing to make DAWN OF THE DEAD. In exchange Argento would distribute the film in Europe, where it was retitled as ZOMBI. Director Fulci decided to capitalize on the film's success by making his own gore-infested, living dead film. Thanks to a legal loophole, Fulci was able to slap a sequel number to his film, allowing moviegoers to think that his film was an actual follow up to Romero's film. Unbelievably true, but in the end Fulci's ZOMBI 2 did phenomenal at the European boxoffice. When the film was imported to America, it was retitled ZOMBIE, as to not confuse American audiences.

The film itself is highly regarded as Fulci's best film ever, and a welcomed entry to the annals of horror. The special effects by F/X wizard Gianetto de Rossi are very impressive, and they still hold up to this very day. When Auretta Gay has her throat torn out is just gore-tastic. The scene when Olga Karlatos' eye is shoved into a large piece wood splinter is just so gruesome and painful to watch that I dare you to not look away. And of course, the film's most famous scene is when a zombie attacks and eats a shark. Yes my friends, that is a REAL person fighting a REAL shark! There is no CGI in this film people! Real sharks, real special effects, and real gore drenched the screen as it has never before. The Italians very much celebrated gore and violence, and in the process, made it into an art form that has influenced several big name horror directors. From Sam Raimi and Sean Cunningham to Eli Roth and James Wan, the Italian horror films from the late 70's to the mid 80's had a huge impact here in America. The film was released in Italy on August 25, 1979. It was imported and released to theaters here in America on July 18, 1980.

The movie has been released for the home video market in several different formats over the years by several distributors. In the 1980's and early 1990's, it was distributed by video companies like Wizard Video, Magnum Entertainment, and T-Z Video here in the states, while in the UK, it was part of the "Video Nasties" and was banned their for a time. By the late 90's, companies like Anchor Bay Entertainment, Shriek Show, and Blu Underground had released the film on DVD and Blu-Ray. In 2011, Blue Underground had restored Lucio's classic in a 2K restoration, and released it back to select theaters across the country (this lucky guy saw it at the Roxie Theater in San Francisco in October of that same year). Then in 2018, while being very quite for most of the year, they announced that they were once again restoring the film, this time in a new 4K scan in time for its 40th anniversary!!

Original Italian Theatrical Poster (1979)
This new Blu-ray release Blue Underground looks absolutely fucking amazing!! Holy shit! I have never seen the movie look this sharp, clear, fucking gorgeous before!! Their brand-new 4K Restoration from the uncensored original camera negative looks insanely flawless!! This limited collector’s edition includes 1080p Feature on Blu-ray, bonus High Def Extras Blu-ray, Soundtrack CD, collectible booklet, reversible sleeve with original US poster artwork, a collectable booklet with a new essay by Author Stephen Thrower, and three different special 3D lenticular slipcovers (for its First Pressing only)!!

Blue Underground also loaded this 3-Disc set with a ungodly amount of amazing special features! So what I'm doing is just copying what is on all three discs, just to make it easier on myself as to not leave anything off. On Disc One there's a new Audio Commentary #1 with Troy Howarth, Author of "Splintered Visions: Lucio Fulci and His Films", a second audio commentary with Star Ian McCulloch and Diabolik Magazine Editor Jason J. Slater, When The Earth Spits Out The Dead - Interview with Stephen Thrower, Author of "Beyond Terror: The Films of Lucio Fulci", theatrical trailers, TV and radio spots, poster & still gallery, and a cool intro by Guillermo del Toro. Disc Two has all the special features: Zombie Wasteland - Interviews with Stars Ian McCulloch, Richard Johnson & Al Cliver, and Actor/Stuntman Ottaviano Dell'Acqua, Flesh Eaters on Film - Interview with Co-Producer Fabrizio De Angelis, Deadtime Stories - Interviews with Co-Writers Elisa Briganti and (Uncredited) Dardano Sacchetti, World of the Dead - Interviews with Cinematographer Sergio Salvati and Production & Costume Designer Walter Patriarca, Zombi Italiano - Interviews with Special Make-Up Effects Artists Gianetto De Rossi & Maurizio Trani and Special Effects Artist Gino De Rossi, Notes on a Headstone - Interview with Composer Fabio Frizzi, All in the Family - Interview with Antonella Fulci, Zombie Lover - Award-Winning Filmmaker Guillermo del Toro talks about one of his favorite films . Disc Three is the aforementioned CD soundtrack by the great Fabio Frizzi!

ZOMBIE is one of the all-time greatest zombie films ever made!! For it's shock value and sheer madness, no other zombie film can compare to nor come close to it! With this film, director Fulci was given the mantle "The Maestro of Gore." It is without hesitation to say that, after its initial release 40 years later, it is a title that no one has come close to achieving. Years after his passing, he continues to live on in his films, which are not only his legacy, but a gift to us to enjoy over and over again! And thanks to Blue Underground, we can have this new 4K restoration to watch over and over again! 5 out of 5 stars!! Highly Recommended!! 


ZOMBIE is available in a 3-Dics Limited Edition with three different lenticular slipcovers (or purchase all as a bundle for a limited time) from Blue Underground. To order your copy, visit their website at www.blue-underground.com.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the screaming

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Phil’s Top Ten Greatest Scream Queens of All Time - February 6, 2019

Michelle Bauer, Linnea Quigley, and Brinke Stevens (1988)
Besides writing for my blog, I've been very fortunate to write for other publications, both physical media (magazines and newspapers) and online websites over the years. One of those websites was the now defunct Blumhouse.com. About four years ago, I contacted an old friend of mine, who just happened to be the editor-in-chief of the website. I have known her for years, going all the way back to our Fangoria days, which I also wrote that website as well. I sent her some samples, and I ended up writing my first article for the website, ""PRESENTING THE TEN GREATEST SCREAM QUEENS OF ALL TIME!" which was posted back in December 27, 2016. Here, I listed my favorite Scream Queens from my past in alphabetical order and soon, it was being shared by the actresses themselves through several social media outlets, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I was honored to have had my article shared by these talented women.

The reason I'm mentioning all this is that now in 2019, Blumhouse.com is no longer and is now called The 13th Floor. While it still has articles, stories, and news, it's different than it once was, and my article is no longer on their website. However, while cleaning out some of my old files on my computer, I accidentally discovered my original copy of my article! This was a very pleasant surprise, indeed! So I looked it over, made some changes to it, and updated as well. Overall, I  am very proud of it, but I found myself reminiscing of my youthful, carefree days of yeasterday.

I was very luck to be alive at the right place at the right time, and that time was called the 1980's. Granted, not everything was great in America at that time. Reaganomics, Black Monday, crack, the AIDS epidemic, and the cold war were taking its toll on the country, and growing up in the middle of all this wasn't But during this decade, two very important events took place that would change my life forever.

At the beginning of the 80's, the VCR revolutionized home entertainment. Now, there were these cool places called video stores where I could rent movies. It's here that I was exposed to, what seemed at that time, an endless supply of horror movies. And trust me when I say that I rented every single one that had in stock! By the end of the decade, a new late night TV show debuted on the USA Network. It was called USA Up All Night and it aired every Friday and Saturday night and was hosted by Rhonda Shear and Gilbert Gottfried. Because of this show, my love for low budget B-movies began as well as my obsession for the buxom, bare breasted, badass actresses that became known as Scream Queens!

During this time, these ladies became the most popular actresses in the world, and garnered a huge and loyal fan base. They were all over the media outlets, appearing in magazines like Femme Fatales and Scream Queen Magazine. They were on E! Entertainment channel, MTV, and Entertainment Tonight as well as at film and comic conventions all over the country. While it was hard to narrow it down, these ladies proved to me time and time again that they were the best of the best. So, without further adieu, here is my list of the Top Ten Greatest Scream Queens of All Time!

1) Michelle Bauer - One of the members of the Scream Queen Trio that dominated USA Up All Night, Bauer has appeared in 152 films. In fact, between 1987 and 1898, she starred in over 36 movies! With films like ROLLERBLADE, HOLLYWOOD CHAINSAW HOOKERS, THE PHANTOM EMPIRE, SORORITY BABES IN THE SLIMEBALL BOWL-O-RAMA, NIGHTMARE SISTERS, VIRGIN HIGH, ASSAULT OF THE PARTY NERDS, and THE TOMB, her status as a Scream Queen has been confirmed. By the 2010's, she starred in several of director David DeCoteau's 1313 film series, appeared in in Full Moon feature's GINGERDEAD MAN 2: PASSION OF THE CRUST, and teamed up with her fellow queens Linnea Quigley and Brinke Stevens for the 2014 film 3 SCREAM QUEENS. Her latest titles are DEATH HEADS: BRAIN DRAIN and THE PASSION CHRONICLES.

2) Monique Gabrielle - They broke the mold when they made this woman. Blonde, buxom, and breathtakingly beautiful, Gabrielle mad a splash in the acting world playing Tracey alongside future Hollywood superstar Tom Hank's in the 1982 comedy BACHELOR PARTY. In 1987, she appeared in the three of her most popular films ever: AMAZON WOMEN ON THE MOON, EMMANUELLE 5, and DEATHSTALKER II, the last two films were for the legendary Roger Corman's Concorde/New Horizons Home Video. Also, look for here in NOT OF THIS EARTH, THE RETURN OF SWAMP THING, TRANSYLVANIA TWIST, HARD TO DIE, EVIL TOONS, and the highly entertaining SCREAM QUEEN HOT TUB PARTY. In 2003, Gabrielle married adult film director Tony Angove and now runs her own adult film production company called Monique Gabrielle's Purrfect Productions in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

3) Debra Lamb - Hailing from Portland, Oregon, Lamb got her big break in John Hughes' PLANES TRAINS AND AUTOMOBILES (although her scene would be left on the cutting room floor) before going on to star in a slew of classic B-movie gems like THE INVISIBLE MANIAC, BEVERLY HILLS VAMP, EVIL SPIRITS, and DEATH ROW GAME SHOW, which was released on Blu-Ray from Vinegar Syndrome recently. After leaving the industry for personal reasons, Lamb returned to acting in 2012, and has starred in several films, including THE G-STRING HORROR, DISCIPLES, and A BLOOD STORY. She is also an accomplished author and was a writer for the publication Dark Beauty Magazine from 2011 to 2015. She currently has nine projects in various stages of production, including BLOOD CRAFT, YOU BELONG TO ME, and FRUIT OF THE POISONOUS TREE.

4) Becky LeBeau - She wasn't your typical Scream Queen. In fact, she wasn't really a Scream Queen at all, However, this curvaceous and busty actress bounced her way into many of young male adolecent dreams as well as in the movies. Making a big splash in the 1986 comedy BACK TO SCHOOL with comic legend Rodney Dangerfield, LeBeau went on to act in several erotic, comedy, and sci-fi films like BEVERLY HILLS GIRLS, NOT OF THIS EARTH, BIKINI DRIVE-IN, DINOSAUR ISLAND, and POINT OF SEDUCTION: BODY CHEMISTRY III. She also created the popular Playboy Channel show Soft Bodies during the 1990's, which was the precursor to her new multi-million dollar company called FantasyOne.

5) Linnea Quigley - She was the reigning "Queen of the B's" during the height of the USA Up All Night era. Standing at only 5'2", this short and petite actress appeared in some of the greatest horror and B-movies of all time, including SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT, CREEPOZOIDS, RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD, HOLLYWOOD CHAINSAW HOOKERS, NIGHT OF THE DEMONS, SORORITY BABES IN THE SLIMEBALL BOWL-O-RAMA, VICE ACADEMY 1 & 2, and the recent 3 SCREAM QUEENS directed by David DeCoteau. Several of her films have been released on Blu-Ray, including NIGHTMARE SISTERS and the double feature MURDER WEAPON/DEADLY EMBRACED from Vinegar Syndrome.

6) Debbie Rochon - When it comes to modern day Scream Queens, no one comes close to what this Canadian actress has accomplished. With a staggering 249 titles to her credit and counting, Rochon is the embodiment of an independent film actress. Look for for her in TROMEO AND JULIET, TERROR FIRMER, SANTA CLAWS, WITCHOUSE 3: DEMON FIRE, HELLBLOCK 13, PLAY-MATE OF THE APES, KILLJOY 2: DELIVERANCE FROM EVIL, BIKINI BLOODBATH, and the sequel BIKINI BLOODBATH SHAKESPEARE. She has also written for publications like Fangoria Magazine and Videoscope Magazine, and was an on-air personality for several radio and Internet shows.

7) Jewel Shepard - This beloved actress stole my heart when I first saw her appear in Dan O'Bannon's 1985 THE RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD. She went on to appear in a number of movies like MY TUTOR, HOLLYWOOD HOT TUBS, HOLLYWOOD HOT TUBS 2: EDUCATING CRYSTAL, CHRISTINA, PARTY CAMP, and CAGED HEAT II: STRIPPED OF FREEDOM. She's also an author and has written two fantastic books. The first was the 1992 "Invasion of the B-Girls" published by Eclipse Books, where she interviewed several of her peers like Brinke Stevens, Linnea Quigley, Mary Woronov, and Yvette Vickers.. The other was her 1996 autobiography "If I'm So Famous, How Come Nobody;s Ever Heard Of Me?" by Kitchen Sink Press. She's also written for publications like Details, Premiere, and Cosmopolitan. Since 2011, Shepard has been struggling with invasive breast cancer and has undergone several treatments, including chemotherapy, had lymph nodes removed, and a double mastectomy. Despite all this, she returned to acting with her latest film SLASHER.COM,which was released in 2017.

8) Tiffany Shepis - Let me say this right away: I love Tiffany Shepis! Seriously, how can you not? Not only is she beautiful, funny, and smart, but she is also one hell of an actress! She got her big break in the 1994 Troma classic TROMEO AND JULIET, directed by the great Lloyd Kaufman and written by James Gunn (yes, that James Gunn). Since then, she has gone on to star in over 137 movies, including CITIZEN TOXIE: THE TOXIC AVENGER IV, TERROR FIRMER, SCARECROW, DELTA, DELTA, DIE!, DETOUR, CHAINSAW CHEERLEADERS, BLOOD OATH, BONNIE & CLYDE VS. DRACULA, THE QUEEN OF SCREAMS, DROPPING EVIL, TALES OF HALLOWEEN, and the SyFy Channel's SHARKNADO 2: THE SECOND ONE. I had the pleasure of meeting here at the Osio Theater in Monterey in October of 2017 for the special roadshow screening of VICTOR CORWLY, the fourth installment of the HATCHET series created by filmmaker Adam Green. In 2010, Shepis married writer/director Sean Tretta and broke millions of single guys' hearts, but we still love her anyway.

9) Brinke Stevens - It doesn't get any classier or sexier than Brinke Stevens! Born in San Diego, California, this former scientist turned actress became of the most beloved Scream Queen of all time. After appearing in the 1982 slasher film THE SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE, her career took off and she never looked back. With over 160 titles to her name, including SORORITY BABES IN THE SLIMEBALL BOWL-O-RAMA, NIGHTMARE SISTERS, SLAVE GIRLS FROM BEYOND INFINITY, HAUNTING FEAR, MOB BOSS, BAD GIRLS FROM MARS, TEENAGE EXORCIST, and HYBRID to name a few, she has received worldwide fame and a legion of fans. Fun fact: Stevens was briefly married to comic book artists Dave Stevens, creator of "The Rocketeer" and was the inspiration for his character Bettie. They both remained friends until Dave's passing in 2008.

10) Julie Strain - This statuesque Amazonian stands at an astounding 6'1", making her the tallest Scream Queen on the list! With 118 credits to her name, she became the new "Queen of the B-movies" from the late 90's to the mid-2000's. She starred in several popular action and sci-fi films, including THE DALLAS CONNECTION, SORCERESS, STARSTRUCK, LETHAL SEDUCTION, DAY OF THE WARRIOR, THE ROWDY GIRLS, BATTLE QUEEN 2020, and provided voiceover work for the animated movie HEAVY METAL 2000 and the video game Heavy Metal K.A.K.K. 2. For a time, Strain was married to Kevin Eastman, co-creator of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Editor-In-Cheif of Heavy Metal magazine. She was also Penthouse Pet of the Month June 1991 and Penthouse Pet of the Year 1993. Strain announced her retirement from acting in October 2008. On July 16th 2018, it was announced by her on her Facebook wall that Strain was now suffering from dementia. All her fans continue to send her well wishes and hope she is resting.

Michelle Bauer, myself, Brinke Stevens, and Linnea Quigley (2014).
And there you have it my faithful readers! My Top Ten Greatest Scream Queens of All Time! Boy, did I have fun taking this little trip down Memory Lane! Back then, staying up all night was the only way to see some of these cult classics!  Nowadays, many of these films are available on Blu-Ray and on many streaming services, like Shudder, Troma Now, Full Moon Direct! So do yourself a favor, make a big bowl of popcorn, grab some drinks, and invite a bunch of your friends and kick back with one of these movies tonight!! Just make sure that if you invite any ladies over, they're not actually a couple of Hollywood chainsaw hookers!!

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Phil's Porno Chic Theatre: MEMORIES WITHIN MISS AGGIE (1974) from Vinegar Syndrome - February 2, 2019

MEMORIES WITHIN MISS AGGIE Slipcover Blu-Ray
MEMORIES WITHIN MISS AGGIE (1974)

Starring Kim Pope, Mary Stuart, Darby Lloyd Raines, Eric Edwards, Harry Reems, Deborah Ashira, Patrick L. Farrelly, Ralph Herman
Written by Ron Wertheim
Cinematography by João Fernandes (as Harry Flecks)
Edited by Saint Marks Place
Produced by Inish Kae, Limited
Directed by Gerard Damiano
Originally released by Cinépix Film Properties
Released by Vinegar Syndrome

When one thinks of some of the greatest adult filmmakers of all time, one name comes to mind that is often overlooked, and that individual's name is Gerard Damiano. With his breakout hit DEEP THROAT, he helped usher in the "Golden Age of Adult Films" and made it chic to see a "dirty movie" at your local cinema. With his follow up film THE DEVIL IN MISS JONES, Damino pulled no punches when it came to making the movie; addressing themes such as life, death, suicide, lust, greed, promiscuity and loneliness. In 2019, the folks at Vinegar Syndrome has released his third feature, one that I've only seen posters of and maybe few stills here and there. Finally, I had the pleasure of seeing Damiano's forgotten and most erotic arthouse adult film MEMORIES WITHIN MISS AGGIE.

The film's official synopsis: The only thing missing from Aggie’s life…was Aggie. In the middle of nowhere lives middle aged Aggie, with her wheelchair bound companion Richard. As snow falls outside, Aggie tries desperately to remember the circumstances under which they met. As she plays through in her mind a series of possible scenarios, only to dismiss each as a false past, she inadvertently begins to reveal an increasingly dark portrait of her true self, leading to the unexpected and shocking reality of her relationship with Richard.

I can honestly say that I have never seen an adult film like this before! Ever! The tone is very mysterious and psychologically dark, yet erotic and loving. I noticed that he film references a couple of movies that most fans of cinema will recognize: Alfred Hitchcock's 1960 iconic horror film PSYCHO and Ingmar Bergamn's 1966  psychological drama PERSONA. The movie lifts a lot from these two cinematic treasures, especially PSYCHO; with it's traumatic ending that, one can see coming, yet hard not to be shocked! Again, this was something completely new to me and it was a very interesting viewing experience!

Original Theatrical Poster (1974)
Damiano really shows off his directing chops with the film, carefully crafting a balance between art and sex. His compositions and set-ups feel very European; with it's use of simple camera shots, low lighting, intimate close-ups, and few edits, it helps elevate the movie from its simple definition of a "porno flick." The movie is an example of just how talented Damiano was and how he was willing to take chances and to make sex artistic within the adult film world. He is one of a few filmmakers within the genre that when you watch a movie, you can tell who made it. I would like to state that Damiano was, and still is, a true film auteur in the annuls of adult cinema history!

On September 19, 2015, the website The Rialto Report posted an article entitled, "Adult Film Locations 4: In Search of Miss Aggie, The Devil and Miss Jones." In the article, they went on a mission to locate the famous locations that were featured in both THE DEVIL IN MISS JONES and MEMORIES WITHIN MISS AGGIE: the infamous house and countryside locations. After conducting some serious research, and contacting those who were there, they eventually found out where both films were shot: an old apple-packing plant located in Milanville, Pennsylvania, about a hour's drive from New York. Also mentioned were the bridge and the Conklin Hill Church that was used, as well as several pictures of what the area looks now with screen grabs from both films for comparisons.

For this new release, the film was newly scanned & restored in 2k from its 16mm archival negative elements. The final results are really fantastic, making this the best version of the movie! For so many years, fans of the movie had to deal with the dark, murky, and blurry transfers that looked like they were from old VHS copies, but now those can be tossed aside and recycled. There's also a couple of special features on the discs: a promotional still and article gallery and the film's theatrical trailer. Granted, I wished there more on here, but since most of the key players of the film have passed on (Damiano and Reems more specifically), it would have been nice to hear from Eric Edwards and have him share some of his thoughts and memories on making the film. The combo has has a reversible cover artwork, and the first 1,000 copies has a cool looking, special limited edition embossed slipcover designed by Earl Kessler Jr. (As I am writing this review, the limited edition slipcovers are now sold out, and there are only 351 copies left of the standard version).

MEMORIES WITHIN MISS AGGIE  is an undiscovered erotic masterpiece that perfectly showcases the talent of the legendary Gerard Damiano! It's a movie that, almost 45 years later, still continues to attract new fans while remaining a favorite with those who saw it originally in theaters. With it's combination of European arthouse visuals, intense eroticism, and shocking finale, the film perfectly captures what the Golden Age of Adult Films was all about and remains one of Damiano's best films that you haven't seen yet!! 5 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!!



MEMORIES WITHIN MISS AGGIE  is available in a Blu-Ray/DVD combo pack from Vinegar Syndrome. To order a copy for yourself, visit their website at vinegarsyndrome.com.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Phil sees ROMA at the 3Below Theaters & Louge - February 1, 2019

Theatrical Movie Poster (2018)
ROMA

Starring Yalitza Aparicio, Marina de Tavira, Nancy García García, Daniela Demesa, Diego Cortina Autrey, Carlos Peralta, Verónica García
Written by Alfonso Cuarón
Cinematography by Alfonso Cuarón
Edited by Alfonso Cuarón, Adam Gough
Produced by Alfonso Cuarón, Gabriela Rodriguez, Nicolas Celis
Directed by Alfonso Cuarón
Releases by Netflix

It's been a while since I've watched a movie in a theater, but with all the praise and attention I've been hearing about today's film, I decided to treat myself to a cinematic adventure! So, I headed over to the awesome 3Below Theaters and Lounge here in Downtown San Jose to watch one of the most visually stunning, heart strings pulling, emotionally charged and, in my humble opinion, of the best films so far of 2019! Now the film was actually released late December of last year, so I'm pretty later to the game. But like the old saying goes, "Better that than never." And so, I finally got to see ROMA up on the big screen!

The film's official synopsis: The most personal project to date from Academy Award-winning director and writer Alfonso Cuarón (Gravity, Children of Men, Y Tu Mama Tambien), ROMA follows Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio), a young domestic worker for a family in the middle-class neighborhood of Roma in Mexico City. Delivering an artful love letter to the women who raised him, Cuarón draws on his own childhood to create a vivid and emotional portrait of domestic strife and social hierarchy amidst political turmoil of the 1970s.

It's nice to see writer/director Alfonso Cuarón return to his roots; creating a thoughtful, provocative, emotional, and personal style of film! While his previous films GRAVITY, CHILDREN OF MEN, and HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN were a great platform to show off his directing chops, it was his coming-of-age masterpiece Y TU MAMA TAMBIEN that made me a fan. Here, Cuarón restrains himself with several long, unedited takes, simple set-ups and compositions, and panning the camera either left or right; creating an intricate and intimate work of art! His camera lingers for several seconds, even minutes, taking the audience into this world that we are unfamiliar with, and making us feel as if we're a part of it.

Credit also goes to Cuarón for the look of the movie, shooting on 65mm in black and white, which we hardly never see these days!! By doing this, the film has the feel of an old photograph; telling us a story that we have never heard of. By shooting in black and white, the movie takes on a variety of emotions. It's beautiful yet bleak, breathtaking and haunting, it's raw and unflinching with its characters, but we're emotionally invested with everyone that we cannot help feel sympathetic with all of them. Again, it's very reminiscent of Y TU MAMA TAMBIEN and that's a very high compliment!!

Bringing this movie to life requires a talented cast, and our lead actress Yalitza Aparicio, who portrays Cleo, is absolutely amazing! Her performance was just stunningly gripping and emotionally powerful and real! Now to my surprise, this was her acting debut!! Holy shit!! If this was her first film, just imagine how much more she'll grow as an actress in the next several years!! I cannot wait to see her again in future movies!!

As I write this review, the movie has garnered so much attention and acclaim that it's been nominated for ten, count them, TEN Academy Awards already! Some of the film's nominations include Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress (Aparicio), Best Cinematography, and Best Foreign Film for example! I, for one, will be watching the Oscars very closely because this film deserves to win all ten nominations!!

ROMA is my pick for Best Film of 2019!! This was such a magnificent film and a return for Cuarón that I'm very excited for him, his cast and crew, and for the film itself! Even though it is also streaming on Netflix (they are the films distributor), I would seriously recommend you to see it at your local theater if it's screening there! To see it on the big screen is a cinematic experience that you will want to witness!! May favorite film so far this year!! 5 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!!


ROMA is playing in select theaters in a limited theatrical run in select cities nationwide, including the 3Below Theaters & Louge here in Downtown San Jose. To view showtimes, visit their website at 3belowtheaters.com. The film is also streaming exclusively on Netflix. To start your subscription, visit their website at www.netflix.com.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!