VHS Spotlight: “Evils of the Night”

Our dear friend and contributor in horror Alex Ray returns, this time with a VHS Spotlight that’s out of this world!  We love to feature flicks that aren’t widely available to the masses on LAHorror.com, so be sure to check out our growing collection of VHS Spotlights on our Behead-itorials page and be sure to drop us a line to let us know which ones you’d like to see!  Enjoy horror lovers!

VHS SPOTLIGHT: EVILS OF THE NIGHT

1984 * 85 minutes * Lightning Video * Directed by Mardi Rustam

evils_01_coverIf you’re trying to find the worst 80s horror VHS box art out there, look no further. The movie itself is a crazy good time—but the box makes it look like Lovers Retreat, the 1989 romantic dramedy starring Bobcat Goldthwait and Daphne Zuniga (this film does not exist). Yes, it tried harder to make me not watch it than The Witching (I defy anyone to rent a horror movie adorned with the bespectacled visage of Orson Welles). Point is: despite a complete lack of salesmanship on the part of Lightning Video—a rare oversight for a company that churned out a zillion lurid covers back in the day—I consider it a high value asset to my VHS collection.

And, okay, yes—there is a DVD. But good luck finding one for less than fifty bucks. It seems the fine folks at Shriek Show woefully underestimated demand and now it’s as tough to find as Shadow: Dead Riot is easy to come by. And that’s just downright shameful. But you know what? We still got some sweet ol’ magnetic tape to fall back on.

This really is a movie that should be seen on VHS anyway. It epitomizes what’s great about cheesy 80s horror—totally un-ironic and self-serious, but comprised of ridiculous and disparate elements. No matter how many times I put this in the VCR (I’m up to three), I feel like I’m missing something (and lemme tell ya: this ain’t exactly Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy when it comes to plot). I think I can summarize it somewhat concisely: beach bums and babes become the target of aliens who need their young people blood to survive. But if you start asking questions—like, any questions—things get complicated.

For instance, how did the mechanics get recruited to kidnap teenagers for the aliens? And why, with their spaceships and laser rings, would the aliens need a couple grumpy old men to do said kidnapping for them? How did the aliens come to inhabit a hospital? What happened to those lady aliens after they made bedroom eyes at each other for thirty seconds? Yeah, Evils offers up quite a few stumpers.

The trick is to not think too hard about it and just go along for the ride (to the hospital with the mechanics who are selling you to the aliens). You do that, and Evils of the Night becomes Goods of the Day. Or Night, still. If you watch it at night. I don’t judge.

evils_02_blackbgMuch as we all love how meta and self-aware everything has become, it’s sometimes nice to go back to a time when movies didn’t seem to know they were bad. Who can say—maybe Mardi Rustam thought he was making the ultimate satire, but he definitely fooled me. The charm of Evils lies in just how blissfully sincere it is about being pretty dumb. By any quantifiable standards it’s a terrible movie, and yet I’ve still watched it three times. So what does that tell you? Yeah, I don’t know either.

Look. It’s silly. It’s fun. Joe Bob would definitely say check it out, if you know what I mean (boobs). With the bland box art, you might just be able to convince a normal person to watch it. Take all that into consideration, and I think you can see the good in Evils of the Night (I do love it when titles lend themselves to this kind of scintillating wordplay).

Postscript: A random Amazon check has revealed that this is going to get a re-release on October 14! Now the masses will have easy access to this cinematic gem. But while the DVD may be of higher quality and have better box art (because it couldn’t possibly be worse), I must say I’ll always be partial to my VHS. However, I’ll concede that it’s worth seeing any way you can. And if you can’t wait that long, well, there’s an ex-rental with your name on it somewhere.

3 out of  4 stars

VHS Spotlight is written by LAHorror.com contributor Alex Ray.

“Reality” – A New Web Series from Ready Freddy Films

realityposterReality television.  It’s everywhere nowadays.  “The Bachelor,” “Millionaire Matchmaker,” “Sister Wives,” just to name a few, have taken over the airwaves and given us some unforgettable (and often unbearable) moments that make even this horror lover cringe.  Every season there’s a new gimmick, a new dating craze and of course a new babe (or stud) that’s looking to find their soulmate and live happily ever after.  And in Ready Freddy Films‘ new web series/reality TV show “Reality,” we are shown this familiar premise with a terrifying spin.  One man, eight girls, one elimination each episode.  But I’m not talking about red roses or tiki torches, because in this show elimination means brutal death, and the winner gets to spend the rest of her days with Rusty Polar, the psychopathic killer who’s searching for his soulmate…

A horror reality TV show is so refreshing, and the execution by this cast and crew, led by creator and leading man Dustin Puehler, is nearly flawless.  This really feels like a poppy reality TV show, but even better than that, it feels like a slimy, freaky torture flick.  We get glimpses into the lives and pasts of these characters in the ways only a bubbly reality show could do, and I honestly feel invested to find out who wins it all.  And just like any reality television show, it’s full of humor (albeit DARK), raw human emotion and plenty of backstabbing surprises…

We had a chance to chat with Puehler about the series, his “bachelor” Rusty Polar, as well as some other fun stuff!  Check it out, horror lovers!

LAHorror:  Do you think that there’s any HORROR in today’s actual reality TV??

Dustin Puehler:  Definitely. The way you have major networks manipulating image and reinforcing stereotypes, while making tons of money, can be quite horrific to see how they paint someone to create entertainment, especially when it is the “girls chasing the guy” format.  They drink people up and just wait for them to do something that they can turn into drama or better yet humiliating.

LAHorror:  Reality TV shows, in particular dating shows, have a “bachelor” type character that runs the show. Tell us about Rusty Polar.  How is it playing this character who does some pretty nasty things to these women?

DP:  Exhausting. I wanted to emulate the process of reality TV, so I would set up these scenes and we would do 6-7 minutes at a time.  Making it as brutal as possible and absolutely no sarcastic satire. It was through the edit that I wanted to force myself to find those moments and get into that state of mind to exploit this images with reality show editing techniques.

LAHorror:  How did you pitch this project to your actresses? It’s horror, no doubt, but there’s a lot of VERY dark humor.  Tiffany (Tiffany Gollinger) is really good, by the way. I’m rooting for her to win the competition.

DP:  I was very lucky to have such an amazing cast!  They all went for it pretty easily and understood the vision of the piece.  I won’t say who wins, but I’m very proud of the way the show wraps up!

LAHorror:  How much of the show is scripted?  It feels really natural.

DP:  As the writer too, almost all my lines are scripted. The settings, the camera work, and the structure was all laid out. There was a line thrown to the girls for narrative purposes here and there, but they are all reactionary to my lines. They did a great job embodying their characters through improvising!

LAHorror:  How would you compare “Reality” to some of Ready Freddy Films’ other horror projects?

DP:  Most of my horror ideas (“Spots,” “Caleb,” “Cutie“) are very slow, brooding, and character based to get any message across, where “Reality” really needs weird tonal shifts to play up the satire thats intended. It was interesting to craft scenes where we would create moment to laugh with, but then follow it up with a dark horror element, then remind you of what you are watching to break the laughter.  It is an interesting balancing board.

The remaining five episodes of “Reality” will be premiering throughout August, so pick your favorite contestant and enjoy the ride!

Be sure to “like” Ready Freddy Films on Facebook and follow them on Twitter!  You can also learn more about their original projects at their official website.

“Melody” – an LAHorror.com Original Film Coming Soon…

Welcome, horror lovers!  For those of you that don’t know me, my name is Hunter Johnson, and this is LAHorror.com!  I started this website to share the work of amazing indie horror artists and violent gore as I find it, but now, I’d like to introduce you to a creation of our own.  “Melody” is our first original film coming 9/13/14 exclusively to LAHorror.com.  Produced by myself and my partner-in-horror, Megan Perrin, along with the help of associate producers Michael Cannone & Chrissy Cannone, this will be the first film in a series of brutal horror that we currently have in the works.  Needless to say, we’re about to get bloody, and why not start with something really, really nasty?  Well, “Melody” is just that.

Melody Colin Towers Promo

The film is just about 17 minutes long and features the work of some unbelievably talented artists.  Starring stand-up comedian / actor Beau Smith and beautiful Emily Dahm as our title character, “Melody” is not one to be missed.  I can promise you this: our film will leave you feeling slimy and uncomfortable, and the gory ending created by make-up effects guru Ryan Reynolds will be a delight for all of you sickos who enjoy…well…this kind of thing…

If you have a horror blog or website and embed our film, let us know, and we will put your banner link on our “Friends of LAHorror.com” page!

MELODY LOOKING PROMO

Until then, be sure to let us know what you think by hitting us up on Twitter and Facebook!  Thanks so much for checking out our work, and I wish you a lifetime of fear, carnage and terrifying HORROR!

XOXO,

Hunter Johnson

LA Horror Review: “Missing” – A Short Horror Film by Joey Medina

Missing PosterBlood. Violence. Chopping. Gore.

Gruesome, gruesome gore…

These are just a few of my favorite things, and when I’m watching horror I’ve always got my eyes peeled for the grisly money shot. And when it comes to the good stuff, the really nasty and ultra-violent carnage that we all love and adore, Joey Medina’s short horror film “Missing” does not hold back. In fact, “Missing” didn’t just satisfy my thirst for blood, but pretty much dumped a bucket of it onto my face. It’s a brutal, unflinching horror experience that managed to shock me all the way until the very end. I absolutely loved this film!

“Missing” is the type of film for the most depraved horror lover, and those are usually the ones that hit me just right.  Essentially, we follow a day in the life of a LA’s most twisted serial killer…dig it?

But what “Missing” succeeds in most is not only the carnage, but also a very stylized and unique viewing experience, as Medina takes a popular concept and gives it his own stylized twist. Without going into too much detail, I will say this: Medina made blood the main character, and oh what a role it plays.  There are also some excellent performances by a cast of oddly charming actors who all bring their A-games to a really intense story.

The film is making it’s way into the festival circuit now, so take notice as it should not be missed. There may also be plans in the future for a feature length version down the road. Keep your eyes out for it…

To learn more about Joey Medina, visit his official webpage.  You can also “like” the film on Facebook and follow Medina an twitter.

LA Horror Review: “The Los Angeles Ripper”

Los Angeles has been home to some of the most prolific serial killers in American history.  There was, of course, the night stalker, the hillside strangler, the freeway killer and now another, Craig McIntyre’s “The Los Angeles Ripper.”

Kristy (Celeste Martinez) is an aspiring singer who has just arrived in Los Angeles for a fresh start in life.  Living with her lazy cousin and horror fanatic Aunt, things are looking up for Kristy as she makes new friends and begins to take singing lessons.  However, drug dealer Grahm (Randy Tobin), The Los Angeles Ripper, has other plans for poor Kristy.  You see, Grahm likes to torture, rape and murder young women, and he’s damn good at it…

“The Los Angles Ripper” starts with a bang and ends with a bang, take that how you will.  From the very first scene of the film, you know what you are signing up for:  a low budget, gritty serial killer story with a director unafraid to show you the good stuff.  And what else would you expect from a movie called “The Los Angeles Ripper?”  While the body count isn’t necessarily the highest, when Grahm does reveal his sinister intentions to his victims, the intimacy of the filmmaking makes for a quite unnerving experience.  The camera is always no more than a foot away from the victim, often in a cramped room or a van, and catches every grueling detail of the torment of the victims.  The style is reminiscent of the ultra gory 70s exploitation flicks, with a little dab of some zombie feasting as well.  McIntyre is clearly well versed in the horror genre.

The problem with this film is not in the kills, however, but in the killer himself.  No doubt Tobin is a talented actor, and his character is quite memorable but also kind of a…well…a douche bag.  He’s the guy who’s at the party that you didn’t really invite.  He’s the drug dealer that insists that you hang out with him when you only want your fix.  He’s the guy at the bar that just doesn’t catch a hint.  No means no, Grahm…well, kind of.  At times his awkwardness is hard to watch, but when he starts to turn into the Ripper, it’s night and day.  The douche becomes a monster and that’s when the performance really takes off.

The main meat of the story is when Grahm meets, and ultimately becomes obsessed with, Kristy.  He brazenly stalks her, is constantly showing up wherever she goes and ultimately puts her in a rough spot near the end of the film.  Their chemistry is awkward, but that’s exactly how it’s supposed to be, so in that regard, it works.  The supporting cast behind these two is also quite enjoyable, in particular a couple of characters that show up to Kristy’s music lessons add a light hearted break to the carnage in this film.

Indie horror fans should appreciate this film, especially ones in the Los Angeles area.  It does give you a feel for this city and there are some moments that legitimately made me cringe.  While the film isn’t necessarily as deep as it could have been, the gore is intense and the soundtrack is excellent.  The final shot of the film is also one that will stick with you, a serious gut-wrencher.  I’m a huge fan of serial killer films, and while “The Los Angeles Ripper” isn’t necessarily the scariest, it certainly is worth a look for indie horror lovers and newbies to LA.  So go get ripped already.

Be sure to check out “The Los Angeles Ripper” on Facebook and twitter.

LA Horror Review: “Hate Crime”

Ahhh, the home invasion film. It’s a popular idea that requires little setup and exploits a primal fear–the violation of our home and shelter. An ugly intruder amidst all things familiar. Our castle turned cage with a single breach.

Horrifying stuff, really. No doubt filmmakers such as James Cullen Bressack seek to expose their audience to these dreadful scenarios. It hits home. Literally. In this case, Bressack takes it one step further in his quest for full, unadulterated immersion and employs the found footage style. Now, home invasion films aren’t for everyone, but found footage films have an even more polarizing effect. For those horror fans who can appreciate both, “Hate Crime” is worth a look. If you’re seeking specifics of the plot, further reading won’t reveal much. A family is taken hostage by masked gunmen. That’s all I’m telling, and that’s all you need to know.

The elements of this story are decidedly simple, and the film wastes no time getting to the good stuff. It moves along at a brisk pace, hardly allowing the viewer to catch his breath, much less let down his guard. And while that may not make for optimal jump scares, this film isn’t interested in petty antics. It wants to exhaust you.

The brutality is less related to physical torture–the most graphic of which takes place off screen–and more a product of sheer intensity. Save a brief introduction to the family, complete with sibling banter, ill tempers and domestic feuding, the film quickly escalates with a healthy offering of heinous laughter, disturbing acts and distorted enthusiasm that is simply unsettling. When the pace finally lets up and allows for some intimate conversation, the dialogue is effectively sinister and not without devastating implications. It is a gripping contrast of wills and emotions: those of the victims pleading for salvation and those of the jolly invaders. And while the monotony of the struggle may be off-putting, I consider it a test of endurance designed with discomfort in mind.  It is a horror film.

One interesting facet of this film is the development of the immediately indiscernible antagonists. It takes time, but they ultimately evolve from the raving mad men of first impression. They are passionate in their endeavors, unrelenting yet giddy and actually far more interesting than the family they victimize. Their brand of off-the-cuff terrorism comprises the bulk of the film, and there really is little else to it.

The performances are often satisfactory, improving as the film progresses, and the direction overall impressive. There are few cuts in this film and the host of long takes is a feat for all involved. However, simply put, the selling point of this film is the content… but that is if, and only if, you’re in the market. “Hate Crime” is a constant barrage of brutality projected through the grit and grime of unpolished cinema. It is “Funny Games” without the civility. And, in the end, it is a hard-hitting feature-length Public Service Announcement for a thoroughly unprepared public. They have no idea what lies in store. Enjoy.

“Hate Crime” will be hitting festivals soon.  Review by Levi Caleb Smith