Multiple Maniacs (1970)

Directed by John Waters [Other horror films: Pink Flamingos (1972), Female Trouble (1974)]

Before going into this one, I knew that I was almost certainly going to dislike it, and I did. This really isn’t my type of movie at all, and while it’s not entirely void of entertaining portions, Multiple Maniacs was just torturous for me to sit through.

Primarily a gritty, almost counterculture crime/black comedy, with some horror thrown in toward the finale, this movie had a vibe I just couldn’t dig. There were certainly some amusing lines, and it was funny listening to the terrible dialogue at times, but more often than that, I was bored.

Take this, for instance: after the main character, Divine, is raped, there’s a 15-minute sequence of her going to a church, meeting some random lesbian, becoming seduced by said lesbian in the church, all while Divine’s rambling about religious crap and the other woman is giving a long speech over the Stations of the Cross (which, if you don’t know, and I didn’t, it’s a sort of spiritual pilgrimage following the path of Jesus’ supposed moments prior to the ending of his life).

Hearing about this via some random lesbian as she’s anally pleasuring an overweight drag queen with rosary beads wasn’t quite the spiritual experience for me, though.

Certainly this type of tasteless humor has it’s place, and I can imagine that, if I had been a practicing Catholic, that scene would have mortified me, but as I’m not, I was just bored, and found the whole 15 minutes tedious.

Divine was an interesting character. Despicable, unlikable, and pretty much all-around awful, it was close-to-impossible to care about her, even when she’s getting attacked by a giant lobster. David Lochary was sometimes amusing, but terrible. Mink Stole and her extreme unction’s just annoyed the hell out of me. Cookie Mueller was also awful, but at least had respectable politics. The worst of the bunch was probably Mary Vivian Pearce, who played Lochary’s girlfriend and she too, like Stole, just got on my nerves.

I don’t really think I’ve ever seen a film as intentionally tasteless as this one, which isn’t a bad thing, but when that’s coupled with amateur camera-work (I’m guessing that a tripod was either outside of their budget or outside of their intended “artistic style”) and a plodding story that randomly throws in a giant lobster, followed by ten minutes of the worst conclusion I’ve ever seen, it’s not a good time.

“He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands” made an appearance at one point, which I will admit to finding amusing, especially given the context, and the film ends with “America, the Beautiful” in an almost parodic way, which I certainly can respect, but aside from that, most of the music and other dialogue is either so mind-numbingly repetitive or just off that two okay moments can’t off-set it.

I’m not sure the intended demographic for this movie, but I do know that I’m not it. I taped this off TCM because, at the time, I was recording any and all horror movies TCM played that I’ve not yet seen and reviewed, and so, like anything else, despite knowing I’d likely dislike this, I recorded it.

And of course, I hated it. It has a high rating on IMDb (currently a 6.7/10 at the time of this writing) and a 100% on Rotten Tomatoes (not a site I ever really pay attention to, but this score just blew my mind). If you’re into John Waters or shock cinema, it may be worth a look, but this is a mug of steaming coffee, to be clear, and not my cup of tea.

2/10

Hillbillys in a Haunted House (1967)

Directed by Jean Yarbrough [Other horror films: The Devil Bat (1940), King of the Zombies (1941), House of Horrors (1946), She-Wolf of London (1946), The Brute Man (1946), The Creeper (1948), Master Minds (1949)]

When I recorded this off TCM (gotta give TCM props for playing something like this, on a side-note), I had no delusions that it’d somehow be a good movie, and boy, what a quality prediction that was. Hillbillys (which isn’t even a proper plural version of the word) in a Haunted House was something I’ve never really experienced before, and never really want to again.

For a movie from the later 60’s, this was very-much steeped in the 1930’s and 1940’s. A haunted house that wasn’t really haunted, but a headquarter for spies who were trying to scare people away (which is pretty much what Ghosts on the Loose from 1943 focused on), a gorilla (right out of The Monster Walks and The Gorilla), even older names that were popular around that time (such as John Carradine, Basil Rathbone, and Lon Chaney, Jr.) – this movie was really late to the game, and the country angle doesn’t really make it any fresher.

And if you’re wondering where the country angle comes from, by “hillbillys,” the movie means country musicians (the film stars Ferlin Husky, who I’m not a particular fan of, but he has the occasionally catchy song). And being performers, much of the film is singing from various different people (a guy watches some television to help him sleep, and sees performances from artists such as Merle Haggard, for instance). There’s a lot of music in this film, some of it decent, some more generic, but always laughable when it pops up.

The best part might be the ending – at around 70 minutes in or so, the haunted house mystery is wrapped up, the antagonists taken care of, and the central trio (Ferlin Husky, Joi Lansing, and Don Bowman) are driving away, not a care in the world. Perfect ending, right?

Wrong.

Because they’re going to Nashville for a concert, and instead of ending the story at a sensible moment, the movie instead finds it necessary to have six songs performed by six different artists to close the film out. And the final song (performed by Husky himself) isn’t announced as the final song – he just sings his song (as Merle Haggard, Don Bowman, Marcella Wright, Joi Lansing, and Molly Bee did before him) and boom, the movie’s over.

Now, to be fair, many of the songs were decent, such as “Heartbreak U.S.A.” by Molly Bee, “Swinging Doors” by Merle Haggard (which is definitely going onto my iTunes), the comedic, spoken (think artists like Red Sovine or maybe even Jerry Reed a la “Telephone Song) “Wrong House” by Don Bowman, and “The Bridge I’ve Never Crossed” by Ferlin Husky, but to end a film with 15 minutes of random country songs with zero relevance or reference to what happened in the previous 70 minutes of the movie – what madness is this?

And you’re probably wondering where the appeal to the film arises from, which I couldn’t blame you for. Sure, I enjoy some classic country (from The Statler Brothers to Waylon Jennings from Bobby Bare to Lefty Frizzell, I dabble a little in the genre), but the real appeal comes from seeing the aforementioned John Carradine, Lon Chaney Jr., and Basil Rathbone, all three rather large stars (or were at points previously to 1967).

Carradine (Bluebeard, The House of Seven Corpses, and hundreds of other films) and Rathbone (Son of Frankenstein, The Hound of the Baskervilles ‘39, and Queen of Blood among his appearances) worked well together, though to be honest, their characters were somewhat interchangeable. Chaney Jr. provided a more simple-minded character, and while never all that sympathetic, he probably stood out the most of the three. On a side-note, this is Rathbone’s second-to-last film, as he died in mid-1967.

Ferlin Husky was as fine as he could have been, I suspect, given his character. In my view, Joi Lansing was cast more due to her physical attributes as opposed to acting ability (let’s just say that while of course there’s nothing close to nudity in this film, Lansing still provides quite the view), but honestly, for a movie like this, I can’t imagine bad acting being that much a concern. Don Bowman (who was both a country singer and a comedian, apparently) was the generic, cowardly side-character, and his Texas accent (and penchant for saying “weirdwolf” as opposed to “werewolf” for some unknown reason) did annoy me, but hey, that song he sang toward the end was funny, so as the kids say, whateves.

I don’t really know why this was made (perhaps there was a country craze in the mid-to-late 1960’s, as this is technically a sequel to non-horror film Las Vegas Hillbillys). I also don’t know why I spent ten whole paragraphs on it. I enjoyed a decent amount of the music, but the spy angle didn’t really catch my interest at all (and the whole M.O.T.H.E.R. organization just solidified my disinterest), and while it can be entertaining, you have to know beforehand what you’re going into.

As it was, Hillbillys in a Haunted House was something I won’t soon forget, but don’t mistake that for thinking it’s decent. At best, it’s still below average, with the fun musical numbers buoying it against the generically forgettable story, but I don’t think it buoys it that effectively.

5.5/10

My Boyfriend’s Back (1993)

Directed by Bob Balaban [Other horror films: Parents (1989)]

There are some movies out there that use horror elements in movies that are primarily comedy, and I generally call these horror-lite films. Some wouldn’t call them horror at all, but when it comes to defining the genre I love, I’m liberal and highly flexible.

Honestly, though, most of the movies I’d probably throw in this category aren’t movies I’d usually go out of my way to watch and, if I do see them, probably aren’t movies I’d enjoy, and My Boyfriend’s Back is a good example.

To give the film some credit, Andrew Lowery makes for a fair lead, given the type of film this is. Traci Lind (Fright Night Part 2, Spellcaster, and Class of 1999) gave both a decent performance and a cute body. There was a young Philip Seymour Hoffman here (credited as just Philip Hoffman), which I guess was interesting (he’s not really an actor I know, but people seem to talk about him, so I thought I’d mention it).

Everything else is just so far from my cup of tea, though. The movie knew what it was and went for it, which I can respect, but it still wasn’t my cup of tea.

The narration and comic-book style of the film worked to the extent that it fits the light-hearted tone of the movie, but I found pretty much everything here beyond ridiculous. So this kid dies, and he comes back, and mostly everyone’s fine with it. I mean, he gets bullied for being “the dead kid,” but it doesn’t raise any eyebrows, so that’s fun.

I’m trying hard not to hold anything like that against the movie, though, as I’m really not the demographic they were aiming for. It’s a stupid comedy centered around a zombie who’s decaying but still wants to take his dream-girl to the prom, so of course I’d hate it. If you want a quality prom-zombie-comedy, I have four words (and a year) for you: Dance of the Dead (2008).

This isn’t my type of movie, and it’s at this point you’re potentially wondering why I watched it to begin with, in which I’ll reply it was for a podcast I partake in. I get a list of movies to choose from, and for this particular choice, there weren’t that many horror films. My Boyfriend’s Back is labelled, among other genres, as a horror film on IMDb, and so history was made.

I really disliked this film. It’s not my thing. I don’t even feel right being overly critical toward it, but I will be. Certainly My Boyfriend’s Back works for some people, but I pretty much found the whole thing cringe-worthy and painful from beginning to end with little to merit any recommendation aside from Traci Lind’s presence.

4/10

Pale Blood (1990)

Directed by V.V. Dachin Hsu [Other horror films: N/A] & Michael W. Leighton [Other horror films: N/A]

I knew pretty much nothing about this film prior to watching it, aside from, of course, the fact it appeared to be a vampire movie. After seeing it, I have to say I’m somewhat torn. It’s a lower-budget film that can clearly be seen in some aspects, but it also has a decent sense of heart, and I think it shows.

What’s somewhat impressive, even, is that the film manages to throw in a few unexpected surprises, and while none of these deeply shift how the movie goes, I was happy that the story had a bit more depth than I had initially suspected, especially once things really start going toward the end.

George Chakiris isn’t a name I know, but I liked what he was going for. You can sort of tell early on about the route his character takes, but it doesn’t make it any less enjoyable a journey. Wings Hauser (who I best know from the oddball 1988 The Carpenter) hams it up beautifully in this film, and I got a kick out of his character. A little more hard to get a grasp on was Pamela Ludwig (Rush Week), who had an interesting switch-up at the end I don’t fully understand, but I did rather like her performance.

I’m not deeply familiar with the music of Agent Orange, but I think it works well with the film, though it does end up somewhat repetitive. Still, it has almost a Bauhaus gothic vibe to it, which works well as the movie throws in references to past vampire films (such as a few scenes from Nosferatu playing on a television to posters of The Kiss of the Vampire and The Return of Dracula being pinned up on one of the character’s walls). The movie is often dim and somewhat grungy, made more obvious by the lower-budget, but it all fits together in a way that works, and goes to a solid atmosphere.

At times, Pale Blood can come across as a bit annoyingly artsy, unnecessarily so, mostly in regards to the first club scene and the multiple visions seen throughout the film. I don’t think it really harms the movie, but it did get a bit jarring at times, and it never really added much.

Ultimately, I didn’t have a bad time with Pale Blood. I didn’t have a great time either, but that’s life. If you’re into vampire films, this might be one to check out for something a little different, no matter how cheap it is, but I doubt it’d make a big impression on most who see it. As for me, I think it’s somewhere around average.

7/10

Martin (1976)

Directed by George A. Romero [Other horror films: Night of the Living Dead (1968), Hungry Wives (1972), The Crazies (1973), The Amusement Park (1975), Dawn of the Dead (1978), Creepshow (1982), Day of the Dead (1985), Monkey Shines (1988), Due occhi diabolici (1990, segment ‘The Facts in the Case of Mr. Valdemar’), The Dark Half (1993), Bruiser (2000), Land of the Dead (2005), Diary of the Dead (2007), Survival of the Dead (2009)]

Easily one of George A. Romero’s most well-known films I’ve not seen until now, I felt somewhat mixed about Martin come the credits. On one hand, it’s a pretty engaging look into potential mental illness with an interesting backdrop and occasionally solid scenes, but on the other, it’s drenched in the almost hopeless, gritty aura that 70’s films are so good at as to almost take any fun out of the experience.

Certainly I think the movie does some things really well. The attacks Martin perpetuates against multiple individuals throughout are all decent, the opening train attack being wonderfully claustrophobic, the later murders being good also. There was just enough gore to get the point across, and even more note-worthy would be the setting, a rather poor-looking city in bad condition (much of this was filmed in Braddock, Pennsylvania, which has suffered greatly since the steel industry disappeared in the 1970’s). Though never the focal point, I think the decaying city added something a little special to the film.

John Amplas (who played Martin) did a fantastic job with his role. He was often awkward, but given what his character’s gone through, that can be expected. Aside from Amplas, it’s hard to really pin-point other great performances – I think that Lincoln Maazel had potential, but I don’t really feel like we get a good enough grasp on him. The same is true for both Christine Forrest and Tom Savini (making this Savini’s earliest work with Romero).

To be sure, the focus of the film is Martin, so the fact that no one else really stands out doesn’t really hurt the film. I did enjoy Martin at least trying to experience a normal relationship with Elyane Nadeau’s character, and that little story had a pretty sudden and somewhat surprising conclusion, which is also true for the movie itself. It’s not as though it comes out of nowhere, but the build-up wasn’t really all that (which, it can fairly be said, makes the ending all the more sudden).

From my point-of-view, I think it’s fair to say that Martin dealt with a lot of mental illnesses, which wasn’t at all helped by the religious mania that seemed to surround him much of his life. Certainly Martin was sympathetic, and those segments which he’s speaking to a radio host on a call-in show really give him additional depth that I found welcomed. Being a 70’s film, there’s no hope for cooler and saner heads to prevail, though, and pretty much from the beginning, everyone in this film was screwed.

Martin makes for a pretty interesting movie, some of the more memorable scenes (such as the creepy foggy playground sequence with Maazel or Nadeau’s final on-screen appearance) coming across as really striking, but at the same time, I can’t really say I had an enjoyable time with this (in a somewhat similar way that I experience The Texas Chain Saw Massacre).

I don’t doubt that, for the smaller budget they had, Romero did a pretty good job with a story that goes beyond what the average vampire movie might attempt, and I think both the setting and aura goes to help with that, but it’s not a movie I wholly loved. I’d recommend it still, but for my personal take, I think there are plenty of other 70’s films I’d rather watch.

6.5/10

Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)

Directed by Charles E. Sellier Jr. [Other horror films: N/A]

So I first saw this cult classic under in a less-than-suitable way (I sandwiched it in during a day when I watched eight other movies), so it didn’t make much of an impact the first time I actually saw this, so watching it again was something that I was quite excited for, and overall, while I do find a few issues here and there, I generally found the movie pretty enjoyable.

What really stands out, as far as the opening is concerned, is the amount of time spent on Billy’s character as a kid, playing out almost like a character study. It does make some of the beginning feel a tad sluggish, but it’s not that bad, and things pick up nicely when Billy, now 18, gets a job at a toy store, just in time for the holidays.

Which leads to my all-time favorite montage ever in a movie. I mean, if Jesus Christ and Muhammad worked together with Buddha and The Beatles, they couldn’t have come up with a montage as beautiful as this. The focus is Billy’s hard work, both on and off the clock (and his boss’ smile and nod as Billy straightens that book cracked me up to no end), and set to a song called ‘The Warm Side of the Door’ by Morgan Ames. It’s truly magical.

Robert Brian Wilson did pretty decently as the lead, despite never really doing much else before or after. He had a good sense of foreboding that I appreciated, and when he went off the deep end, he went off the deep end. Though she didn’t add as much as you might hope, Toni Nero was good, though her character does bother me a bit toward her final scenes. Ditto Randy Stumpf, only I never cared for his character.

Aside from Wilson, the second-most important performance might well be Lilyan Chauvin (as Mother Superior), who was a solid showcase of the dangers of religious extremism. Superior was literally a horrible woman, and she consistently abused those children, so it’s a shame that she may have survived the film. Admittedly, Linnea Quigley (Return of the Living Dead and Night of the Demons being among her most important work) supplied the film with quality nudity, so her character may well be more important than Chauvin’s.

For the most part, though, Wilson is the focus. Sure, we get a little Gilmer McCormick trying to find and help Billy, and related, some H.E.D. Redford trying to track Billy down, but we pretty much follow Billy as he kills random people on a rampage, which is good and all, but it does occasionally feel as though it’s lacking a personal touch.

I think it’s here that the movie fails a bit, as much of Billy’s killing spree lacks that personal touch that you might expect. I mean, don’t get me wrong, the kills themselves are still decent, but it almost feels hollow at times, which surprised me, if only because that’s not a common feeling I get from the average slasher film (though as said, to be sure, this is far from the average slasher in approach).

Still, that ending. It was both sort of ridiculous and ridiculously funny, so I can’t really complain. Also, on the finale, the fact that it took place during the daytime as opposed to night was an interesting choice, showing again that this movie isn’t the most typical slasher.

I can’t say with honesty that I loved Silent Night, Deadly Night, but I did have a moderately decent time once we got past the somewhat involved opening. It’s not necessarily a movie that I think I’d go back to that often, but there’s certainly a place for it, and for me, that place is probably around average.

7/10

This is one of the films covered by Fight Evil’s podcast. If you’re interested in hearing Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I discuss this cult classic, look no further.

Demented (1980)

Directed by Arthur Jeffreys [Other horror films: N/A]

I didn’t really know anything about this before jumping into it, and in fact I described it to my rabid Twitter followers as a “rape-revenge” film, which Demented really isn’t. I don’t know if Demented is a terrible movie, but it’s definitely a film I have mixed feelings on.

Firstly, the rape takes place a minute and a half into the film, and luckily, it’s not too explicit. I Spit on Your Grave didn’t spare the audience anything, but this one is done and over with in about a minute, which I was definitely okay with. What I was less than thrilled about was the drama that followed.

Not that it’s the worst idea in the world, following a woman who suffered a gang-rape after she’s released from a psychiatric hospital, and it’s not without a few “scary” moments (those hallucinations and night prowlers), but I wasn’t exactly excited by the content, and though I was still marginally invested, I can’t say that I wasn’t bored at times.

Things really pick up toward the final thirty minutes once the woman, for lack of a better word, snaps, and started going after some night prowlers as though they were the men who raped her (as she’s insane at the time, and more so, has every right to defend herself in her own home, I can’t say that I once felt any sympathy for any of these assholes). We get some good scenes, and the acting strikes me as better. I just wish they had gone a different direction, but whateves.

Sallee Young takes on a complex role and does fine. I think her performance is definitely shaky at points, almost laughably so, but after her character is gang-raped, who’s to say how she should act, and I can’t hold any of it against her. Playing her husband, Harry Reems (who was in the unpleasantly hairy Forced Entry) was fine as a very assholeish guy, cheating on his wife with Kathryn Clayton’s character. I did legitimately enjoy Bryan Charles’ doctor character, but he didn’t have any screen-time toward the end, which was a shame.

Demented isn’t a film I liked, but I do think that it got better toward the end, which certainly still possesses it’s fair share of somewhat silly, if not downright offensive, scenes of Young’s character turning the tables on her would-be rapists and seducing them, to their confusion. She even ties one down and has a lengthy, rather distracted and manic conversation with, much to the young man’s displeasure.

Before that point, though, I think the film bordered on boring for a pretty long time, and though I enjoyed aspects of the conclusion, I don’t know if it warrants the first hour of the film, and so I’d say that if you want to see a slightly different take on rape/revenge, Demented might be worth considering, but I don’t think this will ever top anyone’s list.

5.5/10

If a Tree Falls (2010)

Directed by Gabriel Carrer [Other horror films: Desperate Souls (2005), Kill (2011), The Demolisher (2015), Death on Scenic Drive (2017), For the Sake of Vicious (2020)]

This is one of the films I watched during an October challenge, and I think it was the year I watched 275 movies in a single month, mainly because I didn’t remember any of this, and I do mean any of it. It felt like a completely new movie, but I have seen it before, so I was hoping for a more memorable occasion this time around.

And I think it will be more memorable, but not in any good way.

Ponderously and pathetically bare-bones, If a Tree Falls is almost entirely void of anything worth seeing. The plot is simple, the only mildly interesting thing about it being characters that were brother and sister, and most of the film deals with people running from other people.

The killers (there were something like six of them for some goddamn reason) were like ultra-cheap rip-offs from The Strangers. Their reasoning, though, is even worse, as a character explains “We find the ones who will never be found.” That’s why they killed three of the four characters and kept the other one alive – because killing is finding and ones that are not found are alive people or something.

Yeah, it makes zero sense, I know.

Aside from the fact that this film was painfully repetitive, it also suffered from somewhat lousy audio, with the music going above the voices multiple times. It didn’t matter, really, as no one in the film was capable of having a conversation worth hearing, but mix that with some shoddy camera-work, and you have what the kids call “shit.”

This may be worth mentioning. When I saw this film years ago, I watched a version that was around 77 minutes, but this time around, I watched what IMDb labels as “the 10th anniversary edition” which runs 89 minutes. I have no idea what was added or changed, and I sort of wonder if I’d have liked the shorter version more, but there you go.

Ry Barrett, Breanne TeBoekhorst, Jennifer De Lucia, and Daniel Zuccala are generally not great. I don’t blame any of them, though, as even if they were the most stellar performances in the history of cinema, the movie would still be God-awful.

And it was indeed God-awful. I did like the exploitation vibe that If a Tree Falls occasionally attempted to give off, but that doesn’t excuse the utter lack of story or meaningful antagonists or the atrociously terrible conclusion. I mean, there were sometimes okay special effects, but when the final product has this much wrong with it, it really doesn’t matter.

I don’t know what happens if a tree falls, and this movie didn’t let me in on the secret (I’m guessing it’s one of those pseudo-intellectual titles that might have some relevance to the movie in a roundabout way). It also wasn’t entertaining, and I hated it. I’ll give it points for being filmed in Canada and having some attractive women in it. Elsewise, there’s virtually nothing going for this.

3/10

This is one of the films covered by Fight Evil’s podcast. Listen below to the disappointment of Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I as we discuss If a Tree Falls.

The Beast of Bray Road (2005)

Directed by Leigh Scott [Other horror films: Frankenstein Reborn (2005), Exorcism: The Possession of Gail Bowers (2006), Hillside Cannibals (2006), Dracula’s Curse (2006), The Hitchhiker (2007), Flu Bird Horror (2008), The Dunwich Horror (2008), The Penny Dreadful Picture Show (2013), Piranha Sharks (2016), The Penny Dreadful Picture Show Re-Animated (2018)]

It’s been many, many years since I’ve last seen this Asylum flick, and I have to admit that I’m happy about revisiting it. By no stretch is The Beast of Bray Road a great film, but it was better than what I remember it being, and though it’s still below average, it’s not altogether a terrible time.

Part of this is due to the way the story’s tackled, specifically in regards to the mysterious creature killing people. The characters aren’t sure if it’s Bigfoot, a werewolf, or some other unknown or as of yet undiscovered creature, and what’s more, when they find out it is a werewolf, the identity of the werewolf is still in question (leading to what I felt was an oddly solid conclusion).

Obviously it’s an Asylum movie, so it’s not perfect. My biggest personal gripe is the design of the creature, what with the long, almost dreadlock hair and the huge ears, but I also found it sort of amusing that, though a big deal is made out of the cycle of the moon during the final scene of the movie, it never once came up beforehand. Also, the license plates on the police vehicle clearly state California, and the film was indeed made in California, but it’s dedicated to “the Great State of Wisconsin” and Bray Road is, in fact, in Wisconsin (this film is partially based off mysterious sightings that took place around Elkhorn, a town in southern Wisconsin).

Oh, and this is a small thing, but there’s a character standing in the woods and makes an observation that, “There’s no birds,” and literally a second later you can clearly hear a bird chirping. It was more funny than anything, but talk about a mistake.

The special effects aren’t too shabby. They’re not great, but for a lower-budget picture, they’re serviceable. One woman gets a leg torn off and tries to crawl away in agony, and two poor brahs get torn apart, literally ripped in half, with organs and the like falling out of their torsos. It never looks as high quality as you’d hope, but hey, it’s something.

Jeff Denton makes for a fair lead, and has that somewhat austere yet likable cop attitude. Sarah Lieving (666: The Child) wasn’t really special, but the story did boost her character somewhat. Though it took a little while, Tom Nagel (who I am familiar with through Jolly Roger: Massacre at Cutter’s Cove and have also seen in 2006’s The Butcher), and his last scene is actually pretty good. Thomas Downey’s cryptozoologist character didn’t really add much in my view. And though Christina Rosenberg didn’t really have a lot to do her, she was still cute in those glasses, so wanted to give a shout-out.

At the end of the credits, after letting us know that no werewolves were harmed in the making of the film, it reads, “Why are you still reading this? Go back to the video store and rent another Asylum film. You know you want to.” And you know what? If every Asylum movie was like this, maybe I would.

The Beast of Bray Road isn’t great, but it was fun to see again. I enjoyed the conclusion, the twist was actually sort of surprising, and save a few errors and a hideous werewolf design, I don’t think the film is that bad. Below average, sure, but not that bad.

6/10

This is one of the films covered on Fight Evil’s podcast. Listen below as Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I discuss The Beast of Bray Road.

Dark Haul (2014)

Directed by Colin Theys [Other horror films: Banshee!!! (2008), Remains (2011), Dead Souls (2012), Deep in the Darkness (2014), Stalker’s Prey (2017), Stalker’s Prey 2 (2020), A Predator Returns (2021)]

So before I get into this atrocity (as much as I don’t really want to spend time on this), let me first recount why I watched this.

Back in March of 2017, I was pretty much recording any horror movie that was on television to watch, no matter how bad it sounded, no matter how much I thought I’d hate them (it was for this reason I recorded both 2-Headed Shark Attack and Finders Keepers). And so despite how terrible this sounded, I recorded it onto my DVR. Fast forward to the early days of 2021 (this is being written on the third of January), and I finally took the time to watch it.

I’ll give it that it tried something newish, or at least newish to me. Dark Haul (also known under the name Monster Truck, which is the title I recorded it under) is a fantasy-horror mix about a demon being born along with a superhuman sister with powers that aren’t fully delved into (she has sort of a warbling wave that can contact and calm her winged brethren) that are imprisoned by a religious group named he Keepers who believe in an end-of-the-world prophecy and such.

And bad things happen.

Within the Keepers, there is a hardliner who believes both the demon and the sister are evil, this hardliner played by Tom Sizemore. The leader of the Keepers is more moderate, and treats the humanoid sister more humanely, though still keeps her a prisoner. This kind gent is Rick Ravanello. The superhuman sister is Evalena Marie. There’s also a priest played by Kevin Shea who does a few things, though he’s not terribly important.

Perhaps if I were a fan of fantasy, I would have dug this more. Certainly the theological disagreements over the meaning of a specific prophecy were somewhat interesting to listen to, but the fantasy-action scenes didn’t do it for me, and when the demon escapes and the film veers more a horror direction, the CGI was so inept that it was painfully laughable.

I don’t fault the performances. Sure, Sizemore (of The Relic, Bottom Feeder, and Visible Scars) came across as ridiculously over-the-top sinister, but the movie almost portrays him as an unsung hero, especially when, at the end, Rick Ravenello’s character agrees with his tactics. Evalena Marie’s character was easy to root for, but in some ways, her success seemed to mean the end of the world. Kevin Shea (who I’ve seen in a surprising amount of low-budget horror films, such as Remains, Sasquatch Assault, Banshee!!!, and Dead Souls, some of which have the same director as this film, Colin Theys) was okay, but his character didn’t really get enough licks in to matter.

Still, I think most of the people involved gave it the best they could. I never personally felt any strong emotions toward any of them, even during scenes where you’d think an emotional response would be likely, but my problem with Dark Haul is the story, not the performances.

And the story is pretty lackluster, especially given I’m not a fantasy fan, but what’s worse was that hideous CGI, especially during some of the kills. A guy gets ripped in half, his organs falling out, and all I can wonder is how much that green screen cost. It was as pathetic and non-threatening as you could expect from a Syfy film.

Dark Haul was an easy film to get through, especially because I knew what I was working with within the first ten minutes of the film, but it was far from an enjoyable experience, and while I appreciated the fact that the writers went with a different approach, the fantasy aspects didn’t do it for me, and I thought everything else was embarrassingly weak also.

4/10