A Nymphoid Barbarian in Dinosaur Hell (1990)

Directed by Brett Piper [Other horror films: They Bite (1996), Drainiac! (2000), Psyclops (2002), Arachnia (2003), Screaming Dead (2003), Bite Me! (2004), Shock-O-Rama (2005), Bacterium (2006), Muckman (2009), The Dark Sleep (2012), Queen Crab (2015), Triclops (2016)]

Well, with a title like this, how can the movie go wrong?

The sad thing is, while the film is so far from good, it’s actually a somewhat hard movie for me to hate. I certainly think it carries with it a charm that many other lower-budget films lack entirely, and while I don’t love the very fantasy-feel of the film, I can’t deny that they did well with what they had.

I think that, by far, the worst part of the movie is the introduction, which has our lead Nymphoid Barbarian explaining how the Earth got decimated and why society (or what’s left of society, which is very little) lives on a post-apocalyptic planet. It’s cringy, and doesn’t even make sense, as later in the film, the character (who was a little girl when the war started) has no idea what books or lighters are, which leads me to think she should have been born generations after the Event.

Personally, that’s the biggest flaw I found with the film. It just didn’t seem necessary, and might lead people to the untrue conclusion that A Nymphoid Barbarian in Dinosaur Hell has some comedy influences, when it really doesn’t. Sure, the title itself doesn’t help battle against that stigma, but the movie and plot itself is pretty straight, if dodgy effects don’t cause one to burst out laughing.

This said, I actually thought that most of the makeup and special effects ranged from tolerably competent to rather charming, in the case of the Claymation monsters. There was a wide-range of terrible creatures, from scaled lizard men, to dwarf-type things, to giant worms (somewhat reminiscent of Beetlejuice, actually), along with giant crab-type things. They often didn’t look great, but honestly, I sort of liked it, and I enjoyed it far more like this as opposed what many modern movies would do, and just CGI the shit out of everything. A guy getting his arm eaten off was good fun also.

The dialogue wasn’t much to be proud of, but the story came across fine. Linda Corwin didn’t strike me as much a ‘nymphoid,’ but whatever. As the main antagonist, Alex Pirnie did fine, and ditto for Paul Guzzi as Corwin’s side-kick. Perhaps my favorite character was Mark Deshaies, who played a rather bad-ass disfigured man.

Another thing that deserves a small mention are the settings, my favorite being a decent-looking castle which held a distinctly evil aura. It might be fantasy 101, and the same could be said for the somewhat threadbare plot, but it was done well despite the budget.

Like I said, A Nymphoid Barbarian in Dinosaur Hell is a hard movie for me to actually hate. I was by no means fond of it when I first saw it some years back, but it’s grown on me. I still don’t think the movie’s that great, and I definitely don’t think it’s a film that I’d rewatch all that often, but I will admit to finding the film, despite it’s problems, a charming little addition to the fantasy/horror genre.

6/10

Cabin Fever: Patient Zero (2014)

Directed by Kaare Andrews [Other horror films: Altitude (2010), The ABCs of Death (2012, segment ‘V is for Vagitus’)]

For the first thirty to forty minutes, I was rather enjoying this flick, as they left much of the idiotic comedy that plagues the first two films and ventured more for a serious look at the flesh-eating disease. And it works out for about half the film, but then multiple factors come together to lead Patient Zero into a repetitive, rather uninspiring, direction.

It’s really a shame, as the film shows plenty of potential. The problem becomes that they jam so many things into the final twenty minutes or so that the movie quickly loses much of the fun feeling the movie had. Also, it didn’t help that it threw in a cat-fight between two woman who are both virtually skinless, because that’s something that the audience definitely needed.

Technically, the special effects and make-up are fine, but toward the end of the film, they go way overboard. Some of the victims of this skin-eating disease appear far more like what you’d expect from zombies as opposed to actual people, so some restraint would have been preferred. Early on, things look fine, but it just strikes me as unrealistic where things apparently end up.

Not many of the performances really helped out. I sort of liked Mitch Ryan, Currie Graham (who I know from two series, House and Agent Carter), and Jillian Murray. Graham’s character rather annoyed me, but it was nice to see a familiar face. Murray provided an attractive character, but really, she doesn’t matter past the first thirty minutes or so. I wasn’t necessarily expecting more from Solly Duran, Sean Astin, or Lydia Hearst, but I was rather let-down by their performances.

Honestly, though, it’s the story that’s the biggest problem here. The plot twist they threw in at the end didn’t come close to wowing me, and past the fifty minute mark, I won’t pretend that I wasn’t rather shut of the whole thing, which again is a shame, as if any Cabin Fever movie had potential, it was this one. As such, it’s probably better than Spring Fever, but if it is, it’s not by a perceivable amount.

5/10

Sharknado (2013)

Directed by Anthony C. Ferrante [Other horror films: Boo (2005), Headless Horseman (2007), Hansel & Gretel (2013), Sharknado 2: The Second One (2014), Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! (2015), Sharknado 4: The 4th Awakens (2016), Forgotten Evil (2017), Sharknado 5: Global Swarming (2017), The Last Sharknado: It’s About Time (2018), Zombie Tidal Wave (2019)]

Well, The Asylum comes out swinging with the beginning of one of the most ridiculous franchises imaginable, Sharknado. Honestly, the film is sort of fun, but in that rather awful way you come to expect from Syfy atrocities. I’ve seen this once before, and God forgive me, I’ll probably see it again, but the movie isn’t at all good, as many would expect.

There are a few strong cast members, though. I’m not a giant fan of the main character, played by Ian Ziering, but I did like both Cassandra Scerbo and Jason Simmons. I don’t know Simmons from anything else, but Scerbo starred in another rather awful Syfy flick titled Bering Sea Beast. She’s a fun addition here, and along with Simmons, makes Sharknado worth watching. I will admit, though, I do like Ziering’s character, if not the actor, especially during his more heroic portions.

Of course, the special effects here are just really awful. So is the plot. And so is mostly everything. Sharknado’s strength lies in the fact that, beneath what a mess the film is, you can certainly have fun with the film if you’re so inclined, and I’ve apparently been inclined both times I’ve seen this.

I can’t speak for any of the many sequels (to date, there are five following this one), but I can say that I enjoyed this one to an extent, and though I’ve rated it somewhat lowly, I don’t have any really big issue watching this again in the future. It’s far from a good movie, but as I have fun watching it, how much does that really matter?

5.5/10

This is one of the films covered on Fight Evil’s podcast – if interested, listen below as Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I discuss Sharknado.

Cat People (1942)

Directed by Jacques Tourneur [Other horror films: I Walked with a Zombie (1943), The Leopard Man (1943), Night of the Demon (1957), The Comedy of Terrors (1963), War-Gods of the Deep (1965)]

This RKO production doesn’t have the same impact that a Universal horror film would have, but it’s still a mostly fine film, though elements of the plot don’t entirely work for me.

At times, the film is appropriately moody, and the heavy use of shadows during the more suspenseful sequences (perhaps the pool scene being the best example of this) really lent the film a darker feel, but the bigger problem here is the route the plot took, which truthfully came as a surprise to me.

The antagonist of the film wasn’t at all the individual who I at first thought it would be, and like I said, when it becomes obvious where the movie’s going (about half-way through, probably), I was taken aback. Personally, I would have changed a few things, maybe instead move the film toward an ending more like The Leopard Man from 1943, which I enjoyed quite a bit more.

Still, Cat People isn’t a bad movie, by any means. The main cast are all great (though Jane Randolph’s character really grated on me), and when the film drifts away from the drama to a more suspenseful film, the scenes stand out well. When Randolph’s character is walking home, and then suspects someone following behind, it’s a jolly good time.

All this said, though, I just can’t get over the somewhat disappointing route the film took. In some ways, I felt as though elements were almost xenophobic, though I know that wasn’t the intent. I guess I was looking for perhaps a more conventional fair, and this one veers a different direction. It doesn’t pack the punch a Universal film generally did, so while I’d tepidly recommend it, I do think you could do much better for 1940’s horror.

6.5/10

Sorority House Massacre (1986)

Directed by Carol Frank [Other horror films: N/A]

For a somewhat lower-budget, mid-80’s slasher, I think that Sorority House Massacre has quite a bit going for it. While the killer certainly leaves something to be desired, the film often carries with it a rather more artistic feel (especially during the dream sequences), and helps the film stand out positively.

What really sets this one apart from more lackluster slashers around the same time (some that come to mind include Blood Hook, Killer Workout, and Open House) were the more artistic portions of the film, most often the dream sequences. It’s not uncommon that I feel dream sequences in films turn me off, but the ones in this movie are done pretty well, and occasionally provide some creepy imagery (the picture that starts bleeding, for instance).

On the other hand, no one in the cast really bowled me over. I did like the main actress, Angela O’Neill, well enough, but the other girls and miscellaneous guys were pretty much just the generic bunch you’d expect. Luckily, that doesn’t really harm the film much, as the body count insured that most of them are dead by the end of the film anyway. One performance that did bother me was the killer, played by John C. Russell. He just didn’t seem that frightening (though I did like how they portrayed his insanity, what with hallucinating the college-aged girls as his little sisters). I think they could have done a better job with him, though.

The story was pretty standard with no real surprises, but it was pleasant enough, and the special effects were competent to nonexistent, but really, for a 70 minute slasher, I wasn’t complaining. I did like the tepee kill, and there were a few solid painful looking stabbings, but nothing over-the-top. One scene I did like the was montage of three of the girls changing clothes. Some hot, nude bodies changing clothes to 80’s synth music is just what the doctor ordered…

Obviously, I’m a rather large fan of slashers, especially 80’s slashers, so it might not come as a shock that I thought Sorority House Massacre worked out for the best. Honestly, though I’d seen this one before, I forgot just to what extent I enjoyed it, so while it doesn’t have the same name recognition of The Slumber Party Massacre or The House on Sorority Row, I’d give this one a go. It may not be amazing, but I do think it was very competently made, and even had a few surprisingly creepy scenes.

7.5/10

This is one of the films covered on Fight Evil’s podcast. If you’re interesting in hearing Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I discuss this one, check out the video below.

Laid to Rest (2009)

Directed by Robert Hall [Other horror films: Chromeskull: Laid to Rest 2 (2011), Fear Clinic (2014)]

Laid to Rest is a film I’ve seen once, perhaps twice, before, and I always appreciated the heavy gore while constantly mocked some of the dialogue (“He wants to make me dead,” and “I woke up in a dead box” being two examples I use to this day). This rewatch pretty much cements that, while the gore is pretty top-notch, the story isn’t particularly deep, and the gore can only do so much.

The main cast of characters is mostly fine. There was only one performance I actually really liked, being Kevin Gage’s nice-guy Tucker, but the others did adequately. Bobbi Sue Luther’s character was drugged during most of the film, so she often went into incoherent hysterics, and I generally couldn’t stand her, but the performance itself is fine. Sean Whalen (Roach from The People Under the Stairs, interestingly enough) consistently reminded me of Steve Buscemi, and his character was okay. Lastly, Lena Headey (famous for playing Cersei on Game of Thrones) was fun to see, if only because she was almost likable in this role.

It’s a good thing that the cast is competent, because without the cast, we’d be stuck with just the gore. Now, make no mistake, the gore is great, but the cast allows the movie as a whole to come across as more full.

As for my favorite spot of gore, it’s hard to say. The tire sealant portion was perhaps the most grisly, but the scene in which a character rips his face off, or another one with a solid disembowelment, stand out positively also. Even some of the bodies in the film, of previous victims, are solidly gruesome, with plenty of dismembered and decapitated corpses just lying in deadboxes – sorry, coffins – for your eyes to behold.

Laid to Rest is decently quick-paced, so while the film runs about 86 minutes or so, it doesn’t feel like a chore to get through. There aren’t really any terribly slower moments, and action can be found throughout. The twisty twist at the end didn’t really do much for me, and didn’t really change anything, but at least we finally got some backstory on the girl (as for the killer, we never find out a single thing about him, aside from the fact he’s prolific and sadistic).

For a somewhat repetitive film, Laid to Rest is decent. If you’re a slasher and a gorehound, I suspect that you’ve probably already seen this one, but if not, I’d recommend giving it a go. I personally wish the movie had a bit more to it, but after having seen it multiple times, I still somewhat enjoy it, though it’s pretty much average overall.

7/10

This is one of the films covered on Fight Evil, so if you’re interested, you can listen below as Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I discuss this one.

Bering Sea Beast (2013)

Directed by Don E. FauntLeRoy [Other horror films: Anaconda: Offspring (2008), Anacondas 4: Trail of Blood (2009), SnakeHead Swamp (2014), Gates of Darkness (2019)]

Another true modern-day classic from Syfy. Also known as Beast of the Bering Sea, Bering Sea Beast is about what you’d expect from Syfy – underwhelming story, utterly atrocious special effects and CGI, and a hollow feel.

As such, there’s still enjoyment to be had here, coming from a combination of the less-than-stellar performances and just terrible CGI ‘sea vampires.’ Words probably exist to describe how bad these creatures look, but I don’t have them. Do yourself a solid and just look them up, and you’ll see (and because I believe in making life easier, the picture above should help out). These elements, which alone further cement Bering Sea Beast as terrible, come together majestically to create the final product.

I actually sort of liked one of the main characters, played by Cassandra Scerbo (who is likely most well-known for her role in the Sharknado films). Scerbo’s acting here is very questionable at times (her line delivery, to be exact, really faltered a time or two, causing one scene in particular to be worthy of a few rewinds), but her character had spunk, and was perhaps the most fun here. Brandon Beemer did fine for a generic, somewhat dull lead, while Jaqueline Fleming did rather better as a helpful marine biologist (though boy, did her character make a few idiotic mistakes).

Honestly, if you can get past terrible CGI (and if you’re watching a Syfy movie, you probably can), Bering Sea Beast can be a perfectly enjoyable time for all the wrong reasons. Wrong reasons or not, having seen this one twice now (once in 2017, and now again in 2019, at the time of this writing), I find the movie somewhat amusing, and while it’s certainly a below average film, I could see myself turning to it a third time in the future.

6/10

Cherokee Creek (2018)

Directed by Todd Jenkins [Other horror films: N/A]

Sometimes my reviews can go a bit longer than they really need to. For some films, I think it’s worth examining much of the film, from performances to the special effects, and at times, maybe it’s a bit much. I’ll try not to make the same error with Cherokee Creek, though, and the only point I really need to make clear is just how utterly unenjoyable I found this piece of trash.

I honestly thought the film was a joke at first – to me, the film felt so bad, they had to know it was bad, and there was going to be some early reveal about how it was a movie-in-a-movie type situation or something. Alas, that’s not what happens, and the movie kept going and going with these jokes that don’t even approach amusing.

Cherokee Creek is an hour and 56 minutes. We don’t get about any Bigfoot action until about an hour and ten minutes in, and unfortunately, it’s far, far, far, far, far too late to make any positive difference. It’s true that for a lower-budget film, the special effects are good, but damn it, by the time they show up, I wish I were dead already multiple times over. The nudity might have helped out if I was quite a bit younger, but it didn’t do anything for me here. None of the characters were remotely likable, and few of the performances were decent.

If the film had been shorter, the movie still would have been bad, but I will say that, had it been only an hour, the film definitely would have been more digestible and wouldn’t have gotten nearly as low a score. There was an ultra low budget film I saw some time ago called What Happens in the Mountains – Should Stay in the Mountains, a movie that was 40 minutes long and doesn’t even have an IMDb page. That film knew what it was, kept things short, and despite the lower-budget, rather amused me at times.

Cherokee Creek did nothing of the sort. I think I laughed once toward the beginning (with the foul-mouthed old woman), but that was about it.

The movie opens with two of the actors pointing guns at the camera commending the audience for watching the film (providing they paid for it), and went on to comment that if the audience didn’t pay for the film (or pirating it, which is the only way I’d recommend watching this), they’d need to buy it after finishing the film because of how good we’d undeniably find it.

I didn’t pay for this. Luckily, it was uploaded on one of the many streaming sites I use, which is a good thing, as this movie was complete and utter trash. Maybe in the future, I can find the words to explain why, but for now, after having just finished it, I don’t much feel like spending more time on this.

0.5/10

This is one of the films covered on Fight Evil’s podcast. If you’re interested in checking out Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I discussing this one, check it out below.

The Rage: Carrie 2 (1999)

Directed by Katt Shea [Other horror films: Stripped to Kill (1987), Stripped to Kill 2: Live Girls (1989), Dance of the Damned (1989)]

I wasn’t a big fan of the first Carrie, and this sequel follows much in the same vein as the original, but luckily, The Rage: Carrie 2 is undeniably a better film. Okay, that last part is a joke, before I start getting angry messages sent my way, but it is true that I did tend to enjoy this film more than the classic 1976 movie, so take from that what you will.

What stood out first about this film was all the recognizable faces. Few of these characters (save Dylan Bruno’s) are all that important, but it was still nice. Dylan Bruno, as the main antagonist, is an actor I know rather well from the television series Numb3rs, so seeing him much earlier on was interesting (though he definitely didn’t look like a high school student). He did great as a rapist jackass here, which, for some reason, didn’t surprise me.

Zachery Ty Bryan also did well as a jackass rapist, which definitely felt right. Bryan’s not a name that I knew beforehand, but as soon as I saw his face, I thought to myself, ‘Isn’t that Brad from Home Improvement?’ and indeed it was. His character was despicable here, what with being a rapist, so it was an interesting change from how I usually see him. Mena Suvari and Eddie Kaye Thomas appeared together later the same year in American Pie, as Heather and Finch, respectively. Rachel Blanchard was in an indie comedy/drama I liked from 2008 titled Growing Op.

The main two characters (Emily Bergl and Jason London) are completely unknown to me, but both did a pretty fine job. Bergl was possibly too attractive to really emulate Sissy Spacek’s performance, but she still did a memorable job (though I didn’t care for the whole tattoo thing at the end). London was solid throughout, and though he was also probably a rapist, he was one of the few likable characters in the film. Of course, Amy Irving (only individual to come back from the original film) was decent, but honestly, she didn’t amount to much aside giving a reason to show flashbacks from the original.

A big problem I had with the film dealt with the amount of utterly unlikable characters in the film. Like I said, Bergl and Londons’ characters were both good, but many of the characters were either rapists or those who have no problem with rapists (such as the town government, as the movie shows, which isn’t uncommon when the rapist in question is a football player). Seeing many of them get killed was the most fun this movie had to give us, but at the same time, since only unlikable characters were killed, I don’t know if it’s necessarily the best choice.

At times, it’s true that the special effects are somewhat awful (especially during the horrific dream sequence at the end), but I thought they got more right (glasses shattering, the shards flying into the wearer’s eyes) than they did wrong. I somewhat question the black-and-white sequences, as they seemed unnecessary, and the flashbacks to the first movie didn’t feel particularly relevant either.

I’ll say this for The Rage: Carrie 2 – I enjoyed it more than I did the first one. But it’s still not a movie I particularly liked that much. The finale was pretty solid, and perhaps the best sequence of the film (though easily lacking the emotional resonance the first one had), but for much of the film, though I found it more relatable than the first movie, I simply found it passable, not good.

6.5/10

This is one of the films covered on Fight Evil’s podcast, so if you’re interested in hearing Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I discuss this one, check it out.

Mimic (1997)

Directed by Guillermo del Toro [Other horror films: Cronos (1993), El espinazo del diablo (2001), Blade II (2002), Crimson Peak (2015)]

In many ways, Mimic’s a late 90’s film that doesn’t get talked about all that much. While the movie in of itself isn’t necessarily amazing, I do think that it has a lot going for it, especially in terms of special effects.

The story was pretty interesting, dealing with a genetically-modified breed of cockroach created to eliminate a plague of sorts, only after some years, things got out of control. I don’t know if the story is absolutely great, but it really does a good job of keeping people engaged.

Character-wise, the focal characters are all pretty worth it. The two main performances, those of Mira Sorvino and Jeremy Northam, were both solid, though certainly at times Northam wasn’t particularly likable. Charles S. Dutton (of both D-Tox from 2002 and Gothika from 2003) was pretty fun throughout, and the conclusion to his story arc was certainly worth it. Last person really of note would be Giancarlo Giannini, and though I did like his character, I wish more was done with him.

The special effects here are really what makes the film work, though, as they’re pretty much good throughout the film. Toward the end, a few of the scenes don’t look that great, but overall, where Mimic really stands out are the solid effects.

Mimic’s not a movie that I really have a lot to say about, but it is a well-made film, and certainly in the late 1990’s, a somewhat stand-out flick. It’s not really a movie that I utterly love, but it stood up solidly the first time I saw it, and seeing it again did little to dissuade me of the positive feelings I have of the film.

7.5/10