Horrorfest 2022 Presents: Blood Beach (1981, Jeffrey Bloom)

John Saxon better have gotten paid well for being in this 1980s turkey, cause Blood Beach sucks. Oh does it suck in so many different and lame ways, taking a decent premise and making a terrible movie out of it. Jeffrey Bloom sounds like a made up director name in a MAD Magazine spoof making fun of low budget horror cinema anyways.

The monster never really gets shown and when we finally catch a glimpse it looks pretty dull, really. It took me two days to watch this movie, not because it’s long but due to me not caring about anything that happened onscreen. Burt Young also is in this movie if only cause he was in between Rocky movie gigs. Look view this movie if you must, but if you do so try to view it for free like I did. If I had paid for this at a theater I would have left very angry.

Horrorfest 2022 Presents: Blood Suckers from Outer Space (1984, Glen Coburn)

Blood Suckers from Outer Space came out the same year as Night of the Comet and a year before Return of the Living Dead. It makes both of those fun, great movies appear in the same breath as Citizen Kane by comparison. Yet I did like certain aspects of this movie, and I’ll admit it was made on a budget that can’t even be described as low budget. More zero budget, really, as if the budget was appropriated and gathered from funds raised via yard sales. I believe the creatures in this movie are similar to the ones in Lifeforce where they’re zombie vampires that inspire other zombie vampires. That or the film’s quality doesn’t really give me too many insights into what is happening. The French New Wave folks would be quite pleased with this movie’s lack of emphasis on plot, yet this movie still attempts to have one.

I’ll give this movie a sort of A for effort, as parts were really funny and the romance at the center of the movie isn’t actually half bad or half baked. I’m assuming that Glen Coburn was attempting a zombie comedy parody of other zombie horror movies, and he was ahead of the curve in that regard since after this Re-Animator, Night of the Creeps, and Return of the Living Dead came out. Plus the horror comedy Evil Dead II. What he lacked in um, talent or money he attempted to make up with gore, wonderfully silly film moments, and a conclusion that is equal parts gutsy and amusing. I wonder if this movie inspired it’s later, much better companions although I’m not entirely sure it wasn’t just that the other directors had their own ideas first and only got around to making them into reality later.

Should one view Blood Suckers from Outer Space? I watched it thanks to Tubi and I’ll probably forget I saw the movie by next year, although that’s more likely due to viewing way too many movies every year these days. I say check it out, leave your expectations behind and abandon your brain as well, and things will end up just fine.

2016 Horrorfest Presents: Puppet Master (1989, David Schmoeller)

Every franchise has its humble origins somewhere, and in this case Puppet Master was born out of a studio’s need to make a low budget direct to video success. These days movies are even released on Netflix and other streaming services instead of in the studio, but in the 1980s direct to video was emerging as another way for horror filmmakers to get their movies out to the general public. Schmoller’s iconic cult film spawned 12 sequels and is a fairly solid, nasty and entertaining piece of work in its own right. I have no idea if I want to view the rest of the series, however I am endlessly amused by Hollywood’s desire to make endless franchises out of just about anything that makes money. Andre’ Toulon is shown in this one, however its only in a flashback that illustrating his ability to give puppets life. If you, like myself, find puppets to be creepy then this is a terrifying possibility, and the film eagerly builds upon the fear that many people have of wooden dolls scurrying around.

Years after poor Andre’ offs himself to prevent Nazis from gaining his ancient secret, a group of psychics show up at an old hotel. They’ve been brought together by the suicide of a colleague who they suspect discovered Toulon’s puppet formula. Unfortunately for them, Toulon’s old puppets are still wandering around, and everyone there is in grave danger. I rather liked the design of all of the puppets, each of them unique in their own ways. Blade is probably the most famous of the group, and is the puppet group’s leader. Despite being low budget the movie has some gory kills and a finale that is equal parts suspenseful and rather violent. I also liked the main character, Alex (Paul Le Mat), who is prone to nightmarish visions which are also some of the film’s creepy highlights. Even though the movie isn’t well shot I still liked this film, and am glad that Hulu had it at the time, and its design and conception reminds me more of 1990s horror films in that the genre was beginning to go more underground.

Horrorfest 2015 Presents: Late Phases (2014, Adrián García Bogliano)

Ever since the 1980s werewolf movies have become more improved and more interesting. Late Phases works as a slow burning and intense character study that has a fantastic last act. The rest of the film works as a look at a hard man that is paying for the choices he’s made in his life. Unfortunately for him there is a werewolf, and this beast is human the rest of the time. Don’t get too attached to that nice little old lady next door: she gets ripped to shreds. Makes me think of Werewolves of London by Warren Zevon.

Cinema screen tough guy Nick Damici plays Ambrose, a Vietnam War veteran who is haunted by the past. He is also blind, and has just moved into a retirement community. His relationship with his son, Will, played by Ethan Embry, is on the ropes due to Ambrose being kind of a grumpy asshole. In fact, this film spends more time on its characters than the actual creatures that the film is supposed to be about.

I loved the last act and I did like how the film kept me guessing about who the werewolf or werewolves were in the closed gate community. Although Late Phases doesn’t really reinvent the werewolf sub genre it is a really well made and captivating horror film. One of the aspects I enjoy about modern horror is that the best it has to offer is usually well made and very engaging. This film happens to be a good study in how to make the best out of a low budget situation. Also for a low budget film the creature effects were rather solid. Nice.

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