REVIEW: BLOOD MASSACRE (1991, TetroVideo)

In 1991, Don Dohler, the man behind B movie sci fi horror cult films Fiend (1980) and Nightbeast (1982) released splatter piece Blood Massacre. Now the film receives another run out in TetroVideo’s highly regarded retro line Tetro Underground.

A group of maniacal Vietnam veterans go on a rampage. Starting off with a robbery in a local store then a crazy murder spree. They find solace in a rural family home which they invade and hold the residents hostage. Little be known to them that the family are pretty happy they visited…

Staying true to the original film, the film is presented in its true VHS glory with plenty of grainy visions and dark areas. Much like the other Tetro Underground releases, the aim is to bring forgotten cult films back in the way they were intended to be seen. The nostalgia of the video store days are brought back to our homes in abundance.

Grab a beer and buckle up for a crazy ride into the land of pure low budget trashy horror. Starring George Stover as outlaw leader Rizzo, we are taken on a journey into insanity with many twists and turns. Blood Massacre is a crazy mix of influences and styles resulting in an unpredictable and very exciting 73 minutes of B movie fun.

Without giving too much away, this is very much a story of the hunter becoming the hunted but with some very original and well timed plot twists. The film crams in so much that you are well and truly spoiled. It is like Cannibal Apocalypse (1980) mixed with Demons (1985) and Don’t Go In The Woods (1981) with even a sprinkle of First Blood (1972) too. Simply put, it is an insane combination of so many influences that it works a treat.

The bad acting and poorly choreographed fight scenes add to the films character and it never takes itself seriously enough for it to be an issue. The film has a killer soundtrack which carries the atmosphere and keeps the fun flowing throughout. The real star of the show is the awesome practical effects which are used sparingly at the start then milked during key moments to great effect.

Blood Massacre is a bloody frenzy which deserves a late night viewing in your home. It is trashy, bonkers and bloody brilliant.

Score: 5/5

Blood Massacre is due to be released on DVD by TetroVideo. Pre-order due to launch in November 2021.

REVIEW: MELANCHOLIE DER ENGEL (2009, TetroVideo)

Melancholie der Engel is a German independent experimental horror film from 2009 from the twisted mind of notorious filmmaker Marian Dora. The film is a marathon spanning over 164 minutes and is sure to give seasoned horror fans a much needed shock to the system.

Two male friends meet again and assemble a group including young women they met at a carnival to share their last days in an old rural house. This isn’t no party, things turn bad very quickly and the disastrous turn of events reveals the horrifying depths of humanity.

Melancholie der Angel pulls out all the stops to ramp up its production values. The incredible score is composed by exploitation legend David Hess, famous for his roles in The Last House on the Left (1972) and The House on the Edge of the Park (1980). This is hands down one of the greatest soundtracks I’ve ever heard (and I’m not exaggerating). The music plays an important part in the film as it carries the mood and gives it an otherworldly dimension.

The film has beautifully shot dreamy visuals with nightmarish themes. Infact, the film plays out like a long winded nightmare which is likely to shock you multiple times but the stunning cinematography makes it as pleasant as it can be to watch.

Melancholie Der Engel is like a swear word to most people in the horror community but also a badge of honour for those who can sit through it in its entirety. The subject matters dealt with in the film will no doubt push alot of peoples buttons and it is by nature very triggering at times. In the opening scene we are shown a brutal assault of a pregnant woman with clips of black caterpillars circumnavigating bark. This acts as an early warning and tests its audience before it takes things much further and much darker…

At times, the film is totally savage and other times it is tranquil. This is where most people will struggle to last the distance, the continuous dread of something bad happening looms over every moment in the film and it never gives you a chance to breathe. This is where the film really strikes a chord with its bleak outlook and dangerous intentions. Many critics may criticise the film for delivering shock purely for the sake of being edgy, but this is far from the case. Bad stuff is always waiting around the corner, you just don’t know when.

The controversy surrounding the film stems from its very realistic and uncompromising scenes which deal with sexual violence, self mutilation and strong drug use but it just tried to keep things as real as possible and not dilute its content for the sake of giving people a solemn experience. If you are familiar with Dora’s work, nothing will come as a surprise but if you are not you are in for a shock.

Expect to see things which make you feel sick. Dead animals, sacrilegious themes, very graphic sexual violence and abuse. But there is also a ton of nonsense thrown in to lighten the tone from cracking open an ostrich egg to make breakfast to creepy dolls to eating insects. It is safe to say, Melancholie der Engel crams in so much as it can from an extreme perspective that after a while you become numb to it.

It is a journey through cruelty and suffering spanning nearly three hours and it is not supposed to be an easy ride. Melancholie der Engel is an extreme art house film with no subtlety or filter; a piece of provocative cinema which tests boundaries. It’s long run time will test the patience of most viewers but it is worth sticking around for.

It is worth mentioning, its not all smooth running for its entirety. The overstretched run time feels more than a tad too long at times and the animal cruelty is needless at times. Apparently not all of the scenes involving animals are real but I really can’t tell. The film paddles in very pretentious waters at times and the subtext becomes lost in its convoluted plot but this is common ground for a Dora film so you just have to let it runs its course.

On a psychological level, Melancholie der Engel had a very strong emotional impact on me due to its prolonged scenes of bleakness which are very depressing. You are exposed to so much that it can build a numbing affect after a while but the variety of extreme content prevents the film from becoming too overwhelming or tedious. The most distressing scenes in my opinion were those involving a disabled woman in a wheelchair being abused, her ear piercing screams will haunt me for the rest of my life.

This film is a quintessential piece of extreme cinema which stands as one of the most disturbing and grotesque. Melancholie der Engel is Marian Dora’s calling card, if you want to dive into his challenging filmography then this is the best place to start. It doesn’t smell of roses, it reeks of death.

Score: 5/5

Melancholie der Engel is available to purchase from TetroVideo on DVD.

MELANCHOLIE DER ENGEL – 250 limited edition

MELANCHOLIE DER ENGEL – LIMITED 50 GOLDEN MEDIABOOK

REVIEW: JACK THE ST.RIPPER (2021, The Enchanted Architect)

Jack The St. Ripper is the latest indie horror project directed by George Nevada (Scarecrowd) and is written by Domiziano Cristopharo (Red Krokodil, House of Flesh Mannequins). A dance group of male strippers are brutally murdered one by one by a masked killer wearing iconic black leather gloves synonymous of the giallo genre.

Jack The St.Ripper (or Jack The Stripper) is a brave and ambitious stab at the giallo genre and flips the blueprint on its head (for all the right reasons). Most people associate giallo films with murder mysteries where young attractive women are victims. Jack The St.Ripper focuses predominantly on men being chased and killed in brutal ways.

It is refreshing that the horror genre is maturing, dropping cliches and moving forward in a new exciting direction. Having already watched and enjoyed the excellent Torment (2017, Dir. Adam Ford) & Scott Philip Goergens groundbreaking masterpiece 29 Needles (2019). I’m fully behind the new movement which strays away from the generic and overused heterosexual horror template and we are now seeing films which really break down walls and barriers.

Jack The St.Ripper begins like a euro sleaze movie but it isn’t. Infact, it actually takes a light hearted parodical stance with its overacted performances before it plays out a very well written and unpredictable giallo plot. The key fundamentals for a successful giallo are; solid production values, suspense, bold close-ups, eye catching visuals and a memorable score. Jack The St.Ripper tries its own thing but stays true to what we want from a giallo. The film makes effective use of 80’s VHS visuals to give it a nostalgic look and feel while the camera work is elaborate and meticulous at bringing out the best of the environment lighting and facial features of the actors. Then we have an incredible and mesmerising soundtrack consisting of piano and synth which lifts the mood of the proceedings.

The film is an enjoyable and entertaining giallo which doesn’t take itself too seriously and deserves your undivided attention. The film knows what horror fans want and delivers when it needs to. The kill scenes are incredibly brutal (and beautiful) as the film showcases great practical effects at times. There are so many nice references thrown back to classic slasher films, from the first person point of view for the heavy breathing mysterious killer akin to Halloween (1978) to an amazing recreation of a iconic scene from A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) but with a new spin!

The acting is done light heartedly for the most part but undoubtedly the star of the show is Chiara Pavoni (Xpiation, XXX Dark Web, III: Final Contagium) who yet again raises the bar and shines with another incredible performance. Pavoni has very much become a stamp of quality and class for independent horror films and this is no exception.

Jack The St.Ripper is an elaborate giallo film with plenty of twists and turns. It breaks away from linearity and gives the horror genre a much needed change of direction.

Score: 4/5

REVIEW: SCARECROWD (2015, Melting Pictures)

Released in 2015, director George Nevada’s debut feature film Scarecrowd (aka The Musk) sees a poor farmer, Tony Maio (Farbrizio Occhipinti), head out to investigate a meteorite which has landed on his farm. Much like Men In Black (1997), curiosity kills the cat as the farmer approaches the meteorite without caution and is contaminated by the radioactive released by the spores turning him into a mutant maniac with a desire to kill.

At first glance you wouldn’t be wrong to think Scarecrowd is a straight-up slasher, but it is actually an interesting combination of different genres with unexpected results. The film occasionally treads down the path of cosmic horror (Lovecraftian), a heavy dose of sci-fi and body-horror but also occasionally throws in some erotic Euro sleaze a la Emmanuelle. However, at the heart of everything is a nostalgic throwback to 70’s & 80’s B-movie horror films with slow moving cat & mouse chase sequences and pulsating music.

Tony Maio disguises himself as a scarecrow to hide his deformities caused by Meteorite exposure and he embarks on a crazy killing rampage to satisfy his growing bloodlust. Scarecrowd turns into a killer scarecrow movie, ramping up the gore and serving an enjoyable throwback to 80’s slashers such as Scarecrows (1988) & Dark Night of the Scarecrow (1981). There are plenty of inventive and original killing methods on display, some which are downright hilarious and popcorn worthy.

Much like the 80’s films it takes influence from, Scarecrowd is deliberately over the top and over-acted throughout. I guess this is the part which many critics will have the biggest gripe with but it is intentional and ensures the film doesn’t take itself too seriously. This is a fun movie and it strives to be entertaining. With Comic book style presentation similar to Creepshow (1982) and graphic violence in the tone of Don’t Go In The Woods (1981), there are some very interesting and well portrayed themes in amongst all the blood squirting and screaming. Vanity and outcast themes are very well written and portrayed.

Scarecrowd is an ambitious film which tries something different and hits the spot. The camera work is superb throughout with great lighting and visuals, switching between neon and Infrared for a trippy viewing experience. The practical effects are brilliant with plenty of moments which will cause your jaw to drop to the floor. The catchy synth soundtrack by Antony Coia is hook driven and holds the atmosphere well for the whole journey.

As a fan of 80’s cult horror I really enjoyed Scarecrowd for its ambition and slapstick style. It managed to tick all the boxes for what makes a throwback film work and it left me wanting to see more.

Score: 4/5