Thursday, December 27, 2012



  It's not everyday that a bona fide KVLT member gets the opportunity plunk down their hard-earned or not-so-hard-earned loot at the box office in exchange for a chance to see a real red-blooded gritty western on the silver screen.  Sure there have been a few notable westerns that have played theaters in the last decade with enough critical fanfare to garner public interest like The Proposition, The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford, Appaloosa, Lawless, and the True Grit remake, all great westerns in their own respects, but none of them are as KVLT worthy as Django Unchained.  After seeing the red-band trailer sometime during the summer of 2011 for Quentin Tarantino's homage to spaghetti westerns, The KVLT has been, frothing at the mouth, reeling in anticipation, and counting down the days until it's Christmas premièreSo saddle up KVLT compadres and lets blaze that dusty trail with Django Unchained.

  Django, (Jamie Foxx) a former slave whose freedom is purchased on the road by a glib-tongued German Dentist named Dr. King Schultz (Christopher Waltz) who also happens to be a bounty hunter.  Dr. Schultz quickly learns of Django's skill with a firearm as well as his thirst for revenge against his former slave owners and their employees.  Django and Schultz join forces gunning down fugitives, collecting bounties, and making their way through Texas and eventually to Mississippi to one of the most infamous plantations in the Antebellum South called Candyland.  Dr. Schultz and Django arrive at Candyland playing the roles of two slave traders in order to find and rescue Django's estranged wife Broomhilda, a German speaking slave who had been all but lost in the slave trade until now.  Candyland's sole proprietor Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a brutal sadist who specializes in buying, selling, and pitting his Mandingo fighters, (the human equivalent to dogfighting or cock-fighting) against one another for money.   At Calvin Candie's side is his ever loyal head servant and hype-man Stephen (Samuel L. Jackson) who senses that Django and Dr. Schultz' plans may not be what they appear and quickly informs Candie of his suspicions.  Tensions mount and the silver-tongued Schultz tries to smooth over the rough details of his a false business proposition while Django has his hand on his sidearm ready to shoot his way out of Candyland and save Broomhilda at any cost if the deal sours. 

Here's a bit of business advice from The KVLT, Lesson 1:  Never trust a man who brings a human skull to the board meeting.

  While Django Unchained has little or nothing to do with the original Django films at all other than it's titular character and a cameo by the original Django, Franco Nero, it still packs a solid punch packed full of wild and woolly comic book styled western action and is a vast improvement on his last two films. (Inglorious Bastards and Death Proof) Like all Tarantino films to date, it's a pastiche of other cult films that he loves, in this case, spaghetti westerns like Cutthroats 9, Keoma, and the Django series and blaxploitation westerns like Boss, Joshua, Take A Hard Ride and even Hollywood's critically panned exploitation trash epic Mandingo. The acting is definitely on par with the usual trappings of the spaghetti western and Tarantino films with a few stand out performances by Christopher Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Samuel L. Jackson, but otherwise if you expected anything more than two-fisted comic book dialogue and one-liners, you may have missed the point entirely. Oh and did I mention the soundtrack? Would you believe Ennio Morricone, Jim Croce, James Brown, and Rick Ross all on the same soundtrack? It's all true and it works really well. 

  Of course with any Tarantino project there is going to be buzz, rumors, hype, and outrage and Django Unchained is no exception.  Outside of the usual complaints about glamorizing violence, explicit language, and bad taste, Spike Lee has said that he will not go to see Django Unchained because  of Tarantino's depiction of African American slavery.  Lee also had qualms about the incessant use of racial slurs in Tarantino's Jackie Brown in the late 90's.   Here are some of the comments that Lee made about Django Unchained in a in a recent VIBE Magazine interview

Dr. Schultz (Christopher Waltz) looks like he is pondering the  comments made by Spike Lee about Django Unchained. 

  So far the critics have been more favorable than Lee's take on Django Unchained.  The KVLT was a little suprised to see that it has already earned itself a rating of 8.8 on  Maybe Django Unchained will be the western that will dig it's spurs into the sides of the moviegoing public for a much longer ride than some of the more recent westerns that have popped in and out of the spotlight?  But even if Tarantino's love letter to the spaghetti western is not enough to drum up a full-on revival of the western film, Django Unchained is a welcomed shotgun blast from the past with enough modern flare to dazzle new audiences who may or may not be privy to the exploitation side of the spaghetti western! In other words, don't miss it!  

Fun Facts about Django Unchained:  

During filming on location in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Tarentino rented out a local movie theater to show samurai and western movies from his private collection.

While hosting SNL, Jamie Foxx, talked about Django Unchained and said that he was, "excited to kill all the white people in the movie."

In reaction to the SNL skit, Jeff Kuhner wrote for The Washington Times: "Anti-white bigotry has become embedded in our postmodern culture. Take “Django Unchained.” The movie boils down to one central theme: the white man as devil — a moral scourge who must be eradicated like a lethal virus."

Jamie Foxx rode his own horse named Cheetah in Django Unchained

Originally, Quentin Tarentino had Will Smith in mind to play Django.  Smith declined the offer and Jamie Foxx got the part.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


  In 1987 Joel Schumacher's seminal teenage vampire classic grew fangs and wings,"said hello to the night" landing at major box office success proving that the public "still believed" in vampires.  That same year Katheryn Bigelow (Point Break, Hurt Locker) had unleashed a similar gang of rebel vamps onto the silver screen in Near Dark.  Where The Lost Boys use flashy Hollywood cinematography and teenage sex appeal to tell the tale of the American nuclear family who also happen to be bloodsuckers from beyond the grave, Near Dark spins a similar yarn but with a gritty, raw, western flare, pitch black humor, and devil-may-care attitude that set it leagues apart from the usual fangfare. 

  Meet Caleb, a farmhand from Oklahoma who by day helps with the family farm.  By night, he's like any other young red-blooded American male, just out lookin' for a good time.  Along comes Mae, a mysterious and attractive young lady who has just caught the eye of young Caleb.  After a flirty introduction, they decide to go for a ride in Caleb's farm truck.  The couple lose track of time and Caleb mentions that it's almost dawn.  She panics and pleads with Caleb to take her home before the sun rises.  In a last ditch effort to finally steal a kiss from Mae, Caleb leans forward and gets more than he bargained for when Mae sinks her teeth into his neck and disappears.  The next day Caleb wakes up to find a strong aversion to sunlight, so strong in fact, that it causes his skin to blister and burst into flames.  He drives himself back to the family farm and just before he reaches his destination, he is abducted by a speeding RV full of hell-bent outlaws with Mae among their ranks who all have a similar disposition that requires them to keep out of direct sunlight and drink human blood to survive.  The gang then explain that he has been turned and like them, in order to stay alive, he must now rove the countryside at night in search of victims whose blood he needs to sustain his own life.  Caleb's reluctance to kill and his relationship with Mae cause rifts and tension within the gang, meanwhile, Caleb's father and little sister are hot on their trail in hopes of saving him.  Will Caleb become one of the bloodthirsty marauders or will his father make it in time before Caleb pays the ultimate price of living fast, like a predator in the night?

The KVLT can't imagine anyone who wouldn't want to party with Bill Paxton's character Severen in Near Dark.  ...The man has a way

  Although Near Dark wasn't given the proper promotion and wide theatrical release that it deserved, it fast became a KVLT hit thanks to home video and frequent appearances on cable throughout the late 80's and early 90's. The film breathes an air of dead seriousness that most horror films of the late 80's and even today can't hold a candle to.  To further illustrate this, Caleb, Mae, and the gang of outlaws  are technically vampires, they drink blood, ignite in sunlight, and have superhuman strength, but, the use of long sharp fangs, and the word vampire are never used in the film.  The soundtrack by Tangerine Dream and various artists, wholly embraces the isolation and of the Midwest with ironic shit-kicker blues and pop rock songs, ingeniously juxtaposed with Tangerine Dream's pulsing synth-driven dirges that help define the Faustian price of killing to live in a nocturnal world without end.  The casting for Near Dark couldn't have been any better, with newcomers like Adrian Pasdar, Jenny Wright, and Joshua John Miller matching the level of gravitas that genre vets like Lance Henriksen, Jenette Goldstein, Bill Paxton, and Tim Thomerson are well known for.

Nice try, Lionsgate. The KVLT knows too well what vapid and sparkly set of the vampire demographic you were marketing this re-release to. 

  In the realm of vamp flicks, Near Dark is a true diamond in the rough.  Outshined by the glitz and glamour of The Lost Boys in it's initial theatrical release, Near Dark has clawed it's way through the grave dirt of the cinematic cemetery and resurrected itself as a true KVLT force for those who haven't already offered their free arteries to the Twilight set.  Near Dark is in fact the real deal.  It's dark, horrific, hypnotic, two-fisted, ugly, irreverent, comes with strong dose of gallows humor, and best of all it makes no excuses.  All killer, no filler and definitely no sparkles. 

Fun Facts About Near Dark:

The Cramps cover of, "Fever", can be heard when the gang enters the roadhouse near the middle of the film.  

Lance Henriksen actually designed his own costume for the character of Jesse Hooker. 

For the role of Caleb, Johnny Depp, and D.W. Sweeney auditioned but Adrian Pasdar got the role. 

Lance Henriksen, Bill Paxton, and Jenette Goldstein, had just finished shooting Aliens with James Cameron who at the time, was dating Near Dark Director Katheryn Bigelow.  Near Dark, being a lower to mid level budget studio picture, the pay margin was substantially lower than it was on Aliens, but Henriksen, Paxton, and Goldstein agreed to do the film because they loved the script and characters so much.

 On a theater marquee in the background, James Cameron's sci-fi action hit, Aliens, can be seen.


Wednesday, May 16, 2012


  From the great white north a true modern cult clssick has awakened from the wonderfully warped, maple syrup-soaked minds that comprise the ranks of renegade filmmaking collective ASTRON-6.  Made on a budget of only ten grand procured by lifelong practitioners of the cinematically perverse, Troma Pictures, Father's Day pays credence to the grisly and sleazier side of  grindhouse and drive-in movies while pushing not only budgetary boundaries, but also the limits of bad taste, to new and often hilarious heights.

  Hot on the bloody trail of vengeance is Ahab, a loner living in the Canadian wilderness whose lifelong pursuits involve making maple syrup and training to become a hell-bent vigilante out to settle the score with a cannibalistic, dad-raping, maniac named Chris Fuchman, who raped and murdered his father when Ahab was just a boy.  Along the way, Ahab joins forces with Twink, a junkie and male prostitute who's father also met his untimely demise at the hands of The Father's Day killer, and Father John Sullivan, A Catholic priest who just wants to see an end to the madness.  Caught in this web of revenge and insanity is Ahab's younger sister Chelsea who is currently working as a stripper, but also wants nothing more than to see The Father's Day Killer receive his final comeuppance.  The group follows Chris Fuhman's path down the metaphorical and metaphysical rabbit hole into a world of reckless brutality and shocking depravity unlike anything you've ever seen before.

 Vengeance is a dish best served slathered in real homemade organic maple syrup

  Upon Father's Day inception, the Astron-6 team had to have been aware of the armchair critic's obvious comparisons to Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarentino's Grindhouse double feature as well as Jason Eisner's Hobo With A Shotgun.   Visually, the trailer for Father's Day definitely sets the tone to capture the same high color saturation, grainy, damaged 16 mm film print look that the aforementioned movies above revel in.  Also, like the Grindhouse double feature, Father's Day has fake bumper commercials for nonexistent (so far anyway) films that are mixed into the feature to give off the impression that the audience is watching a movie on late night cable.  The lo-fi, synth heavy, electronic soundtrack for Father's Day is also a large part of the film's retro fabulous ambiance, sending nods to John Carpenter, Riz Ortalani, Fabio Frizzi, and Goblin.  Stylistically speaking, Father's Day is without a doubt intentionally reaching for the same low rung on the artistic ladder that Grindhouse, and Hobo With A Shotgun, but the boys of Astron-6 go way further thematically and in terms of their own brand of overt toilet humor, subtle dry wit, and unflappable weirdness.  Over the top doesn't even begin to describe Father's Day.  Insofar as the KVLT can tell, there is no glass ceiling, top of the mountain, or end of the rainbow for Astron-6, every action sequence, gore gag, in-joke, and sexual situation get blown way out of proportion and into the solar system and The KVLT is grateful for it! 

Astron-6's Fathers Day is in some ways similar to the 1997 family comedy Father's Day with Robin Williams and Billy Crystal but with just a bit more violence, gore, incest, suicide, and dad-rape. 

  Father's Day may be The KVLT's pick for best movie of 2012 and if that doesn't tickle your fancy, just remember it's a movie made from all the ingredients that a growing KVLT kid needs like; gritty action, violent revenge, drug use, male prostitution, pitch black humor, bucket loads of gore, cannibalism, ample nudity, incest, suicide, and DAD RAPE!  Just think of all the rape/revenge movies that you've seen over the years in which the unfortunate victims have been 99% female.  Isn't it time we reboot our collective psychotronic minds and watch the boys (Dads) take one for the team?  To quote one of the greatest movie taglines in recent memory, "Sons, lock up your fathers."  Father's Day has arrived!

Fun Facts About Father's Day:

Troma pictures gave The Astron-6 team a completetion fund of ten thousand dollars after someone at Troma saw the trailer for Father's Day.  

Astron-6 is meant to be a nod to the popular 80's video company Vestron Video.

Astron-6 have another feature in the works called Fireman, and another titled Manborg. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


  Remember the steak ghost in Poltergeist, the skyscraper-sized killer Stay Puft Marshmellow Man from Ghostbusters, or the shrimp cocktail from hell in Beetlejuice?  How about killer culinary cult classics like Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes or The Stuff?   If the answer is no, fear not dear reader, there is always time to catch up on your fearsome food flicks. Upon writing this review, The KVLT racked it's collective unconscious for scenes or entire movies about killer food, and realized that homicidal edibles have been a staple of the horror film for quite some time, but none have stretched the boundaries of extreme tongue-in-cheek tastelessness insofar as Lloyd Kaufman's Poultrygeist: Night Of The Chicken Dead. 

  American Chicken Bunker, a fast food fried chicken franchise is about to open a new store in Tromaville.  Hordes of angry protesters gather to picket the restaurant's ribbon cutting ceremony.  Caught somewhere between American Chicken Bunker's conquest for power and local entry level employment and the collective organizers rallying outside, are two former lovers, Arby and Wendy.  Arby, is just a young man trying to make a meager living in the world working in the private sector, more specifically, at American Chicken Bunker, as well as regain the adoring affection his ex girlfriend Wendy, who is one of the protesters deadset on running American Chicken Bunker out of Tromaville.  Unbeknownst to either side, American Chicken Bunker's new location was built atop a sacred Native American burial ground and all the recent commotion has stirred their long dormant spirits.  Before you can say, "Kentucky Fried Carnage," American Chicken's Bunkers entire line of deep fried food stuffs become inhabited by the angry spirits, turning anyone who eats it into mutant chicken zombies who want human flesh added to the menu.  Oh and did The KVLT mention that it's a musical?

As the saying goes, "a zombie chicken in the hand is worth a few hundred in the cursed fast food eatery."

  In the tradition of Troma's long standing career of irreverent and over the top cinematic antics Poultrygeist: Night Of The Chicken Dead goes a few steps further than it's predecessors in providing a marathon of sick shock gags, the usual potty humor, nods of political satire, interlaced with intentionally crude yet catchy musical numbers.  Troma Films, a bastion of bad taste independent cinema for almost 40 years now, stills seems to garner a very polarized reaction when mentioned amongst film geeks.  People seem to love or revile Troma.  This could be partly due to the fact that Troma, not only makes genre-defying movies for punks, geeks, and other weirdo stereotypes, but is also a huge distributor of low budget indie films. The list of financially acquired Troma Films by far outnumbers the in-house Troma productions and in most cases lack the unabashed low budget quality, and unflappable drive that a true Troma production possesses.  Therefore, cult film aficionados assume that all Troma Pictures releases are Z-grade schlock of their own design, which is not the case.  The list of Troma's flagship features is a rather short list when you consider how long the comapany has been spitting in the eye of in the mainstream film industry.  Poultrygeist, like The Toxic Avenger films, The Class Of Nuke'Em High Trilogy, Sgt. Kabukiman, and Terror Firmer is a legitimate Tromatic effort made with the same fast-paced, unbridled insanity that made the aforementioned Troma titles cult classics.  To further illustrate Lloyd Kaufman's love for his craft, there is a featurette at the beginning of the Poultrygeist dvd explaining how and why he spent much of his 41K to have it filmed in 35 millimeter instead of on digital.  A bold move in a time when digital is the industry standard and the cost of film, film printing, not to mention editing has skyrocketed due to the shift in the technology and the demands of the modern film market.

Troma visionary, Lloyd Kaufman, demonstrating that when it comes to independent filmmaking, sometimes it's really hard to save face. 

  Poultrygeist: Night Of The Chicken Dead is everything you've ever come to love about Troma, but for the new ADHD prescription drug addled, 24 hour media and internet obsessed, fast food addicted, secretly nihilistic culture that we live in today.  With it's mile-a-second pacing, wall to wall spraying of blood, gore, fecal matter, seminal fluids, fast food stuffs, it's sharp eye for political absurdities, and catchy yet dirty take on showtunes, Poultrygeist: Night Of The Chicken Dead is a peerless original, well maybe except for the Troma-funded Trey Parker and Matt Stone first effort Cannibal: The Musical.  Although, Cannibal: The Muscial does come with The KVLT's seal of approval, So if that old yellow Troma logo has let you down before, or you are still on the fence about Troma Films, rest assured, Poultrygeist: Night Of The Chicken Dead is the Troma film to end all Troma films.  Seriously, if Poultrygeist isn't your cup of cinematic tea beer, then you're probably reading the wrong blog. 

Fun Facts About Poultrygeist: Night Of The Chicken Dead:

One of the original titles for Poultrygeist was, "Good Night and Good Cluck."

A scene that ended up on the cutting room floor reveals Trey Parker and Matt Stone as Arby's parents.  

Poultrygeist's lead characters were named after popular Fast Food Restaurants Arbie (Arby's), Wendy (Wendy's), Micki (McDonalds), Denny (Denny's), Carl Jr. (Carl Jr.) and Paco Bell (Taco Bell)

When watching Poultrygeist, patient and observant Tromaphiles may spot the infamous penis monster prop from Tromeo and Juliet, and the obligatory car flip and explosion scene recycled once again.

Friday, March 16, 2012


  What's pink and purple, Lovecraftian, covered in gore and slime, and still sexy?  Give up?  It's Stuart Gordon's science fiction/horror extravaganza, From Beyond. 

  Based on the titular H.P. Lovecraft story, a gateway between another world and the human mind has just been opened by two fringe scientists with a device of their own mad creation called the sonic resonator.  This new dimension of consciousness grants passage to ghoulishly amorphous creatures who want to rend human flesh and minds, by inhibiting the pineal gland.  Once they've tapped into the pineal glands, these beings from beyond gain total control over their human host bodies, sending them on a rampage of sex and violence crazed euphoria.  It becomes a race against time to close the portal between the two worlds and to put and end to the scientists newly acquired addiction to carnal savagery.  Which belies the real question, do they really want it to stop? 

By this creatures trendy yet peaceful hand gesture, The KVLT has to assume that there must be a hip hop scene in the dimension from whence it came.. 

  From Beyond is another jewel in the cult movie crown of Stuart Gordon who was hot on the heels of success from his 1985 zombie opus Re-Animator made for the soon-to-be infamous Empire Pictures.  With a small cast of only four main characters, consisting primarily of staunch horror icons like Jeffrey Combs, Ken Foree, and Barbara Crampton, From Beyond isn't a body count bloodbath like most of the popular slasher flicks of the 80's.  However, it is a monster movie driven by Lovecraftian proportions, the excesses of the 80's, as well as the needs of aging monster kids who sole purpose in life is to see mass quantities of blood, boobs, and beasts.  In fact, their are technically more creatures, transmutations, and inter-dimensional creatures than there are actual cast members in From Beyond's brisk 86 minute runtime.  That is not to say that due to the small cast that the carnage and bodily harm within is restrained on any level.  Instead of pandering to teen audiences by showing how fast they can dispatch of a co-ed or jock stereotype, Stuart Gordon and writer Bryan Yuzna opt for extensive shots of extreme slime covered alien forms devouring, and melding with their human prey in surreal transfigurations of twisted flesh.  Think Rob Botin's creature effects in The Thing, but on a B-horror budget and you've got a pretty good idea of what's to come.  Also, as mentioned in the opening riddle, the lighting choices in From Beyond are unlike anything The KVLT has ever witnessed in a horror film before or since.  Lurid pinks and electric purples wash over visceral scenes of the sonic resonator's corrupted and reconstituted abominations wreaking havoc upon naked human flesh seem as if they were illuminated by Prince's stage lighting crew, yet somehow strangely, it works.  Then Richard Band, brother of infamous producer Charles Band, composes a score that expertly delivers orchestrated wave after wave of dissonant strings and thundering timpani rolls that roll, reel, and wrench the tension.

Easy there Freud, The KVLT doesn't see the phallic symbolism.  Not every horror movie is a metaphor for male sexual frustration and/or symbolic phallic penetration...  Okay, okay, maybe this one is. 

  When it's all said and done, almost 30 years later, From Beyond still delivers.  Whether you are curious to behold Lovecraft's creations come to life, scream queen Barbara Crampton violated by otherworldy creatures, or you just love a good, effects heavy monster movie, From Beyond does not disappoint. The only drawback The KVLT could see, is that it isn't the most faithful film adaption of H.P. Lovecraft's work.  But then again, making a movie about the dark, vague, and creeping things that Lovecraft himself, in an act of artistic license, chose to not clearly define, seems to lie in the double edged sword realm of filmmaking.  As far as The KVLT is concerned, the more Lovecraft in the world, in any form of media is a good thing.  So do what you must to find, stream, conjure, or sonically resonate a copy of From Beyond and let those pink and purple inter-dimensional abominations of contorted slime covered flesh into your heart and hopefully into your pineal gland. 

Scream queen Barbara Crampton pledging her devotion to heavy metal gods Judas Priest in a scene that should have been called, "Hell-bent For Leather."

Fun Facts About From Beyond:

Aside from their horror and cult film catalogs, Stuart Gordon and Bryan Yuzna also wrote the big budget Disney film Honey, I Shrunk The Kids.

The address to the house where the scientists, the sonic resonator, and it's nightmarish creatures reside is visible in one scene as 666. 

Actor Ken Foree references his character from George A. Romero's zombie classic Dawn Of The Dead by repeating the line "I used to play pro football." 

From Beyond can be classified a "body horror" film like David Cronenberg's Videodrome, The Fly, Shivers, and Rabid, as well as Shinya Tskukamoto's Tetsuo films. 

When Stuart Gordon submitted his film to the MPAA they responded by saying that it wouldn't even get a hard R rating because it had, "ten times too much of everything." 


Thursday, February 9, 2012


  It's February and according to the television commercials advertising chocolate and greeting cards, love is in the air.  So The KVLT has decided to serve up a spicy Italian dish of post-mortem love and commitment that is sure to satisfy even the most gluttonous gorehound.  It's a tale that illustrates all too vividly, the darkest depths of unwinding madness and the pinnacle of moribund extremes.  A movie that shows that how true love is forever and that death is not necessarily a, "get out relationship jail free", card.  Dear reader, please accept this review of Beyond The Darkness, from The KVLT's blackest heart of hearts to yours, as the closest thing to a Valentines Day card we could ever muster.

  Frank Wyler was enjoying a young, married, and wealthy life in his palatial estate with his wife Anna.  That is until his jealous servant, Iris, kills Anna via voodoo doll ritual.  It seems that Iris has always lusted after after Frank and with his wife out of the picture, Iris has plans of seducing him.  Tortured and obsessed with the memory of his dearly departed wife, Frank drives to the cemetery in the middle of the night, exhumes Anna's body and takes it back to his estate.  Being an avid taxidermy hobbyist, he them proceeds to remove her internal organs, embalms, and stuffs her for future preservation.  When he is not sleeping with or fantasizing about his late wife, he spends his time stalking and viscously murdering young women.  Once Iris discovers Frank's new homicidal hobbies, she becomes his accomplice, all the while trying to seduce him.  The pair also try to prevent the authorities from the tracing the recent disappearances of young women back to their mansion turned house of horrors. 

Beyond the Darkness proves that there is more than one way to get up in them guts. 

  Given the film's explicit and taboo subjects as well as scenes of graphic intense violence, a true juxtaposition occurs in the tone in which Beyond The Darkness was lensed.  It's cinematography breathes a hazy, dreamlike ambiance very similar to what French horror auteur Jean Rollin became so well known for in the 70's, instead of settling for the harsh gritty exploitation film fare of the day.  Coupled with the lush imagery is a very jazzy and moody soundtrack by Italy's favorite cult film composers, Goblin, that focuses heavily on somber keys and subdued string swells rather than their usual bombastic "prog rock from hell", that they are known for in films like George A. Romero's Dawn Of The Dead, and many of Dario Argento's horror classics like Suspiria, and Deep Red.  The artful and overly competent handling of the morbid material within the frames of Beyond The Darkness is even more bizarre when considering that it was directed by the man-of-a-thousand pseudonyms, Joe D'Amato.  The reason for his many nom de plumes is that he usually wears multiple hats as a writer, director, producer, etc partly to have total creative control and to keep the cost of his films low.  Another reason is that Westernizing foreign names were a very common advertising ploy in the international film market of the 60's 70's and 80's.  But it's also very possible that his many alias' stem from wanting to differentiate his genre pictures from his extensive career in producing and directing hundreds of hardcore pornographic films.  Yet somehow, Beyond The Darkness doesn't come off quite as sleazy or diminutive when you consider D'Amato's legacy of smut and sleaze flicks.  

Beyond The Darkness also graphically illustrates how, "a woman's work is never done." 

  But don't fret gorehounds and shock movie aficionados.  Beyond The Darkness doesn't substitute gloss for gross.  It still tops many watch lists of the goriest and most disturbing horror films of all time for a reason.  Your patience will be will be rewarded again and again by multiple scenes of murder, fingernails being pulled out one by one with pliers, an acid bath, necrophilia, a body sectioned and quartered, eyeballs removed and replaced, throats ripped out, an autopsy and cremation scene that caused many to believe that D'Amato used real corpses and/or real footage of corpses in his film, which allegedly led to a series of investigations.

Fun Facts about Beyond The Darkness:

Alternate titles for Beyond the Darkness include The Final Darkness, Buio Omega, Buried Alive, and Blue Holocaust

Here's a list Joe D'Amato's pseudonyms:  Donna Aubert | Steven Benson | Anna Bergman | John Bird | Enrico Biribicchi | Alexander Boroscky | Alexandre Borsky | Bernard Brel | James Burke | David Carson | Lynn Clark | O.J. Clarke | Oliver J. Clarke | Hugo Clevers | Joe Damato | Joe De Mato | Raf De Palma | Michael Di Caprio | Dario Donati | Félicien Dran | Robert Duke | Oscar Faradine | Romano Gastaldi | John Gelardi | Robert Hall | Richard Haller | David Hills | Igor Horwess | George Hudson | Fred Sloniscko Jr | Kevin Mancuso | A. Massaccesi | Aristice Massaccesi | Aristide Massaccesi | Aristide Massaccessi | Aristede Massacesi | Aristide Massacesi | Aristide Massacessi | Arizona Massachuset | Arizona Massachusset | Andrea Massai | J. Metheus | Peter Newton | Una Pierre | Robert Price-Jones | Zak Roberts | Joan Russel | Joan Russell | Tom Salima | Fred Sloniscko Jr. | Federico Slonisco | Frederick Slonisco | Fédérico Slonisco | Federico Slonisko Jr. | Federiko Slonisko Jr. | Frederico Slonisko Jr. | Dan Slonisko | Federico Slonisko | Federiko Slonisko | Frederico Slonisko | Frederic Slonisko | Frederiko Slonisko | Fred Slonisko | Chana Lee Sun | Chang Lee Sun | Michael Wotruba | Robert Yip | Joe d'Amato | Raf de Palma


Wednesday, January 18, 2012


  The KVLT's obsession with monster movies, extreme gore, and overwrought special effects has been a lifelong love affair.  Throughout the KVLT's adolescence and into adulthood, the thrill of watching humans hewn and their vague remains strewn across celluloid has never once waned.  One such film that has always resonated within The KVLT's collective unconscious, seamlessly blended the monster flick with a perfect storm of visceral violence, ample nudity, and exploitation madness.  This creature feature to end all creature features, was a staple of late night cable, and later became a much sought after collectible video gem throughout the 90's and 2000's, until released on dvd in 2010.  A high octane horror romp that plays like The Creature From The Black Lagoon, if the Gill Man had mated with a C.H.U.D. and raised their brood in a toxic sewer on a steady diet of hookers, meth junkies, and monster magazines.   With one of the most truly awesome and unforgettable titles in exploitation movie history, the KVLT has just reeled in the catch of the day, a sort of Mutant Sea Creatures Gone Wild for the 80's called, Humanoids From The Deep.

  Humanoids From the Deep is a timeless... tastless, and heartwarming... heart-ripping, story of miraculously... genetically renewed... mutated maritime residing gentlemen... flesh-rending fish-men, who look like the bastard spawn of The Creature Of The Black Lagoon, becalming... rampaging and charming... raping their way through a small seaside town.

 The Humanoids are going to make you pay for every fish stick or Filet-o-Fish that you have ever eaten.

  Without a complex plot or likable characters to hinder it's momentum, Humanoids goals of unleashing it's homicidal aquatic creatures on the locals, and parading women in front of the camera in various states of undress and ultimately to their untimely demises at the clawed hands of the aforementioned beasts, are reached par excellence as far as exploitation standards go.  This is mainly due to the extra scenes of the marauding maritime mutants mutilating and making love to the human cast, that were shot in post production, according to Roger Corman's B-movie criteria and to the original director Barabara Peeters' dismay.  Also, some early, but nonetheless stunning, practical special effects procured by a very young Rob Botin, (The Thing, Legend, The Howling, Robocop, Total Recall, Se7en), gave Humanoids From The Deep, a slightly elevated production quality that rises above the usual trappings of the thousands of other low budget monster films within horror and sci-fi genre.  Humanoids also benefits from brisk pacing, and even with the last minute insertion of additional scenes, has a running time of only 80 minutes.  How considerate of Producer Roger Corman and director Barbara Peeters to deliver the gilled, gruesome, and gratuitous goodies in such a timely fashion?

The KVLT wants to know...  If you are engaged in sexual intercourse with a half-fish half-man, is it still considered bestiality? 

  Humanoids From The Deep is designed specifically for deranged Monsters kids who have grown up to become monster men and women, who like all adults, have needs.  By "needs", The KVLT is mainly talking about the desire to see hell-bent mutant life forms destroying and committing other distasteful acts against perfectly normal human lifeforms.  A film that holds up as well today as it did in the grindhouses, drive-ins, and late night cable horror showcases of the 80's, Humanoids reminds us, like so many sea monster flicks before it, that it's never going to be safe to go back in the water.  But monster kids never really learned to play safe.  So dive in, you monster movie loving maniacs. 

Fun Facts about Humanoids From The Deep:

Humanoids From the Deep can also be found under the alternate and incredibly apt title, Monster.

James Horner, leant his musical talents to Humanoids From the Deep.  Horner is primarily known for scoring big budget Hollywood blockbusters like Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan, 48 Hours, Jumanji, and Titanic among others.

Humanoids From the Deep was remade, in 1996, for the Showtime television network. 

The second unit director, who shot the additional gore and rape footage for Humanoids From The Deep, was, James Sbardellati, a constant collaborator with Roger Corman, as well as the director of Deathstalker


Wednesday, January 11, 2012


  Like the early 80's, the last ten years have been rife with fantasy flicks.  Films like The Bored Of The Rings Trilogy, The Harry Potter Who-Gives-A-Shitilogy, The Chronicles Of Jesus...  I mean Narnia, The Sorcerer's Shitty Apprentice, Bro-man The Barbarian (remake/reboot), Clash Of The Shitans (remake), 300 (technically a remake, and The KVLT couldn't think of a snappy title for that CGI fap fest) and on and on and yawn and yawn, have been raking in record profits at the box office since the early 2000's.  With the forthcoming flood of movies like Hansel And Gretel: Bitch Hunters, The Slobbit, and another How To Train Your Dragqueen movie in the works, the trend shows no signs of slowing anytime soon.  Much like the movies listed above, The KVLT would like to take you, dear reader, on a quest of epic proportions.  Like todays fantasy films, our quest is also laden with myths, magic, monsters, and maidens from a time long before CGI and green screening techniques made your beloved wizard and warrior movies look like an hour and a half long cut scene from The Elder Scrolls video game series.  A time when Dungeons & Dragons and text based role playing video games were all a fledgling fantasy nerd had to hold on to.  A time when Ray Harryhausen pictures like the original Clash Of The Titans, Jason And The Argonauts, as well as his Sinbad films brought mythological beasts to life through stop motion clay animation.  A time when Frank Frazetta and Ralph Bakshi's art and animation leapt from page and screen and into the imaginations of all who experienced it in the 70's and 80's.  Such a time also summoned forth from the four colored world of the printed page to the silver screen, an internationally successful epic tale of high adventure called, Conan The Barbarian.  This ushered in the fantasy craze of the 80's, and in it's sword-wielding wake came a crazy little exploitation film produced by Roger Corman, romantically titled Deathstalker.

  The titular hero, Deathstalker, (who looks a lot like He-Man) is a nomadic warrior who accepts a challenge from a witch to obtain the Three Powers Of Creation which are a sword, a goblet, and an amulet that are imbued with well...  The Powers Of Creation.  Munkar, an evil, yet powerful sorcerer and ruling king, (who also looks like Judas Priests' Rob Halford with a facial tattoo) has the amulet, and goblet in his grasp, but Deathstalker, possesses the sword.  Invariably, they must do battle for control over the Three Powers to deem whether good or evil rules the land.

By The Powers Of Greyskull...  I, Deathstalker, have the poooooowwweeeerrr!!! 

  Very aware of it's own very basic plot and cookie-cutter characters, Deathstalker, makes no bones about what it really is, an over-the-top, sword and sorcery, blood and guts, T&A, B-movie made for people who stay up way too late and are into those kinds of things.  So much so that it kind of comes off as nascently chauvinistic, even for an exploitation movie.  In fact, The KVLT was actually awestruck by the sheer amount of naked or partially naked women who appeared in this movie and we are pretty sure that some sort of record was set and has yet to be challenged.  Since the production obviously saved a bundle in the female wardrobe department and by not hiring well known actors, (that is unless you consider Playboy Playmate Barbi Benton a well known actor), it seems that the rest of Deathstalker's budget seems to have been spent on hiring trapeze artists, stunt men, building lavish castle sets, and making acceptable by B-movie standards monsters and gore effects.  To be fair, the only monster effects in the film are an old witch, a crappy hand puppet that lives in a treasure chest, a satyr with a blade hand, a male-to-female transformation sequence, and a cannibalistic half-human, half-pig who looks like a Gamorrean Guard from Return Of The Jedi.  There is, however, a rogues gallery of warriors, musclemen, dwarves, giants, and pit fighters that all converge for full-on brawls in Deathstalker's many drawn out fight scenes including an Enter the Dragon style combative tournament.  Also of notable mention are the seemingly random, but very entertaining scenes involving, pro wrestling, mud wrestling, midgets, orgies, a pillow fight and a fairly graphic scene of someone being drawn and quartered!

The KVLT wants to know who wouldn't want to see a movie that bolsters blade-brandishing, berzerking, bra-busting, badass barbarian babes?  Seriously, we want names, and we will be sending her to track them down at their homes or places of business to put them out of their misery. 

  If Deathstalker's title and the poster art alone don't immediately pique your interest, then maybe you aren't a fan of swashbuckling, sword-swinging warriors doing battle with vague yet mystical creatures who wield strange magic amidst foggy forests and castle backdrops while nubile and mostly naked female onlookers scamper about clutching the muscles their hulking derring dos.  Maybe you rather be playing Quidditch or retracing the biblical references in Narnia.  That's cool with The KVLT.  To each their own we say.  Just remember that while you're picking out frames for your Hogwarts Letter Of Acceptance, Deathstalker, will be marauding through enchanted forests, storming castles, delivering deathblows, dropping sweet one-liners, and making out with the damsels that he has so effortlessly rescued.

Fun Facts about Deathstalker:

Deathstalker was shot in Argentina and only took 37 days to film.

Deathstalker's success on the home video front in the 80's paved the way for three sequels. 

Lana Clarkson who plays Kaira in Deathstalker, also played lead role in the Roger Corman produced Barbarian Queen films.

Deathstalker And The Warriors From Hell was featured on an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


   A long time ago, in a boot shaped country far far away...  George Lucas's breakthrough sci-fi mega classic, Star Wars, was being put through the Italian exploitation film ringer by Luigi Cozzi.  Cozzi, who had already made an unauthorized Godzilla film and would later go on to make an exploitation version of Ridley Scott's Alien called Contamination, as well as the hilariously bad Hercules starring Lou Ferrigno as a cash in on the fantasy movie craze of the 80's, undeniably took many liberties with Lucas' film.  Cozzi also also managed to cobble together elements from old sci-fi television shows like Flash Gordon, Space: 1999, Battlestar Galactica, and movies like Forbidden Planet, and Barbarella.  Many critics have labeled Cozzi's body of work as blatantly plagiarized hokey hackery, fashioned from the coattails of some many other successful films.  The KVLT likes to think of his work as tongue-in-cheek revisionist.  But beneath the borrowed ideas and trespassed intellectual properties, lies a film that has enough serialized charm and campy fantasy that set it apart from all of the other Star Wars inspired space cowboy flicks.

  The plot can be easily summarized in one sentence with lots of parentheticals.  A group of intergalactic smugglers, led by the scantly clad, femme fatale, Stella Star (Barbarella anyone?) and her clunky robot friend Elle (a 7th grade art project version of 3CP0 with a southern accent), are commissioned by the Emperor of the Universe(!) to retrieve his lost son, and to seize as well as destroy a weapon (that looks like a giant lava lamp) capable of mass solar destruction that lies in the hands of Count ZarthArn and his evil army. 

After George Lucas stamped out the embers of The KVLT's childhood nostalgia with his unnecessary revisions and added scenes to his original Star Wars films, The KVLT gets an irreverent an thrill out of watching someone else tamper with and revise his ideas twenty years before he did. 

  Starring David Hasselhoff, Caroline Munro, Marjoe Gortner, Joe Spinell, and Christopher Plummer, Star Crash is a slightly more exploitative, but easily the best Star Wars knock-off of the 70's due to it's sheer an unbridled ineptitude.  This movie has everything; light saber battles, space swimming, one of the skimpiest outfits on a female in science fiction history next to Princess Leia's slave costume, the absolute worst dialogue and dubbing ever, the most laughable laser effects committed to film screen, amazingly awkward fight scenes and action sequences, a large breasted robot with metal nipples, assorted crappy stop motion robots and various space creatures, Amazons, cloaked minions, cavemen, ultra phony sets and backdrops including a spaceship with very breakable bay windows, and a complete lack of understanding of gravity, astrophysics, and trajectory.  The warped continuity that pervades throughout the entire film feels like the script of Star Wars read in non sequential order by a robo-tripping teenage wastoid whose second or third language is English.  Or if you can't quite connect with that mental image, just imagine if Tommy Wiseau, the director of the neo-trash classic The Room, took the creative helm of the next Star Wars film.  If you have not experienced this epic intergalactic trainwreck of trans-dimensional travesties, do yourself a favor and find a copy.  

After watching Star Crash, The KVLT  can't help but wonder what Star Wars would have been like with "The Hoff" playing the role of Luke Skywalker instead of Mark Hamil. 

Fun Facts about Star Crash:

The original Italian title, "Scontri Stellari Oltre La Terza Dimensione", when translated into English reads "Stellar Clashes Beyond The Third Dimension".

Caroline Munro, who plays the female lead, Stella Star, did all of her own stunts.

David Hasselhoff also performed his own stunts and apparently, on the first day of shooting his stunt scenes, accidentally injured a stunt man by knocking out one his teeth.

Murray Leinster was the name of the first ship seen in Star Crash.  He was an early Science Fiction writer and visionary of practical special effects in film.


Friday, January 6, 2012


  It all started in 1922, with a gaunt, ghoulish, rat-like creature who by day, slept in a coffin, and by night, awoke to imbibe the blood of village peasants to stay alive, in a black and white German expressionist film called Nosferatu.  The next time movie audiences would experience blood meals being sapped from mostly unwilling victim's necks would be by wealthy, fanged, undead European aristocrats from the 1930's through the late 70's.  Then, in the 80's, came the new wave of night feeders in the form of glam-rockers, motorcycle gangs, strippers, outlaws, and even suburbanites.  The vampire of the 90's and 2000's were a mostly reluctant, and considerate sort of bloodsucker, save for the vicious vamps in From Dusk Till Dawn and John Carpenters Vampires, but overall lacked the bite of their fore-bearers.  At present, there appears to be a Renaissance of the vampire in popular media culture with a spike in supernatural romance novels, comic books, television shows like the Vampire Diaries, Supernatural, True Blood, and a slew of new movies, spoofs,  and don't get me started on the ones that sparkle...  It could be said that the once fierce and fiendish fangs of the modern vampire have in many ways been filed down for mass appeal.  That is why The KVLT is offering up a bloodsoaked, by-the-throat, review of a modern vampire flick that not only puts a new and refreshing spin on a tired mythology, but also reminds us that those casket-napping, arterial connoisseurs can still be effectively horrific.

  Daybreakers depicts a futuristic society where the vampire population has overrun and almost tapped it's human meal resources into extinction.   Realizing that a new and more sustainable food resource is needed, vampire scientists are working to develop a sanguinary substitute to curb the looming blood crisis.  Meanwhile, a rogue group of human survivors with the help of a vampire scientist, may have found a cure for vampirism.  They must stave off the nightly vampire attacks and stay alive long enough to use the cure to not only initiate a paradigm shift in the human to vampire population, but to potentially eradicate the vampire gene once and for all.

The KVLT hasn't seen vampire make-up effects this technically proficient since Bram Stoker's Dracula, and From Dusk Till Dawn. 

  Outshining the recent trend of monotonous modern vampire movies with it's revamped vision of the undead, Daybreakers doesn't retract it's fangs for one moment, leaving them fully extended for some serious scares, on-screen violence, bloodletting, and biting social commentary.  In this world of waining blood supplies, some vampires are capitalistic cut throats, some are middle class just trying to make it night to night, others are consumed by their bloodlusts and have become underground dwelling parasitic beasts and are a threat to humans as well as vampires.  Which touches on today's very real energy crisis, the stock market fallout, the stress of the disappearing middle class, and the disenfranchisement of the poor in the western world.  But all politico aside, the film still packs enough action, suspense, violence, gore, and legitimate horror without completely sacrificing the story or characters for cheap thrills.  Not that the KVLT is against cheap thrills mind you.   It also sports a few well known actors like Willam Defoe, Sam Neil, and Ethan Hawke, who lend their thespian credulities to an albeit offbeat genre effort that definitely stands out in the "What-The-Fuck" category of their respective career catalogs.  Although, Daybreakers comes across as a very professional and measured film, Directors Michael and Peter Spierig, aren't necessarily veteran filmmakers and they stick close to their B-movie roots.  In fact they have only made one other feature length film prior, 2003's sci-fi, zombie epic Undead.  Much like Undead, Daybreakers, feels like a tailor-made genre piece procured by genre-obsessed movie nerds.  Baring that in mind, The KVLT will cut it some slack by overlooking some of the plot and character inconsistencies as well as the the wooden acting perpetrated by Ethan Hawk.  But realistically, does he know any other kind?  It's by far more entertaining and interesting than 30 Days Of Night, Fright Night (remake) it doesn't fall apart in the final act like Stake Land, and it's definitely a million times better than the Twilight and Underworld movies.  But the last part should go with out saying.

The KVLT has a hard time imagining what this dude would look like with CG sparkles.

  So if vapid television teen vamps aren't your blood bag, the flood of theatrical and direct-to-video vampire spoofs have become too anemic, the "sparkling sad sack suck saga" and Fright Night remake are enough to give you an aneurysm, find a new untapped vein and give let Daybreakers have a shot.  It's kind of like if I Am Legend (sans Will Smith) and 28 Days Later were blended into one movie and filmed by the creators of From Dusk Till Dawn.
Fun Facts about Daybreakers:

Daybreakers can be easily lumped in with the hundreds of other vampire movies, but it's also an Ozploitation movie since it was made in Australia by Australian filmmakers. 

Daybreakers was shot in 2007 but not released until 2010.

In Daybreakers, Willam Defoe, plays a cross bow-wielding,  former vampire and human resistance movement leader named Elvis.  The movie was released theatrically on January 8th 2010, Elvis's birthday.