Thursday, September 5, 2013


Act 3, Scene 1, line 273 of William Shakespeare's Julius Caesar:

Marcus Antonius:
And Caesar's spirit, raging for revenge,
With Ate by his side come hot from hell,
Shall in these confines with a monarch's voice
Cry "Havoc!" and let slip the dogs of war,
That this foul deed shall smell above the earth
With carrion men, groaning for burial.

  Didn't think you'd ever read a Shakespearean quotation in a KVLT VISIONS movie review did you?  Well it actually applies to the film under scrutiny at present, except for in this case the "dogs of war" are the rotting corpses of fallen soldiers sewn together, armed with disturbing brutal flesh-rending weaponry, and reanimated to kill for the Third Reich, and Caesar would be replaced by Dr. Victor Frankenstein, but you get the point. 

  World War 2 is coming to a head and a Russian squadron is sent on a reconnaissance mission in war-torn Eastern Germany in search of comrades trapped behind enemy lines.  The group discover a recently shelled churchyard and cathedral where they discover corpses strewn about and desecrated graves all around.  They take refuge in the cathedral and start a generator only to give power to what appears to be a large factory setup within the dessicated church.  The group then notice a corpse unlike any of the ones they've previously encountered that seems to be a patchwork of rotted flesh crudely stitched together whose head is plated in steel and arm seems to have been amputated and replaced with a giant drill.  Once the power seems to have relayed throughout the entire church, the corpse suddenly reanimates and quickly attacks the soldiers, disemboweling the captain of the squad.  Suddenly more cadaverous automatons fitted with various combinations of steel armor and sadistic weaponry descend upon the soldiers forcing them to go deeper and deeper into the labyrinthine recesses of the church.  There seems to be no end to the twisting turning tunnels until the remaining members of the squadron enter a massive blood soaked abattoir-turned-laboratory ran by none other than a descendant of the fabled Dr. Victor Frankenstein.   As it turns out, he has been very invested in furthering and perfecting his scientific work, which is harvesting and resurrecting the dead to fill in the ranks of his ghoulish army of undead soldiers to fight for the Third Reich.  

It is possible that original tickle monster was created by a descendant of Dr. Victor Frankenstein?

  Frankenstein's Army has come a long way.  What started out as an ambitious film project in 2004 from an unknown director named Richard Raaphorst called, Worst Case Scenario, that boasted Brian Yuzna of Re-animator fame as a producer, became one of the most widely hyped horror trailers in the last decade.  The project unfortunately couldn't get off the ground due to financial troubles and many a KVLTIST saw the flames of what could have been the most ingenious reworking of the nazi zombie sub genre flicker then get smothered out.   A few years pass, then out of nowhere promotional ads and screenshots surface for a new project from Raaphorst called Army Of Frankenstein and are quickly bandied around horror movie message boards and KVLT movie sites. that feature armies of undead creatures that look curiously similar to those briefly shown in the Worst Case Scenario trailers.   Fast forward nearly a decade later and lo and behold Frankenstein's Army is finally unleashed upon the world.  Shot entirely POV as a found footage film from the early 1940's, Frankenstein's Army works quite well telling the it's ghoulishly depraved story within the confines of it's purposefully limited cinematographic perspective.   Since most of the main attractions in the film are the impressive practical special effects and full body creature suits of the robotic regime of rotting reanimated tissue, the shaky cam, natural lighting, and dilapidated state of film made to resemble film stock from the early 40's are not always period accurate, but are very effective at showcasing the effects team's talent and enhancing the overall tone of frenzy, claustrophobia, and inescapable terror. 

One particular soldier in Frankenstein's Army has a rather disarming disposition as this Russian soldier has discovered the hard way. 

  It's a rare occurrence that a genre film delivers above and beyond what the ads and trailers promise in this day and age.  Frankenstein's Army does so with gloriously gory B-movie guts and gusto and stands as an amazingly auspicious debut for first time director Richard Raaphorst.   Frankenstein's Army has been mobilized and it's time for all able-bodied KVLTISTS to enlist!


Director Richard Raaphorst worked as a storyboard artist on Who Am I starring Jackie Chan, as well as Dagon, and Beyond Re-Animator.

Not entirely zombie, nor 100% robot, the term coined to properly categorize those among the undead ranks of Frankenstein's Army is "zombot."


Monday, August 12, 2013


  It's time to break out that badass Japanese rising sun bandanna and those sweet aviator sunglasses that you've been holding on to since middle school, tear the sleeves off our shirts, oil up the nunchucks, dust off the secret shuriken collection, push the furniture back against the walls and turn the living room into a deadly dojo where we can practice our best martial arts forms in front of a full sized mirror and/or camera while the 80's inspirational montage rock cues up!  Yell it loud and proud from your guts!  Let your chi hammers break the chains that tether us to our normal everyday lives my fellow KVLTISTS, "NO RETREAT, NO SURRENDER!"

  Question:  If some bad karate guys tried to buy out your dad's dojo in Los Angeles and then kicked his ass in front of you and the entire martial arts class for not selling what would you do?  Please take your time, think it through, and choose the best possible answer...

  Okay times up.  If your answer was to move to Seattle, join a new karate school, get your ass embarrassingly kicked in front of everyone on the first day then immediately run away with your tail tucked between your legs, get your ass re-kicked in front your girlfriend at her birthday party, then break into an abandoned house to set up a mock dojo of your own to train with Bruce Lee's ghost, then use the newly honed karate skills that you've acquired from said undead Jeet Kune Do master to save the asses of the guys who run the dojo that you were publicly shamed in during a martial arts tournament that you were only attending as a spectator, you'd be absolutely correct and you'd already know the plot of No Retreat, No Surrender!

Jean Claude Van Damme, "the muscles from Brussels" who taunts opponents by doing the splits during tussles.  

  The No Retreat, No Surrender itinerary of kickassery; awesomely bad 80's fashion, ridiculously overdone cable-drawn stunts during impromptu karate battles, like father like son public humiliation, multiple training montages (including a very homoerotic exercise involving a friend and ice cream), awesome power rock montage anthems with guitar work by none other than a then unknown Joe Satriani, a first-date in Seattle montage, Michael Jackson impersonators, a food fight, breakdancing, Bruce Lee's actual grave, Bruce Lee's (not actual) ghost played by Lee's actual stunt double Tai Chung Kim, Coca Cola's best product placement ever, Jean Claude Van Damme injuring multiple stunt men and actors over and over again, and the titular line dropped no less than 3 times throughout the film.  *Sung in a super serious montage rock voice*  Search deep within yourself, light the fire in your karate heart.  Become the lightning before the thunder, soar with the burning wings of your mindeagle, high above the karate'd corpses of the competition, and always remember there's No Retreat, No Surrender!  

Recognize this famous gif?  It's a deleted scene from the American release of No Retreat, No Surrender.  Bruce Lee's ghost sure has some interesting training techniques.  Somebody call Chris Hanson pronto! 


Jean Claude Van Damme's first credited role was in No Retreat, No Surrender as the film's main villain, Ivan "The Russian."

During production, Van Damme was reported to have injured stunt men and actors during multiple fight sequences that resulted in busted lips, bloody noses, bruises, and one actor being knocked unconscious from a poorly placed and timed roundhouse kick. 

At the time of it's release No Retreat, No Surrender was panned by critics claiming that it was a pastiche of ideas ripped off from other successful martial arts and action films of the day like The Karate Kid, The Last Dragon, and even Rocky IV. 

Never surrender

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

V/H/S + V/H/S 2

  The anthology film has been a staple of horror cinema that dates back as far as the 1940's with a slightly earlier and eerier kind of British invasion that came in the form of a little chiller titled The Dead Of Night (1945).  More horror anthology pictures have crept into the public peripheral throughout the years with notable classics such as Mario Bava's Black Sabbath (1963), Trilogy Of Terror, Creepshow, Tales From The Crypt: The Movie, Tales From The Darkside: The Movie, Tales From The Hood, Twilight Zone: The Movie et cetera.  In 2007 a soon-to-be horror anthology sleeper hit, Trick 'R' Treat was born then immediately shelved by distributors due to lack of interest.  In 2009 Trick 'R' Treat was rightfully disinterred and once again re-animated the horror anthology film for younger audiences and elder KVLTIST'S alike.  Fast forward to 2012 and we have V/H/S, in our midst.  It's a retro take on that old horror anthology chestnut and was unleashed upon the world with much internet hype and endless miles of ad campaigns in all of our KVLT-approved horror magazines that promised an experience of genuine terror... and it actually delivered.

  V/H/S blends the recent wave of found footage films with the classic horror anthology seamlessly, creating something that feels new while towing the line of the retro vhs aesthetic into the digital age.  Younger audiences may find this hard to look at, but much like the graininess of horror classics like Night Of The Living Dead and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, the fuzzy, washed-out-vhs-look only adds another layer of depraved ambiance to the scenes of terror on-screen.  Much like the horror anthology flicks of yesteryear, V/H/S offers a series of seemingly unrelated stories with a wraparound segment to tie it all together.  The KVLT would love to blab about its favorite parts of each individual segment, but half of the fun of V/H/S is in not knowing what's going to happen next and especially its shock and twist endings.  All the KVLT can reveal about V/H/S is that it was made by young and up-and-coming directors of indie horror hits like The Signal, I Sell The Dead, and House Of The Devil and it's one mean-sprited little anthology flick that is guaranteed to leave a slimy coating of real horror residue on the viewers brain that lasts days, even weeks after seeing it.

This will be the last time he ever meets someone who posts in the craiglist personals section. 

  V/H/S 2 once again features the found footage format happened upon by two private investigators who are tracking down a student who has recently gone missing.  Trying to trace the whereabouts of the student through clues left on a laptop and curiously marked vhs tapes the detectives unwittingly unleash a veritable Pandora's Box of malevolent spirits, zombies, bodily mutilation, a suicide KVLT, alien abduction, and a wraparound shock ending that left a grin of satisfaction on this KVLT leaders face as the credits rolled. 

They practice hard year in and year out but just can't seem to get the Olympic Summer Games to approve Russian Roulette as a team event. 

  So dust off what some consider to be a dead format and check out V/H/S and V/H/S 2.  The KVLT's seal of approval comes wholeblackheartedly with both V/H/S installments and do heed the warning of "be kind rewind" or else you just may end up as the victim in/of a segment in V/HS 3.


V/H/S has already been spoofed in a 2013 short called Laserdisk.

Be Kind Rewind Or Die!

Be Kind Rewind Or Die Twice!

Monday, July 15, 2013

MANIAC {2012)

In 1980 William Lustig's American slashterpiece Maniac "warned you not to go out tonight." 
  In 2012...
the warning stills stands.

  Even for the most astute KVLT VISONARY'S life is full of a preponderance of enlightening as well as soul-shattering questions.  Why are we here?  Does true love, good and evil, actually exist?   Will we ever live to see the fabled Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash movie?  What's life like after the Shire?  What would it be like to see a film where Elijah Wood goes on a killing spree and talks to mannequins? Why have French directors been making the best horror films over the last decade? These questions and more will be answered in this article.

  Meet Frank zito, a deranged young mannequin restorer who is prowling internet dating sites and the city streets in search of the perfect woman.  Or rather pieces of the perfect woman to add to his collection.  The trophied items in this macabre menagerie also happen to be the scalps and hair of young women that he murders night after night.  He then brings the scalps home to lovingly adorn the mannequins that inhabit his home and business.  Meanwhile, a beautiful young female photographer named Anna, who is unaware of Frank's ghoulish night-time activities, notices his restoration shop and wants to use some of his mannequins in an upcoming photo shoot.  Frank obliges and immediately becomes obsessed with Anna, stalking her and murdering anyone who gets in his way in hopes of adding her to his grisly gallery. 

 Go get your haircut at the local cosmetology school, they said.  It's free and you're helping college kids gain experience and earn grades, they said. 

  So you're saying to yourself, "sounds like every slasher movie ever."  That's partly because this is a remake of the infamous 1980 video nasty original, but with an incredibly interesting casting choice of none other than Elijah Wood to play the mentally disturbed character, Frank Zito.  Then, instead of making a shot-for-shot remake, the ghastly story is told entirely through painstakingly accurate first-person POV cinematography that puts you directly in Zito's bloodstained shoes!  That's right KVLTISTS, you get to see each horrific murder in graphic detail through the killer's unflinching perspective all the way to the end of the film!  And being that this is a remake of a horror film that is over three decades old, you get a more updated modern city backdrop and hip characters to relate to just before they are slashed into bits and scalped right before your very eyes to the sleazy, pulsing, and amazingly apt, lo-fi electronic score by a surnameless French composer who goes only by Rob, that harkens back to the glory days of John Carpenter and Goblin.

Looks like Frank Zito and his lovely new date will be staying in for a romantic double feature of Mannequin and Mannequin 2: On The Move, like they do every night.  

  You may also be asking yourself, "Who are the red-handed culprits behind what sounds like a true tour-de-force of modern terror and a real contender for the best wide release horror film of 2013?"  Well, they are none other than the French film-making team behind the much-heralded modern horror classics like High Tension (2003) and The Hills Have Eyes (2006), with blessings and a producers credit from the director of the original Maniac, Willaim Lustig.  Also to be noted is that this movie actually caused test audience members in Los Angeles to faint, become nauseous, and in one case vomit.  The director took this as a compliment.  If you do decide to venture out into the world to catch a screening of Maniac in it's limited run, don't go alone, maybe consider wearing a helmet or other forms of protective headgear, afterall "He warned you not to go out tonight."


Silence Of The Lambs fans will notice that Buffalo Bill's favorite song, "Goodbye Horses" by Q Lazzarus is played during one of the first murder sequences in Maniac. 

Fans of the original Maniac will notice a quick reference to the original and very controversial movie poster art in Frank's reflection in a parking lot. 

Mannequin 3: On The Prowl For Scalps