Mexico Barbaro (2014) – movie review

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Mexico Barbaro (2015)

It’s a gruesome, gorefest!mexico-barbaro poster

Several horror shorts by Mexican directors are collected here with mixed yet overall good results. We have drug-lord murders, sacrificial slayings, witchcraft and rituals in this gruesome horror anthology. All the stories are told with Mexican folklore as the framework. An investigation into gangland executions sets the tone for the shorts that are about to follow. Two thieves hide out in an abandoned building complex in the countryside, where they see strange visions. Soon it’s difficult to tell what is real and what is deadly in this trippy-headed haunt (my fave story of the lot). Next, a young lady’s chance encounter with a dead body begins a terrifying chain of events. A young couple looking to have their first romantic evening fall victim to a creepy creature haunting their country cabin. A young mother learns why she should listen when her daughter claims she’s seen the boogie-man in one of the gorier segments. And finally, we learn why we shouldn’t enter a strip club on The Day of the Dead in Mexico. All the stories relay a simple message, there is a price to pay for evil behavior. Some of the shorts are not what English audiences would expect from a film and feel almost like vignettes rather than complete stories. Despite the serious theme and varied accomplishment of the eight collected films, overall it’s a gory fun flick to watch. Not for the queasy, you’ve been gore-warned.

A violent, gory and nasty anthology from south of the border that ties in Mexican folklore.

I give it 3.0 nasty, gory, gutted, slayings out of 5 on the gruesome death scale!


The Uncanny (1977) – movie review

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The Uncanny (1977)

Milton Subotsky post Amicus film
The Rank Organisation

directed by Denis Héroux

Peter Cushing
Donald Pleasence
Ray Milland
Joan Greenwood
Donald Pilon
Samantha Eggar

Awesomely creepy music puts you in the mood during the opening credits. In the first scene, Wilbur Gray, (Peter Cushing) looks nervously out his window into the dark alley and shadowed streets. He then leaves his apartment in a rush, carrying a case file. Several felines follow his moves with their eyes and in this short scene feel very ominous.

Gray enters the home of a publisher, Frank Richards (Ray Milland) who has little faith in what he has written. Gray mentions how people believe in alien conspiracies and incidents but with his theory he has proof. The publisher’s cat growls at him, to the-uncanny-movie-poster-1977which he turns to the cat and says, I know everything. He presents case files that would back up his theory that cats are evil and conspiring in tandem to take over the world from humans.

Tale one bloody and gruesome. A Maid and the Nephew of a wealthy old crone attempt to steal the Last Will and Testament that cuts the nephew out of the inheritance and leaves everything to her numerous cats. In the process, the maid winds up killing the wealthy old woman. The cats are not pleased. This turns into the Cujo moment of Catdom. Over a period of many hours the old lady’s cats bludgeon the maid to death. This film was originally given an ‘X’ – rating, presumably because of the violence in this segment.

The second story about a young girl, Lucy, orphaned that goes to her aunt and uncles stately home to live. The aunt is immediately detest over the girl’s cat. An older cousin bullies Lucy and purposely says hurtful things to her about not having parents. She accuses and blames Lucy for things she did not do. It all plays a little like a 1970’s After School Special, but it gets quite nasty in the end. The aunt has a company whisk away the cat while Lucy sleeps but the cat, Wellington, returns. The cat leads Lucy to a the uncanny pic 03book on witchcraft that belonged to her mother. After reading, Lucy tricks her bully older cousin into stepping into a Pentagon she drew in the garden greenhouse. There she reads a spell that shrinks the girl to a size, no bigger than a mouse. That is where Wellington takes over chasing the girl under the bed in some decent miniatures and back-screen effects. The cat chases the cousin out from under the bed and that is where Lucy puts her foot down on the matter of bullying.

The 3rd story is a campy affair featuring actors from the 1930s. It stars Donald Pleasance as Valentine De’ath, a horror actor and a cat hater who replaces a prop in the movie with the real thing, killing his actress wife. Now his dim-witted actress girlfriend, Edina, can take her place. At first she’s amused by the wife’s cat which Valentine calls “Scat”. Valentine sends off Scat’s newborn kittens to a pest control. Scat is not happy. The cat torments the couple in some random slap-stick antics. Meanwhile, the film ‘Dungeons of Terror’ begins re-filming only to find that Edina is a horrible actress. Attempting to coach her on a scene in the torture dungeon Scat leads Valentine to accidentally kill his new leading lady.

It’s a decent anthology in the Amicus tradition. By 1977 these stories were considered ‘old-hat’ and not very popular with the horror watching youth, but as an adult I can appreciate the old style story-telling aspects of the film. I’d say it’s worth seeing just for the violent and bloody first segment, whose gory style has never been repeated in film (not with cats, anyway).

See all my other Amicus Films and related movie reviews here:
Amicus Films – The Studio that Dripped Blood Overview

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Screamtime (1983) – movie review

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Screamtime (1983)

screamtime coverThis is an anthology film containing three short films of varied horror sub-genres. It’s a trio of horror-light, seeming more aligned with an early 1970’s made-for-TV movie than something from the ‘special-fx heavy’ or ‘bloody slasher’ driven 80’s. It moves rather slow but if you have the patience to sit through it, there are good underlying stories in each segment.

In the first segment, an aging puppeteer performs his Punch & Judy shows on the local boardwalk, much to the chagrin of his wife and family. His nasty stepson intends to end his pitiful career when he burns down the man’s puppet-stage. However, the ‘Punch’ puppet exacts revenge, wielding a big stick, much the way it does in the show. ‘Punch’ kills the family much to the horror of the puppeteer, but in the end we see it is actually the puppeteer doing the killing as he takes on the personality of ‘Punch.’ Despite the obvious it was fun watching ‘Punch’ batter folks with a 2″x4″ sized, beam of wood. It also has a bizarre ending that left me scratching my head…WTF? The second story involves a newlywed couple moving into their new house after the honeymoon. The wife begins to see strange people in the home, a child riding his bicycle in the yard, a man running through the halls with a knife, a bludgeoned family in various rooms of the home. The couple calls in a spiritual investigator who inspects the home and even performs a séance with no success. The medium claims, the house is clean and contains no spirits, spirit activity or haunting. At the car she suggests to the husband that his wife should see a psychiatrist. The wife continues to see things in the home and screamtime pic 3eventually has a nervous breakdown. The scenes of the ghost family are more amusing than scary, but there is a nice twist at the end which make this worth a watch. It would have been ideal for an episode of Night Gallery or Hammer’s House of Horrors series. The third story is a convoluted, hog-pog of ideas that didn’t work for me. At the core of the story is two old women who need a gardener. They tell the gardener an old tale about a princess that made a pact with fairies who in turn take over a bunch or garden gnomes. When the gardener breaks into the house to steal the old women’s treasures, the garden gnomes attack.

This is a slow, British film directed by Michael Armstrong (Mark of the Devil) with dated stories and little effects. There is a lame wrap-around story that is just a waste of time, but has a brief nude scene, as if that would make the film any better. I can’t say I would wholly recommend it. If you are a fan of early 1970’s horror, killer puppets, some Twilight Zone, and One Step Beyond, you may enjoy it. If you think about it as a TV show, you may be entertained by it. For the rest of you, reading the storylines in this review will probably be sufficient enough for you to skip it.

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