Posts tagged “video

RANDOM VIDEO: THREADLESS Zombie Band

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As well as making the NIGHTSHIFT short for Threadless, I got to moan and groan my way through some surf rock as a zombie lead singer. Check out the brief clip posted over at Youtube.com below. Moaning is about as great as my singing talents got for this video. My buddy (more…)


VIDEO: Jan Broberg’s Guide To Thespians, Sociopaths & Scream Queens!

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In a short video I feel is worth mentioning, Director/Actor Michael Lee Stever (SATURDAY NIGHTMARES: THE ULTIMATE HORROR EXPO OF ALL TIME!, RESURRECTING CARRIE) is at it again making short mini-docs on some smaller names in film and garnering some unique footage and angles to some horror-themed topics of interest. Granted, as of this post, I still have not seen the MANIAC (2012) remake starring Elijah Wood, Nora Amezeder, and Jan Broberg but am more intrigued to (more…)


SHU-IZMZ at the PORTAGE THEATER for THE CABAL CUT!


REVIEW: SLEDGEHAMMER (1983)

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I am very unsure how to start my review for Intervision’s latest new-found unheard of ’80s slasher flick that could well have been forgotten amongst the shuffle of all the other far superior slasher films of the ’80s, such as Friday the 13th, Maniac, Prom Night,
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, The Burning, the later entries in the Halloween series since the first Halloween was made in the late-70’s, Pieces, The New York Ripper, Sleepaway Camp, Silent Night, Deadly Night, and so on and so forth. I mean, there are a ton of freaking slasher films out there, more than ten films made a year-every year! This was a thriving genre in the ’80s and I am sure that if I really did some research I would find well over a dozen slasher films made in ever year starting with the 1970’s up until present day. I am sure a bunch may be direct-to-video low-budget schlockers, some even may just be tiny independent flicks some buddies got together to make out in the backwoods of their local forest preserve or wooded backyard, but nonetheless, a slasher film would have been made and could be added to the numbers of mainstream and studio versions on the list to back me up and prove my point.

Slasher films are fun. Slasher films are violent. Slasher films tend to have nudity, when it be slight or gratuitous, and have raunchy sexual innuendos and humor littered throughout the film. Slasher films also tend to host a pretty intensive body count and the victims usually die in a creatively gory fashion. All these aforementioned attributes to the slasher genre are what I love about the genre. I am guaranteed a body count in a slasher film and characters will be killed off, usually in a bloody fashion. If there are some tits and ass thrown in- even better. Oh, the director wants some fabulous bush tossed in for a totally nude-efying experience, I am down with that as well (but that is just this critic’s personal preference).

Now I recently reviewed The Dorm That Dripped Blood (a.k.a. Pranks) (1982), which I felt was a pretty decent entry into the slasher genre and was very entertaining, primarily because of the creative kills and gore, but also because of the uniquely creepy score created for the film. I am finding out that the soundtrack to a slasher film, in terms of original music written for the movie, whether it be orchestrated or done on a Casio keyboard that one can pick up at Radio Shack or the local Target, the music must go along with the movie to create tension and intrigue while viewers wait for the slasher to strike again.

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Now we come to Sledgehammer, a direct-to-video/shot-on-tape slasher film from 1983 that contains a ridiculous story, almost supernatural in nature, that the director does not even attempt to explain to audience members and you know what- it doesn’t even matter because the film is so quirky in every way, from the scenes created to the shoddy production values and how the director uses key elements in sound, lightening, and camera techniques to create a starkly original and unorthodox slasher film. The back of the dvd case states that this is “the first shot-on-tape slasher movie for the home video market as well as one of the rarest genre films of all!” This claim may be true.

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Sledgehammer starts out with some polarized shots set to a very effective and eerie synth-heavy soundtrack as the credits roll on, actors faces scrolling by as their names pop up underneath. Serious and somber looks grace their faces. I thought this was very unique for such a low-budget film and set the tone nicely. Random shots of a person walking down some stairs, turning open a door know, possibly a sledgehammer in hand, and then a polar shot of the lovely red and white house which to me looked like a farmhouse but that just may be because of the traditional farmhouse paint job. Our farmhouse, without knowing from already listening to the commentary, I would say is located somewhere out West, maybe California or Montana, out in the hills. This standard, classic red-painted farmhouse is indeed important and integral to the plot of the film, or just really a nice farmhouse, because the director keeps the farmhouse in a very long, steady shot…then slowly zooms in for a closer shot of this nicely painted red and white-trimmed farmhouse. In fact, while watching this movie, one will notice there are a great deal of slow, zooming shots and pans accompanied by that terrific and splendid heavy bass synth soundtrack blasting its way through your eardrums and giving one an massive aural orgasm and censorial overload. The director of photography could be zooming in on an ant picking at a scrap or crumb on the ground, but a slow zoom followed with heavy synth that intensifies as the shot slowly explodes onto the screen fully makes the shot seem that there is some sort of impending doom looming over the horizon.

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-Our next shot is now inside the house with a mother wearing a translucent nightgown yelling at her 10-year old son as a raging alcoholic on the last of nerves would telling him to shut his mouth as she throws him in a closet and bolts the lock shouting at him to not say another word this evening and repeatedly yelling at him to shut-up. She wins mother of the year, right? Get ready for the heavy synth music as it slowly builds up speed, camera slowly zooming in on that locked closet door, until our next shot goes back to the mother while she gets some action from a man, one that seems to be having an affair with this married mother of one. She goes down on the guy, and from out of nowhere, or just the locked closet, the shadow of a large man wielding a sledgehammer appears and bashes in the fornicator’s head in. This scene is the first gory shot in the film, done pretty nicely showing the head cave in with some gore, and then a close-up of the mother as she gives the camera a look of shock, terror, and a last plea for mercy.

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Jump to ten years later and we have a classic slasher plot: a bunch of partying young adults, both good-looking males and females- head up to this red-and-white painted house (it surprisingly looks exactly as it did ten years ago) for some fun. We are not told whose house it is, how they rented or came to be using it, or really anything else…but who cares? It is a slasher film and I just want to get to the sex and violence. Well, there is both in Sledgehammer, but not as much sex and nudity as I would have liked to have seen. There are some brief glimpses of a breast of one woman and an ass shot of one man (careful, at first you may think its a woman’s butt before the shot opens up!), but mostly just ridiculous lines of dialogue delivered during partying scenes consisting of cast members drinking cans of Budweiser and crushing them on their foreheads or shaking the cans up and spraying the beer all over everyone and everyone yelling and cheering on because wasting booze and getting all sweaty and wet with alcohol is what fun is all about.

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The film has a ridiculous amount of charm, mainly due to its off-beat lines of dialogue and humor, intentional or not. At times, I just think the director, David A. Prior,  let the cast get ripped on booze and just say whatever the hell was on their minds. The scene where the camera is just set in front of the van with the cast unloading all the gear was a pretty long shot, with characters popping in and out of frame, simply unloading all the crap for the trip. It probably was really all their clothes, food, and booze for the film and cast or crew. As the commentary points out, there is one “vag grab” which only consists of having a “vag” (that is short for vagina, kiddies) and one to “grab” it. Usually this is done by a male grabbing a female’s vag, but I guess in this day and age women may engage in the practice as well.

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With more partying and stuffing food into faces while young adults scream, clap, and cheer incessantly- this occurs at their dinner- and then breaking into a food fight with condiments, cake,  potato salad, and whatever else was on the table flying all over and being smashed onto all cast, the film is only complemented with scenes that occur for no other reason than just occurring and pointless dialogue and banter between characters. Each female is paired up with a male, creating some sort of couples’ dynamics for the film in which the guys can’t talk shit about the girls and the girls can gossip and talk to each other about how their relationships are going. At no point did I really become attached to or care about any characters in the film. The characters don’t really develop in this movie. I did not mind, though. I was too busy marveling at the unique overall style of this shot-on-tape, slow-mo, bass-synthesizing bonanza of blood and bizarrely shot masterpiece. Well, maybe not a masterpiece but definitely a film to be added to anyone whom allots a particular section on their shelf for slasher films.

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As Rick (Ted Prior, Raw Nerve) tells the young goofballs the story of Sledgehammer (replete a flashback from about thirty-minutes ago in case one forgot what happened) with only a candle to light his face, as well as the others’ faces (in a shot that pans the circle of actors and actresses while the cameraman holds a lit candle in front of the lens), the story unfolds and a mock-seance is performed. In a shot just prior to this, a sledgehammer just randomly pops up, resting in a room’s corner. This sledgehammer pops up randomly throughout the film. The reason for this is never explained, but who cares, right? (I will be saying this periodically throughout the review because so much occurs in the film for no apparent reason whatsoever).

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The creepiest aspect to Sledgehammer, besides the incredible soundtrack and music within the film is the murderer’s mask he wears. The killer, played by Doug Matley, who goes around killing the young adults within the film with a sledgehammer all the while wearing this bizarre mask. It really is like half a mask and sort of transparent and very hard to describe. I wish I could get a replica of the Sledgehammer mask. Maybe one will be made if the popularity of Sledgehammer rises. The boy in the beginning of the film is portrayed by Justin Greer. Sadly, he has not been in any other films. His claim to fame is being locked in a closet and staring out a window of a house. The awesome synth-bass of the film was created by Philip G. Slate and sadly this was the only film he made music for.

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David A. Prior, director and writer of Sledgehammer, went on to make more low-budget B-grade, some even Z-grade horror, sci-fi, and action flicks. Although I have never seen any of the films he made (I only heard of Killer Workout), I hear his talents as a director for unique use of a film’s music in it and slow-mo shots and pans as were evident in Sledgehammer did not get used in future films or lead to him making it into bigger budgets and more mainstream fair. Prior also did not make any more slasher horror films besides these horror/sci-fi flicks:  Killer Workout (1987), Night Wars (1988)-which was more Sci-fi, Night Trap (1993), Mutant Species (1995)-again more Sci-fi than horror, Zombie Wars (2008) and Night Claws (2011). Killer Workout is the only horror film of the aforementioned films that is a slasher film. The rest of Prior’s work are Z-grade action flicks that probably are not on the level of Charles Bronson or Chuck Norris flicks from the ’80s. There is no Death Wish or Missing in Action caliber of awesome ’80s/’90s action/war flicks. I guess one can toss Stallone and the Rambo flicks in there, too. While were at it, Schwarzenegger can smash his way in, as well. I can tell by the titles and plot summaries that the rest of Prior’s flicks definitely will be fun views on a B-movie level.

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Most of the cast and crew in Sledgehammer have not been in another movies, or anything else of any significance besides former Playgirl model Ted Prior (also the director’s brother) who has starred in a great number of films directed by his brother, as well as the epic Surf Nazis Must Die (1987) from Troma Entertainment and the earlier mentioned Killer Workout (1987). I found it mildly interesting, if not downright hilarious, that the character Joni (Linda McGill) was also in the video Shape-Up for Sensational Sex, credited as the “girl on table”.  I think credited as a “fluffer” in a porn film would have been prestigious than just a “girl on table”. I mean, what does this “girl on table” do? Does she take or receive? Does she moan? Is she just a piece of eye-candy? Is she clothed or nude? Hmmm…the possibilities are endless as to what she can be doing!

Another actor in the film, John Eastman playing “John” in Sledgehammer, also appeared in direct-to-video’s Dollman (1991), as well as being what appears to be a very proud member of the USMC, judging by the pics in his IMDb credit. A personal quote from John: “When one Marine stands for a just cause, people take notice. When two Marines stand united for a just cause, America takes notice. When the Marines stand united for a just cause the WORLD better take notice! The extent of John Eastman acting in any other projects involving a military character or hero involved his voice being used in the 2005 video game Vietcong 2.

Actor Ray Lawrence, whom only had a small part as the drive of the van in the film was also in the cult-hit Suburbia (1983) as a Citizen Against Crime portraying a man with a shotgun. I loved that film and just thought I would mention Lawrence’s part in that film. The only other actor in Sledgehammer that has been in a significant amount of films or television besides Ted Prior has been Luci-Lynn Norris (whom is not even credited to a character in Sledgehammer) whom has been in tons of television shows, although uncredited in quite a few of them. Most notable of those television shows was Dallas (1981-1986) and The Twilight Zone (1985-1986).

The cast and crew of Sledgehammer was, for many, their first involvement in a film’s production and for some, their only involvement in a film’s production. I think for a crew’s first slasher film, they could have done far worst. At any rate, in some film buff’s eyes, Sledgehammer is notable entry into the slasher film genre of the ’80s, will probably be likely to gain a cult-following after Intervision’s release onto dvd, and for this cinephile’s purposes, will be a great addition to my horror film collection and one that will be a chronicle of why there, to this day, are so many avid collector’s of VHS Horror and Sci-fi tapes. WIth the advent of Blu-ray discs and high-definition, there still is a loyal cult following of VHS enthusiasts. Hell, just check out the fanzine Lunchmeat (one that I have been trying to keep up with buying) as well as the fellas at Bleeding Skull and Alamo Drafthouse programmer Zack Carlson (author of Destroy All Movies!!!).

The special features on the DVD release of Sledgehammer from Intervision include:

an audio commentary with director David A. Prior

an audio commentary with Bleeding Skull creators Joseph A. Ziemba and Dan Budnik

Hammertime: Featurette with Destroy All Movies!!! Author Zack Carlson

SledgehammerLand: Featurette with CineFamily Programmers Hadrian Belove and Tom Fitzgerald

Interview with director David A. Prior

Sledgehammer is one of those films that you either love, hate, or love to hate. To me, it is an important entry in the slasher genre because it was the first slasher movie to be shot on videotape and be distributed for the home video market. The film has so many quirks and nuances within it, always offering a new piece to the puzzle of a z-grade slasher flick and continually popping questions into my head such as, “What the hell was the director thinking in this scene?” The film is not by any means a “great film” but it is one worth watching, whether to make fun of or laugh at, but is one that is entertainment in every sense of the word and one that I recommend watching.

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SLEDGEHAMMER – Locking The Kid In The Closet from Severin Films on Vimeo.


LATIN HORROR?


Check out this video about a fairly new website devoted to the genre of Latin horror, entitled aptly LATIN HORROR. The site was founded by Edwin Pagan (photo above), a photographer, filmmaker, and cinematographer from the New York area. Everyone who knows me or reads my site knows that I love all things Latina and Hispanic, so this website that focuses on the Latin elements of the horror genre is right up my alley. I thank Edwin for personally contacting me via email so inform me about his site, as well as sending me this link in which LATINHORROR.COM is showcased. Watch the video below to find out a little bit more about LATIN HORROR, a website that has only been around for the past 3 years or so. I am looking forward to finding out more about Latin filmmakers, especially in the horror genre. Having been introduced to Spanish culture more and more since having dated a Mexican woman for almost half a year, I have been frequenting the Chicago Hispanic neighborhoods of Little Village and Pilsen, including visits to the National Museum of Mexican Art for the Day of the Dead Exhibit (which was incredible, I might add!), there is a need for a site that devotes its energy to all things Latin in the horror genre. It really is about time. I hope this outlet for news encourages and inspires more filmmakers from Mexico and all the other Spanish speaking nations to make some awesome horror films. Horror is a universal language in films and there should be no boundaries or barriers, whether it be cultural, language-based, or otherwise. Horror fans need to unite around the world and explore other nations’ films.