Also known as: Faust (shortened title) Release Date: Octoberber 12th, 2000 (Stiges International Fantastic Film Festival) Directed by: Brian Yuzna Written by: David Quinn, Miguel Tejada-Flores Based on:Faust by Tim Vigil, David Quinn Music by: Xavier Capellas Cast: Mark Frost, Isabel Brook, Jennifer Rope, Jeffrey Combs, Andrew Divoff, Monica Van Campen
Televisio de Catalunya, Fantastic Factory, Castelao Producciones, 98 Minutes
“You are the universe. Alpha and Omega. The beast with ten thousand young. Now go forth and mutilate!” – M
So I’ve been aware of the Faust comic for years, as it was one of those legendary things us kids talked about in middle school because we had all heard of it but none of us owned any issues because it was a very adult outlaw comic. I still haven’t read it but I’m more familiar with it now, as many comic book YouTube channels have showcased it.
I didn’t know until more recently that there was a film adaptation of the comic and that it was done by Brian f’n Yuzna of all people, which definitely makes it worth checking out if you are a fan of his better known work like Re-Animator, From Beyond and Society.
Like those films, this one features over-the-top body horror and gore. It’s also full of dark humor and senseless violence, all of which is done in Yuzna’s patented style.
It’s actually cool seeing Yuzna direct a superhero film and using a character that fits so perfectly with his filmmaking style.
Additionally, I also love that Yuzna regular Jeffrey Combs is in this. While he’s not the main character, his role is pretty big and pivotal to the overall film.
This is a pretty bad movie, though, even for Yuzna. Yes, I do like it for all the things I already mentioned but the acting is well below what’s even normal for a Yuzna picture. Also, while some of the effects work, many of them don’t and it feels sloppily thrown together in some sequences and it makes me question how much control Yuzna had or if the production found itself well behind schedule or way over budget.
Regarding the budget, it’s obvious that Yuzna was working with even less money than what he was usually able to muster up.
Faust is a poorly made movie by a guy that can typically make chicken salad with chicken shit. However, maybe this was just too big in scale and way too ambitious of a project to have been approached in the way Yuzna typically makes his movies.
Also known as: What We Left Behind: Star Trek DS9 (shortened title) Release Date: October 12th, 2018 (Los Angeles special screening) Directed by: Ira Steven Behr, David Zappone Music by: Kevin Kiner, Dennis McCarthy Cast: Max Grodenchik, Andrew Robinson, Armin Shimerman, Nana Visitor, Colm Meaney, Jeffrey Combs, Aron Eisenberg, Rene Auberjonois, Ira Steven Behr, Alexander Siddig, Casey Biggs, Rick Berman, Terry Farrell, Jonathan West, David Carson, Marc Bernardin, Penny Johnson Jerald, Avery Brooks, Rene Echevarria, Ronald D. Moore, Michael Okuda, Chase Masterson, Louis Race, Michael Dorn, Wallace Shawn, Marc Alaimo, Michael Westmore, John Putman, James Darren, Bill Mumy, Cirroc Lofton, Nicole de Boer
Le Big Boss Productions, Tuxedo Productions, 455 Films, 116 Minutes
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine was my favorite Star Trek show of the bunch. However, my relationship with it didn’t start out well. In fact, I really disliked it early on, quit halfway into the first season and didn’t return until years later, after it was off the air and I could stream it on Netflix.
Over the years, I’d hear from really hardcore Trekkies that it was the best show and that once it found its footing, its larger story and its purpose, it became one of the best shows in sci-fi television history.
After giving it a second chance, I discovered this to be true and the show, at least for me, lived up to that hype and may have even exceeded it.
This documentary was crowdsourced and probably long overdue. I’m glad that it got made when it did because a few key people who were involved in it have passed away in the few years since.
This was directed and put together by Ira Steven Behr, who was the DS9 showrunner. But he clearly has a ton of passion for this show, all the people he worked with on it and the large fanbase that has continued to grow over time.
What We Left Behind features interviews with just about every key person that was involved in the show and it was nice seeing how much they loved their work and each other, as well as the fans. Sadly, many fanbases have been wrecked in recent years, Star Trek, as a whole, being one of them. However, for whatever reason, DS9 seems to be less effected by that.
Overall, this was a really cool documentary and it was fun to watch. If you loved Deep Space Nine, you really should check this out. Plus, I think it is currently free on Prime.
Release Date: October 6th, 2020 Directed by: David A. Weiner Written by: David A. Weiner Music by: Weary Pines Cast: Nancy Allen, Tom Atkins, Joe Bob Briggs, Doug Bradley, Clancy Brown, Lori Cardille, John Carpenter, Nick Castle, Larry Cohen, Jeffrey Combs, Barbara Crampton, Sean S. Cunningham, Joe Dante, Keith David, Robert Englund, Stuart Gordon, Andre Gower, Kane Hodder, Tom Holland, Chris Jericho, Jackie Kong, Heather Langenkamp, Don Mancini, Harry Manfredini, Kelli Maroney, Bill Moseley, Greg Nicotero, Cassandra Peterson, Diana Prince, Linnea Quigley, James Rolfe, Robert Rusler, Tom Savini, Corey Taylor, Gedde Watanabe, Caroline Williams, Alex Winter, Tom Woodruff Jr., Brian Yuzna
CreatorVC, 263 Minutes
Everything I said in my review of the first film in this series still holds true for this one. Reason being, they’re exactly the same in what they are. It’s just that each one features different films.
I think that I like this one a wee bit better for two reasons.
The first, is that I already know what I’m getting into now. I know that this will just fly through dozens of films and not give them the proper amount of time they deserve. As I said in the previous film’s review, I’d love to see each section spread out into a full episode and have these films actually be a streaming series.
The second reason, is that I like that the films are getting more obscure, as there were a few here I hadn’t heard of. With that, I walked away from this with a list of shit I need to watch and review.
Apart from that, this was more of the same. That’s not a bad thing, at all. I just wish that these documentaries didn’t fly through films and other topics so quickly.
I still like these, though. I know there’s a third one coming, which I look forward to, and there’s also one coming out on ’80s sci-fi flicks.
Rating: 8/10 Pairs well with: the other documentaries in the In Search of… series, as well as other documentaries on ’80s horror.
Also known as: Tornado (Germany) Release Date: June 5th, 1987 Directed by: Fred Olen Ray Written by: Paul Garson, T.L. Lankford, Fred Olen Ray (uncredited) Music by: Haunted Garage, David A. Jackson, Michael Sonye Cast: Heather Thomas, Jeffrey Combs, Dar Robinson, Martine Beswick, Martin Landau, Huntz Hall, Troy Donahue
Cinetel Films, 89 Minutes
“You’re as plastic as your tits!” – Teri Marshall
I recently reviewed another Fred OIen Ray movie called Alienator. That was an atrocious motion picture in every way. Cyclone, however, was fairly enjoyable and had the right kind of sexiness and cheesiness that made it an okay way to waste 89 minutes.
Plus, I really liked Heather Thomas when I watched reruns of The Fall Guy when I was a kid in the mid-’80s. Although, who didn’t like Ms. Thomas?
This also features Re-Animator‘s Jeffrey Combs and the great Martin Landau because I guess he needed money at the time. Luckily, his best work was yet to come with 1994’s Ed Wood, even if he appeared to be past his prime when this came out in 1987.
The story is pretty simple. A scientist is building a suped-up, badass motorcycle and everyone wants it for sinister reasons. The scientist is killed in a nightclub with an icepick to the back of his head. His girlfriend, the super sexy Heather Thomas, can’t trust anyone, so she takes the motorcycle and kills the scumbags.
This is a basic ’80s action movie with a cool sci-fi vehicle twist. And while this might not be the best film of its type from its era, it’s still enjoyable and the action sequences are actually better than I thought they’d be. Although, this also baffles me as the action sequences in Alienator were total shit.
Anyway, this is fun, dumb and cool. It’s the perfect sort of film for watching while vegging out on the couch on a rainy day. Plus, it has Heather Thomas in it during her prime. And she’s not the only beauty.
Rating: 5.5/10 Pairs well with: other really low budget ’80s sci-fi and action films.
Release Date: October 6th, 2019 (Beyond Fest premiere) Directed by: David A. Weiner Written by: David A. Weiner Music by: Weary Pines Cast: Tom Atkins, Doug Bradley, Joe Bob Briggs, Diana Prince, John Carpenter, Larry Cohen, Jeffrey Combs, Barbara Crampton, Sean S. Cunningham, Joe Dante, Keith David, Stuart Gordon, Kane Hodder, Tom Holland, Lloyd Kaufman, Heather Langenkamp, Kelli Maroney, Bill Moseley, Greg Nicotero, Cassandra Peterson, Caroline Williams, Alex Winter, Brian Yuzna, various
CreatorVC, 264 Minutes
I was anticipating this documentary for a long time. So once it ended up on Shudder, I had to check it out. But holy shit!… I wasn’t expecting this thing to be four and a half f’n hours! Not that I’m complaining but I had to make an entire night out of this thing.
Realistically, this probably would’ve worked better as a documentary television series with an episode focused on each year in the decade. They could’ve expanded even further in that format but then this was crowdfunded and not a traditional production.
Still, this was a cool documentary and while it does jump from film-to-film too fast, it covers a lot of ground. Obviously, it can’t feature every horror film from the ’80s, as there were hundreds (if not thousands) but it does hit on most of the important ones.
This goes through the films in order of their release but it also has a few breaks between each year that focuses on other aspects of ’80s horror.
This is mostly talking head interviews with a few dozen different people, spliced together with footage from all the films they’re talking about. It kind of plays like one of those VH1 I Love the ’80s shows but it is a lot less smarmy. Well, for the most part. There is one guy that kept popping up that I wanted to punch because he was oozing with failed comedian smarm.
Overall, though, this was worth the wait. As I’ve said, I wish it could’ve given more on each film but even four and a half hours isn’t enough time to do more than just scratch the surface with the rich history of ’80s horror.
Rating: 7.75/10 Pairs well with: other documentaries about ’80s horror and horror franchises.
Also known as: House On Haunted Hill 2 (working title) Release Date: October 3rd, 2007 (Australia) Directed by: Victor Garcia Written by: William Massa Based on:House On Haunted Hill by Robb White Music by: Frederik Wiedmann Cast: Amanda Righetti, Cerina Vincent, Erik Palladino, Tom Riley, Andrew Lee Potts, Jeffrey Combs
Dark Castle Entertainment, Warner Premiere, 79 Minutes, 81 Minutes (unrated)
“Mansions with their own mental wards. Only in fucking L.A.” – Desmond
I really liked the predecessor to this film. In fact, I reviewed it a few weeks back, after revisiting it for the first time in years. Seeing it made me appreciate it even more and it also motivated me to finally check out this straight-to-DVD sequel that I slept on in 2007 because I heard nothing but shitty things about it.
Well, all the shitty criticism that I heard regarding this film is true. In fact, it may not have been harsh enough, as this is one of the worst films I’ve sat through, so far in 2020.
I mean, I expected this to be much worse than the 1999 film but I was hoping it’d be a 5/10 in that it’d have good atmosphere and be true enough to the film it’s a sequel to that it would’ve helped push it past its flaws. Nope. It’s total and utter shit.
First off, and as should be expected, the acting is horrific. While I expected that for the most part, I did anticipate Amanda Righetti and Jeffrey Combs to at least carry the rest of the cast. They didn’t and that’s probably because RIghetti was dragged down by everyone else and Combs didn’t talk at all and just twitched a lot. I get that Combs is playing the same character he did in the previous film but I had hoped that they would’ve actually let him speak and come to life more, as he could’ve possibly saved the picture if they had expanded his role.
The setup to this film and the overall premise are fucking stupid.
Apparently, the girl who survived the previous movie and got the millions of dollars for doing so, went crazy and killed herself. Her ghost didn’t even closely resemble Ali Larter, which just goes to show how little the creative team gave a shit about the first film. Additionally, her character was pretty uncharacteristic of who she was in that first movie. Also, the Taye Diggs character is nowhere to be found and sort of just forgotten.
So the sister of the dead Ali Larter goes back to the house after being abducted with some thugs and an archaeologist looking for some cursed ancient statue. So the story now, is that the house itself is possessed by this cursed item and that’s why everything there is evil. Why can’t we just stick to the evil, fucked up doctor creating an evil environment where he is trapped with his tortured patients? Now we’ve got to make up some fucking bullshit MacGuffin that’s hidden in the literal heart of the house?! Yes, the house has a physical, organic fucking heart now!
Another massive problem with this festival of cinematic shit is that the house doesn’t even resemble the house of the first movie. I mean, how hard would that have been to pull off? The previous film’s house was mainly just simple fucking corridors with dirt, rust and blood all over the walls. This looks like it was filmed in a random warehouse from a Fallout game and I don’t mean that complimentary.
The only part of the house that looks familiar is the entrance hall but even then, it’s smaller and it is so well lit that it destroys the whole aesthetic.
This film has no redeeming qualities, not a single fucking one. Sure, you could say, “But Jeffrey Combs is in it!” And while that’s true, he’s completely wasted and it wouldn’t have mattered if he returned to play Dr. Vannacutt or if they had cast the fucking Key Grip.
Rating: 1.5/10 Pairs well with: removing duct tape from your face.
Release Date: October 27th, 1999 (premiere) Directed by: William Malone Written by: Dick Beebe, Robb White Based on:House On Haunted Hill by Robb White, William Castle Music by: Don Davis Cast: Geoffrey Rush, Famke Janssen, Taye Diggs, Ali Larter, Chris Kattan, Peter Gallagher, Bridgette Wilson, Max Perlich, Jeffrey Combs, Slavitza Jovan, Lisa Loeb, Peter Graves (cameo), Greg Nicotero (uncredited)
Dark Castle Entertainment, Warner Bros. Pictures, 93 Minutes
“Dr. Richard Benjamin Vannacutt. He out-butchered Bundy, made Manson look meek.” – Peter Graves
Man, it’s been a really long time since I’ve watched this but for some odd reason, it holds a special place in my dark heart. I’m not sure if it is due to when it came out and the effect of nostalgia or because I actually consider it to be better than the film it is a remake of, which almost feels sacrilegious to type because Vincent Price, that film’s star, is why I fell in love with horror to begin with.
Generally, I’m not a fan of remakes in the same way I’m not a fan of cover songs. I really feel as if these things should only exist if they can justify themselves by being better or at the very least, being an interesting new take on the source material they are borrowing from.
1999’s House On Haunted Hill is a really good example of a film that takes its inspiration from its predecessor and makes it something else without sacrificing what the original vision was. It’s not an easy task to achieve but Dark Castle really started out on a good foot with this, their first of a few classic horror remakes.
Ultimately, this takes the formula from William Castle’s classic haunted house tale and ups the ante in a way that is very ’90s. It’s more extreme, has a fair bit of good gore and it updates the concept into something contemporary for the time. It’s also more of a psychological horror film and goes places that the original one couldn’t. The scene in the hallucination chamber is well done and actually kind of terrifying, even for a horror aficionado like myself.
That being said, there are three key things that make this remake a solid one.
The first is the ensemble cast. For a horror film with slightly more than a half dozen main players, we have an assemblage of some really good talent. Everyone sort of plays a typical horror archetype but they are all really good at it. I like everyone in this, top to bottom, regardless of whether or not they’re playing the innocent and good character thrown into a literal hell or they’re playing the evil, conniving bastard with some sort of dastardly trick up their sleeve.
Frankly, as good as everyone is in their roles, Geoffrey Rush and Famke Janssen steal every single scene they’re in. I can’t say that they outclass and out act every other actor here but they just rise to a different level and they seriously look like they are enjoying hamming it up in this twisted movie.
The second thing that makes this film work is the atmosphere. This isn’t the house from the original film. Instead, we’re trapped with these characters in a burned out art deco styled fortress of the 1930s, which was used as an insane asylum ran by an evil and sadistic doctor that used to butcher his patients.
Beyond that, the sets are incredible and the art direction in this film was magnificent. I really dig the lighting, the visual effects, the general cinematography and just about everything visual. The practical effects are great and even if the CGI feels dated now, it works for what this is and it doesn’t take you out of the picture like some of the CGI you’d see from this era. The Lovecraftian inspired blob of spirits is actually kind of cool and it works tremendously well with the tone of the film.
The third thing that works wonders is the score. The music is a great mix of a classic horror movie soundtrack and ’90s era industrial styled instrumentals. The film even features Marilyn Manson’s “Sweet Dreams”, which adds another level of dread and atmosphere to the already effective presentation of the picture.
I’d like to give credit to the director, William Malone. He managed this project well and I have to give credit where it’s due, especially since I don’t like the other films that I’ve seen of his: Creature, FeardotCom and Parasomnia. But maybe I will give those movies a re-watch soon, as it’s been a long time.
When this came out, it was a film that critics hated but I remember most people enjoying it. It’s got a ’90s campiness to it but it’s far from comedy and I’d say that it’s aged well. It’s certainly better than what the modern standard seems to be in the horror genre.
I think that I’ll revisit Dark Castle’s Thirteen Ghosts remake soon, as it has been a long time since I’ve seen it but I had a good experience with it, back in the day. I may also finally watch the sequel to this film. I heard it’s nowhere near as good but with this fresh in my mind, I’d like to take another trip to the haunted asylum.
Rating: 8/10 Pairs well with: the other Dark Castle remakes of classic horror films, as well as other late ’90s and early ’00s ghost movies.
Also known as: Stuart Gordon’s Castle Freak Release Date: November 14th, 1995 Directed by: Stuart Gordon Written by: Dennis Paoli, Stuart Gordon Based on:The Outsider by H.P. Lovecraft Music by: Richard Band Cast: Jeffrey Combs, Barbara Crampton, Jessica Dollarhide, Jonathan Fuller
Full Moon Entertainment, 95 Minutes
“I didn’t kill her, I fucked her, Okay?” – John Reilly
Anything that brings the Re-Animator team back together, usually ends with pretty good results. This is the one and only time that it didn’t. I loved the three Re-Animator films and From Beyond but this was pretty friggin’ awful.
Even the acting of Jeffrey Combs, who I usually love in everything, was just off the mark and a bit over the top. Barbara Crampton was fairly decent but not as good as she was in those other films. Jessica Dollarhide, who was only in this movie and had a few TV credits, was actually the high point on the acting side.
The plot, like the other films featuring this director and his cast, was taken from an H.P. Lovecraft story. The film is missing that insane otherworldly feel of the other films though. This is also missing the comedy. Essentially, what we have here is a serious attempt at creating a horror film from a crew that were maestros of really dark comedy movies. It just didn’t work on any level.
The score was exceptionally bad, which was surprising since the man behind the music, Richard Band, worked with this troupe before with fantastic results.
I’m not sure what was wrong with this movie. It was the one time that these people didn’t create magic. It is just so out of tune with their other work that it’s baffling. Maybe it has to do with Full Moon putting out the film, as they’ve made mostly schlock for decades.
Castle Freak unlike this group’s other films, is completely forgettable.
Also known as: H.P. Lovecraft’s From Beyond Release Date: October 24th, 1986 Directed by: Stuart Gordon Written by: Dennis Paoli, Brian Yuzna, Stuart Gordon Based on:From Beyond by H.P. Lovecraft Music by: Richard Band Cast: Jeffrey Combs, Barbara Crampton, Ken Foree, Ted Sorel, Carolyn Purdy-Gordon
“Humans are such easy prey.” – Dr. Edward Pretorius
From Beyond might not be as well-known as Re-Animator but maybe it should be. It is made by the same creative team and even features two of the stars of Re-Animator. Plus, this is also a modern adaptation of another H.P. Lovecraft story. Stuart Gordon made his career off of adapting Lovecraft and this film, may be the most bizarre of all those stories.
To be honest, I like this slightly better than the original Re-Animator but not quite as much as Bride of Re-Animator, my favorite from the series. It is insane in the same way those other films were but this one is different. Where Re-Animator was more like a Lovecraftian version of a Frankenstein story, this is more like Lovecraft mixed with David Cronenberg’s body horror style. Think films like Videodrome, The Fly, Scannersor The Brood.
Jeffrey Combs is a scientist in this film too but he isn’t like Dr. Herbert West from Re-Animator. He is a good guy that got pulled into some really bad stuff and has been horribly effected by it.
Ted Sorel plays the evil doctor in this. His insane and disfigured Dr. Pretorius (named as an homage to the mad scientist from Bride of Frankenstein) is very similar to David Gale’s villainous Dr. Carl Hill from the first two Re-Animator films.
Barbara Crampton reunites with Combs, as the sexy doctor that is interested in the weird experiments in this story but also gets in way over her head. Horror icon Ken Foree gets some good moments in this film and looked like he was fully invested in his part, especially the more physical demands of this picture.
The special effects in this are friggin’ impressive and eclipse what Gordon and Brian Yuzna did in Re-Animator, a year prior. This is such a colorful film with great lighting, mostly employing a lot of high intensity reds and blues at different levels of depth in the shots. While the visual style probably disguised issues with some of the practical special effects, it actually makes them look even better, as the vivid colors just add to the otherworldly feel.
From Beyond is highly underrated and underappreciated. It is sort of lost to time. When I come across fans of the Re-Animator films, I always ask them what they think about this picture. Often times, I discover that they have never even heard of this movie.
This film is bizarre and unique and a hell of a lot of fun. It is disturbing and uncomfortable but has a charm about it. If you like Re-Animator, I don’t know why you wouldn’t like this.
Release Date: April 4th, 2003 Directed by: Brian Yuzna Written by: Miguel Tejada-Flores, Jose Manuel Gomez, Brian Yuzna (uncredited) Based on:Herbert West – Reanimator by H.P. Lovecraft Music by: Xavier Capellas Cast: Jeffrey Combs, Tommy Dean Musset, Jason Barry, Barbara Elorrieta, Elsa Pataky, Santiago Segura, Simon Andreu
I really like the Re-Animator film series but this was the weakest chapter out of the three. I’m not sure why, as taking things into a prison setting should have provided some interesting developments and new territory. I think it may have fallen short because there was so much time between the second film and this one, the third and final.
That being said, this is still pretty fun and I do like the film. Re-Animator is a horror film franchise where every movie does a good job and brings something fresh without simply being a retread. Then again, the series stopped at three films. Although, I’d really be game for a fourth even though it has been a long time since the third. But Dr. Herbert West is still out there.
I guess the biggest thing about this film that sets it below the others is that the big grand finale isn’t bigger and crazier than the previous two movies. The first film’s finale was ridiculous in the best way possible. The second film upped the ante and was as visually impressive as it was completely insane. This film still has an awesome ending full of insanity, violence, gore and a lot of dark humor but it didn’t go any further than what we’ve seen before.
I feel like the prison riot scenario could have been so grander and with a lot more re-animated corpses ripping human flesh to shreds. It was cool seeing what happens when a junkie shoots up with Dr. West’s syrum but it felt like an understatement in the way the film handled it.
At the end of the day, Jeffrey Combs is still money as Dr. Herbert West and this is still a good horror film that fits within the franchise, even if though it came out after a thirteen year break.
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