23 December 2009


Not getting much writing done recently. Sure I’ve been watching plenty of films but I am simply not focused enough or have energy to keep a steady stream of new material coming here or at The Uranium Cafe. Just tired and burned out with life in general and the multi-vitamins work some days but not others. Also feeling a little discouraged with this site as well since reviving it from the dead a month or two back. The site is still only getting about 50 visitors a day. That makes me less than motivated to whip out one of my masterful essays on an exquisite selection of trash cinema.

Of course when all else fails and you need to just keep your blog alive in the blogosphere there is nothing more reliable than good old eye candy. I got a hold of some scans of almost every issue of Femme Fatales and Scream Queens Illustrated and will feature some pictures once in a while that I have cropped and edited a little. This post features busty Rhonda Shear who played in a host of TV shows and B-movies. I will refrain from doing a mini-bio on her for the time. That may come about one day but I simply d not have the energy right now and am about to flop down on the sofa and pop in a DVD and waste what is rest of this night there. But I can veg out knowing I have done a little something to enlighten humanity just a little. And so here is Rhonda Shear.




12 December 2009


I am hastily writing this as a holiday themed post for Robyn over at Horror Blips. I am past the deadline however as I simply forgot the exact deadline date and now find myself a few hours past it and hope she can show me some mercy. More mercy than the protagonist in this William Lustig directed body count film from 1997 does his victims in any case. Lustig now runs things over at Blue Underground which distributes old classics like Living Dead at the Manchester Morgue, The New York Ripper onto nice Blu-ray disks. He used to direct and turned out a few classics including Maniac with ultra-gore effects by Tom Savini and the Maniac Cop series. The script for Uncle Sam is by another great genre write/director Larry Cohen who did such films as God Told Me to, Its Alive, Q: The winged Serpent and The Stuff. Well the end result here may be overall lacking given the teamwork of these two veterans of horror but Uncle Sam is not a waste of your time totally. The cast has a few familiar faces as well. There is Issac Hayes, Timothy Bottoms, PJ Soles, William Smith, Robert Forster and Bo Hopkins in roles of varying importance. The film is pretty cheesy and is not meant to be taken too seriously and the one big drawback is that the actual action does not take place until about 45 minutes into the film. The time before that is spent setting up characters who will be killed off in the second half of the movie. During the second half, of course, more characters are introduced briefly who are also killed off by Sam.

The story is about a boy named Jody who worships his dead Uncle Sam who, as I said, died a fiery death in Kuwait many years before. Jody was maybe only two or three years old when he last saw his Uncle Sam but he adores the man. The boy simply idolizes the guy and his war ‘heroics’ while ignoring the truth about Sam from other people like Jed Crowley (Hayes) who was a war buddy of Sam’s and his mother Sally (Leslie Neale) who lets Jody know that she was happy to have Sam off in sunny Kuwait because then he could stop beating her for awhile. Jodi is not moved. He wants to be just like Sam and when Sam is returned to the US and his casket is kept in his living room he could not be happier. As the small town prepares for its annual 4th of July celebration we are quickly introduced to people who have ‘dead’ tattooed on their foreheads. There is Jody’s peace-nik teacher Mr. Crandall (Timothy Bottoms) who dodged the Vietnam draft, a group of boys who take delight in desecrating the flag as well as the headstones of local war heroes, a shady IRS tax collector, a crooked politician (Forster) and a military man Sgt Twining (Bo Hopkins) who has the job of consoling (and hopefully bedding) grieving war widows. The there are local teen bullies who moon the Star Spangled Banner and pot smoking school girls who fall into the ‘need to die horribly’ category and probably a few others I forget right now. All these people are scum in the eyes any true ‘red blooded American citizen, but they are things to be squashed by Sam after he rises from the dead and goes on a killing spree in an Uncle Sam costume he gets off a Peeping Tom. The deaths are mostly let downs but there are couple good ones, like where the bully gets his head chopped off and someone gets impaled on a flagpole. Again the issue is that the movie takes too long getting to these deaths and I am not sure why.

The first half is not really used in any special way. For example it could have set up some sort of story line that dealt with patriotism or the effects of war on families but it really does not. And it also tried to be too serious in he first half, without going anywhere, only to have a psycho killer in an Uncle Sam costume whacking people at in goofy ways in the second half. I would have preferred to leave the unnecessary social commentary issues out of the film (if there are any really) and Sam should have been up and killing much earlier. The film ends with Jody and his burnt, blind and crippled friend killing Sam with a working canon they push to Jody’s house. The ending is fine and the deaths are fine but the film should have stayed silly and shot for more laughs and less horror which it does not really deliver. But all that said I can recommend the film for a single watching though it cannot live up to cool cover of an evil and rotted Uncle Sam pointing his finger at you. While you hate the pinkos and flag burners you cannot like Sam much more.

I think if Sam had been a real hero who returned to a zombie state and felt compelled out of duty to kill the desecrators the film may have worked better. There could have been some moment of redemption at the end where Jody convinces him that what he is doing is wrong or something and Sam feels bad and immolates himself or something. As it goes Sam is just a serial killer/slasher/psycho with a uniform who rose from the dead in a really bad mood. The ending seems to be a set up for a possible sequel, where Jody looks at his mom with a hateful expression (showing that he has some of Sam’s qualities in him… I guess) but so far nothing. It might be interesting to see a film where Jody returns from Afghanistan and wrecks vengeance on a new generation of post 9-11 America haters and, more deservedly, on people who name little boys Jody.



 In an attempt to change the format of Necrotic Cinema and introduce more modern horror films into the blog here I decided to begin doing some double feature styled posts here. The site has suffered from a lack of posting and I want to get a steady readership of over 100 people a day here if possible and the only way to do that is actually post. Sticking to a theme for the double feature posts today I will comment on two films that use the concept of Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) or Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD) as it is called in the Psychiatric manual that every horror/thriller screenwriter should have on his desktop the DMS or Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Now there is some controversy as to whether this or not this condition even exists except perhaps in the rarest of situations. There was a boom of MPD cases in the late 80’s and many were linked to whole Satanic Panic craze at the time. Most cases were later dismissed as bad therapy and to be honest I had one former girlfriend from the late 80’s who believed she a victim of Satanic ritual abuse and possibly some form of MPD. She was actually more normal than I make her sound here but I am just trying give an example of how prevalent the whole thing was at the time. There were books pro and con on the subject and the matter seemed to disappear after law suits began to appear focusing on questionable therapy techniques. I am not an expert on these matters and people have their own beliefs. I tend to fall into the skeptic category but skeptics probably make boring horror movies for the most part. But in the case of at least one these MPD movies it looks like true believers churn some boring dreck as well.
That film is 2009’s Frayed and it is a low budget, independent horror/stalker film that gets merciful reviews from some sites. I am beginning to think that these low budget-indie films garner sympathy from some reviewers that they do not deserve. Here is a quote from a review at Fatally Yours:

Frayed is an independent production from Washington State made by three lifelong friends with a dream of making a movie together. Though the film’s premise might sound like a typical slasher (and the film’s DVD cover certainly does it no justice), as the story progresses it offer much more than the typical stalk and slash movie. Frayed manages to transcend and discard genre conventions and delivers a film with an unexpected, shocking ending. It also manages to overcome the obstacle of a low budget and delivers a polished, professional-looking film that is sure to get tongues a-waggin’ in the horror community.

My tongue did not wag much but my eye lids definitely drooped. While I agree that the ending was sort of cool no genre conventions were transcended whatsoever. The bottom line is that is a simple body count movie with a psycho stalker in a mask (a psycho clown mask that looks like one of the guys from Slipknot actually). I recently gave three atrocious indie films my first ever no skull ratings. Frayed will not get that harsh a treatment as it is not as horrible as those messes but I am not going to be nice to a film simply because it is low budget and independently made by three old friends with a dream and video camera. I do not know if all of the film was shot on video camera but a good deal of it was. The first problem I noticed was when the credits were rolling and I saw that there were no less than five script writers and two directors involved. I just had a feeling that there were too many cooks and the kitchen and that none of them on their own could make a tuna fish sandwich.

There are a couple good death scenes to be honest but many of the deaths occur off camera and there are some major gaps in the logic as far as these go. I will touch on one of these in a moment because first I must spoil the entire film and say that my wife and I figured out almost immediately that the security guard that gets picked up from the roadside was the escaped psycho Kurt. And almost as immediately she figured out in advance that the images of the clown masked killer were hallucinations by Kurt and then that Kurt was innocent of the original crimes. It is hard to be surprised by the surprise ending when it is being telegraphed from the beginning of the film. There is a pedophile twist to the end of the film that caught us off guard but only because by then we were too tired and agitated with the film to try and figure anything else out in advance. I keep clicking on the ‘time remaining’ button on the remote to see how much more I had to endure. Some problems I had with the film are these:

1)    The music score was too boring and poorly performed. The ones seem to consist solely of two or three note ‘washes’ or sound pads. Not even any suspenseful arpeggios or drum machines. It is more like some sort of new age trance music and even the scenes were the music should jolt you are ineffective because the score does not know how to build up and deliver. A good score is essential in a horror film to help deliver the goods. An effective score can sometimes rescue a weak film. Here the music sounds like an attempt at some sort of Mark Isham score and just makes the lack of action and drawn out scenes more excruciating than they need to be.

2)    The acting is just too bad. Of course the budget of a film like this will not have any names in it. They cannot even afford a walk-on by someone like Robert Englund or Tony Todd. And that is okay. There are realities to low budget film making that even a novice like myself is aware of and tolerant of. There is also the reality that if your script cannot attract the attention of some old timers who sometimes show up to collect enough money to pay their rent for a month the the script probably blows bigtime. I recently saw the crappy film Hatchet and it featured brief appearances by Englund, Todd and Parry Shen. Not to say that the actors here have never been in anything before. Tony Doupe, who plays Sheriff and bad daddy Pat Baker, has appeared in a few films and usually plays a sheriff or deputy. But here his performance is so spacey and his lines so mundane and the banality of both are accentuated by the slow scenes and film score that there is not much he can really do. The actors cannot really emote or do anything o salvage the poorly scripted scenes. They cannot even effectively overact when the times calls for it.

3)    The dialog is bland and lifeless. The scenes of daughter Sara arguing with her step mother are lifeless at best. You would think with five script writers some believable dialog would have been generated but it is never the case. In the scene where Kurt (as security guard Gary) is in the car with Sam drags on painfully. The music is boring and why is so much space between the sentences? In another scene the sheriff asks one of his deputies to go guard his wife and daughter at their house and the dialog is not only crappy here but it goes on and on with the sheriff calling to the deputy as he walks away in order to deliver one more line of bad dialog.

4)    There are issues with the logic and flashback sequences. I stated earlier I would give one example of one problem with the logic and how the film’s surprises are given away and that is the scene where the girl’s boy friends are killed by Kurt as Gary the security guard. Supposedly Gary is being pursued by escaped psycho Kurt through the woods for most of the film. Suddenly the horny teens hear a sound and the guys get dressed and leave the tents to check it out and you can hear them being killed off as the girls panic. Suddenly Gary opens the tent and tells them not to be afraid and to follow him. Okay, why would Kurt not have killed Gary the guy eh has been stalking through the woods for the entire film? Why would Kurt not have opened the tent and killed the girls after he had killed their useless boyfriends? At this meant it is clear that Kurt and Gary are the same person. And issue is with how the flashbacks are done. I am not really an idiot. I do not see a repeated flashback sequence over and over to understand that is crucial to the plot and that by the films end we will understand what the flashback’s meaning. This is the case with the scenes of Kurt as a little boy in the mental institution as he looks out the slot in his door to a group photo of the staff on the wall. In fact after the second flashback I realized that the staff where the people in Kurt/Gary’s imagination and that they made up separate personalities in his mental disorder. I do not need to be hit over the head with a hammer over and over and the film makers gave away the big surprise yet again.

5)    And lastly there are cheap fart gags around the campfire scene. Fart gags are the last recourse of a bad filmmaker to add some humor into their lifeless script. And not just one fart gag but several. One fart gag is not funny so why would three or four be? People laugh at this crap not because it is funny but because the scene has embarrassed them.

See it if you want but do not be fooled by some of the praises this one receives on the net. In another post at Fatally Yours a reviewer puts down Twilight while encouraging readers to see a parody on Youtube Twilight with this remark:

It is safe to say that most of the horror community loathes the Twilight series (or Twatlight, as most of us prefer to call it), so I was laughing my you-know-what off when I watched Barely Political’s “Twilight Sucks” video where Dracula laments the rise of the emo vampire.
And in closing here lies my issues with Twilight bashing; how can the same web site say people (no doubt the ‘cool’ people) in the horror community loath Twilight while praising this amateurish load of rubbish? If you hate Twilight that is fine but be consistent. This film is one hundred times worse and yet get remarks, again at Fatally Yours (a site I like, okay, but just do not agree with them on this one) like “Frayed is an impressive independent film that offers much more than it first suggests. Though it looks polished and professional like a big budget film, the filmmakers took time to make sure Frayed had a well-developed and intriguing story, one whose horror will stick with you long after watching.” Uh, okay. I guess the memory of having a leg amputated would stick with you for a long time too. To be fair the film receives lots of deserved bashing on the net as well and as far as the praises go I again seem to missing something here while what I wish I had missed was the entire film.

04 December 2009


As I stated in my last post here where I try to defend my liking of the film Twilight I live in China and I simply do not see any of the film's merchandising here. One would hardly know the film exists outside the Internet and the pirated DVD copies that you can get for about one American dollar. To prepare for the releases in China of New Moon they re-released the first Twilight film but it is dubbed in Chinese and I have no interest in seeing it. I have no idea why they would do that since most younger people would prefer to see the film in English with Chinese subs. The dubbing for foreign films here is done by the same ‘actors, as I understand and viewers overall get sick of hearing the same voices for all western actors. As well when a film dialog is dubbed all other sounds are lost as well and so they try to replace the film with reasonable sound effects and soundtrack but they fail miserably.

Okay I am a little off track here but the point I am trying to make is that the Twilight phenomenon does not really exist here in terms of media exposure or merchandising. As I just made clear the film has never even played in state controlled cinemas here until a week ago and it was dubbed from English to Chinese. So Twilight as a film exists here a genuine cult article at best. A strange foreign Romeo and Juliet-Vampire film. So I was bit shocked (as shocked as I can get anyway) when I went to visit Monster Land, the newest member of The League of Tana Tea Drinkers (where my sister blog The Uranium Café is proudly listed), to see some of the odd and mostly silly merchandising for the film franchise. I still like the film in a general way and regret there was not an English release in theaters here in Kunming (maybe there is in more English friendly Shanghai or Beijing) but some of the products (not all for were sale actually as some, like a felt sculpture of Bella’s womb, where made by fans for themselves) were a little whacky. I guess topping the list, for me, were the Edward Cullen panties. Now they appear to be men’s briefs but I am certain this is a woman’s product and women wearing brief style panties is not new if one has ever perused the undie section of the Sears catalog. I sort of … er…accidentally skimmed over the section while looking for the fishing supply section. Well I will not debase the high standards of this blog by making ‘blood drinking’ jokes but if you’re curious there are a few online you can find with minimal research but I can point you in the right direction. Visit the not too friendly Twilight themed site Twitarded and read some of the comments at the bottom.

Well, some of this is tongue in cheek of I am certain but I guess this sort of thing can draw ire from some corners whose tastes are more refined. I just just want to cmplain however on the aprt of all us old guys out here in the blogosphere that as far as I have been able to ascertain there are no merchandising products with the image of Bella’s dad on them or for that mater the old Indian guy in the wheelchair. Now why not put their faces on a pair of silky panties I ask!? It is simply not fair.