Dead & Rotting (2002)

Starring Stephen O’Mahoney, Tom Hoover, Debbie Rochon, Trent Haaga, Jeff Dylan Graham, Barbara Katz-Norrod, Christopher Suciu, Beth Biasella, Tammi Sutton, Jamie Star

Directed by David P. Barton

Expectations: Low.

On the general scale:

On the B-movie scale:


I always hope to like the movie I’m watching, but I must admit that I started Dead & Rotting with a real sinking feeling. The title seemed prophetic of the film’s quality, and its ugly cover art (see above) didn’t reassure me any. So when I began the film and it wasn’t an immediate train wreck, my spirits lifted a bit. A few minutes in, I actually thought to myself, “This is actually pretty good!” By the end of the film, I had been converted completely, and I can now declare Dead & Rotting to actually be one of the best Full Moon films of the early 2000s. Maybe now I’ll have learned my lesson not to judge a movie by its title/cover, but with Full Moon movies like Magic in the Mirror: Fowl Play still on deck for review, I’m unsure if it’ll stick.

Three prankster buddies are out for a night ride in their truck, daring each other to check out a scary house in the woods rumored to be the house of a witch. Before they can get too close, though, they meet a weird, dirty man who runs them off the property by attacking the truck with some kind of animal on a stick. One thing leads to another and the witch sets out to curse the men, asking them, “Do you know what it feels like to be dead and rotting?” It’s a fairly simple, straightforward movie and it’s also short, so I’ll leave it at that. You get the gist.

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Mini-Review: Hell Asylum (2002)

AKA Prison of the Dead 2

Starring Debra Mayer, Tanya Dempsey, Sunny Lombardo, Stacey Scowley, Olimpia Fernandez, Timothy Muskatell, Joe Estevez, Brinke Stevens, Matt Moffett, Trent Haaga

Directed by Danny Draven

Expectations: Low.

On the general scale:

On the B-movie scale:


My first exposure to director Danny Draven was with his most recent directorial work for Full Moon: Reel Evil. That movie stands firm as one of the worst Full Moon movies in my eyes, so to start up Hell Asylum and almost immediately feel similar vibes, I knew I was in trouble. While the plots aren’t exactly the same, from what I remember of Reel Evil you could almost call it a remake of Hell Asylum. Both films feature a group of people trapped in a “real” haunted asylum to film a show/movie, expecting scares/FX but getting killed by real ghosts. Reel Evil goes into a more direct, found-footage direction to capture the proceedings, but the seeds of that are in Hell Asylum as well, with headset cams that annoyingly cut in and out to static every few seconds.

My predisposition to dislike a movie like this is not the only concern with Hell Asylum, either. It’s barely over an hour long, but something like 20 minutes of that is just unnecessary setup and filler. First we see an overlong pitch meeting — scored with ominous music — where an executive (Joe Estevez, the film’s bright spot) is sold on the idea of five hot chicks in an old mansion/asylum getting scared for the chance to win a million dollars. Then we see the girls’ audition tapes, where they explain themselves and their darkest fears. Using their fears against them was the most intriguing part of the pitch, reminding me of the Stephen King novel It, but there’s nothing engaging that actually comes of it. Next is a lengthy explanation of the rules of the game. It all adds up to extreme boredom and disinterest. Lot of repetitive, meaningless talking heads do not make for a good horror film.

Other than the presence of Joe Estevez, the only redeeming quality of Hell Asylum is its approach to gore. Full Moon’s films are generally light in this department, and Hell Asylum looks like it wants to make up for lost time. There is a distinct choice in favor of ridiculously over-the-top gore, particularly featuring lots of ripped-out intestines. I appreciated this desire to spice things up where other Full Moon films have failed, but the thing I found most enjoyable was the very small diameter of the intestines they used. We all have a basic idea of what human intestines look like, but whatever is in Hell Asylum is much smaller and stringier. Whatever they were or were supposed to be, I don’t honestly know, but wondering about this was the closest thing to engagement that Hell Asylum provided.

I put a lot of time into my writing hobby, but I don’t consider amateur writing to be hard work. Sitting through Hell Asylum, though, was a tough day at the office.

Next time I get around to a Full Moon movie I’ll be checking in with Ted Nicolaou’s Moonbeam film Dragonworld! See ya then!

Killjoy’s Psycho Circus (2016)

killjoy5_1Starring Trent Haaga, Victoria De Mare, Tai Chan Ngo, Al Burke, Robin Sydney, Stephen F. Cardwell, Lauren Nash, Tim Chizmar, Victoria Levine

Directed by John Lechago

Expectations: Moderate to high.

On the general scale:
onestar

On the B-movie scale:
twostar


John Lechago’s Killjoy films have been the shining star of Full Moon’s modern efforts, easily outpacing just about every one of the studio’s other recent efforts. I was so taken with Killjoy 3: Killjoy’s Revenge (and to a lesser extent Killjoy Goes to Hell), that I made it a point to check out all of Lechago’s other films. I really enjoyed them all — especially Blood Gnome — and they exhibit the same low-budget ingenuity and ambition apparent in his Killjoy films. So I definitely went into his latest film, Killjoy’s Psycho Circus, with an expectation to enjoy it. Instead I came away hoping it’s the end of the Killjoy series (although I know it won’t be).

Killjoy’s Psycho Circus sees the clown (Trent Haaga) in his new semi-mortal state achieved at the end of Killjoy Goes to Hell. He’s hosting his own talk show called Killjoy’s Psycho Circus, and Batty Boop (Victoria De Mare) has tired of his antics and left him. Meanwhile, Beelzebub (Stephen F. Cardwell) is put on trial for losing Killjoy in the last film, and now he’s tasked with bringing Killjoy’s soul back to hell. He simply requests one thing to do this job: a massive space ship! Why? Who cares? Killjoy’s going to space!

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Killjoy Goes to Hell (2012)

AKA Killjoy 4

Starring Trent Haaga, Victoria De Mare, Al Burke, Tai Chan Ngo, John Karyus, Aqueela Zoll, Jason R. Moore, Cecil Burroughs, Randy Mermell, Stephen F. Cardwell, Lisa Goodman, Ian Roberts, Jim Tavaré, Jessica Whitaker

Directed by John Lechago

Expectations: Moderately high. The last one was great, and the buzz has been very positive.

On the general scale:

On the B-movie scale:


Coming off the impressive Killjoy 3: Killjoy’s Revenge, writer/director John Lechago is back to bring Full Moon fans another dose of the demon clown whether they wanted it or not. (And rest assured, there will most definitely be a Part 5.) Thankfully, Killjoy Goes to Hell lives up to the previous series entry, and although I liked Part 3 better, this one is still pretty damn good for a modern Full Moon movie. It’s easily the best produced film from the studio since the last Killjoy film, and it’s quite impressive the amount of play they were able to squeeze out of a few simple sets.

Like the title suggests, in this one Killjoy goes to hell, but not for a relaxing vacation… he’s on trial! All these people slipping through his fingers over the course of the series have been adding up, and the devious girl still alive at the end of Killjoy 3 (Jessica Whitaker) is the last straw. So when an old hag summons Killjoy after finding part of his face in a trash heap (one of my favorite moments), she promptly delivers him to the devil and we’re thrust deep into a courtroom drama that only Full Moon could deliver. Move over 12 Angry Men! Step aside A Few Good Men! Killjoy’s back and he’s funnier than ever!

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Killjoy 3: Killjoy’s Revenge (2010)

Starring Trent Haaga, Victoria De Mare, Al Burke, Darrow Igus, Spiral Jackson, Quentin Miles, Tai Chan Ngo, Michael Rupnow, Jessica Whitaker, Olivia Dawn York

Directed by John Lechago

Expectations: I just hope it’s not the slog that part 2 was.

On the general scale:

On the B-Movie scale:


Holy shit! Killjoy 3: Killjoy’s Revenge was everything I could have wanted out of a Killjoy movie! I lament the fact that it’s no longer an “urban,” blaxploitation-influenced series, but other than that Killjoy 3 delivers big time. I would go so far to say that it’s not only the most fun Killjoy film, it’s also the best Full Moon movie of the last few years. Evil Bong 2 was pretty fun in its own way, but Killjoy 3 delivers on a whole different level.

The film opens with a short scene where “The Professor” summons Killjoy. The demon senses a great need in the man, so he creates three devious minions to help him in this quest for vengeance: Punchy the Hobo Clown, Freakshow the Mime (complete with a Kuato-style baby attached to his side), and Batty Boop, a hot girl in full clown body paint. But then the Professor reneges on the deal by picking up a book(?) and Killjoy is not amused! Back to the nether realms he goes, but first he vows to have his own revenge on this dastardly professor! The tables have turned. But wait Killjoy 3, you had me at “Kuato-style baby attached to his side.”

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Deadly Stingers (2003)

Starring Nicolas Read, Marcella Laasch, Sewell Whitney, Sarah Megan White, Jay Richardson, Stephen O’Mahoney, Trent Haaga, Lilith Stabs, Brinke Stevens

Directed by J.R. Bookwalter

Expectations: None. Films that don’t get released usually don’t get released for a reason.

On the general scale:

On the B-Movie scale:


I don’t have the full story, but from what I gather Deadly Stingers is an unreleased Syfy Channel production with some involvement from what then constituted the Full Moon company. For some reason, it was never shown or released in the US, but it did find a home on television in the UK. While I’d love to say that you’ve been done wrong once again by the man, and Deadly Stingers is a holy grail for killer scorpion aficionados, I’m unable– ah who am I kidding? If you’re a killer scorpion fiend (and you don’t mind that these killer scorpions are mutants grown to human size), then you need to watch Deadly Stingers. I’m not an expert, but I’m sure it’s pretty safe to say that this is a fairly untapped sub-genre.

Deadly Stingers is exactly the sparsely scripted, low-budget horror schlock you’d expect it to be, but it is made with enough style and fun that it overcomes all the odds stacked against it. This is a traditional small town horror film, where a group of people are separated and have to do their best to fend off the fearsome creatures assaulting the town. But when I say small town horror, don’t expect anything nearly as funny and entertaining as James Gunn’s Slither. This is on a completely different scale.

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