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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Bleed (2002)

bleed_1Starring Debbie Rochon, Danny Wolske, Allen Nabors, Orly Tepper, Ronnie Gene Blevins, Laura Nativo, Julie Strain, Brinke Stevens, Lloyd Kaufman

Directed by Devin Hamilton & Dennis Petersen

Expectations: Hopefully it doesn’t make my eyes bleed.

On the general scale:
onestar

On the B-movie scale:
onehalfstar


I’m racking my brain for a way to best describe Bleed, but all I’m getting back is the EBS test tone, and that sure isn’t helping me think. Bleed is a poor excuse for a movie, but at the same time it’s an easy movie to get through. Not in a “so bad it’s good” way, it’s just paced well and it shows enough promise to assume it will get interesting. I didn’t like Bleed, but I definitely didn’t hate it either. I wouldn’t call it boring because I was genuinely engaged, but it’s ultimately vapid and not worth watching because it takes all that potential and blows it to oblivion in the final minutes. I’d almost rather be bored than disrespected like that!

Bleed opens with a couple of bros leaving a house party. One is dressed as a cheap streetwalker, the other a maid. They part ways, and soon after someone in all black wearing an expressionless white mask slices the hooker upwards from his balls to his collarbone. It’s surprisingly gory for a Full Moon film, with entrails spilling out of the wound, but don’t get too excited gorehounds. Besides this moment there isn’t much more, but it’s worth noting that what gore there is looks relatively good given the film’s probable very low budget.

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Return to Nuke ‘Em High Vol. 1 (2013)

nukeemhighvol1_1Starring Asta Paredes, Catherine Corcoran, Clay von Carlowitz, Zac Amico, Stefan Dezil, Gabriela Fuhr, Vito Trigo, Mark Quinnette, Mike Baez, Reiki Tsuno, Tara E. Miller, Jim Sheppard, Debbie Rochon, Babette Bombshell, William Dreyer, Ron Mackay, Adam P. Murphy, Brenda Rickert, Lloyd Kaufman, Lemmy, Stan Lee

Directed by Lloyd Kaufman

Expectations: Super high! It’s the new Troma film!

threehalfstar


Lloyd Kaufman’s films are all about excess in the name of fun, with moments of grossout gore, nudity and juvenile humor all amped up to levels that would make a nun’s black habit turn white. Return to Nuke ‘Em High is no different, so Troma fans can rest assured that this new film from Uncle Lloyd is the real deal. I absolutely loved it, and while I did have a couple of issues with it overall, it’s a great film that showcases everything you either love or hate about Troma. There’s never a middle ground with a Troma film, and this commitment to a truly independent vision of cinema is what keeps the fans loyal and hungry for more tromatic thrills.

Return to Nuke ‘Em High is kind of a remake of the original Class of Nuke ‘Em High (one of my favorite Troma films), but it’s also kind of a sequel too. It also goes the Citizen Toxie route and kind of brushes off whatever happened in the previous sequels to make things easier for the writing team. This is all lovingly and wonderfully rendered during the opening sequence of the film, which recaps the first film and introduces us to the current circumstances afflicting good ol’ Tromaville High School. I should also mention that calling Return to Nuke ‘Em High a remake of Class of Nuke ‘Em High doesn’t do justice to what Troma has created here. Return to Nuke ‘Em High is very much its own thing with a wealth of fresh, hilarious creativity, while also incorporating and re-inventing elements that existed in the original film.

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Killjoy 2: Deliverance from Evil (2002)

Starring Charles Austin, Wayland Geremy Boyd, Bobby Marsden, Aaron Brown, Logan Alexander, Debbie Rochon, Nicole Pulliam, Choice Skinner, Olimpia Fernandez

Directed by Tammi Sutton

Expectations: Moderate. I loved the first one, but I have a bad feeling about this one.

On the general scale:

On the B-Movie scale:


I loved the original Killjoy, and even though I had heard some horrid things about this sequel, I held out hope. With an intro featuring a badass foot chase through an office building with low-rent funk blasting out of the soundtrack and white cops calling black perps motherfuckers, I thought I was about to find another modern blaxploitation horror gem. It was all a ruse, though, and quickly my excitement waned as the actual movie set in. Killjoy 2 concerns a group of young criminals being transported in a van to another facility… somewhere. At night, their van breaks down in the middle of nowhere and without any cell service, they venture out in search of a house with a phone they can use. That’s about half the movie so I should probably stop there.

The original Killjoy was low-budget at around the $150,000 mark, but it made the best with what it had and crafted an interesting, fun film. Killjoy 2 was made for the smaller sum of $30,000, and while it tries to make that work, the quality of the writing and the situations are just so poor that it’s nearly impossible to be entertained by this film. It only runs seventy-two minutes but it is an absolute slog to get through… well, that’s not entirely true. The first half, while bad, is infinitely more enjoyable than the last half when Killjoy is around. I know that sounds odd, but Killjoy was so scaled back and different in this that he only made me sad. Perhaps his on-screen strength is directly proportionate to the quality of the reason why someone is summoning him. In the first film there was a lifetime of pain and bullying, but in this film it’s only a desperate attempt to heal their friend’s gunshot wound. What were they thinking? Killjoy isn’t named Healjoy, he’s a fucking killer clown! The bastards in Killjoy 3 better have a damn good reason to call up Killjoy from the depths!

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Uncle Jasper reviews: Tromeo and Juliet (1995)

Starring Jane Jensen, Will Keenan, Valentine Miele, Maximillian Shaun, Steve Gibbons, Sean Gunn, Debbie Rochon, Lemmy

Directed By: Lloyd Kaufman


Tromeo and Juliet is the Troma vision fully realized. It may as well have been titled “Lloyd Kaufman’s Mission Statement in Five Acts.” It is a film so deviously ingenious in its execution that it manages to both subvert and pay tribute to Shakespeare’s original work while at the same time raising serious questions about what human beings choose to elevate or ridicule as art. It is hands down the best film I’ve seen in months and the only thing I could think about right now is getting this review finished so I can watch it again. Orson Welles had Citizen Kane, Frank Capra had It’s a Wonderful Life, John Ford had Stagecoach, and Lloyd Kaufman has Tromeo and Juliet. These films are all masterpieces from their respective creators… but only one of them features gigantic penis monsters and random acts of nipple piercing.

The most shocking thing about Tromeo and Juliet is just how faithful it is to the bard’s original story. I think this says a lot right off the bat. When you pop in a Troma film on DVD I’m sure most take on the lackadaisical attitude of “…well, it ain’t Shakespeare.” But wait! This time it is Shakespeare! Oh shit, what now? In concept alone the film forces you to pay attention, but the story is so screamingly accurate and fits so astonishingly well into the Troma mold that questions have to be raised about just how classy Shakespeare’s work really was, or just how lowbrow and awful a film like The Toxic Avenger should really be regarded. Never before have I seen the line between “art” and “trash” so thin and opaque. These blurred distinctions are enough to completely shatter the rigid perceptions held by elitist art snobs and make the lovers of B-grade trash feel vindicated in their pursuit for sleaze.

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