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Shark Attack: Casper Van Poetry

Folks, you may not know this about me but I am also a poet. My review this week is a poetic reflection on this movie. Anything else, I would lose my shit. But I use the term “poetry” loosely here. Don’t you dare judge me. I watched this movie so you don’t have to. I am a god damn hero.

Port Amanzi Africa 

Guy marine biologist has device that makes sounds

Gets attacked by dudes

Exotic African beats and foggy shit

They slice his arm and throw him in

Florida, marine bio student

Casper is BFFs with Tom Brady IRL

Which makes total sense aesthetically

12 shark attacks in 3 months

Journal of Marine Biology WOW

Found dude’s watch in its liver??

1999 (remember the year)

Ernie Hudson = Ghostbusters

Fishing devastated by shark attacks

Finds out his buddy is dead in the most lethargic way ever

Blacktip

Red tide

Corinne= sister of dead dude

Any excuse for a brawl

American! You did good out there

Local tribe knows the deal

Thumper makes heartbeat-y sounds

Attracts sharks to corral them

Shady scientist smokes a lot and says “anytime”’ twice

What accents are these?? 

Catch one liver deformed 

Not even a white shark

Inflammation of the brain

Reverted back to primal instinct

Cells- dark spots- hormones because why?

“Think of the shark system as an engine, if you drive it too hard or too fast it’ll burn out”

Cure for cancer

Synthetic growth hormones

The boy! He almost died but didn’t

Is he sharky now?

Kidnapped by bad guys

Casper and boring Corinne thrown into water like the first dude

Miraculously find an O2  tank

(We can afford one car crash make it good)

Bunch of gross patients

Abandoned by Dr Craven (smoking guy)

Only shark? WTF?

Break into lab

Come up with a totally ineffective way of dispatching bad guys

Trade with Corinne

And hotel guy wants to develop too many things

Oil

Oh like a twist 

Locals and action and shooting and what not

Fighting

Evil guys laughing a lot

They enjoyed feeding dude to the shark 

Bad financier guy shoots smoker scientist with harpoon

All the sudden he’s good guy, but not really

Helicopter fight with bad guy

Sharks only eat bad guy

Casper alone on a calm sea looking fabulous

Recommendation nope


Director: Bob Misiorowski, Mandy Branch (two of you and this is what you came up with?)

Where to watch: Amazon Prime

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Reed Alexander’s Horror Review of, the one, the only, ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ (1974)

A timeless legend

Lets talk about one of the greatest classics in the slasher genre. This movie set a standard that raised the bar far beyond what other slashers in the genre were ever capable. There was a level of unhinged insanity captured in this movie and the effect really deserves more credit than it ever gets.

As I previously explained about Friday the 13th (F13), the acting was abysmal, the premise laughable, and the overall execution was generic, but it was still fantastic and became the standard for slashers as a genre. That’s because The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (TTCM) was more than just some slasher. It predates both Halloween (1978) and F13 (1980), and basically blows both of the out of the water.

Let’s talk about why. Leatherface walked onto the scene and stunned with everything that he was. They didn’t save him for some big reveal, they put his ass right up front and center with the first kill of the movie. Jason Voorhees doesn’t make an appearance until the second F13, and doesn’t even get the iconic hockey mask until the third F13. Leatherface is also deeply developed. Hell, Michael Myers doesn’t even get an actual back story until the fourth movie. Leatherface never speaks, but he still emotes. He reacts in tangible ways that allow the audience to ponder his thought process. They make a very specific point of showing the eyes underneath the human skin mask he wears, darting back in forth in worry and confusion. The director wanted you to think about what Leatherface was thinking, wanted you to try and process that there is a consciousness behind each horrific acts. Leatherface wasn’t just some slash’o, killing the kids fucking in the woods, he’s a mass murderer with thought and drive. He has reason, warped and insane as that reason might be.

It’s fair to say the acting was on point. At least equal to the acting in Halloween. And it wasn’t just Leatherface, every member of the cast was solid, even the bit rolls. The setting was marvelous and the atmosphere meticulously constructed. You could smell the rot through the theater screen. It was gritty, grimy, dark; just absolutely caked with filth. The FX were bargain barrel but they were used perfectly. Camera filters, lighting, the occasional smattering of fake blood. Simple. And the story is powerful enough to be an urban legend. It is, after all, looooooosely based on a true story called The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. They even have the real radio report during the opening of the movie. Mind you, there was never any mass murderer, just a grave robber who stole and skinned corpses. But it was enough to send the imagination reeling.

TTCM is special. It wasn’t just some slasher. Perhaps that’s what it became over the years and perhaps that’s what was wrong with the latter 2003 adaptation, but originally it was beyond standards. This movie is absolute required viewing for Horror Heads.

SPOILERS!!!

Lets talk about what made this movie perfect. Absolute, unhinged, madness. By the end of the movie, the actual actress was pushed so hard by her involvement in the movie, she snapped. We get to witness one of the most honest moments in horror ever presented; a person actually losing their mind.

Everything in the movie is so insane, so violently warped, that the madness is real. The effect was real. I can only imagine that the unprepared minds of 1970’s audiences were simply incapable of processing it. The actress might have actually snapped, but nothing less could have been expected of the character she played. Anyone confronted with the same psychotic circumstances would have lost their wits as well.

Heck the last survivor doesn’t get away because she formulates a plan. She flails and claws like a trapped animal until one of the Sawyers makes a mistake and she pulls herself free. Her only escape, flinging herself through a window. That is just fucking brutal. You get the feeling that she just flung herself aimlessly through the nearest exit, no sense of the consequences. And at that point, the actress was so flustered, it’s hard to know if she was acting or out of her damn mind.

That’s what makes this movie so great. Real, tangible, madness. Again, this is required viewing for all Horror Heads.

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Bait 3D: Clean up in aisle sux!

This is a movie about sharks in a grocery store. In Australia. Also Julian McMahon from Nip/Tuck is in it and I have kind of a thing for him (have you seen Nip/Tuck? Me-ow!). So I settled in for what I could only assume would be the most profound cinematic experience of my lifetime. 

Kidding. I knew it would blow. 

The main dude is a lifeguard who sees his friend eaten way back in the day, like two months ago. We are treated to the first attack scene complete with an extreme close up of the shoddy quality CGI sharks we can expect from this masterpiece. Then we fast forward to the dude now, life in shambles, fiance gone, a deep seeded hatred of all things sharky, and a job at Oceania Food Mart. The movie sets up a bunch of characters’ back stories so you already know who the main ensemble is going to be when the shit hits the shopping cart. 

A freak tsunami ravages the unfortunately placed grocery store and it floods with the ocean and its denizens, including a couple white pointers and they’re big-uns! My eyebrow was already raised in skepticism that anything good could come from this movie, but Julian McMahon was all soaking wet by this time, so I was watching (wink). All of our main folks end up atop the shelves and freezers and cars. They throw in a few red shirts to give the sharks some snacks while we tediously get to know these people. 

For a good amount of the film, the sharks are hidden and I like it sooooo much better that way. There is suspense and tension, the water is dark and mysterious, the sharks are sneaky and spooky. One of the movie’s shining moments comes when the sharks are first noticed by the group. You don’t see the shark but rather see a floating pile of debris moving along at a sharky pace, topped off by a soggy and very creepy doll’s head. As the shark approaches its victim, the doll dips below the surface like a barrel from the Orca, and boom goes the dynamite! The attack gore is hit or miss but when it hits, it’s really fun!

But then they decide to show the sharks for the rest of the film. Big mistake. We have come so far in technology…the roomba, Alexis, reusable picture hangers, Dippin Dots. Yet, no one and I mean NO ONE can seem to fashion a fucking realistic looking shark out of that CGI stuff! How can you go around life thinking Great Whites have black gums and the tooth structure of a slack-jawed yokel? And why are their faces so square? Hardly anything’s face is that square in nature except Olivia Wilde. Jesus Christ. 

Bait is a movie that gives you exactly what you’d expect from a grocery store sharksploitation venture. Nothing more, nothing less. It has some moments. The entire thing comes off as a 90 minute game of “The Floor is Lava”, but that can really work for a creature feature (I’m looking at you, Tremors). 

It’s silly and entertaining. Just go into it with lowered expectations regarding character development and shark anatomy and you’ll be totally fine

Oh and speaking of that, I’m working on another special edition where I break down the bad biology of these films, and rip it a new asshole. Coming soon!

Director: Kimble Rendall

Where to watch: Bait 3D is free on Amazon Prime. The regular Bait, you have to rent. Not sure why you would do that.

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The Bone Factory by Christopher Reed

“There are things out there,” says Inmate 10742. Yes, there are. He’s just one of the ordinary people whose life is forever altered by an extraordinary event in this collection of encounters with forces unknown. The Bone Factory and Other Stories of the Supernatural grabs us with a cold hand and pulls us into the dark corners of human experience. A doctor must save her child from a creature born of an ancient blood curse. A man who’s looking death in the eye is visited by an entity from another dimension. A haunting in the home of a physics professor reveals a disturbing equation that might shatter our notion of existence.

These stories will do more than question your philosophies. They’ll make you turn on all the lights when your cat suddenly jerks awake and stares, frozen, down that dark hallway. After all, you didn’t hear anything.

How secure are you in your concept of reality?

We are so proud to bring you this collection from author Christopher Reed. Over 250 pages of terror, humor and creepy stories to keep you shivering this Halloween. Dive in, enjoy, and scream your Halloween away!

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It’s Just a Bunch of Hocus Pocus

Halloween is this week, so I’m going to write about my love of a particular Halloween movie. I am not alone in my love for this film. Since its release over 25 years ago, it has become a beloved “cult” classic. The movie is, of course, Hocus Pocus

Hocus Pocus is not a horror movie, although it does deal with a horrific part of America’s past, the Salem Witch Trails. The Sanderson Sisters also lure children to their cottage to eat their life force, and of course, Winnie brings Billy Butcherson back from the dead as a zombie. It’s all in light-hearted fun.  

This movie, more than a traditional scary Halloween movie, captures the childhood feeling of Halloween. It has all the tropes of the holiday. Kids run amuck, amuck, amuck seeking candy wherever they can find it. Witches roam the streets and night skies. Zombies chase after the living, and black cats cross paths. Every year, I watch the movie, and I remember how it was to go trick or treating and worry about witches behind every dark pine tree. (I grew up in the country so there weren’t street corners.) 

Hocus Pocus gives those of us, who remember it coming out, the first time a moment to reflect on how great childhood was in 1980s and 1990s. It gives us the ability to relive that moment one more time. Like the sugar treats horded in a plastic pumpkin, the movie needs to be taken in moderation. Too much of a good thing can be a major problem. That is why, despite the dozens of airings the movie gets on cable, I watch it only once per year on Halloween night. It’s my Reese’s cup at the bottom of the trick or treat bag. 

 Here’s to the Sanderson’s Sister, to Max and Dani, to Binx the cat, and good, old Billy Butcherson. Happy Halloween

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Special Edition: Bullshit Shark Movie Posters

As I have been writing these weekly sharksploitation movie blogs, I have discovered a seething rage percolating in the corners of my mind. With the help of much soul searching and many scented candles, I have become self-aware of my disgust at misleading shark movie posters. I felt it was time to write some little fun-sized blurbs about this. So grab a handful of mini peanut butter cups and let’s have at it, shall we?

I know, I know. It’s motherfucking Jaws. I love it too. But this one really set the standard for all shark movie bait-and-switch posters to follow. It sets the right tone, and an isolated naked woman does get chomped by a leviathan from below. Yet, we wait for a long time to actually see the shark in the movie, and when we do…not this shark. What Speilberg and his team created in a time before CGI was truly astounding. At the time, it was groundbreaking. However, much like the OG Godzilla of the original film, the shark in Jaws turned out to be a little more…goofy. It’s just that no one had anything else to compare it to. It was a pioneering feature dipping its toe into a new sub-genre featuring true scares, featuring a monster based on a real creature. I don’t hate this poster, honestly, I don’t. But I swear on my Jaws lunchbox and everything else I hold dear, that all the shitty movies that came after got permission to bamboozle us because of this poster. Hey if it can work for Jaws…problem is, despite the poster’s dubious suggestions, that movie was pretty fucking amazing. 

If you have read my review of this one, you know how I feel about this filthy, nasty waste of time. It could have been so great! I mean, just look at the poster! Look at it damn you! A shark possessed by the devil? Huzzah! 

Reality check. The shark in the movie looked like a teenager got into their parents’ lude stash and simultaneously discovered how to use an etch-a-sketch. The only thing Satanic about it is its glowing eyes. There is no final confrontation between the mighty man of the cloth and this great big beauty of evil as the poster implies. The ending was a cluster fuck of bad effects and a smoke machine. It’s like someone threw a bucket of pea soup on a copy of the final episode of Lost (still a little bitter about that). I hate you Shark Exorcist. 

I will preface this by saying I really enjoyed House Shark. It was funny as hell and you could tell the guys cut the cloth of this movie from a deep and profound love of this sub-genre. There are two versions of this poster. One has almost the exact problem as Jaws. But now that I think of it, maybe they planned it that way? The movie is basically a parody of the classic. Okay, okay that one might be a stroke of genius. 

The other one, the one with a giant shark eating a house? Yah. That one pisses me off. The shark is the size of a person in the movie. I really mean that. The shark is a guy in a paper mache shark costume. This is a lowest of the low budget, folks. So I don’t care how many fists of increasing girth that dude fits into his mouth, he ain’t gonna stretch it out that big. Also the shark on the poster is a depiction of a great white, not a $49.99 outfit from etsy. 

Here’s another bitch session, this one about the movie I just reviewed last Sunday. Feel free to read it. No, seriously, please read it. 

Where do I begin with this poster? First of all, the movie does not take place in a prison. It revolves around escaped women prisoners but you would not even know that based on their skimpy outfits. In all fairness, you will realize they are women because of the triple D cups all up in your face (is that an actual bra size? I wouldn’t know anything after B). Second, the sharks in the movie, again, look nothing like this. They are spiky and small and stupid. They also can burrow through the earth. Where is that on the poster, huh? One more thing, Traci Lords’ name has a prominent place on the poster. She is actually in it, but she has no impact on the plot. She must be the cousin of one of the film makers or something. Don’t for one second think you’ll see her in those skimpy outfits because those days are behind her. Move along, folks. Nothing to see here. 

Okay last one. Seems like we will be treated to a giant white shark attacking a chopper, right? Oh goodie! Once again, hell to the no. There might have been a chopper at one point. Maybe while I passed out from the banality. Say what you will about Sharknado but if there is a shark attacking a chopper on one of the posters, you can bet your mama’s pearly whites that there will be a shark attacking a goddamn chopper. Also, the sharks in Ice Sharks are Greenland sharks, which are a far cry from Great Whites. Google them, I’ll wait. See?? What did I tell you. I have nothing else to say except fuck this movie. 

Bonus Round:

Now for a good poster, a beacon of hope for truth seekers like us. Open Water is a movie about isolation, hopelessness and terror. A couple is lost among the vast, bleak, unforgiving ocean. Doesn’t this poster just scream that at you? There is not even a shark to be seen, although they are there gliding in the deep dark abyss below these pour souls. But the poster keeps that hidden away as a little surprise for the viewer. I want to make out with this poster. 

See ya next time!

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Reed Alexander’s Horror Review of ‘Gasoline – A Texas Chainsaw Massacre Fan Film’ (2019)

Fan boners on display (somewhat literally)…

Yeah, this was a pretty fun fan film. The biggest things I like about this one is that it goes off the tangent universe of the second Texas Chainsaw Massacre (TCM), but it still tries to keep the feel of the first. The difference between TCM and TCM2 is that TCM tried, in all of its efforts, to be a serious horror movie, while the second was more of the typical 80s-90s ‘So bad it’s good’ slapstick. However, TMC2, while hardly serious horror, added a layer of almost alien weirdness to the Sawyer family. In the first movie, they were nothing more than backwards, inbred knuckle-draggers. In the second one, there was almost this paradoxical ethos, a ritual of a sorts. The first movie was just a simple attempt to exploit cultured society’s fear of hillbilly yokels, while the second tried to expand on the concept and just went balls out weird.

This fan film marries those two concepts. That is, expanding on the tangent universe of TCM2 as it doesn’t have to be weird if it’s properly tied back to the first. You could almost see this fan film being a bridge between the first and the second. A sort of stepping stone to explain how a straight forward slasher became a story about a strange family’s murderous rituals. The second is only balls out weird, because there’s no progression to explain how that Sawyer family got from TCM to TCM2.

I also really appreciate the adaptation of Bill Moseley’s famous character “DOG WILL HUNT!” Chop-Top Sawyer. I also have to say their choice for Bubba ‘Leatherface’ Sawyer was also a pretty good pick. While he doesn’t have the iconic Leatherface pig grunt quite right, I not sure anyone could as I believe the original was synthesized. It’s just a hard nut to crack.

But the feel was dead on and for a fan film, that’s all that matters. This isn’t about bringing something new to the table, this is about taking TCM canon and giving it your all, with what little you have. And for what little this indie producer had, they did a great job.

Please give that video above a little click. Any fans of the TCM franchise will appreciate this and hardcore Horror Heads should give these people the respect they deserve.

SPOILERS!!!

Are there really spoilers in a TCM short that’s only 35 minutes long? Travelers stop to buy gas. Admiral Akbar “Its a Trap” meme. Cue Leatherface. There’s only two victims, and only one or neither can survive.

And, of course, since we’re following TCM canon, we know it’s likely going to be the lead actress who survives to the end. And of course it’s because Leatherface has a thing for her and tries to maker it a play date.

I fucking love the head nod to the torture scene from Reservoir Dogs. Brilliant use of another movie’s graphic violence on top a franchise known for it’s graphic violence. They just went hand in hand beautifully.

And of course there’s got to be the famous defacing scene followed by ‘Pretty Leatherface’ and dinner with the Sawyers. But I gotta give them this. Their sense of setting, atmosphere, and practical FX are fucking spot on here. Indies tend to really ignore the power of simple camera filters and lighting. And being able to dress up a set on a budget but make it feel like the decrepit Sawyer House is not an easy feat and, surprisingly, really easy to fuck up. Their attention to detail deserves credit. While this is very clearly not the Sawyer House, you could easily believe Leatherface and Chop-Top are chilling in a flop pad they took over together as brothers.

One thing they should’ve used more of was the body cam. The body cam added a nice effect to the inevitable chase scene, but for some reason, they only used it once, and only for a couple seconds, then scrapped it for the rest of the filming. It could have been equipment malfunction or something, but still, I wish they had more of it.

Not going to spoil the twist at the ending, but you’ll likely get a tickle out of it. I know I did.

Thank you for your continued support of Reed Alexander’s Horror Review. If you’d like to support my reviews directly, you can click the following link and add a ‘Tip’ at the top of the page. Or, you can go to the shop and purchase one of many books by me, Reed Alexander!
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