Reviewed by Nomad
Voiced by Tom Papa, Sheri Moon Zombie, Rosario Dawson, Paul Giamatti, Bill Moseley, Sid Haig, Ken Foree, Daniel Roebuck, Harland Williams, Cassandra Peterson, Clint Howard, Dee Wallace, Rob Paulsen, Tura Satana, Danny Trejo
Directed by Rob Zombie
Distributed by Anchor Bay Entertainment
The Haunted World of El Superbeasto is a project Rob Zombie says he and his crew have been working on since The Devil’s Rejects. As other endeavors presented themselves, Superbeasto was pushed aside like an odd little hobby, and when free time arose, Team Zombie would begin heaping more body parts onto their monstrous creation. Four years later their sideshow attraction is complete, ready to terrify an unsuspecting populace … but not how you think. The opening was vintage and fantastic, leaving me grinning from ear to ear, but as soon as the title left the screen, something went horribly wrong.
El Superbeasto (Papa) is a former “mega star” of the big screen who now banks on his waning fame with commercial endorsements and the occasional porn film. He’s always up for a fight or a lay … and sometimes at the same time. Supernatural wackiness always ensues, sucking in his sultry eye patch-wearing sister Suzy X (Moon Zombie) and her manservant/horny transforming bodyguard robot. In this particular tale Dr. Satan (Giamatti) teams up with his smart ape henchman to track down the lady with a 666 on her rear. Super stripper Velvet Von Black (Dawson doing her best Lil Kim) fits the bill and is whisked away to wed Dr. Satan with Superbeasto in turgid pursuit and Suzy X taking up the rear (and not literally … at least in this scene), followed by an army of undead Nazis. If Dr. Satan can wed the lusty wench, he’ll transform into a super Satan and destroy the world!!! PHEW. Let me take this opportunity to say — FOR FUCK’S SAKE??!!
If you thought there was enough going on already, you forget that Mr. Zombie loves his cameos and thought Superbeasto would be the perfect stage to parade all his favorite characters on including the Firefly Family, Michael Myers, Tura Satana, and every classic monster you could imagine. He also manages to express his love for John K. (of “Ren and Stimpy” fame, whose style is maliciously ripped off all through this movie), Schoolhouse Rock and Fritz the Cat. All these elements are tossed into the animation blender and set for “puree”, then poured out onto your lap like a magic trick gone dreadfully wrong … only the magician won’t acknowledge it and is still flourishing for fifteen minutes as you sit in soggy filth.
MORE INFO, you scream!! You argue that Rob Zombie still rules and kicks mighty ass and you’ll support anything he does. I’m inclined to agree and championed Halloween 2 right up to the moment I watched it … and STILL held high hopes for Superbeasto, which myself and scores of my friends eagerly awaited for over a year now. Sadly, when we sat down for our mini private screening, we lasted a whopping twenty minutes before we realized the people to our left and right were wincing as if someone was sticking pins in their eyes and voted to switch to something less masochistic. This movie made me think that the genius creators of “Drawn Together” were driven mad when no one would make a feature length version of their show so they created Superbeasto to destroy the world. On a more minimalist track, it can be argued that Superbeasto appears to have been created by an elite hit squad of horny thirteen-year-old boys who took a break from World of Warcraft one night to eat pizza rolls and craft their ultimate cartoon.
Nipples, nipples, nipples … so many they turned me away from breasts for almost a day. There are more cartoon breasts here than in a Pamela Anderson home movie. If you thought Zombie’s characters cursed a lot before, brace yourself. To say the language in this film is extremely juvenile would be an understatement of monumental proportions. Every curse in the book is laid out with glee, and even recited like a Shakespearean soliloquy by Suzy X, on more than one occasion. Said curses are strung together with the hippest street slang known to man, borrowed meticulously from the choicest episodes of “The PJ’s”. To add further pain, we get little melodies throughout the film as theme songs for characters or just to add curses where no one is talking at any given moment.
THREE funny moments make for a total of nine seconds of laughter I got out of this animated feature, and as you recall, I went in really trying to like it! I’m proud to say one of those moments is stolen by our buddy Sid Haig as Captain Spaulding, attempting to get a little clown business done. Eighty minutes seemed like three hours as my ears bled from the obnoxious voices of the title character and his sister romping through Monsterland, smacking the forefathers of animation in the face with a fourteen-inch dildo every inch of the way. After watching this film, the only emotion I’m left with is confusion. I honestly have no idea whom this film is marketed toward and look forward to playing 20 Questions with any man, woman, or horny child on the street who says they loved this technicolor abomination. Avoid this movie at all costs, and hold your breath as you pass it on the racks.
1/2 out of 5
1 out of 5
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Desolation Review: Campers + Lunatic = Simplicity, But Not Always a Better Product
Starring Jaimi Page, Alyshia Ochse, Toby Nichols
Directed by Sam Patton
I’m usually all in when it comes to a psycho in the woods flick, but there was just something about Sam Patton’s Desolation that seemed a bit distant for me…distance…desolation – I’m sure there’s a connection in there somewhere. Either that or I’m suffering from a minor case of sleep-deprivation. Either way, make sure you’ve got your backpack stuffed, cause we’re hitting the timber-lands for this one.
The film focuses on mother and son tandem Abby and Sam, and the tragic notion that Abby’s love and father to her son, has passed away. The absence has been a crippling one, and Abby’s idea of closure is to take her adolescent offspring to the woods where her husband used to love to run and scatter his ashes as a memorial tribute. Abby invites her best friend Jenn along as emotional support, and together all three are planning on making this trip a fitting and dedicatory experience…until the mystery man shows up. Looking like a member of the Ted Kaczynski clan (The Unabomber himself), this creepy fellow seems content to simply watch the threesome, and when he ultimately decides to close the distance, it’ll be a jaunt in the forest that this close-knit group will never forget.
So there you have it – doesn’t beg a long, descriptive, bled-out dissertation – Patton tosses all of his cards on the table in plain view for the audience to scan at their leisure. While the tension is palpable at times, it’s the equivalent of watching someone stumble towards the edge of a cliff, and NEVER tumble over…for a long time – you literally watch them do the drunken two-step near the lip for what seems like an eternity. What I’m getting at is that the movie has the bells and whistles to give white-knucklers something to get amped about, yet it never all seems to come into complete focus, or allow itself to spread out in such a way that you can feel satisfied after the credits roll. If I may harp on the performance-aspect for a few, it basically broke down this way for me: both Abby and Jenn’s characters were well-displayed, making you feel as if you really were watching long-time besties at play. Sam’s character was a bit tough to swallow, as he was the sadder-than-sad kid due to his father’s absence, but JEEZ this kid was a friggin malcontented little jerk – all I can say is “role well-played, young man.”
As we get to our leading transient, kook, outsider – whatever you want to call him: he simply shaved down into a hum-drum personality – no sizzle here, folks. Truly a disappointment for someone who was hoping for an enigmatic nutbag to terrorize our not-so-merry band of backpackers – oh well, Santa isn’t always listening, I guess. Simplicity has its place and time when displaying the picture-perfect lunatic, and before everyone gets a wild hair across their ass because of what I’m saying, all this is was the wish to have THIS PARTICULAR psycho be a bit more colorful – I can still appreciate face-biters like Hannibal Lecter and those of the restrained lunacy set. Overall, Desolation is one of those films that had all the pieces meticulously set in place, like a house of cards…until that drunk friend stumbled into the table, sending everything crumbling down. A one-timer if you can’t find anything else readily available to watch.
Looking for a little direction way out in the woods? Look elsewhere, because this guide doesn’t have a whole lot to offer.
Children of the Fall Review – This Israeli Slasher Gets Political
Starring Noa Maiman, Aki Avni, Yafit Shalev, Iftach Ophir, Michael Ironside
Directed by Eitan Gafny
Reviewed out of Utopia 2017
Slashers are a subgenre of horror that are often looked down upon. After all, what can a movie about a killer slaughtering multiple people have to say about, well…anything. Those of us in the community know full well that this is nonsense and that any kind of horror movie can be a jabbing (no pun intended) commentary on society, culture, politics, art, etc… And that’s precisely what Eitan Gafny aims to do with Children of the Fall, one of the few Israeli slashers ever created.
Set on the eve of the Yom Kippur war, the film follows Rachel (Maiman), a young American woman who comes to Israel to join a kibbutz after suffering some serious personal tragedies. Her goal to make aliyah (the return of Jews to Israel) is however hampered by some rather unpleasant encounters with local IDF soldiers and members of the kibbutz. Pushing through, she makes friends with others in the commune and her Zionistic views are only strengthened, although they do not go untested. Once Yom Kippur, one of the holiest holidays in Jewish culture, begins, a killer begins picking off the kibbutz workers one by one in violent and gruesome ways.
Let’s start with what Children of the Fall gets right, okay? As slashers go, it’s actually quite beautiful. There are wonderfully expansive shots that make use of the size and diversity of the kibbutz. The film opens with a beautiful shot of a cow stable, barn, water towers, and miscellaneous outbuildings, all set against a dark and stormy night. The lighting of this scene, and throughout the film, is also very good. I found myself darting my eyes across the screen multiple times throughout the film thinking I’d seen something lurking in the shadows.
The kills, while unoriginal, are very satisfying. Each death is meaty, bloody, and doesn’t feel rushed. In fact, the camera has no problems lingering during each kill, allowing us to appreciate the practical FX and copious amounts of blood used. And if you believe that a slasher needs to have nudity, you won’t be disappointed.
The acting is middle of the road. Maiman is serviceable as Rachel but the real star of the film is Aki Avni as “Yaron”. His range of emotion is fantastic, from warm and welcoming to Rachel when she arrives to emoting grief and pain during his Yom Kippur announcement where we learn that he was a child in a concentration camp. The rest of the cast are perfectly acceptable as fodder for the killer.
So where does Children of the Fall stray? Let’s start with the most obvious part: the runtime. Clocking in at nearly two hours, that’s about 30 minutes too much. The film could easily have gone through some hefty editing without affecting the final product. Instead, we have a movie that feels elongated when unnecessary.
Additionally, the societal and political commentary is very in-your-face but the film can’t seem to make up its mind as to what it’s trying to get across. Natalia, a Belarussian kibbutz worker, raises the concept of Israeli racism, misogyny, and xenophobia, her hostility unabashedly pouring out in the midst of IDF soldiers, locals, other kibbutz members, and more. Is there validity to what she’s saying? Undoubtedly. But there is also validity to Rachel’s retorts, which include calling this woman out on her own vitriolic views. This back-and-forth mentality frustratingly prevails throughout the film, as though Gafny was unwilling to just commit.
The dialogue is also quite painful at times, although I attribute this to difficulties with translating from Hebrew to English. Even the best English speakers in Israel don’t get everything perfect and the little quirks here and there, while charming, are quite detracting. Also, why is this movie trying to tell me that Robert Smith of The Cure is a character here? While amusing, it makes absolutely no sense nor does it fit in Smith’s own timeline.
Had this film gone through a couple rounds of editing, I feel like we’d have gotten something really great. Eitan Gafny is definitely someone that we need to be watching very closely.
While Children of the Fall has a lot going for it, it has just as much working against it. Overly long, you’ll get a really great slasher that is bogged down by uneven social and political commentary.
Madam Yankelova’s Fine Literature Club Review – A Charming, Quirky Dark Drama
Starring Keren Mor, Yiftach Klein, Hana Laslo, Ania Bukstein
Directed by Guilhad Emilio Schenker
Reviewed out of Utopia 2017
One of the great joys I have in being a horror fan is seeing horror films from around the world. I view these films as a chance to learn about the fears, folklore, mythology, and lore of varied cultures. Films like Inugami, Frontier(s), [REC], and the like transport me across oceans and into places I might never get the chance to visit otherwise. Hence my interest in the Israeli dark drama Madam Yankeolva’s Fine Literature Club, the feature debut of director Guilhad Emilio Schenker.
The film follows Sophie (Mor), a member of a strange, female-only reading club – who believes that love is a lie – that we soon realize brings men into its midst only to have them killed. The woman who brings the most fitting man is awarded a trophy for her fine taste. When a member reaches 100 trophies, they get to enter a coveted and highly esteemed upper echelon of the reading club’s society, one that includes lavish surroundings and an almost regal lifestyle. Sophie starts the film earning her 99th trophy but her plans towards the all-important 100th trophy are thrown askew when she ends up developing feelings for her latest victim. She must now decide if the mission that has been so dear to her for so many years is something she wishes to see through or if she’s ready to take a huge risk and fall in love.
Now, if this seems like a strange story for a horror website, I don’t disagree. Madam Yankelova’s Fine Literature Club is certainly not your traditional horror film. In fact, I’d liken it far more to the more playful works of Tim Burton and Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s The City of Lost Children than something more grotesque and violent. It’s very playful and quite charming, although there are times when the presentation feels amateurish and certain moments when things become wildly unbelievable. That being said, the film aims to be a dark fairy tale come to life, so a healthy amount of “I’m okay letting that go” will not go unappreciated.
The film is shot in such a way that it’s very soft around the edges, almost like we’re constantly in a dream. This is aided by composer Tal Yardeni’s score, which obviously takes inspiration from Danny Elfman, playfully weaving its way through each scene.
While there’s a lot to love about Madam Yankelova’s Fine Literature Club, it’s certainly not a flawless film. As mentioned previously, there are times when it feels quite amateurish, as though no one thought to look at how a scene is being filmed and say, “People, this isn’t how things would go down. We can have fun but this just doesn’t sit right.” Additionally, the story moves very quickly. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve heard of love at first sight. But that’s not how this story plays out, so the wildly strong feelings that develop between Sophie and Yosef (Klein) seem strangely out of place.
All things being what they are, Madam Yankelova’s Fine Literature Club is a charming film that can definitely appeal to horror fans if they’re willing to stretch their boundaries to include films that have absolutely no scares or gore but imply quite a horrific situation.
Charming, quirky, but not without its faults, Madam Yankelova’s Fine Literature Club is a dark drama for fans of Tim Burton and Jean-Pierre Jeunet. Don’t go in expecting any scares or gore. Rather, anticipate a fairy tale that might be just a bit too gruesome in tone for young children.
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