Reviewed by The Foywonder
Starring Jessica Sonneborn, Augie Duke, Paulie Rojas, Sita Young, Casey Reinhardt, Michael McLafferty
Directed by Bill McAdams Jr.
Teenage girls in a small town are being abducted, held captive in animal cages inside a barn, dressed up in sexy outfits, and forced with remote control electric shock collars to fight each other to the death in a makeshift wrestling ring as the community’s wealthiest citizens hoot and holler like the “Married with Children” studio audience while wagering big bucks on which girl will exit the ring alive; the mysterious organizer monitors and records the spectacle via close-circuit television, always shot in darkened silhouette from behind like Inspector Gadget’s arch-nemesis.
Folks, this is a real movie. I am not making any of this up. Somebody did. They titled it A Lure: Teen Fight Club, and quietly slipped it out on DVD the end of last year with less fanfare than a motion picture with such a wacko premise deserves. I want to take this opportunity to thank those people for gracing the world with such wonderful rubbish.
A Lure opens with three teenage cheerleaders somewhere in the woods after dark for reasons never made apparent, not that it will matter. One girl will get clocked in the face with a shovel by an unseen assailant in a manner typically intended as slapstick. The other two girls then turn to run only to have a giant net drop on them in an equally cartoonish fashion.
That opening had me convinced the movie I was about to watch was either going to be extremely campy or an outright comedy – A Lure is neither. There are definitely flourishes that skewer towards satire. Overall, however, this outlandish concept dares to take itself seriously and I got a weird vibe at times that certain moments designed to be tongue-in-cheek for some reason ended up being played completely deadpan as if either the director or the actors were not all on the same page. Doing so made the film more entertaining than it had any right to be – at least to me. But what do I know? I liked The Gingerdead Man.
Jessica Sonneborn (also the screenwriter) stars as Maggie, a young cop sent undercover at the high school to investigate the disappearances of several teen girls. A little hard to buy into this considering Sonneborn is nearly a foot taller than every female in the film and looks closer to 30 than 18. It helps somewhat that the other actresses almost all look more college age than teenage. But when Maggie dolls up for the big rave, her make-up and black dress making her appear even older than she already is, seeing her driving the other girls to this rave in her SUV really does give her the appearance of a mother on chaperoning duty.
Maggie never does any actual investigating. She appears to have only been undercover for about a day when she just happens to get invited to join this particular group of girls only because they desperately need a ride that night and they just so happen to be the next targets to be abducted and forced to Wrestlelicious each other to the death. Otherwise, Maggie would still be undercover and nearly blowing her cover when she again forgets she’s an adult law enforcement agent on active duty and angrily responds to getting roughhoused during field hockey practice by flipping over the Gatorade table and putting the teenage girl responsible in a potentially lethal chokehold. I believe that should have led to a three-day suspension from school and a six-month suspension from the police force.
If choking catty tweeners didn’t eventually blow her cover her idiot cop boyfriend surely would have. He continually follows her around with no consideration that she’s working undercover and that her classmates might question why a 30 year old guy is practically stalking a teenage girl. His stalker-ish ways will actually prove beneficial in the end, but he’s still an idiot.
How can I say for certain he’s an idiot?
When you propose to a woman and she tells you she’s not sure she’s ready for marriage; you then take her hand, pour out your soul about how much you love her, how you want to spend the rest of your life with her and start a family, and give her the ring, telling her that you’re willing to wait until she’s ready to say yes, and her only response to all this is to smile politely and awkwardly reply “Thank you”… It ain’t happening, buddy. Not now. Not later. This is not the woman for you and if you can’t take this hint then you are clearly an idiot.
The queen bee of the foul mouthed, cocaine snorting, high school mean girls Maggie hangs with is Brittany, so convincingly played as a manipulative, bitchy, alpha tart by newcomer Augie Duke (A girl named Augie?) that I fully expect to see Miss Duke starring in the next Cruel Intentions or Poison Ivy sequel.
Innocent Lauren is the nice girl mixed up with this group. Her brother will also get mixed up when he and his stoner buddy follow the girls into the woods.
Snotty Tina will not end up a victim because she catches a ride to the rave with the stuttering jock she’s dry humping because he drives a nice car.
“Laguna Beach” blondie Casey Reinhardt is cast against type as a bitchy blonde named Brooke. Brooke’s big moment comes late in the film when she fights back by beating one of their captors senseless with a baseball bat while screaming “Never fuck with a field hockey player!”
The first half hour plays like an episode of “21 Jump Street” spliced with an R-rated version of Mean Girls. Then it turns into a straight-up horror movie with teenager girls in the woods being terrorized and abducted by rednecks.
The horror is almost effectively handled only to repeatedly have any tension undercut by more comical shovel shots to the face and a truly ridiculous sequence in which a stoned teenage boy happens upon a teenage girl stripped to her underwear, bound and gagged to a tree, dirty, bloody, terrified to the point of whimpering, and yet his first and only reaction to this alarming visual will be to believe he’s about to get laid and needs to play this seduction smooth. No drug could make even the most hormonally overloaded teenage boy this aloof.
All the hallmarks of an unsettling horror flick building towards what you would expect given the circumstance would be young girls getting tortured or raped have been set up only for the revelation of what’s really going on, the revelation the movie had been trying to keep secret until the third act, the revelation that the DVD distributors wisely chose to spoil with the colon-ized title and plot synopsis on the DVD case…
The Gorgeous Ladies of Hostel.
The finale then veers off into a totally different direction, first with a car chase the likes of which you’d see in a 20-year old rerun of “Silk Stalkings”, and then back into horror territory for an I Know What You Did Last Summer ending that left me shrugging my shoulders as to why this final sequence existed at all other than the sense nobody was quite sure how to end the movie and the producers had probably come to the realization that the lead actress had yet to get naked and this was their last opportunity. An odd final shot tops off an odd movie that I still cannot believe was made and from the looks of the production values, for more money than you would expect a film such as this to be made for.
My biggest complaint, the one thing holding A Lure: Teen Fight Club back from fully reaching a Joe Bob Briggs level of drive-in bad movie zen, is there just isn’t enough of the teen fight clubbing: two brief matches and none until an hour in. The set-up takes so long not even bra & panty schoolgirl locker room dirty talk may be enough to hold some viewers interest until the horror portion and death matches begin. Definitely needed more in-ring action, and could have stood to be a bit trashier. Not nearly enough nudity for a film with a premise such as this.
I can come up with no defense for my enjoyment of this film other than I just did. If you seek out this film and find yourself in total disagreement, please don’t send me any hate mail. Just remember you took the word of a guy who put Mega Piranha on his list of the five best horror movies of last year.
3 out of 5
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Delirium Review – Bros, Cameras And A Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin On
Starring Mike C. Manning, Griffin Freeman, Ryan Pinkston
Directed by Johnny Martin
When will these testosterone-overloaded frat bros with cameras ever learn that pissing off the evil souls of the departed all in the name of amusement won’t get you anywhere but wrecked? Same goes for filmmakers: when will they learn that found-footage exploits set in a house of pure sadism are something of a wrung-out affectation? Oh well, as long as people keep renting them, they’ll continue to get manufactured…which might or might not be to the benefit of the horror film-watching populous.
Delirium opens with a poor lad, strapped with a GoPro, running for his life through a labyrinth of haunted territory, praying for an escape…and it’s a foregone conclusion as to what happens to this trespassing individual. We then relocate our focus towards a collection of (ahem), “gentlemen” self-titled as The Hell Gang, and their escapades are about as profound as their grasp on the English language and its verbiage. The words “dude”, creepy”, and the term “what the fuck” are thrown about so much in this movie it’ll make your head spin to the point of regurgitation. Anyway, their interest in the home of the Brandt clan is more piqued now than ever, especially considering one of their own has gone missing, and they’ve apparently got the gonads to load up the cameras, and traverse the property after-hours, and against the warnings of the local law-enforcement, who surprisingly are just inadequate enough to ignore a dangerous situation. The cursed family and the residence has quite the illustrious and bleak history, and it’s ripe for these pseudo-snoopers to poke around in.
Usually I’m curb-stomping these first person POV movies until there’s nothing left but a mash of blood, snot and hair left on the cement, but Martin’s direction takes the “footage” a little bit outside of the box, with steadier shots (sometimes) and a bit more focus on the characters as they go about their business. Also, there are a few genuinely spooky scenes to speak of involving the possession of bodies, but there really isn’t much more to crow about, as the plot’s basically a retread of many films before it, and with this collection of borderline-douches manning the recording equipment, it’s a sad state of affairs we’re in that something such as this has crept its way towards us all again. I’m always down for jumping into a cold grave, especially when there could be a sweet prize to be dug up in all that dirt, but Delirium was one of those movies that never let you find your footing, even after you’ve clawed your way through all of the funereal sediment – take a hard pass on this one.
Got about a half-dozen bros with cameras and a wanton will to get slaughtered on camera, all the while repetitively uttering the same phrases all damn day long? Then my friends, you’ve got yourself a horror movie!
Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters Review – A Timid Step Towards a Frightening Possibility
Starring Mamoru Miyano, Takahiro Sakurai, Kana Hanazawa, Yuki Kaji, Tomokazu Sugita
Directed by Kobun Shizuno and Hiroyuki Seshita
The Godzilla series is the longest-running franchise in cinema history. With over 30 films over a 60+ year career, the famous kaiju has appeared in video games, comic books, TV shows, and more, cementing its place as one of the most recognizable cultural icons in the past 100 years. With Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters, the titular beast makes its foray into the world of anime in this first film in a proposed trilogy. While there are moments that are genuinely thrilling, the film unfortunately fails to capture the imagination and wonder that is at its fingertips.
The story is quite simple: Earth is under attack by swarms of various kaiju who are wreaking havoc across the planet. Entire cities are being destroyed when Godzilla appears to vanquish humanity’s foes. Unfortunately, the King of the Monsters isn’t really there to help humans and its rampage continues until a race of alien beings arrive at Earth asking for a place to stay in exchange for defeating Godzilla. When they are unable to do that, the remaining humans board a giant spaceship to venture off into space in search of a new home only to come back some 20 years later, nearly 20,000 years later by Earth time (think Interstellar logic), to search for resources and, possibly, a planet that will welcome them once again. However, Godzilla is still around and isn’t keen on sharing.
The main character of the film is Haruo Sakaki, a young man who begins the film by nearly following through on a suicide bomber terrorist act that is meant to call attention to humanity’s loss of vision and failure to fulfill their mission of finding a suitable home for the remaining survivors. Even though he is accosted and jailed for this act, he is eventually freed when people realize that his lifelong passion of killing Godzilla is the foundation for research he’s done in finding a way to take down the creature…a plan that just might work. The other characters are so forgettable that I forgot their names during the film.
From there, the film essentially pivots into following a massive team of volunteers who land on Earth’s surface to lay a trap for Godzilla in order to destroy it. Since this is Earth 20,000 years after they left, the flora and fauna have evolved and changed so radically that the team have no idea what to expect or how to react, so caution is a must.
The problem with this is that while the characters have to be cautious, the film doesn’t nor should it. The movie has the chance to explore the wealth of imaginative opportunities at its fingertips and yet does almost everything it can to avoid doing just that. The color scheme is flat and uninteresting. The character movements lack smoothness and the action sequences fall victim to shaky cam syndrome. There are a few mentions of some of the changes that have taken place on the planet, such as razor sharp plants, but they’re so incidental or offhand that it feels like no one making the film has any interest in seeing anything other than man against beast.
Speaking of this dynamic, the action sequences are quite entertaining but also feel somewhat reserved. Godzilla barely moves and much of the destruction levied against the humans is seen from a distance, apart from an attack on a military outpost by dragon-like creatures. For nearly the entire film, I found myself thinking, “I’m okay with this but that’s about it.”
The brightest moment in the film are the last few minutes and I won’t spoil what happens. Suffice it to say that it definitely has me interested in the second and third films but I really hope that this new world will be explored further in those entries. Otherwise, we’ve got a fascinating foundation that will be squandered.
Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters is a bland entry in a trilogy that has great potential. For a first course, there’s a distinct lack of flavor or complexity. The final minutes are the only saving grace and I hope that the second and third films make use of that grand wonder.
Satan’s Cheerleaders Blu-ray Review – Sacrifice This Snoozer At The Altar!
Starring Jack Kruschen, John Ireland, Yvonne De Carlo, Jacqueline Cole
Directed by Greydon Clark
Distributed by VCI
The ‘70s. Satanism. Sultry cheerleaders. Sex appeal. With these tools nearly any low-budget filmmaker should be able to turn out something that is, at the very least, entertaining. The last thing a viewer expects when tuning in to a film called Satan’s Cheerleaders (1977) is to be bored to tears. But that is exactly the reaction I had while watching director Greydon Clark’s wannabe cult comedy. Even on a visual level this film can’t be saved, and it was shot by Dean Cundey! No, unfortunately there isn’t a cinematic element in the world that can overcome a roster of bad actors and a storyline so poorly constructed it plays like it was written on the day. The only saving grace, minor as it may be, is the casting of John Ireland as Sheriff B.L. Bubb (cute), a hard-nosed shitkicker who adds all the gravitas he can muster. But a watchable feature cannot be built upon the back of a single co-star, as every grueling minute of Satan’s Cheerleaders proves.
The cheerleaders and jocks of Benedict High School rule the campus, doing what they want, when they want, with little else on their minds except for The Big Game. Their belittling attitudes rub school janitor (and stuttering dimwit) Billy (Jack Kruschen) the wrong way. What they don’t know is Billy is (somehow) the head of a local Satanic cult, and he plans to place a curse on the clothes (really) of the cheerleaders so they… suck at cheerleading? Maybe they’ll somehow cause the jocks to lose the big game? When Billy isn’t busy plotting his cursed plans, he spies on the girls in the locker room via a hidden grate in the wall. I guess he doesn’t think being a sexual “prevert” is fair trade enough; might as well damn them all, too. Billy has his own plans to kidnap the girls, for his Lord and Master Satan, and he succeeds with ease when the girls’ van breaks down on the highway; he simply offers them a ride and they all pile in. But when Ms. Johnson (Jacqueline Cole) gets hip to his plan the two tussle in the front seat and Billy winds up having a heart attack.
The squad runs off in search of help, coming across the office of Sheriff B.L. Bubb (John Ireland), who, as the name implies, may be a legit Satanist. Bubb invites the girls inside, where they meet his wife, Emmy (Yvonne De Carlo), High Priestess of their quaint little satanic chapter. While the girls get acquainted with Emmy, Bubb runs off to find Billy, who isn’t actually dead. Wait, scratch that, Bubb just killed him for… some reason. The girls figure out things aren’t so rosy here at the Bubb estate, so they hatch an escape plan and most make it to the forest. The few that are left behind just kinda hang out for the rest of the film. Very little of substance happens, and the pacing moves from “glacial” to “permafrost”, before a semi-psychedelic ending arrives way too late.
“Haphazard” is one of many damning terms I can think of when trying to make sense of this film. The poster says the film is “Funnier Than The Omen… Scarier Than Silent Movie” which, objectively, is a true statement, though this film couldn’t hope to be in the same league as any of the sequels to The Omen (1976) let alone the original. It is a terminal bore. Every attempt at humor is aimed at the lowest common denominator – and even those jokes miss by a wide berth. True horror doesn’t even exist in this universe. The best I can say is some of the sequences where Satan is supposedly present utilize a trippy color-filled psychedelic shooting style, but it isn’t anything novel enough to warrant a recommendation. Hell, it only happens, like, twice anyway. The rest of the film is spent listening to these simple-minded sideline sirens chirp away, dulling the enthusiasm of viewers with every word.
A twist ending that isn’t much of a twist at all is the final groan for this lukewarm love letter to Lucifer. None of the actors seem like they know what the hell to be doing, and who can blame them with material like this? I had hoped for some sort of fun romp with pompoms and pentagram, like Jack Hill’s Swinging Cheerleaders (1974) for the Satanic set, but Clark provides little more than workmanlike direction; even Cundey’s cinematography is nothing to want on a resume.
Viewers have the option of watching either a “Restored” or “Original Transfer” version of the 1.78:1 1080p picture. Honestly, I didn’t find a ton of difference between the two, though the edge likely goes to the restored version since the title implies work has been done to make it look better. Colors are accurate but a little bland, and definition just never rises above slightly average. Film grain starts off heavy but manages to smooth out later on. Very little about the picture is emblematic of HD but given the roots this is probably the best it could ever hope to look.
Audio comes in the form of an English LPCM 2.0 track. The soundtrack sounds like it was lifted from a porno, while other tracks are clearly library music. Dialogue never has any obvious issues and sounds clear throughout. Subtitles are available in English SDH.
There are two audio commentary tracks; one, with director Greydon Clark; two, with David De Cocteau and David Del Valle.
A photo gallery, with images in HD, is also included.
- Audio commentary with director Greydon Clark
- Audio commentary with filmmakers David De Cocteau & David Del Valle
- Photo gallery
Although the title is enough to reel in curious viewers, the reality is “Satan’s Cheerleaders” are a defunct bunch with little spirit and no excitement. The ’70s produced plenty of classic satanic cinema and this definitely ain’t it.
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