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Bag Boy Lover Boy (Blu-ray)

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Starring John Wachter, Theodore Bouloukos, Kathy Biehl

Directed by Andres Torres

Distributed by Severin Films


Unlike other home video companies, say Scream Factory or Arrow Video, there is a distinct visceral feeling produced when a package from Severn Films arrives. Opening the mailer is not likely to unearth some celebrated ‘80s cult title, or a lavish release from one of the majors; no, what is about to be revealed is either something grotesque, perverse, weird, or – more likely – all three. One of the label’s latest endeavors, Bag Boy Lover Boy (2014), is the latter, gushing sexual deviancy and bodily fluids like a busted water main. It is a film that is so bold in its weirdness that viewers have only two simple choices: embrace it or shut it off and pretend your eyes never saw a thing. Doing the former is an easy choice because the film has an ace (of sorts) up its sleeve: John Wachter, who stars as the eponymous “boy”.

Albert (John Wachter) is a hot dog truck employee in New York City, with a brain that moves slower than molasses on a cold night. He has no apparent standards, for either himself or the food truck or, grossly enough, the food within. During an argument with a drunken couple late one night he meets Ivan (Theodore Bouloukos), a local photographer who finds himself unexpectedly captivated by Albert’s unconventional looks and personality. Ivan invites Albert to take part in a photo shoot, to which the dimwit reluctantly agrees so long as Ivan teaches him how to become a professional photographer, too. The shoots Ivan stages are bizarre fetish scenes of blood and pigs and violent scenarios. Albert plays along, though he is unable to properly grasp Ivan’s direction. When he asks Ivan to begin teaching him about photography, his aspirations are rebuffed.

An opportunity presents itself when Ivan heads off to Milan for a fashion shoot, and he accidentally leaves his studio keys with Albert. Armed with a Polaroid camera and all the charm of a wet sock, Albert heads out into the city in search of prospective models. And somehow he meets women who are willing to accompany him back to a studio. Alone. Using Ivan’s perceived success as a template Albert attempts to get his models to pose in increasingly bizarre scenarios. When one refuses to don a plastic bag over her head, Albert matter-of-factly chokes her to death. And then he rapes her. From selling hot dogs to murder and necrophilia in a matter of days. Albert continues to use Ivan’s studio as his own but his retarded hubris and complete lack of empathy soon get him into hot water.

John Wachter is a… special actor. His performance has been hailed in the press and he won the Best Actor award at the New York City Horror Film Festival in 2014. Is he acting? If so, this is the most convincing portrayal of a mentally challenged individual since Tugg Speedman played Simple Jack. Albert doesn’t display any homicidal tendencies until the moment when he does, but his general world view is established early on – he just does not give a shit. He works at a hot dog truck. He lives in an austere drab apartment. He can’t get a date. When he drops a hot dog on the floor and just puts it back on the grill, it isn’t done maliciously. The inherent grossness of the fact doesn’t even register. Albert is just checked out of normal life.

Still, his abrupt decision to go from weird creeper to necrophiling murderer, and eventually cannibal, is a little jarring. Albert is the sort of guy who has to wear Velcro shoes because he could never figure out how to loop laces, and he has the physical presence of Abe Vigoda with a sinus infection. Any one of the women he attacks should have been able to at least match his deficient physicality and beat his wimpy ass but good before running off and alerting police. He’s a little Lennie from “Of Mice and Men”; not strong, but ignorant in his efforts to get women to do as he asks. Non-compliance is met with death simply because it means they are now unable to push back.

Director Andres Torres and cinematographer Anna Franquesa Solano manage to capture the scummy streets of Abel Ferrara’s The Driller Killer (1979) with a neon veneer reminiscent of Nicholas Winding Refn or Gaspar Noe. Flash and style are on display to be seen, but viewers are always reminded harsh streets and unexpected violence are lurking just beneath. This is Maniac (1980) with Corky from Life Goes On (1989-1993) in the lead. Bag Boy Lover Boy is not a great film but it is captivating in its own quizzical way. Just don’t grab yourself a hot dog before pressing “play”.

The film may capture the grittiness of NYC’s streets but the 1.78:1 1080p image is far removed from that aesthetic. This is proficient digital image; smooth, natural, free from grain. Colors pop within this slick presentation, capturing numerous gross-out moments with optimal clarity. When Albert drops a hot dog on the floor of his dirty food truck, you can easily see every chunk of dirt and blackened food remnants clinging to the little wiener. Scum and dubious sex appeal have never looked better.

A capable English LPCM 2.0 stereo track carries the audio. The score is punchy and features great fidelity, with the sound ranging from weird gypsy music to punctual beats. The sounds of the city are nicely spaced within the front-end speakers, giving life to the streets. Dialogue is always discernible and clean. Subtitles are available in English.

Audio commentary with director Andres Torres, actor Theodore Bouloukos, and editor Charlie Williams.

“The Student Films of actor John Wachter” features two very short pieces, Got Light and The Never-starting Story, each running just over a minute in length.

A trailer is also included.

Special Features:

  • Audio Commentary With Director Andres Torres, Actor Theodore Bouloukos and Editor Charlie Williams
  • The Student Films of Actor Jon Wachter: Got Light and The Never-starting Story
  • Original Trailer

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  • Bag Boy Lover Boy
  • Special Features
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Delirium Review – Bros, Cameras And A Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin On

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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.

 

  • Film
2.0

Summary

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!

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Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters Review – A Timid Step Towards a Frightening Possibility

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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
2.0

Summary

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.

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Satan’s Cheerleaders Blu-ray Review – Sacrifice This Snoozer At The Altar!

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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.

Special Features:

  • Audio commentary with director Greydon Clark
  • Audio commentary with filmmakers David De Cocteau & David Del Valle
  • Photo gallery
  • Satan's Cheerleaders
  • Special Features
1.3

Summary

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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