Reviewed by Uncle Creepy
Starring Pedro Fernández (Vacation of Terror), Joaquín Cordero (Vacation of Terror 2), Miguel Ángel Rodríguez (Demon Rat), Charly Valentino (Hell’s Trap), Jon Michael Bischof (Don’t Panic), Hugo Stiglitz (Cemetery of Terror), Fernando Almada (Grave Robbers)
Directed by René Cardona III (Vacation of Terror), Pedro Galindo III (Vacation of Terror 2), Rubén Galindo Jr. (Demon Rat), Pedro Galindo III (Hell’s Trap), Rubén Galindo Jr. (Don’t Panic), Rubén Galindo Jr. (Cemetery of Terror), Rubén Galindo Jr. (Grave Robbers)
Both distributed by BCI/Deimos Entertainment
With American cinemas packed to the gills with PG-13 rated tripe, flaccid remakes, pointless sequels, and just plain bad movie after bad movie, sometimes you have to look elsewhere for some quality entertainment. Then again, I guess that depends on what your definition of “quality” is. The films contained in Volume One of the Crypt of Terror: Horror from South of the Border collection are not great movies. Truth be told, they’re barely passable by any standards, but the one thing that they are is mindless dumb fun that will have you in stitches.
Things kick off with Vacation of Terror. After buying a summer home in the Mexican countryside, a family gets more than they bargained for when their daughter discovers a mysterious doll apparently left behind by the previous owner. Turns out the doll contains the spirit of a witch who cursed it, and it’s not long before said witch takes control of the chica and forces her to try and kill her family. YAY! Thankfully the day is saved because an Indian witch doctor was hungry to trade a protective amulet for a Walkman. I shit you not. Thoughtless, bloodless, and for the most part thoroughly silly, Vacation of Terror only entertains through its absolute absurdity.
But wait … it’s time for Vacation of Terror 2! The witch is back, and she’s no longer content with being a doll. Instead she turns into a lizard-like monster that terrorizes folks during a Halloween birthday bash in a closed film studio. This is one of those rare times when the sequel outdoes its source material in every way. In fact, I’d venture to say it is the Godfather II of bad Mexican horror. The ante is upped in atmosphere, schlock, and even some gore! Olé!
Onward to another strange little vehicle that’s for whatever reason not listed on the box: 1992’s Demon Rat. In a bleak future in which plutonium dumping has been legalized, a giant humanoid rat carves itself a bloody trail while we are the ones feasting upon the cheese. Not bad! It’s no Of Unknown Origin, but hey, this is basically a bonus flick so who cares?
From there we enter … Hell’s Trap *cues spooky music*! Viva la Mexican slasher flick! Several campers head out into the woods to find a bear who has been thought to be eating people (lights a tiny candle for Stephen Colbert), but it turns out a big hungry furry is the least of their troubles. There’s another evil entity haunting these woods — ladies and gentleman, glut your soul on the poor man’s Michael Myers! While not overly violent, this flick’s deaths still pack an interesting punch. Hell’s Trap is pure unadulterated grade-B entertainment.
At this point in the seven-film set, I couldn’t imagine what was next, but nothing could have prepared me for Don’t Panic! Now this … this is just bad. Sort of entertaining in a “holy shit this is cheesy” way, but still very bad. Basically this follows the same kind of storyline as Vacation of Terror, but you can swap the family for friends and the doll for a Ouija board. And what does said Ouija summon you’re wondering? A sort of Mexican Freddy known here only as Virgil. Oh my aching head. Four down, two more to go.
It’s time to visit the Cemetery of Terror, and honestly, this was a trip worth taking! After being invited to a thought-to-be-swanky party, three chicks come to find out that their final destination is actually an abandoned house on cemetery grounds. What could go wrong? Well, after dabbling with black magic, the group manages to reanimate not only a psycho killer’s body but a throng of hungry zombies. Simply put, this is the gem of the whole collection. The reason to buy and the reason to watch. If you’re an Eighties horror fan, this is your nirvana. I wish I were done writing just so I could go watch this again!
Things are finally wrapped up in this set with Grave Robbers, and though it’s not as good as Cemetery of Terror, this little slice of Mexican hell still whips a serious amount of ass. A group of graverobbing teens decide to steal from the tomb of a serial killing Satanist who was executed around the time of the Inquisition. Unfortunately for them he rises from the grave, complete with huge battle axe to collect what was stolen from him. I’ve got to applaud the gore here. Limbs are hacked, heads go flying, and bodies are eviscerated with reckless abandon. I couldn’t be happier.
Volume One of the Crypt of Terror: Horror from South of the Border is a bountiful collection of flicks from the Eighties (three are from Nineties) that are sure to entertain and please horror fans the world over. Good cheesy stuff! Though there are no extras to speak of, you cannot beat the value of this set. Invite some friends over and bust out the beers!
Starring José Elías Moreno (Night of the Bloody Apes), Elvira Quintana (Curse of the Doll People), Beatriz Aguirre (Spiritism), Arturo de Córdova (New Invisible Man), Lorena Velázquez (Wrestling Women vs. The Aztec Mummy), Armando Silvestre (Doctor of Doom)
Directed by René Cardona (Night of the Bloody Apes), Benito Alazraki (Curse of the Doll People), Benito Alazraki (Spiritism), Alfredo B. Crevenna (New Invisible Man), René Cardona (Wrestling Women vs. The Aztec Mummy), René Cardona (Doctor of Doom)
Volume Two of the Crypt of Terror: Horror from South of the Border collection goes in a completely different direction than the last box set. Instead of several films from the Eighties, here we celebrate classic Mexican horror at its goofy finest! Strap in, folks; we’re in for a long night of luche libre and silly monsters! Arríba!
Prepare yourself, dearest viewer, for The Night of the Bloody Apes. Honestly, do movie titles get better than that? It makes me think of meat cleavers and Chuck Heston screaming about a madhouse. While we don’t get anything nearly as colorful as that, we do get an interesting little movie about a dude who turns into an ape-like killer after his dad gives him an ape-to-human heart transplant. You just can’t make this shit up. Oh wait … anyways … back in its day The Night of the Bloody Apes caused a bit of a stir because it featured footage of an actual heart transplant. That and a copious amount of boobs and of course — wrestling! It just doesn’t get much more fun or ridiculous than this!
That is, of course, unless you take Curse of the Doll People into account. After four men are cursed by a voodoo priest for stealing a sacred doll from his house of worship, an army of murderous little doll people who are hopped up on habaneros are sent after our sticky-fingered quartet to kill and become their victims. Without giving away too much, this little flick has an ending you really have to see to believe. Really, I just can’t put it into words! Your laughter alone will be loud enough to wake the dead.
Spiritism, the third feature in this set, is a Mexican take on the famous tale The Monkey’s Paw and turns out to be a just passable effort. Available for the first time on DVD, Spiritism relies too much on talky dialogue and Ouija board based hokum to capture the attention of the viewer. While not without a few redeeming qualities, some of the ghost stuff is truly creepy, this little flick comes close to delivering the goose-bumpy goods but ultimately misses its mark. Pity.
Next up is the New Invisible Man, which for all intents and purposes is a Mexican remake of the 1940 sequel to Universal’s original see-through shocker, The Invisible Man Returns. You know the drill: A serum is invented that turns its user invisible so that he may escape being charged for a crime didn’t commit, but then insanity (invisibility’s most famous side effect) creeps in, and before you know it, Mr. Innocent is terrorizing the countryside. I have to admit the New Invisible Man is far from a knock-off. It’s packed with some amazing effects for its time and stands as a worthy addition to the franchise. I can almost feel the sour taste of Spiritism fading from my mouth!
The fifth feature found here is without question my favorite! Hold on to your asses, kids, it’s time for Wrestling Women vs. The Aztec Mummy! Behold chicken fried cinema gold! This 1964 classic tells the story of a ladies tag team who are out to thwart the sinister plans of an evil Asian who indulges in mind control and murder to try and find the treasures of the Aztecs. Of course along the way one of my absolute favorite looking Mummies (who possesses the vampiric ability to turn into a bat) pops onto the scene to indulge in a three-way dance of murder, mayhem, and laughter. This flick and the next define this set.
Doctor of Doom closes out this must-have collection with a bang! Mad scientsists! Brain transplants! Superhuman wrestlers! A gorilla monster! Doctor of Doom has it all and then some. This should be at the top of your list when it comes to Mexican B-movie greatness.
The bottom line is this: These two DVD collections may be light on supplemental material, but they’re heavy on everything else. At their bargain prices there’s no reason not to own either or both of them. This is one cinema history lesson you’re not going to mind taking, and it goes great with a side of chips and salsa!
3 1/2 out of 5
3 1/2 out of 5
0 out of 5
Discuss Crypt of Terror: Horror from South of the Border Volumes One and Two in our Dread Central forums!
Through the Cracks – Trick or Treat (1986) Review
Starring Marc Price, Tony Fields, Lisa Orgolini, Glen Morgan, Gene Simmons, and Ozzy Osbourne
Directed by Charles Martin Smith
I have been a horror fan for more than half of my life at this point. Meaning I have seen most of the quality horror offerings under the sun. But that said, every once in awhile a classic sneaks past so we wanted to create this “Through the Cracks” review section for such films.
Case in point, I had never seen the Halloween horror flick Trick or Treat until last night. I know, right? How the hell did that happen? But these things do happen and so for everyone that has seen the flick a million times, this will be a review of the movie from a super horror fan that – at the age of 33 – is seeing Trick or Treat for the very first time.
Now let’s get to it.
First off you have to love the movie’s plot. Mixing horror and heavy metal seems like a given, yet preciously few films Frankenstein these two great tastes together.
Like many of you out there, I am a big metal fan as well as a big horror fan. The two seem to go together like chocolate and peanut butter. Or Jason and horny campers.
I dig bands like Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, and even those hair metal bands (Dokken forever!) and I’m well aware of the legends surrounding playing these records backward.
Off the top of my head, the only other flick that combines the two to this degree is the (relatively) recent horror-comedy Deathgasm. I say more horror-metal flicks! Or should we call it Metal-Horror? Yeah, that’s a much more metal title.
It only makes sense that someone, somewhere would take the idea of “What if Ozzy Osbourne really was evil and came back from the dead (you know, if he had passed away during his heyday) to torment a loner fan?” Great premise for a movie!
And Trick or Treat delivers on the promise of this premise in spades. Sammi Curr is an epic hybrid of the best of the best metal frontmen and his resurrection via speaker is one of the great horror birthing scenes I have seen in all my years.
Add to that the film feels like a lost entry in the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. More specifically the film feels like it would fit snugly in between two of my favorite entries in that series, Dream Warriors and The Dream Master.
This movie is 80’s as all f*ck and I loved every minute of it.
And speaking of how this film brought other minor classics to the forefront of my brain, let’s talk about the film’s central villain, Sammi Curr. This guy looks like he could share an epic horror band with the likes of Mary Lou from Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II and the Drill Killer rocker from Slumber Party Massacre Part II.
Picture that band for a moment and tell me they aren’t currently playing the most epic set in Hell as we speak. I say let’s see an Avengers-style series of films based on these minor horror icons sharing the stage and touring the country’s high school proms!
In the end Trick or Treat has more than it’s fair share of issues. Sammi Curr doesn’t enter the film until much too late and is dispatched way too easily. Water? Really? That’s it?
That said, the film is still a blast as director Charles Martin Smith keeps the movie rocking like an 80’s music video with highlights being Sammi’s rock show massacre at the prom and his final assault on our hero teens in the family bathroom.
Rockstar lighting for days.
Even though the film has issues (zero blood, a rushed ending) none of that mattered much to this horror hound as the film was filled to the brim with striking horror/metal imagery and a killer soundtrack via Fastway and composer Christopher Young.
Plus you’ve got to love the cameos by Gene Simmons (boy, his character just dropped right out of the movie, huh?) and Ozzy Osbourne as a mad-as-hell Preacher that isn’t going to take any more of this devil music. P.S. Watch for the post-credits tag.
More than a few of my closest horror buddies have this film placed high on their annual Halloween must-watch lists. And after (finally) viewing the film for myself, I think I just may have to add the film to mine as well. Preferably on VHS.
Trick or Treat is an 80’s horror classic. If you dig films like Popcorn, and if you put the film off like I did, remedy that tonight and slap a copy in the old VHS/DVD player.
Just don’t play it backward… God knows what could happen.
All said and done, I enjoyed the hell out of my first viewing of Trick or Treat. But what do YOU think of the film? Make sure to hit us up and let us know below or on social media!
Now bring on Trick or Treat 2: The Prom Band from Hell, featuring Sammi Curr, Mary Lou Maloney, and Atanas Ilitch’s Driller Killer from Slumber Party Massacre Part II!
Charles Martin Smith’s Trick or Treat is a sure-fire Halloween treat for fans of 80’s horror flicks, as well as fans of heavy metal music.
AHS: Cult Review – Clowns, Cults, Politics, and Peters
Starring Evan Peters, Sarah Paulson, Billie Lourd, Cheyenne Jackson, Frances Conroy, Mare Winningham, and Allison Pill
Created by Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk
** NO SPOILERS **
It’s here. We’ve reached the end. The newest season of “American Horror Story” has ended and now we are here to provide you guys with our season review of AHS: Cult.
To start things off let me say I’m not the world’s biggest fan of “American Horror Story”. It breaks down like this: I enjoyed the absolute hell out of the first season of the series (“Murder House”), couldn’t get through “Asylum” (I know, I know, I’ve tried), dug “Coven” for what it was, really enjoyed “Freak Show”, and again I couldn’t get into “Hotel” or “Roanoke”.
That’s the story of me and “American Horror Story”. Plain And simple. But what did I think of the new seventh season of the notorious horror anthology series? Let’s find out.
Back when the seventh season of AHS was first announced (then going by the title “AHS: Election”) I was immediately intrigued by the new season because I heard it would not include any supernatural elements. Like the fourth season, “Freak Show”.
Now I’m a fan of ghosts and weird creature-men with drills for d*cks, don’t get me wrong. But the series has thus far relied almost exclusively on horrors of the supernatural variety (other than “Freak Show”) so this major change of pace was again welcomed by this guy.
Instead of vampires, aliens, and witches this season relied on terrors of the mind. Psychological fears and anxieties. The horrors man does to man. Deep issues.
Oh, and clowns. Like a lot of clowns.
But just because this new season didn’t include anything supernatural, that doesn’t mean the 11-episode season wasn’t filled with twisted visuals and horrifically disturbing acts. No, sir. This season boasted some showstoppers including S&M, gimps, and a house of horrors that wouldn’t be out of place in a Rob Zombie flick. It was all good.
But let’s backtrack a bit here.
Allow me to rundown the season’s plot for those who may be unaware. “AHS: Cult” tells the tale of a world post-election night. The literal dawn of Trump’s America. In one corner we have Sarah Paulson’s soccer mom, trying to fight through life with a series of crippling phobias (including clowns, holes, blood, and being a good person).
And in the other corner, we have Evan Peter’s angry, white (blue-haired) male, looking to seize Trump’s new position of power to bring about the end of… Actually, I want this to be a spoiler-free season review, so I’m just going to say the dude’s got big plans.
Like Manson-size plans. Let’s leave it at that.
With these two characters established, the new season then proceeds to send them spiraling into a collision course of political sabotage, intrigue, and clown-based nope, nope, nope-ing that can only end with one – or both – of them dead as Dillinger.
Overall “AHS: Cult” belonged end-to-end to Mr. Evan Peters. The young actor has continued to show his striking range from season to season of Ryan Murphy’s horror show and this season was no different. Peters’ turn as not only Kai, the blue-haired leader of the titular cult, but as infamous leaders such as David Koresh, Jim Jones, and Charles Manson – to name a few – owed this season.
I can only hope he doesn’t pull a Jessica Lange and opt-out of more AHS next year.
Speaking of top performances, “AHS: Cult ” showcases some other chilling and memorable turns with Alison Pill’s strangely vulnerable, put-upon wife character being the best next to Peters in my eyes. This actress needs to be in more films/TV!
Along with Pill, actress Billie Lourd killed it time and time again. The “Scream Queens” breakout star and Carrie Fisher spawn was yet again a highlight in her second Ryan Murphy series. Bet she has the starring role in next season. Mark my words.
Add to that, the season also boasts a handful of fun cameos, including John Carroll Lynch’s return as Twisty the Clown, Emma Roberts as a bitchy reporter that will do anything to end up on top, and Lena Dunham as SCUM Manifesto writer Valerie Solanas. The cameo cast killed it and I wish they would have been present for more episodes. What are you gonna do?
On the sour side of the season, I didn’t dig Sarah Paulson’s character. At all. But I’m sure that was the point. Right? I’m still not sure. But, boy, I wouldn’t even want to be stuck in line behind her at a Starbucks for three minutes, let alone spend the better part of this season’s 11-hours with her and her whiny bullshite. Urgh.
That said, she pulled it out by the finale. That’s all I’ll say.
In the end, I enjoyed this season as much as – if not more – than any other of the series. “Murder House” will still no doubt go on as my favorite season of the series, but “AHS: Cult” will rank third after season one and “Freak Show”.
While I was on the fence about the season after three episodes, the show ended up ditching Paulson’s character (and/or shifting her arch) after a lull so the episodes picked up quickly. Whenever the season turned its focus back towards Peters (in whichever incarnation he was playing at the time) the show got better and better. Every time.
Not a bad way to spend my Tuesday night for the past 11 weeks.
Bring on season 12.
The seventh season of Ryan Murphy’s American Horror Story was Evan Peters’ show all the way through. The young actor pulled out all the stops time and time again to make what may have been a lackluster supernatural-free season a winner.
The Axiom Review – A Stylish and Clever Slice of Independent Horror
Starring Hattie Smith, Zac Titus, Nicole Dambro
Directed by Nicholas Woods
The Axiom is an ambitious, well directed, impressively acted and stunningly shot independent horror film that has just a few, teensy little flaws holding it back from greatness (and therefore will have to settle for just being really, really good, instead).
The first thing you realize when watching The Axiom is that this is a beautiful film. Everything is framed and shot in a lush and stylish manner, but one which is always tonally appropriate for the scene.
The second thing you’ll notice, and keep noticing as the film plays out, is that the movie really struck gold with this cast. Not only is there a total lack of the sort of stilted and unnatural acting seen in countless other microbudget horror affairs, but the performances are genuinely fantastic across the board. The main characters are believably chill and relatably normal in the early scenes, and the acting remains just as impressive once things start getting a bit more… intense. It’s not often that an independent horror film has so many good performances that it makes it hard to pick the movie’s acting VIP, but that is undeniably the case here. Taylor Flowers delivers what is probably the showiest performance (and does it very well, indeed), but the entire cast really is quite good.
The central premise of the film is both interesting and original, and touches upon the real life fact (given some recent attention in the ‘Missing 411’ books and documentary) that a lot more people sure seem to go missing out in the woods than seems reasonable, while simultaneously weaving all sorts of folklore, fairy tales and urban legends into the mix. It’s also clever in the way that it very naturally reveals aspects to the relationships between characters that serve to later – or sometimes retroactively – explain some of the more questionable decisions they make or attitudes they display. While that may sound like screenwriting 101, it’s surprising how many films fail to do this. The Axiom rewards the viewer’s attention in other ways as well, with many aspects of the movie that initially feel odd or unnatural receiving reasonable explanations (within the context of the movie) by the end. It’s not quite as challenging (or as rewarding) in this regard as, say, something like Session 9, but it does add a nice layer of complexity to the storytelling.
The film’s score, by Leo Kaliski, is also quite good. There may be a moment here or there where the music hits an overly familiar beat, but overall it not only fits the movie’s tone, but does quite a bit to help set that tone as well.
The only thing that I don’t feel the movie quite pulls off – and I’m trying to be vague here, because I feel like the less you know going into this film, the better – is some of the makeup effects work. The gore stuff is very well executed, but some of the other stuff feels like it was crafted with the intention of shooting it in a more… stylized manner. Instead, filmed as it is here, the result is sometimes less than impressive and can fail to make the impact that the movie seems to be implying that it should. And while some of what the makeup effects lack in execution is made up for with the ingenuity and creativity of their design, it’s still a bit of a shame when they don’t quite pull them off because, aside from a few niggles that I have with the writing, the effects are the only aspect of the film that occasionally fails to live up to the high level of technical proficiency that The Axiom otherwise demonstrates.
- Man, the acting in this movie is really good. The dialogue may stumble once or twice, but these actors always sell it anyway.
- Give back Mia Sara’s DNA, Hattie Smith!
- If you’re going to put your female lead in shorts this small, I hope you’re not sensitive to viewers unleashing a nonstop parade of “Has anyone seen my pants / OH GOD WHERE ARE MY PANTS!” jokes.
- “You just pop this here ‘Blair Witch Stick Person / Anarchy sign’ sticker up on that there windshield of yours, and them park rangers? Well – heh heh – they won’t bother you none, no sir.” Hmmmmm…
- The film really is shot amazingly well – better than a lot of mainstream releases. Cinematographer Sten Olson has a real future ahead of him.
- As does writer / director Nicholas Woods, for that matter. Any director who can get this level of quality out of their cast and crew on their first ever film is someone to keep an eye on.
- “I’ll make a run for it and get help,” says the female lead, and I’m like “Yeah, let her go – she has no pants to weigh her down.”
- The gore effects in the movie are both realized and utilized very well.
- Welcome back to horror movies, “I’ll be right back” dialogue spoken unironically by and/or to ill-fated characters.
In the end, The Axiom is a solid and entertaining flick that manages to wring a level of quality and originality out of the somewhat tired “Don’t Go in the Woods” horror subgenre not seen since 2012’s Cabin in the Woods. The cinematography and acting are hugely impressive, it features a nice, unnerving score, the premise is original and captivating, and the whole thing moves at a nice pace that helps keep the film’s flaws from dragging it down.
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