STUDIO 666 (2022)
Romantic comedy has a simple story to tell. Vampire Sarah (Naomi McDougall Jones) finds herself being audited by the IRS. What she doesn’t expect is to fall in love with her human IRS auditor James (Christian Coulson).
Indie flick is directed by Meredith Edwards from a script by star Naomi McDougall Jones. The cast are all good playing an interesting and eclectic bunch of characters and Jones and Coulson do have a nice on-screen chemistry. What takes the flick down is the humanization of the vampires. By taking away their supernatural qualities and abilities, they are just a bunch of freaky Goth people who need to drink blood to stay nourished. Something about their bodies not producing the life energy that blood provides. They don’t even stalk and hunt, they have donors who volunteer to feed them. They even can move about freely in the daytime. By removing the most interesting part of being vampires, they remove the more interesting conundrums of a human/vampire relationship. It just becomes another mundane romcom about a quirky couple trying to make a relationship work. Respectable effort, but in its strive to be different, it becomes something we’ve seen all so many times before.
British horror/comedy finds man-child Jack (Karl Holt) working for a toy company and frustrated with his lack of success. Jack decides to finally grow up and that includes throwing out all his old toys. One toy, a stuffed animal named Benny. is possessed by a demon and refuses to let Jack go. The resulting battle of wills between man and stuffed animal leaves a bloody trail of bodies in it’s wake.
Silly and sadly unfunny flick is written, directed and produced by star Karl Holt. It’s tedious at only 94 minutes, as the humor is juvenile and most of the jokes fall flat. There is plenty of gore, but the premise wears out it’s welcome about halfway through and the comedy bits get grating quickly. There is very little story, so it feels like a half-hour comedy skit stretched out to over 90 minutes. Holt has little on-screen presence, or charm and Benny hasn’t nearly the personality of a Chucky or Annabelle to make this flick work. A dumb and gory misfire that maybe should have played it straight and let the laughs come from the absurdity of the proceedings.
Netflix original movie sequel takes place two years after the events of The Babysitter with no one believing Cole (Judah Lewis) about his fight for life against his homicidal, cultist babysitter Bee (Samara Weaving). Cole’s trying to get past the trauma of that night, but his clueless parents (a returning Leslie Bibb and Ken Marino) want to send him away to a psychiatric academy and the only one who believes him, is his best friend/crush Melanie (Emily Alyn Lind). His gal pal suggests coming with her to a party at a lake, where all hell breaks loose…again…as familiar faces return for blood.
Horror/comedy is again directed with an over-the-top style by McG from a script by he, Dan Lagana, Brad Morris and Jimmy Warden. Also returning, aside from most of the cast, is the hip sense of humor, pop culture references and gallons of blood, once things get restarted. In a way, it is a bit of a retread, with virginal Cole once again thrust into danger, as new enemies and ghosts from his past conspire to make him a sacrifice once more. There are some fun betrayals and reveals and at least, this time Cole has an ally in new bad girl Phoebe (Jenna Ortega). The dialogue is again snappy and once more the flick likes to have fun with the familiar tropes and traditions, with the outdoor setting opening things up a bit. It may be more of the same, but it’s still fun and the returning cast all seem to be having a blast, as are the new faces. The formula does start to wear a little thin by it’s last act and the flick could have been a bit tighter with maybe an additional ten minutes or so trimmed. It does end satisfyingly and with a few nice twists, that sort of wrap up the story. It may not quite be an equal, but it is a fun enough second go around and an entertaining watch on the couch. As for Samara Weaving’s Bee making an appearance…you’ll have to stream this on Netflix to find out. Watch through the entire credits.
Computer programmer Miles Lee Harris (Daniel Radcliffe) is having a very bad day. He’s broken up with his comic book artist girlfriend, Nova (Natasha Liu Bordizzo) and picked a fight with the wrong website. Miles decides to have a little fun on the website for Skizm, a live action fight club where they pit various psychopaths against each other in real life battles to the death. When he trolls the site, he finds himself knocked out by a gang of thugs and wakes up the next morning with guns bolted to his hands. The man who runs Skizm, Riktor (Ned Dennehy) informs the mild-mannered Miles that he has 24 hours to kill Skizm’s leading psycho killer Nix (Samara Weaving) or he and the kidnapped Nova will die…all part of Skizm’s latest webisode!
Flick is written and directed by Jason Lei Howden (Deathgasm) and seems more attuned to today’s gaming and web-centric audience. They would probably appreciate more all the gaming nods and references, though it’s still fun as a humor-laced, action/comedy for the pre-Xbox, pre-Youtube set, too. It has plenty of violence, action and bloodshed, as poor wimpy Miles is trying just to stay alive, much less kill his overzealous opponent. He is both cheered and booed by the audience streaming it all, as the online veiwwership takes either the side of the hapless nerd, now nicknamed Guns Akimbo, or the blood-thirsty Nix. Radcliffe is well cast as the nerdy, terrified Miles, as is Samara Weaving who is delightfully over-the-top as the tattooed, weapons loving Nix. She’s become quite the fixture in bonkers flicks like this, Mayhem and Ready or Not that delight in mixing extreme violence with a twisted sense of humor. It’s no spoiler that at some point Nix and Miles will find common ground to take on the bad guys in an amusing blood bath of a finale. Not quite as consistently fun or funny as Howden’s Death Metalheads vs zombies flick Deathgasm, but colorful and blood-spattered enough to amuse for it’s economical 95 minute length.
Pretty high school girl Sara (Mary Nepi) finally loses her virginity to her ex-boyfriend Skyler (Austin Fryberger), who has just returned from a trip to Mexico. The next day she finds herself full-term pregnant and gives birth to a creature with another gestating inside her. Once that little monster is born, Sara tries desperately to find out what is going on. According to Aztec legend…don’t ask…the creatures she birthed will mate and multiply and it could spell doom for all mankind. Now Sara and nerdy friend Hayley (Gabrielle Elyse) have to hunt down the monsters and save the world…and Sara’s mom (J.J. Nolan), whom the creatures have taken to feed their impending brood.
Entertaining flick is directed by Stephen Cedars and Benji Kleiman from their script with Scott Yacyshyn. Sure the plot is a bit scatterbrained, with Skyler returning from Mexico with something both alien and out of Aztec mythology, in which he unknowingly impregnates the popularity seeking Sara. The result is a lot of bloody fun, so one can forgive any plot convolutions. The scenes of Sara dealing with her overnight pregnancy and then calmly putting the pieces together as to why she just birthed a pair of alien creatures is amusing enough, but it really cranks things up in the second act as she and her friend Hayley go on the monster hunt. There is some plentiful gore, including a gynecologist who hilariously gets his head exploded, and the cast are all charming and play their purposely stereotypical roles well. There is some commentary on teen pregnancy and the high school class system, and a few similarities to Night of the Creeps, but mostly this is just a blood-spattered good time with some well-rendered effects and creatures. A surprisingly amusing under the radar flick that deserves more attention.
(Remember, clicking the highlighted links brings you to other reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)
Walter Paisley (Dick Miller) is a busboy at The Yellow Door, a coffee shop for beatniks and bohemian artists…what we would call a Starbucks today…and wants to be revered like many of the artistic types that frequent there, especially in the eyes of pretty co-worker Carla (Barboura Morris). In a series of unfortunate events, Walter kills his landlady’s cat Frankie and hides the body in some clay that he intended to use in a sculpture. He brings the cat to the shop and everyone becomes infatuated with it, especially Carla. Now Walter has discovered a way into Carla’s heart and it will only take some clay and a few corpses to do it.
Horror/comedy is directed and produced by Roger Corman from a script by Charles B. Griffith, who also wrote the original Little Shop of Horrors. It’s not the first collaboration between Corman and leading man Miller, but it is one of their most famous and one of Miller’s few leading roles. It also unleashed a slew of cameos by Miller playing characters named Walter Paisley in the films of up and coming Corman alumni years later. The flick is a comedy of errors with Walter making his first kills by accident, but as his “sculptures”, are getting him the attention he wants, he soon starts killing his subjects to be immortalized in clay. Obviously, things will get out of hand for the bumbling Walter.The satire may not click today as it specifically targets the beatnik culture of the 50s, but one may still appreciate the dark humor of Walter’s newfound art and the art crowd’s overwhelming reaction to it. It’s not a long movie at only 66 minutes and the jazz infused score by Fred Katz is quite nostalgic. On a production level, the film was shot in true Corman style for AIP on a budget of only $50,000 and in 5 days on the sets from another movie.
There is a small cast. Miller is likable and sympathetic as Walter. He’s abused by his boss Leonard (Antony Carbone) and ignored by those he wants attention from. Even when he starts to kill for his newfound hobby, he remains more tragic than unlikable, only becoming downright creepy in the last act. Barboura Morris is pretty and charming as Carla. She’s sweet and seems to always like Walter, though he doesn’t see it. Carbone is slimy as Leonard, who is benefiting financially from the art community’s new prodigy. Even when he discovers Walter’s gruesome secret, he chooses to profit until guilt finally overcomes him. The film also has a small role from 70s game show host and TV icon Bert Convy as an ill-fated undercover cop.
This early Corman production may be dated at this point, but it is still fun and it made Dick Miller a movie fan household name. Miller rarely had lead roles and this one would earn him a long career of character parts and cameos that lasted for sixty years. A perfect example of early Corman thriftiness and one of Dick Miller’s most famous roles.
Rated 3 (out of 4) sculptures surprisingly titled “dead cat”.
Farewell and RIP Dick Miller (1928-2019)
When world famous Blimpo The Clown (Gary Peebles) dies of a mysterious illness in Romania, his body is shipped home and to the wrong building. When his coffin is opened, it’s discovered that he was bitten by a vampire and is now one of the undead himself. Unleashed in the building, he starts to turn the late-working employees into bloodsuckers. Now it’s up to three incompetent night watchmen (Kevin Jiggetts, Ken Arnold and Dan DeLuca), their new rookie (Max Gray Wilbur) and a cute and feisty employee (Kara Luiz) to stop the blood-craving clown and his minions.