Cathy’s Curse (1977)

    As much as the title would lead you to believe that this is a sex ed film about a girl getting her ol’ monthly visit, Cathy’s Curse instead details the horror biz of a moppet be-sodden with the spirit of her long dead aunt. Ya see, many a year previous, Cathy’s Dad’s (he of the penis tip shaped hair do) sister was snatched away in the middle of the night by her estranged father. After a car ride packed to the gills with awkward glances, the vehicle (apparently constructed from solidified gasoline) erupts into flames after swerving to avoid a rabbit, resulting in Cathy’s aunt ending up in that living challenged state mentioned earlier. After this, the credits roll, and  the title of the film appears more than once because this is the type of film that just goes right ahead and assumes you are watching it drunk (this film is apparently psychic).

    Anyway, flash forward, and Cathy’s family moves into the old homestead where Curious Cathy© is soon possessed (or “cursed” I guess) by her aunt’s ghost via an old rag doll. What follows is a whirlwind of janky editing, near criminal levels of over-acting (I’m looking at you Beverley Murray), characters randomly coming and going with absolute F-all’s worth of explanation, continuity errors (keep your eerie eyeballs peeled for the “drowning” sequence where Cathy is fully submerged only to have her Dad wade to the same spot with the water scarcely reaching his knees…Cathy is apparently a foot and a half tall), Autumnal Canadian scenery…or is it winter…no wait, it’s autumn…or winter…, a doberman pinscher that does it’s best to warn the family of the supernatural shenanigans only to be called a bitch, wacky ass synth sound effects anytime arcane powers are utilized, inane dialog (“You female cow”…are there non-female cows?) cornflakes served from a bowl to be placed in a slightly smaller bowl…yeah, ol’ Double C has it all my creeps, and everything plays out while Cathy smiles sweetly as those around her meet their fearsome fates! Oh, and there’s a psychic medium that looks like Mrs. Doubtfire…Mrs. Doubtfire with a penis tip hair do…what the actual F late ’70’s Canada?!!

    As you may have surmised from the above raucous ramblings, Cathy’s Curse is far from a perfect film…but who in the F cares; it’s off-kilter, ridiculous, packed with spookshow goings-on…and the whole thing is wrapped up in a nice package of ’70’s occultism…just the type of fright flick your’s cruelly craves! For the record, this was my first time experiencing Cathy’s Curse, but you can bet your bony ass I’ll be revisiting it again and again!

    So, the film itself (presented in a brand spankin’ new 2K transfer no less) is a winner, but what of the extras those lovely fiends at Severin have seen fit to include? Well, feast your putrid peepers on these beastly bonuses presented for our viewing displeasure: kicking things off are interviews with Director Eddy Matalon, Actress Randi Allen, and Costume Designer Joyce Allen, Audio Commentary (on the U.S. Theatrical version…yup, there are two different cuts of Cathy’s Curse on this release) by  BirthMoviesDeath Critic Brian Collins (yes, I did do an illustration for his book; so full disclosure and all that) and Filmmaker Simon Barrett. Also included are the introduction to the Cinematic Void screening of the film at American Cinematheque (also featuring Collins) which is basically worthless unless you are Brian Collins (Spoiler: You’re not…unless ol’ BC is reading this, in which case he is, but the rest of you lot still aren’t), and the film’s theatrical trailer.  All in all, not too shabby, eh creeps!

    I really have nothing else to say about Cathy’s Curse; it’s wonderfully absurd, loaded with late ’70’s occult trappings, and this release from Severin looks great and includes fun extras…just buy the damn thing already!

    Dream Stalker (1991)

    Dream Stalker starts out exactly as a movie should, with motocross, a picnic, a photo shoot, and Jacuzzi sex…F it, not just a movie should start like that, but any given Tuesday in the Crypt o’ XIII should as well. Anyway, after all that, the film then gets down to the real nitty gritty; as dirt bikin’ love machine Ricky goes and gets himself murderized in a motorcycle accident and then proceeds to haunt his model girlfriend Brittney’s dreams like a fuel injected, be-mulletted Frederick Krueger, and not even the combined powers of shit lousy computer graphics and equally shit lousy German accented (at least I think that’s what the actor was going for…the audio on this thing sounds like it was recorded by a paperclip vibrating within a Dixie cup) doctors can help ol’ Britt-Britt out. Leaf blower induced trauma, gigantic fuzzy slippers, lazer zappin’ harlequin music boxes, horny doofs, talk of wine coolers, raunchy sax, and massive amounts of run time paddery (a costume party here, a switchblade fight there…and that woods based dance party) are the order of the day as our comely heroine tries to rid herself of this terrible curse!

    Let me preface my praise for this flick with a quick disclaimer; for those of you unfamiliar with the S.O.V. (or shot on video) genre, of which Dream Stalker is a prime example, you better buckle up buttercup; because you are in for a bumpy ride especially where audio/video quality are concerned. Flicks like these were shot with amateur hour auteurs with stars in their eyes and only camcorders and VHS tapes at their disposals…so you can expect muddy audio, green tinted and/or fuzzy video, and a ton of heart…and that’s what makes these pictures so damn awesome! The film makers really aim to please, and Dream Stalker does exactly that with it’s unique, and damn iconic, villain, practical (yet oh so threadbare) gore, obtrusive score, and “Hey we’ve seen movies, let’s make one!” aesthetic that just leads to a ton o’ fright flick fun!

    As entertaining as Dream Stalker is, it isn’t the only delight that those sexy, sexy devils at Intervision offer us with this release, as a second cheap ass entertaining feature is included as well! Yup, that’s right , for the price of admission you also get the world famous (ten folks that have heard of this film in Hurst, Texas constitutes the world, right?) sex fueled thriller Death By Love! DBL concerns the sexy-time adventures of Joel, a sculptor, and a news reporter named Amy who engage in picnics, frolics and other assorted “fallin’ in love” bullshit (capped off by a run time eating soft core F sesh). After about eight to nine hours of that, Amy gets murdered and we are off to the races! It seems ol’ Joltin’ Joel is being stalked by a psychotic childhood acquaintance that is convinced our artsy-fartsy pal is the Devil himself. Soon the game is afoot as the murder machine gets ever closer to Joel…but not before our hero uses motor oil for sunscreen (at least I think that’s what I saw…at this point my brain is like a dried up dog turd on a sidewalk under the hot summer sun after watching this kind of stuff for years on end), saucy sculptures are created, geriatric invitations to sex are (thankfully) avoided, boobs are bared, women are chained up and offered hamburgers prepared the way they like them (oh, the humanity)…in other words I was well and thoroughly entertained.

    Make no mistake, Director/star Alan Grant seems waaaay more interested in filming the sex scenes (and because he gets to roll around with all the nubile starlets I can see why) than in presenting any sort of genuine horror biz (at least for the first 45 minutes anyway)…but the flick doesn’t really suffer much for it (I mean you really can’t have too much naked flesh where my refined tastes are concerned). And as stated previous, this too was filmed on video, so expect those audio/video deficits to be front and center here as well. But all said, Death By Love is packed with awkward and earnest charm, surprisingly subtle and effective monster make-up, and the story contains some interesting twists and turns that your’s cruelly didn’t see coming, so rats off to ya!

    As if the sheer majesty of the films themselves wasn’t enough to sway you to plunk down your hard earned greenbacks, there are a few extras included to sweeten this putrid pot in the form of info packed interviews. Included are chats with Dream Stalker star Mark Dias (during which the director’s name is constantly bleeped for some odd reason) and executive producer Tom Naygrow (who never mentions the director by name, before revealing the legal reason why he can’t…). Following that we get Skype convos with Death By Love director/star Alan Grant, and actors Yvonne Aric and Brad Bishop.

    If you already love the wacky and wondrous punk rock style film making of the S.O.V. fright flick movement, then this release is a dream come true (and if you’ve always wanted to take the plunge these are two solid films at a great price); both Dream Stalker and Death By Love are entertaining, off-kilter, and filled with heart no matter how badly their seams are showing! Once again Intervision delivers the goods to lovers of the most obscure recesses of the horror biz!

    Lake Eerie (2014)

    When Kate’s husband goes tits up, she up and moves to a lake house that seems to be a nexus for nosy neighbors. Why all the hubbub bub? Well it seems that the former occupant of the house disappeared while researching artifacts in Egypt and the house is rumored to be haunted (I mean it would be kinda fart if it wasn’t, this being a fright flick and all). Before long the Ghostly Greatest Hits™ are paraded out; strange whispering, doors opening and closing, candles blowing out by themselves, shadowy figures appearing in the dark…the horror is almost to much to bear! Anyway, before long Kate’s neighbor’s hipster niece drops by and fills us in on the full details of the previous resident of the house in a breathless, horny way (her acting level is over 9,000!!!). Ancient curses, a grumpy Lance Henriksen, and a pig man with an eye patch (Say whaaaaa???)  follow.

    Well, Lake Eerie, let’s start with your positives. The film is well acted (minus the scenery chewer mentioned above…seriously, what is that woman’s boggle?) and features some genre favs including the above mentioned Henriksen, Betsy Baker (Linda from good ol’ EVIL DEAD), wrestler Al Snow, and Marilyn Ghigliotti from CLERKS (she’s back…in pog form). The whole affair is also well shot, and the story, while cliched as they come, is engaging enough.

    As for the negatives, well…this whole production has the feel of a made for Lifetime film…I don’t know if it’s the music, or the way the shots are composed…I can’t put my finger on it; but the vibe is there. I can’t really say that it is necessarily a bad thing, and as stated above the flick looks slick enough, but it threw me off a bit. Additionally, this picture runs about fifteen minutes too long. I wish the film makers had taken a lesson from EVIL DEAD (rather than just one of it’s stars); the shorter your horror film is, the more punchy the story and scares become…here we are left with talk, talk, talk…and when the ghoulish goods to arrive, their impact is lessened because we are bored from the exposition.

    All in all, Lake Eerie is an inoffensive little supernatural shocker; it’s technically solid and it’s heart is in the right place, but it’s padded story and reliance on cliche hobbles the overall effort a tad.

    House: Two Stories: House (1985) and House II: The Second Story (1987)

    I am willing to bet that most of you fine fiends reading these wicked words are at the very least familiar with the House series of films, and at the most are fans of the franchise just like your’s cruelly…but just in case I’ll provide a sinister synopsis for each in my usual standard substandard way! Lucky you…

    In a bold and shocking move, let’s kick things off with the first film; House! Roger Cobb (played by The Greatest American Hero himself, William Katt), a Vietnam vet and celebrated author, moves into his deceased aunt’s house where years previous his son had disappeared (an event that also derailed his marriage and career). After about 3.7 seconds, ol’ Rog starts seeing images of his son as well as the ghost of his aunt…a ghost that warns him the house is evil and will attempt to destroy him. After some goings-on involving a jogger, a preposterously low cut V-neck sweater, ‘Nam flashbacks, and Norm from Cheers we get down to brass tacks. Before long Roger is BD in closet dwelling monsters, bloated demons in evening wear, grinning hell children, dimensional portals, skullbats, and zombie soldiers as he searches for his son.

    Equal parts funny and frightening (a tough balancing act to pull off), House is a real winner of a picture. The cast (including the folks mentioned above as well as Night Court‘s Richard Moll as the psychotic soldier Big Ben) is game, the jokes mostly land, and the plethora of sweet ass practical effects is sure to please horror hounds.

    Moving on, we come to House II: The Second Story; that rare occurrence of a sequel every bit as entertaining as the original picture, although it doesn’t continue the story line from the first picture. This go around we follow the exploits of a young man named Jesse who returns to the home where his parents were murdered 25 years previous. Well, J-man and his band o’ wacky pals begin investigating the home and discover a mystery involving crystal skulls, the legend of Jesse’s great grandpa who was an outlaw in the old west, and the villainous scoundrel that gave him static. Then they proceed to dig up said grandpa, who is still very much alive (although zombified to F and back)…the only problem is his rival (who looks exactly like a ginger version of Tex Hex from the Bravestarr cartoon series) is back from the dead as well and he aims to posses those skulls no matter who stands in his way! As in the first film, dimensional portals, monsters (that sweet ass stop motion zombie horse!!!), and belly laughs (this flick is even more of a comedy than the previous) abound, and as stated previous; it’s all just as enjoyable as the first go around! Also, this time it’s Cliff from Cheers time to cameo.

    I would recommend picking this release up on the strength of the films alone, but there are a few extras present that really add to the value (no surprise from an Arrow Films release)! First up is an engaging and super informative audio commentary track with director Steve Miner, producer Sean S. Cunningham, actor William Katt and screenwriter Ethan Wiley (Wiley and Cunningham provide a commentary for House II as well). Also included are brand new documentaries covering the production of each film in great detail, as well as vintage “making of” featurettes. Rounding out the extras are a smattering of still galleries, TV spots and trailers.

    As you may surmise, this collection is a must own; especially if you love the off-kilter craziness that ’80’s horror had to offer. Both House films are absolute joys to behold, and the extras that Arrow have included in this release make for an irresistible package.

    Before I slip back into my coffin, I’d like to leave you with a few Terror Tidbits®!

    First up, behold some music videos from my pals Ghosts in the Graveyard! Be sure to give them a like on Facebook and Twitter, and keep your eerie eyeballs peeled for a cameo from your’s cruelly as a corpse in the Needs video!

    Also, if monster music is your bag, you may be interested in purchasing the new live DVD from punk legend Michale Graves; it’s available right here and is a steal at only $15!

    Finally, legendary frightmeister Todd Sheets is gathering funds to make his new wicked werewolf opus Bonehill Road packed even fuller with frightful furballs! Give this link a click and give a few bucks to make this happen my creeps, because one thing we can all agree on is that this wild world could use as many loony lycanthropes!

    Daniel XIII
    Daniel XIII; the result of an arcane ritual involving a King Diamond album, a box of Count Chocula, and a copy of Swank magazine, is a screenwriter, actor, artist, and reviewer of fright flicks…Who hates ya baby?

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