It was a good year in the land of Bleeding Skull! Annie and Zack joined our gang. Their writings are exquisite. I’m very happy that they’re working with us. The Bleeding Skull book came out and is now available everywhere. Joe and I hosted half-a-dozen shows to promote the book. We met so many nice people and showed so many wacky movies. The evening in Los Angeles with the Turner Brothers was not just a year highlight for me but a lifetime highlight. Bleeding Skull was made for nights like these. If you were there, you know what I mean. If you weren’t there, I saw cameras going. It must be online somewhere.
A sincere thank you to everyone who came to the shows. A mega-sincere thank you to everyone who bought the book. We hope you love it.
I reviewed 28 films for the site this year, from Dave “The Rock” Nelson’s The Giant Horny Toad Monster to Dave “The Rock” Nelson’s Werewolf & The Witch. My goal was to find as many films as I could that I’d never heard of before. To wander outside of any safe realm I had entrenched myself in and explore. Picking the Top 10 was easy. Picking where things went in the Top 10 was tough because, sincerely, who wants to pick a favorite child? After a lot of pondering and some assistance from my sweet wife, I have made my final decisions.
Ladies and germs. Here we go:
10. The World Of Dracula (Kenneth Johnson, et al., 1979)
DVD-R / Full Review
I love 1970s American made-for-TV horror. I’m a big admirer of the work of Kenneth Johnson. I really enjoy serial-style storytelling. All three of these things combine and mingle in this TV movie. A cool Dracula, the lovely young lady he is trying to woo and a rather inept relative of Van Helsing stir up the story in various entertaining ways. Then, the film threw a surprise at me. What starts as cliffhanger thrills and spills morphs slowly into a doomed romance. I didn’t expect that. That’s good storytelling. This is a great movie.
09. The Resurrection Of Michael Myers, Part 2 (Henrik Wadling, et al., 1989)
Cult Film VHS / Full Review
This short film sounds like a slasher nerd’s wet dream. Leatherface! Jason! Michael Myers! A kung fu fighting blue faced zombie! Naked girls! Lots of gore! And Swedes! So many Swedes. And it’s the sequel to a short film that I can’t find. If you’re a fan of slashers or you’ve ever been privy to slasher-related nocturnal emissions, watch this one. It’s a Scandinavian hoot.
08. Musical Mutiny (Barry Mahon, 1970)
Something Weird DVD-R / Full Review
It takes a very special filmmaker to make banality transcend into cinematic wonder and magic. No one does this quite as well, and as often, as Jackson Barrett Mahon, AKA Barry Mahon. Musical Mutiny is based in and on nothing. Mr. Mahon worked for an amusement park that hosted concerts from the major hippy bands of the day. He filmed their performances, added some random footage around it and, suddenly, we had this movie. The total lack of anything resembling style in his filmic arsenal goes from run-of-the-mill to fascinating before your very eyes. He made a lot of films. I think this one might be my favorite.
07. Order Of The Black Eagle (Worth Keeter, 1987)
Celebrity Home Entertainment VHS / Full Review
Made in the Earl Owensby world, this film is a completely charming mix of James Bond/Indiana Jones with an orangutan. It keeps its tongue in its cheek and casts the fat sheriff from House Of Death as the head Nazi. Now, that’s funny! I love the joie de vivre of this one. They were clearly having fun when they made this and that fun pours out of the film onto the viewer’s lap. If you like action films and having a good time (possibly with friends, imaginary or otherwise), this is one to watch.
06. Nomad Riders (Frank Roach, 1981)
Vestron VHS / Full Review
This film has enough Steve Thrust-related goodness in it to rip your dungarees apart. The man who made Frozen Scream does not disappoint. Odd action sequences abut weird biker performances upon strange gangster behavior amidst nebulous plot holes. And, lording over it all, like the action film Yahweh he is, we have Thrust, Steve Thrust. Nebbishy cops never had it better. So, watch, experience and Thrust on your own. It’s worth the effort.
05. The Devil’s Nightmare (Jean Brismee, 1971)
Redemption DVD / Full Review
Erika Blanc as a succubus! This list just got a little warm, if you know what I mean. But that’s not all this awesome film gives us. Towel off and enjoy the beautiful European settings, the Seven Deadly Sin themed killings and that atmosphere that only 1970s European horror can bring to you. If you’ve never seen one before, try this one. I come back to it often. I really feel that it’s a step above most of its ilk. That may be because it’s Belgian but I’m not completely sure on that.
04. Games Of Survival (Armand Gazarian, 1989)
Raedon Home Video VHS / Full Review
Thank you, Raedon! The guy from Alien Private Eye shows up in a much better movie. Futuristic goofballs wander around Los Angeles and fight. Do you need any more than that? The fighting is almost constant. The warriors look pretty cool. A romance threatens to start up but never quite does. And, it ends before it wears out its welcome. My childhood comics come to life. Beer and pizza are the perfect match for these games.
03. The Jekyll And Hyde Portfolio (Eric Jeffrey Haims, 1971)
Intervision Video VHS / Full Review
Weird, weird, weird. Probably the most outright weird film I watched for Bleeding Skull this year. A film that I keep coming back to and wanting to show to other people to see if it’s as weird and wonderful as I think it is. There is lots of softcore sex. A misleading use of Jekyll and Hyde iconography. Pompous narration. An indeterminate setting. And weird weirdness. The kind that, as you’re watching, makes you think, hmm, I think I need to watch this again. But, do you stop and watch it again while you’re watching it the first time? Or do you get to the end and start again? There is no wrong answer.
02. Mountain Fury (William Dever, Jr., 1990)
Raedon Home Video VHS / Full Review
Mountain Fury is a SOV Canadian wonder that I find completely fascinating. The whole film has an odd rhythm unlike any other film I’ve ever seen. Characters proliferate on top of plotlines. Very few of the scenes last for more than 2 minutes. A scene will fade in, do its business and fade out. Serious actors mingle with actors who seem to be goofing around. There is a lot of beautiful countryside that the camera lingers over. I can’t take my eyes off the screen. In the end, everything actually comes together. It seems odd. But, it’s true. As the film draws to a close, I applaud a personal favorite and watch it again.
01. Provoked (Rick Pamplin, 1989)
Raedon Home Video VHS / Full Review
Provoked is a real crowd pleaser. Big Mama yells. The cops and mayor act stupid. The reporter asks hilariously moronic questions. A psychiatrist is interviewed in what may well be one of the most goofball scenes in movie history. The filmmakers are so earnest. They clearly had something they wanted to get across with this film. The uselessness of bueracracy, the coddling of criminals, the ridiculous caveats of our justice system. Provoked presents all of these issues in the most implausible way imaginable. Awe-inspiringly screwy. And, just at the point when the film is about to lose you, Machine Gun Joe shows up and we go to the next level. This is the good stuff, everyone. A double feature night of Provoked and Mountain Fury is highly recommended.