Monday, June 29, 2015

Eternal Evil Of Asia

Eternal Evil of Asia Directed By Cash Chin Man-Kei, Starring Ben Ng Ngai-Cheung (1995). 

It's been a thousand years since we've delved into Asian territory (excluding Anime of course). I'm talking less cartoony and more Golden Harvest or Media Asia type shit--usually I'll dust off one of these for Weng's Chop, but this time no, you the ToG reader deserve to know about the eternal evil!

I'm not sure yet what that entails, but Skunkape and I watched this together when it was streaming on Netflix long ago, this was waay before every other streaming app offered better content and you had to put up with whatever they spewed out. Netflix did everyone a service when they bought this one but took it away pretty quick! Anyway, the only thing I vaguely remember about EEOA is that a man has a penis sized face with a giant urethra on top and it was a hilarious drunken moment (we were pretty fucking drunk at the time).

The prologue is just insanity, an enchanted ghost kid's soul is stolen by a wizard and used to kill, he loves watching movies and the narrator warns never to take him to the toilet. Already we're dealing with a frenzied and creative HK horror film that can just go anywhere from this point on. I'm down to follow its path if you are!

An abusive father played by Bobby Au-Yeung Jan-Wa hates Ramin, threatens his kid and wife and receives a scary phone call by other ghosts who wail that they want to eat all the Cup-O-Noodles in the house. I'm starting to think this is overt product placement, but who cares it's wildly entertaining and the fish eyed camera spins and circles down the hall as spirits shove noodles down the bastard dad's gullet. Someone behind the scenes is controlling his voodoo doll as he sees extreme close-ups of ghouls that drive him to plunge off a balcony onto some fluorescent lights that impale him. Again, wildly creative shit, am I right?

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LEAVE ME ALONE, go haunt a college campus!

According to this film, everywhere in Asian society people are afraid of being enchanted by a wizard, they must be terrified of Gandalf or Dumbledore. A gaggle of females act like they're at a bachelorette party and one of them explains how to smooth out the wrinkles on your man's balls, illustrating it with a paper bag.

One wife from the party didn't learn much and refuses her husbands meager advances, it gets worse for him because a sorcerer stole his hair from a barber shop and is controlling a voodoo doll of the poor sap. She's played by Ellen Chan Nga-Lun from Fatal Love and The Wizard's Curse. I'm already over joyed at the amount of entertainment packed into this flick and we haven't even hit 30 mins yet!

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Then roll it in batter and fry it!

This film has a strange concept of a cursed voodoo doll effecting male enhancement, giving boners or taking them away, (if this were real, tons of elderly horn dogs would be ordering them out of the back of comics all over America).

Suddenly a hair salon witch volunteers to help destroy the ghost using fire and a magical worm. There's truckloads of weird shit to describe but I'm gonna just leave it up to you to see it for yourself, this film is pretty jam packed with mind blowing wackiness.

One character insults the wizard by calling him a dickhead and becomes his own snarky remark, it's one of the most surreal and funny minutes in HK cinema. The transformed dickhead character is played by Elvis Tsui Kam-Kong, who has quite a resume and we've reviewed almost every other film he's appeared in like Chinese Torture Chamber Story, Boxers Omen and The Seventh Curse.

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Please don't pee on me or choke yourself too hard!

Laimi (played by Ben Ng Ngai-Cheung of Red to Kill fame) is the main offending wizard, there's a scene where he gets "babalitied" Mortal Kombat style by two opposing male and female warlocks who 69 each other in mid flight as they battle. Then as you might expect it gets even crazier as Laimi knocks the females head off with a hex and it goes spinning toward his buddies crotch and her teeth clamp down as her noggin falls to the ground. His four buddies (even the one with the dick face) are in luck because there are benefits to being a wizards pal, for instance he will never trick or hurt his own friends, apparently that's the code of the whiz (which later on becomes total bullshit)!

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In Hong Kong, wizards are very clean cut and domestic but still total pervs, it's kind of funny because they are very unassuming. The horniest part of the movie is when they create a love hex and show off the main wizard's sister's full bush. It goes horribly wrong and makes all the dudes have an orgy with her and I won't go into all the details, but Yada yada yada she gets stabbed and dies. I forgot to mention the fluorescent light victim from the beginning keeps showing up periodically and asking if anyone will have tea with him, he's just a barrel of laughs!

The hexes get even worse (if you can believe that) and cause this one dude to get so hungry he eats himself to death like a Chinese Pizza the Hutt!

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Artist's representation of Chinese Pizza The Hutt

In the second half of the film, throw out all the things you've heard about the honor of a wizard towards his friends because the evil portion starts to take over. The first to go is the dickhead guy, he actual gets turned into an Asian cenobite and foolishly leaves the Buddha Net. The net is designed to help and protect you from ghosts and demons, so if you're ever in trouble stay inside and don't leave until it's safe!

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Take your own advice buddy!

This film is never tedious, but its running time is slightly extreme, that being said I highly recommend watching it in two parts, take an intermission, have a snack and watch the rest later because the assault on your brain and eyesockets is too much to take in one viewing. It ends on a bat-shit crazy note as the warlock receives a long distance invisible blowjob, how's that for a climax!


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Chinese Henry Rollins?

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My invisible tube steak has a first name, it's O.S.C.A.R.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Deadly Dogs, vol. 1

by Goat Scrote

     I'm very fond of dogs, both the real and cinematic kind. I'm only a little bit ashamed to declare that I enjoy movies like "Balto" and "The Adventures of Milo and Otis". Here on ToG I've already admitted to being a fan of much weirder things than cutesy movies about dogs. I have also loved scary movies all my life, and I've had a special love of killer animal flicks ever since movies like "Jaws" and "Prophecy" scared the piss out of my impressionable younger self.
     To sum it all up, I have a strange idea of fun which led me to compile a list of movies featuring one or more killer canines as a principal element. Then I set out to watch as many as possible in order to figure out which ones are nummy treats and which ones are turds. I'll be posting brief reviews for many of them, in no particular order, a few at a time.

Man's Best Friend (1993)

     The Dog(s): Max, a super-powered genetically modified organism based mostly on Tibetan Mastiff DNA.
     Mainly a ripoff of: Frankenstein

     Summary: Mad scientist Lance Henriksen creates Max in a lab. Snooping reporter Ally Sheedy liberates the sweet-seeming GMO. She is unaware that Max understands English and has an array of unusual abilities. He has also already killed at least one person. Max is psychopathically possessive of his mistress and he doesn't want to share her with other living things. He also has a vendetta against mailmen, paperboys, and cats, as you'd expect. 
     The animal action is good and plentiful. Max is portrayed as an actual character with personal motivations which change and develop. This sets him apart from most of the critters in the animal-attack genre, where they are commonly a one-dimensional threat. In the end Max really just wants to be loved.

     Best Scene: Max chases a cat up a tall tree, climbs up after it, and gulps down the astounded feline whole! A close runner up is the scene where the jealous dog pisses caustic acid in the face of Ally Sheedy's boyfriend. Only a truly mad scientist would weaponize urine.
     Dishonorable Mention: The deceptive poster art shows a cyborg Rottweiler instead of Max. This movie has no other perceptible flaws. None worth mentioning, anyhow.
     Recommendation: This movie is fun to watch, even though it's very light on blood and guts and not all that scary. It's a personal B-movie favorite because of its juvenile sense of humor and because Max the super-powered killer dog could eat a dozen Cujos for breakfast.

Dogs (1976, aka Slaughter)

     The Dog(s): Common domestic dogs of all kinds get organized and turn against humanity.

     Mainly a ripoff of: The Birds

     Summary:  The dogs are forming a collective, hive-like intelligence thanks to some sort of scent-based pheromonal communication. Interesting premise, boring movie. A biologist tries to save the day and fails miserably, played by a beardy David “Man From U.N.C.L.E.” McCallum. McCallum's hair is the real star of the show. How did he get those tresses so shiny and silky soft? The dogs are even more adorably fuzzy than he is. They must use the same conditioner.
     These canines are clearly more interested in milk bones and frisbees than devouring human flesh. It’s so precious when they swarm like that! During most of the "kill" scenes, nothing can hide the fact that they are just play-wrestling and having a good old time. The animals basically win in the end.

     Best Scene: A massive assault on the poorly-chosen human refuge, which has plate glass walls, begins a little after an hour and twenty minutes in. It ends with a huge pile of bloodied corpses and one dazed survivor.
     Dishonorable Mention: Around the hour mark, Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing on the TV show "Dallas") is killed in a shower attack scene which pays extremely clumsy homage to an entirely different Hitchcock movie. Also worth a dishonorable mention, the movie freezes on a final image of a hissing domestic cat as the credits roll to imply that they will be the next species to turn.
     Recommendation: Start at around 60 minutes and watch through until the end credits. You'll see pretty much all the bloody and exciting parts of the movie without having to endure the dull buildup.

Devil Dog: The Hound of Hell (1978)

     The Dog(s): A cuddly German Shepherd with a pedigree tracing back to Satan Himself.
     Mainly a ripoff of: The Omen, Rin Tin Tin

     Summary: Animal-attack and Satanic movies were both in vogue during the '70s, and “The Omen” successfully combined both, so it was inevitable that someone else would try to exploit both niches at once. This limp, bloodless TV-movie fails to scratch either itch. Evil cultists purchase a bitch in heat and summon the devil so that, it is implied, Old Scratch can make sweet love to her. This is Phase One in their plan for global Satanic dominion? No wonder they keep failing. The devil-worshippers give away the resulting litter and the story follows one of the chosen families, as Rosemary's Puppy dominates minds, corrupts souls, and telekinetically murders anyone standing in the way.

     Best Scene: The climactic battle between pure-hearted master Richard Crenna and the devil dog. The dog's completely ridiculous "true form" is on display, and whatever budget the movie had is blown on a series of campy camera effects. Somehow, it's still not clear how destroying a handful of suburban families was supposed to lead to the thousand-year reign of the Prince of Darkness.
     Dishonorable Mention: The scene in which the dog tries (and fails) to telepathically force his master to plunge a hand into the whirling blades of a lawnmower. It's a gruesome thought reduced to laughable absurdity. The camera cuts back and forth between the dog and master. The former is relaxed and adorably non-threatening, the latter is doing his level best to convince the audience he’s in a raging psychic battle of wills for possession of his fingers.
     Recommendation: Watch the Satanic ritual at the beginning and the battle at the end if you're in the mood for some cheese. Skip everything in between because life is precious and you won’t get that time back.

Monday, June 22, 2015

The Zodiac Killer

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The Zodiac Killer (1971 - Tom Hanson) 

Review By Rob Vertigo

Exploiters over the years have had no qualms with parading out cinematic atrocities based on real-life killing sprees. Time topical flicks like Satan’s Sadists and The Helter Skelter Murders hit theater marquees before the Tate and La Bianca hearts had even stopped bleeding. But in the case of this little charmer, I’m not even sure if the Zodiac was done completing his initial rounds. Shot in '69/'70 it begins with a hokey SF Chronicle blurb touting this film as a public service; like it’ was gonna’ keep you safe from the murders after you watch it. That might be the case had they stuck a bit closer to the killers’ M.O. - as I’m pretty sure the Zodiac never bashed a woman’s head repeatedly under a car hood or dressed in Marx Bros joke attire. If these are facts, they've evidently been left out of the books and bigger Hollywood productions. 

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Groucho needs slaves for the afterlife

This scungy gem of celluloid slop gives you two suspects to cast yer blame upon: a balding, disgruntled and alcoholic trucker going through a nasty divorce and a hostile yet sensitive postal worker (uh-oh) who talks to rabbits in his spare time. There's also a third screwloose that’s introduced; a weird old perv in high-waist pants who comes along to talk smack about women being worthless once out of their teens. “Keep ‘em young, plump and dumb…” he adjects. YIKES. 

I'm not gonna’ tell you who gets saddled with blame, but one who doesn’t takes a mighty fall at the halfway mark. Directed fairly dry and in a very matter-of-fact (and fiction) fashion, Zodiac Killer plays out with made for TV charm, only with a few delirious scenes of violence sprinkled within. There are historically accurate moments - such as the lovers lane murders and the beach side hogtie killings - that are interspersed with random reckless retardedness - like the above car hood incident or the strange scene of the Zodiac praying at his Gods’ altar - but it’s hard to fault the filmmakers sensationalism when the case wasn’t even cold. You gotta' keep this shit entertaining, right? The “keeper moment" of the flick comes in the form of a strangely dark and hokey double stabbing incident on the beach. The sickly muted colors of the faded print paired with the victims’ grotesque American flag bikini and Tempera paint bloodletting- all lensed via fish-eye cinematography, mind you - makes for quite a grisly and effective segment. If the retractable knife wasn’t so obvious, it would border on a snuff believability. 

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OK Harry Reems, invite me to one of your Nicholson/ Beatty drugged out soirees or die

If yer into celluloid barrel-scrapers along the lines of Drive-in Massacre or Three on a Meathook, there should be something in this for you to grasp. If you can’t tolerate local college theater performances or think that the Don’t Answer the Phone serial killer monologues were too unrealistic - you should take the Golden Gate exit, pay the toll and head for safer pastures. 


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Bloody New Year

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Bloody New Year (1987 - Norman J. Warren)

        Review By Rob Vertigo

Now here's a turd in the punch bowl. Norman J. Warren was involved in a few shitty-yet-endearing UK flicks during the late 70’s and early 80’s - but this ain’t one of ‘em. Our adventure starts with a group of lame-stain teens hanging out at a small seaside carnival, only to be harassed by a gang of Sha Na Na rejects. During a carousel ride, these hooligans focus their “reign of terror” upon a vacationing American girl for no apparent reason. It’s really just some stupid high school level teasing, but heavy duty violence erupts nonetheless. 

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You can listen to Santana but you'll never be as cool as this fake Sha Na Na

Her friends try to put a stop to this bratty attack - and perhaps a small scuffle would make the most sense - but total annihilation of the fun park ensues with cars crashing through thrill rides, explosions and innocent bystanders getting killed. It all seems a tad much. Anyhow, our heroes quickly hi-tail it away in their 4x4 with a sailboat in tow.

Cut to the nearby water where this crew of misguided youth set sail to nowhere, again without any real apparent reason (this here is an ongoing theme, folks!). What seems like only a couple of feet from the shore, the boat crashes into a rocky ford and slowly begins to sink. Their only option is being beached Lost style on a nearby island, even though one could assume they might have just as well doggy-paddled back from whence they came.

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Cotton Candy and Neck sweaters are a Bitchin' combo

Quite rapidly, our dimwitted survivors find that this island is home to the Grand Hotel and its lost-in-time inhabitants. Ghosts, demons and other rubber-made nonsense have set up shop here and this is where the fun supposedly begins. These wayward teens get picked off one by one, by shoddy greasepaint ghoulies that would honestly even embarrass the yokels volunteering at a small town haunted house. Lot’s a colored lights flash (there’s even some Christmas trees to add to the effect!) and the occasional pool table floats about. Every eighties horror cliché gets a nod - swiping bits from The Shining to The Evil Dead and so on - in a sadsack attempt to scare or gross you out. And (surprise) all of this seems to happen for NO APPARENT FUCKING REASON. The gore is in abundance, but doesn’t punch balls hard enough to leave even the slightest sting. Joke shop store-bought body parts litter the scenes. Hapless victims run back and forth from the fields outside and back into the hotel again and to the fields outside and then back into the hotel, over and over. We all know they’re trapped here, but c'mon. Running in circles like this does no favors for anyone. Viewers will struggle with nausea, leaving some sad-sacks incapacitated. All the plot holes are failed to be filled during a long winded explanation set against a sock hop turned spook show. A very low attended sock hop, mind you - it only features one spook. A spook suffering from a horrible curling iron catastrophe. This frazzled spectre weaves together a haphazard tale of a crashed plane and a mysterious time shifting device that has stalled the lives (and plot) of all involved for eternity. This sounds like an Eagles song. Check out any time you like, but you can never leave. Honestly, the song is better. Big goddamn whoop. All hell breaks loose and the carny ride, Elm Street bubblegum walls and hokey mirror tricks continue. A couple of good ax wounds to the head spring forth and an elevator offers up some juicy amputations, but nothing is gonna’ lift this from the crud-swamp it’s sinking in...

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Bargain basement Elm Street effects

This Bloody New Year vibes a bit like another big box fodder of video store past - Class Reunion Massacre - but it's nowhere near as classy (!?!).

It’s bad, but not as bad-golden as it needs to be to keep things entertaining.  If yer a glutton for punishment or have high tolerance for trash like Attack of the Beast Creatures (reviewed right here by Steve Fenton) - then by all means, seek this out. As for me, I want off this crazy ride. A well deserved kudos goes out to the filmmakers for pushing the shit-pop soundtrack band Cry No More over mention of cast and crew. Someone was definitely sleeping with someone. Gack. 


Saturday, June 13, 2015

Under The Doctor

Under The Doctor (1976 - Gerry Poulson)

     Review By Rob Vertigo

Man, oh man. I always figured the point of sexploitation was to give the viewer some sassy groceries to gaze upon. Sweet and tender flesh morsels that keep thumbs off the fast foreword button or pressing eject. If that's the case, then what is it about most British “sex romps” that blow this ideal? Italy and Spain always got it right - hell, they even IMPORTED UK babes to make it work. Under The Doctor is more like watching a tragic drag show without any fun routines. The women involved run the gamut from looking like Mick Jagger's present self equipped with sets of floppy chest sacks to a naked Cloris Leachman stand-in channeling Carol Channing’s voice. Sad face emoticon.Breast may be bountiful, but they ain’t blocking any of the facial features. 

Are my snaggly teeth distracting you away from my goodies?

Under the Doctor is of the standard therapist-does-interview routine, where the lead listens to troubled sex stories from a revolving cast of starlets. Barry Evans plays multiple roles in these farces as well as being the doctor who wearily listens to all the women’s woes. Could’ve be promising - ala Schoolgirl Report - but the old pudding heads involved make you wish it was a book on tape and not a VHS copy. No sir. Brutally unfunny and as tasty as a soiled sidewalk condom on yer tongue (not that I know what that tastes like - I swear). Goofy and obvious vignettes where bumbling fools google over bodacious ta-tas and romp in the hay. There are all the usual scenarios of office interview shenanigans. Rich twit gets a girl, and then she goes behind his back with some foppish dandy. The biology intern and the frisky head doctor who goes frigid post nuptials. Yada-yada-yada. Imagine a Mel Brooks comedy falling flat. Well, just imagine any 80’s Mel Brooks comedy. That bad. Okay the last chapter got me grinning a tad, but nowhere near a full mast approval.  I guess if it’s a Sunday and yer hung over and there’s no local fishing programs on the telly, you could do much worse. I so miss local fishing programs...


Thursday, June 11, 2015

The Chunkblow

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The Chunkblow Directed by Jamie Chimino and Ben Shutts, starring Corey Sprague (2015)

When this DVD screener arrived at ToG headquarters, you're fearless leader was beyond stoked! I've been a fan of Jamie Chimino (otherwise known as the head honcho at the Street Trash Archive) for a while and couldn't wait to get my stubby hands on a copy of his and Ben Shutts independent short film! 

You know you're gonna automatically like something outright because of what the film makers are influenced by and they proudly display them on screen. What immediately came to my mind from just the title alone was the trailer for Chunkblower by Chas Balun and Jim Van Bebber, a project that never got off the ground. This film would fit in perfectly among the gore soaked movies featured in the Deep Red VHS catalog.   

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face melting action!

In The Chunkblow, we have two rambunctious Genessee ale swilling metal heads named Billy and Marty (Corey Sprague and K.C. Caspar Hodge) who are busy raging as some "milfy" babe is busy making a cherry pie. They snort coke offa Deep Red cover and incoherently babble at each other in this two person freak out. One dude sports an Ultra Violent magazine shirt. They must've gotten a hold of some of that Meet The Feebles Borax coke because as soon as the Ginger hesher blasts off, his face and guts spool out Jennifer Aspinall/ Gianetto De Rossi style as the mother figure played by Debbie Osborn seductively licks the cherry pie drippings, it's all intercut in a gag inducing way. 

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Guts & Beer just what we crave!

Next, a reptilian puppet jumps out of the human grime puddle and strangles the other party dude until he yacks up a blood bubble-- oh yeah he's also armed and can't shoot straight. The 70's porn-esque mom felates a rolling pin and doesn't seem shocked by the upstairs body melt, I mean, the only reason she noticed it was because there's one main ingredient she forgot in her cherry pie, is it yeast? The Latex effects and splatter are all excellent and should prove to other independent horror film makers that you don't need to go the "CGI Sharknado" route. 

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I can't make heads or tails of what I'm seeing!

It's refreshing to see a film this short that delivers on all accounts, it's fun, there's tons of gore and it's even a little racy, go out of your way to catch this flick; it's astoundingly fun! My copy came with Marty's Metal Mix (aka the really cool score) and a button, there's also a collectable VHS version available. 

Monday, June 8, 2015


This piece originally appeared on Film Threat's site, but they've since gone belly up like a bloated rat in a bucket of vile cheese whiz. Mr. Rae has graciously offered this article about his visit to the set of Land of the Dead, a film I enjoyed when I first caught it in an empty theater in Berkeley by myself in the middle of the day. This article will be split up in two parts and I'll give it the Guts wacky picture treatment per usual, I hope you enjoy it and thanks again Graham! 


Dateline: Friday, 12/03/2004. Dead of night of the living dead in BCE Place. I am riding an escalator up from the lower level of this huge, gaudy building in the financial district of Toronto, Canada back to the ground floor, where the fourth George A Romero “Dead” movie “Land of The Dead” is filming this evening. In full horrifying zombie makeup, I have just been to the toilets, where I tried not to wash too much of the fake blood off my hands and was grinningly told I looked like shit by some random guy using the urinal next to me. As the film crew comes into view on the horizon I feel oddly as if I am in the surreal middle of some sort of wish-fulfillment dream over two decades in the making. I am going to shoot my first crowd scene and am nervous as hell. As I approach the milling zombie extra swarm I reflect for the millionth time on the long, strange journey that has led me from Scotland to the Great White North and my fast-approaching flesheater stardom and it still doesn’t seem any clearer or more believable…

The author buried somewhere among the hordes of the undead


1981. I am 11 years old in Falkirk, Scotland (directly between Glasgow and Edinburgh, if you’re interested and need a geographical reference point). Video recorders have not been out for too long (you have to pay to join places to rent tapes) and are still a novelty. My primary school friends and myself are horror film fans and, this being the golden age of the so-called UK ‘video nasties,’ the shops are full of bloody horror videos to sate our morbid-wee-shite preteen gorehound appetites. Whenever one of us sees a new sick flick we breathlessly report the next day to the rest about this sick crazy weird really gory mad film ye shoulday seen it this vampire guy zombie cannibal ninja creature gets ripped tae bits shot in the heid falls off a building heid chopped off smashed tae fuck attacked by an alien cut in half stabbed slashed sliced diced melted mutilated mauled and so on and so forth, excitedly describing the latest entry into our own private atrocity exhibition gallery to our awestruck friends. Our parents are fairly liberal (or just plain crazy) and let us watch pretty much what we want, and we are having a great time seeing the craziest goriest sleaziest vilest vicious violent videos we can. One day my pal-at-that-time Derek McLaren tells me about this great-sounding undead effort called “Zombie Flesheaters” (a Lucio Fulci film know as “Zombie” in the USA) and this amazingly cool bit where a woman’s eye gets impaled on a piece of wood. It sounds magic and I decide that this new classic, which becomes mythical among my group of peers, is the film I am going to get out the next time I go to the video shop.

Or when there's no more room in hell or too long a line at Dennys

So my father and I trail up to a shop in Falkirk whose name I can’t even remember now (but I can still recall the interior in vivid, lurid detail) and we go to the horror section to get the film. I can’t see the box and, being a shy 11-year-old kid, get my dad to go up to the counter and ask for it. It isn’t in, but the guy behind the counter lifts up the box for another film, “Zombies: Dawn of The Dead” and says they’ve got that one in, would that do instead? I have never heard of this film, and don’t really want to see it, I want to see “Zombie Flesheaters,” dammit, cos after all that’s what I went to the shop for, but I was too shy to say I don’t want this poor substitute for Derek’s great film and nod my head mutely. And so we take this film on Intervision Video by some guy named George A. Romero home and, in disappointment, I put it in the video recorder…

…and blow my young fucking mind.

Misleading Fulci-esque UK Intervision artwork 

This unexpected filmic discovery, about a group of people who hole up in a shopping mall to get away from zombies taking over the earth, is absolutely great too. It’s really, really sick and gory, with loads of folk getting shot in the heid and a zombie getting the top of its heid chopped off by a helicopter blade and zombies getting run over by trucks and a screwdriver getting stuck into a guy’s ear, and I can’t wait to tell the boys about this one. I watch and re-watch the film, taking it round to my auntie Mima’s (another great place to see horror films) in an adjacent street to show my uncle Gary, who stays round there at weekends, and he thinks it’s great too. The film really makes an immediate impact, and even after I have told my friends about it and they have seen it and we have dissected every death and smart (British word for ‘cool’) bit in it, I re-rent it at irregular intervals and it never grows tiresome to watch and, over time, becomes my all-time favorite film.


(Brief digression: it was only this year that I realized (upon careful reflection) the reason “Zombies: Dawn of The Dead” made such an impact on me was because when I saw it in 1981 I had only recently returned to Scotland the year before from South Africa, where I had spent the ages of five to ten (my first five years being spent in Scotland) living with my parents and brother. There was a shopping mall called Eastgate just outside Johannesburg that we used to visit at weekends sometimes and the shopping mall in the film (complete with first-generation videogame machines like Boot Hill) reminded me of Eastgate and the times I had spent there. But I never thought of that at the time, at least not consciously (funny the way the mind works, eh?). I just thought it was a bloody great film, and I still do.)

(Second digression: a few years ago at the Edinburgh International Film Festival the documentary “American Movie,” about wannabe-director Mark Borchardt’s attempts to make low-budget horror films in Wisconsin, was screened. I recognized the guy’s horror film fan mindset immediately and could relate to his intense Romero zombie fandom. I had to interview director Chris Smith and producer Sarah Price after I saw it. I put it to them that Borchardt had obviously named his daughter Dawn after “Dawn of The Dead.” Smith looked at me in amazed bemusement for a few moments, then said “You know, you’re the first person who ever got that.” Make of that what you will, but “Dead” fans recognize their own…)

Anyway. Let’s fast-forward this old, chewed story-videotape (sorry if the picture jumps or is poor quality in places) a few years. I find out piecemeal bits and pieces from reading horror magazine Fangoria (which I read when I was young, though I haven’t looked at an issue in over 15 years) about “Dawn of The Dead” (as I now know it is known in the US) and become a huge George A Romero fan. When I am 17 I am on a Youth Training Scheme and, with my meager ‘wage’ of 27 pounds (roughly $40) per week I go through on the train to Edinburgh and delight in finding hard-to-find years-old Romero tapes like “Night of The Living Dead” and the classic “Martin”. Purchasing the soundtracks for “Dawn” and “Day” I also buy a copy of ‘The Zombies That Ate Pittsburgh,’ which is a book about all of Romero’s movies. I really, really want to buy the (I think it was) $100 signed hardback version of the tome, but that proves to be beyond my limited financial capacities at that time. Over the next year or two, pissed off that “Dawn of The Dead” and “Day of The Dead” (which I love and see ten times at the pictures in Falkirk when it comes out in the UK, even opening the back door of the cinema so my 15-year-old brother Tony and his pal Mikey Martin can sneak in and see the film) that are cut in Britain I send off to the US for them from FantaCo in New York, and get the copies converted from British PAL to American NTSC myself: no way, no fucking WAY am I going to watch cut versions of classic films like these.
R.I.P. Scala Cinema

When I am 18 in August 1988, I attend a horror film festival, Shock Around The Clock 2, in London, at the now-sadly-defunct classic arthouse-cum-grindhouse Scala Cinema. I see some films like “Nekromantik” there and do the first US review of it for Deep Red, a now-defunct legendary splatter movie fanzine whose editor, Chas Balun, I have started corresponding with after reading about him in Fangoria and asking him if I could be a ‘foreign correspondent’ (with absolutely no knowledge whatsoever of what this might entail – ahhh blissful youthful ignorance and naivety – or how I might do it from my bedroom in my parents’ house in Bainsford in Falkirk with just a typewriter and no contacts in the film industry) for the zine and getting the go-ahead. The next year at Shock 3 a young man of 18 comes up to me and asks if I am Graham Rae. Ready for a fight, I reply that I am. He tells me his name is Justin Stanley (another Romero zombie movie freak), he has read my stuff in Deep Red, he likes it and asks me if I would like to help organize a horror film festival like the one we are currently at. I tell him yeah and give him Chas Balun’s phone number and tell him to say I sent him when he calls. By the tail end of 1989 Justin has put together a festival called Splatterfest 90, scheduled for February of 1990, and we go across to the USA (my first visit) to meet some of the guests in Hollywood.

Graham and Monika M. from Nekromantik 2.

Before we go to LA, though, we stop off at a snowblown Pittsburgh where we initially are going to be zombies in the limp remake of “Night of The Living Dead”, but it is rescheduled and a meeting we are going to have with Tom Savini pulls through. But we don’t care, because we visit the consumerist Mecca where “Dawn of The Dead” was filmed, Monroeville Mall. We wander round this familiar-yet-not site excitedly, taking endless photos and playing the comedic ‘Gonk’ music from the end of the film on a ghetto blaster I am carrying (which we are told to turn off by mall security), marveling at how much – or little – some of the place has changed since the film was made there over a decade before.

Turn down that Ghetto Blaster and no pie fighting either!

We then head off to Hollywood to meet Chas Balun and Scott Spiegel (director of a supermarket slasher film we want to show at the festival, “Intruder”) and, through Spiegel, who co-wrote “Evil Dead 2” with Sam Raimi, we get drunk with the Spidey director at his Silverlake abode one day as we play a Donald Trump board game (which was, as you might imagine, an incredible experience for a shy, bookish 20-year-old “Evil Dead” fan from a small boring Scottish town).

In more pleasant days before Spiderman 3 was unleashed upon the earth

Spiegel (a cool guy and a man to whom I owe some AMAZING memories – thanks Scott) also drove us over (listening on the ghetto blaster to Screeching Weasel’s classic second album Boogada Boogada Boogada, which had just come out at that time and a band of whom I was a huge fan; funnily enough, it has a song called ‘Zombie’ which references “Dawn” in it) in his open-top stick-shift European sports car to meet the super-amiable Greg Nicotero (of the venerable KNB EFX group), another guest at the Splatterfest, who had done FX on “Intruder.” Greg took us round the KNB studio, showing us super-cool FX props from films like “Tales From The Darkside” and the then unknown “Dances With Wolves” (think lots of fake dead buffaloes!), amongst others. Tickled pink that Justin and we knew his dialogue from “Day of The Dead” (in which he played the doomed soldier Johnson: “We used to talk to Washington all the time, they could hear us then!”), Greg gave Justin a WGON-TV sticker from the helicopter in “Dawn” and me a pen-marked script from the set of “Monkeyshines” by Romero. When Greg and Scott are in London for the Splatterfest two months after that, staying in a flat in Tooting, we also hang out. This is all pertinent, by the way, because it just basically illustrates how much Romero’s work has meant to me over the years. And it all leads full-circle, don’t you worry…


Anyway. Years roll by, life’s trials and tribulations test and educate me. I start to write for the long-dead print incarnation of this very website (cosmic fact: Chris Gore was a zombie extra in the selfsame “Night” remake Justin and I were going to be zombies in), or more specifically the Film Threat Video Guide, an offshoot of the magazine. Through that mag in 1992 I meet Dave Williams, my brother-of-another-mother American twin (similar mindsets, music and literature tastes, etc), and we keep in contact over the years. As a writer/editor Dave moves from FTVG to American Cinematographer to Cinefantastique (which he left a few months ago to continue his own work) and, when he does so, he moves me with him, on the proviso that I can cut it in writing articles for these publications. I prove myself to him again and again, and his generous patronage (I owe you so much Dave – thanks for being one of the best for so long and putting up with me all these years) is the reason why I end up writing about stuff like Scottish art cinema (Lynne Ramsay and “Ratcatcher”) or Jim VanBebber (about the cinematography on his Pantera video for ‘Revolution Is My Name’) for AC. One of the world’s top film magazines, it’s a technical trade journal and I don’t come from a technical background…but hey, with enough balls and wordwork know-how even a monkey can follow writer’s guidelines and come up trumps, right?


Over on the Romero front, I stop following his work closely after “The Dark Half” but am still interested to hear about what he’s getting up to upon occasion. Or, more specifically, I’m interested to hear about the oft-raised-but-never-fully-verified rumors about an impending new “Dead” film “Twilight of The Dead,” which will be the end to the series that the original “Day of The Dead,” whose budget was lopped in half (and whose original script is excellent), was supposed to be. My idle “Day”-dreams of being a zombie in a Romero film (which assumed some sort of talismanic significance in my mind for a few years) fade quietly as I get older and move into new arenas of interest, leaving behind my horror fandom in my early 20s, although not my love of “Dawn” as my favorite film. By now I’m older and more educated as to Romero’s subversive social and societal subtexts in his “Dead” films and can see the nod-and-a-wink depth to them. But underneath it is all is just the sheer pleasure of seeing a world order I despise collapse and seeing an intelligently realized version of, as the director himself puts it in one clip of him I see, the vision of a new society devouring the old. The film is just a great remedy for any dazed days when I’m feeling hopeless or helpless or misanthropic at the state of the world, and the idea of a planet seemingly full of morons being wiped out and a new world disorder establishing itself is an extremely appealing one. 

Plus I still think zombies are really, really cool…

OK So how do we send one of those ROTLD missiles over to Zack Snyder so he never remakes Dawn 


In 2004 the much-debated, tedious, braindead “Dawn” ‘remake’ (or re-imagining or whatever the fuck you want to call it, which rips off the original “Day” script) comes out and I phone up BBC Radio Scotland and DEMAND to review it and do so, dismissing it and pointing people back towards the original, which has finally been released uncut on DVD in the last couple of years in the UK (having been snipped of six minutes on its initial video release). Stupid as it may be, the regurgitation remake has one good effect: its success, along with that of the “Resident Evil” films, convinces Universal Studios that they could make a mint if they put Romero back in the undead director’s chair to make another long-overdue installment of his own decades-spanning zombie flesheater holocaust saga. And thus the forever-rumblings about a fourth “Dead’ film start anew, only this time with real weight and it’s-finally-gonna-happen substance.

I tell Dave Williams that, if Cinefantastique are going to do a story on the film, I want to be the one who visits the set when it shoots. He agrees (earning a place in my good book until the end of time) and gives me the gig. I am fortuitously on holiday in Chicago (a short hop to Toronto, where “Land of The Dead” is filming) during December 2004, the omens are good…and I can hardly believe my luck as I jump on a plane to Canada on 12/01 and the culmination to a story that started over two decades before with an unsuspecting 11-year-old’s chance discovery of a horror classic in a long-gone Falkirk video shop. I get an added wee bonus on the plane. Actor Paul Dooley, who played Claude Elsinore in the 1983 Canuck cult classic “Strange Brew” (which just so happens to be one of my all-time fave films) is on the plane, and I tell him the film is great and shake his hand before settling down for the undead adventure to come.

After a journey of a little over an hour I am in Toronto and get a limousine (all the while marveling at the whole thing) from the airport to the four-star Marriott Bloor hotel I am being put up in by the generous-cos-they-can-afford-it Universal Studios. Starving, I head down to the dining room after checking in. With my $100 (Canadian) per diem I get myself the most expensive $35 coupla-inches-thick steak (best I ever ate in my life) in the place, just because I can, and toast myself with a $12 glass of red wine. This is the life indeed; things just don’t get any better than this…

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