Gross Movie Reviews “Top Ten of 2020”
1) VFW (On Demand) – For the love of John Carpenter thank you Joe Begos for making this idea exist! A new drug called “Hype” has hit the streets and screwing up people quicker than ever before. The drug is making zombies or “Hypers” out of people and tearing cities down. Boz is a drug lord who is about to have a huge deal go down and kills the wrong strung out girl as her sister Lizard takes it personally and steals his stash. Nowhere to run Lizard busts into an old VFW where some old vets are just having their daily drink, watch old videos of women exercising, and telling war stories. A couple of drugged out punks follow her in and that was a big mistake as they attack one of the vets. The old vets take care of the trash pretty quickly in a brutal way. This is where the chaos or war begins as the vets must defend the post and themselves from the onslaught of strung out punks because Boz wants his stash no matter what. This film is absolutely FUCKING AWESOME! The casting of Stephen Lang, Fred Williamson, William Sadler, George Wendt, Martin Kove, and David Patrick Kelly as the war vets is perfect. This is my new ‘Assault on Precinct 13’ as I give possibly 2020s best film of the year 4 stars all the way. I will be watching this flick at least once a year.
2) Bad CGI Sharks (DVD) – A brilliant story about two brothers Matthew and Jason who are very close in many ways as kids. As kids they wanted to make a shark movie like no other but eventually that dream was squished as their father considered Jason a lost cause. Many years later Mathew has grown up and living out in Hollywood! Mathew’s life is turned upside down when his older brother Jason shows up who just so happens to be a bum who still wants to make shark movies. After some fighting, smoking weed, and talking about their movie script with no ending they wrote as kids called, “Sharks Outta Water” a floating shark shows up! It first eats the neighbor but eventually it begins chasing the brothers. It seems a man with a magical clapper board as brought their childhood movie script to life and now they must deal with it in many hilarious ways. Don’t just rent, buy this fucking movie NOW! One of the most entertaining independent shark films ever made as I give this sure to be on the “Best of 2020 list” 4 out of 4 stars.
3) Peninsula (On Demand) – So we got a sequel to the wonderful zombie film ‘Train to Busan’, the film picks up four years later. Any bordering country has a blockade up and does not allow anyone to enter South Korea because of the viral outbreak. A former soldier like a lot of misplaced Koreans lives in Hong Kong and down on his luck. A shady dude he does things for gives the ex-soldier a mission of entering the zombie-infested peninsula for a truck that has 25 million U.S. dollars in the back of it safely waiting. If he retrieves it he is rich, if not he is most likely zombie food as the zombies still roam the area. Without spoiling too much I will describe the film has elements that cross between ‘Land of the Dead’ and ‘Escape from New York’ but keeps the heart of the first film. Wonderful zombie stuff again horror fans as this fast-paced sequel pleases me much so that there could be another entry into this series like ‘REC’?! I give the bad ass international zombie movie 4 stars all the way.
4) We Summon the Darkness (DVD) – Holy balls this film was fucking great! The film is set in Indiana, 1988 following three young ladies who are heading to a heavy metal concert. Along the way we keep hearing on the radio about some satanic murders sweeping the mid-west. The three metal goddesses reach the concert and meet three metalhead dudes and they all seem to get along. After the concert the boys are invited back to Alexis’ house or her father’s house to be precise. They start drinking and play a little game that gets a little risky. But things get a little weird as the boys pass out and awake inside a room full of bloody pentagrams and that is where the fun begins. The cast, story, effects, and the ending are a wonderful blast. I would like to tell you more about the film but I rather not ruin it for your viewing pleasures? Put it this way this film is another entry into my “Best of 2020 list” as I give it 4 stars.
5) Tromasterpiece Theatre Presents – Poutrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead (DVD) – Addison Binek as the bored movie theater employee is back again with his two sidekicks to riff on the popular Troma musical “Poutrygeist”. A film that tackles the fast food industry that only Troma can only do where a chicken shack is built on top of an Indian graveyard and the spirits are upset and haunt the business. Leave it to Addison to riff on an already funny ass flick and make it that much better! Addison Binek is absolutely brilliant in his effort to riff on this popular Troma film. This latest project from the talented Mr. Binek makes me believe more than ever that he would make an excellent heir to the Troma Empire. Laugh, cry, and watch again the latest from the amazing Addison Binek as shame on you for not supporting this effort as I give it 4 out of 4 stars.
6) Spirit Animal (DVD) – Madeline Deering has made a love letter to The Polonia Brothers, Jon McBride, Todd Sheets, and I am sure a few others that could be mentioned from that bygone era of S.O.V. I easily could have seen myself finding this “we all thought lost 1993 S.O.V. film” in Incredibly Strange Video here in Pittsburgh, Pa.! About 1998, I was finding a lot of these S.O.V. movies from the late 80s and early 90s as independent filmmakers were already using digital video and abandoned the VHS camera. Oh what a time then but that is what makes this such an awesome and unique project as Maddie, Joe, and talented cast got a VHS camera and went into overdrive to get this dream project done. Our story begins at Camp Wannawilla many years ago where a camp counselor is speaking with kids around a campfire about “Spirit Animals”. One child takes exception to this as Aarav believes he can be all of them not just one. Of course the camp counselor meets a horrible death and the camp is closed down. Many years pass and we follow a group of friends to West Virginia on New Year’s Eve to the same Camp Wannawilla. They set up camp, tell the story, and a killer with many animal masks begins slaughtering not just the group but all who enter the woods this New Year’s Eve as a special moon is coming. The music is excellent, ending is fucking great, good editing, good cast, and Maddie puts this all together on a VHS camera, the true old school none of that gimmick shit you get with your fancy laptops and cameras these days! Independent fans rejoice and enjoy because this gets 4 out of 4 stars and will most likely show up on my “Best of 2020 list”.
7) The Unsung (YouTube) – The latest project from Churchill Pictures is a bit of a thriller with a bit of drama and intrigue added to the mix. We are introduced to Eric through his travels of the depressed areas of Pittsburgh and his childhood flashbacks that haunt him. One day catching a nap, the nap is interrupted by a man trying to hurt a young lady. Eric jumps into action and saves her. But being homeless also she takes off with Eric’s bag and he chases her down to a homeless community under a bridge. He is accepted into the community quickly. Meanwhile we are introduced to a very driven detective by the name of Jones who understands he now is trying to track down a serial killer and how all the victims are tied into each other in some way. Eric hearing a voice from a radio decides he must take action like his comic book hero that he keeps near to his heart. Eric and the detective cross paths and Eric is of course a ‘person of interest’ in the case but no matter what both men want to save the young lady after she is taken by this killer. I tried not to give too much away with the description just because I really like the story and it isn’t your usual crime drama/thriller. The film has a lot of heart that deserves to be watched and enjoyed. It stars Jared Bajoras, Richard Billock, and Amadeo Fusca which all three were perfect in their roles for this project. Help support this project folks as I give it 4 out 4 stars all the way!
8) Patchwork (Shudder) – Three women wake up to being stitched together on an exam table with a couple guys talking like this is an everyday thing after being kidnapped at a bar. The three stuck together in the same body must now work together to remember who did this and why? With a couple surprises and a twist along the way the three want their revenge and begin their search for answers with the bar they all remember. They also find love along the way. Think ‘Frankenhooker’ with ‘Re-animator’s’ dark humor and a splash of Peter Jackson and you have a beautiful masterpiece of a dark horror comedy that not enough good words could describe. I would love to say more about the plot but it may ruin some of the surprises throughout the film as I give this gift to the horror genre 4 stars.
9) Love and Monsters (On Demand) – This fun monster gem is a must see for all audiences as it takes place seven years after the “Monsterapocalypse”. There was an asteroid falling towards Earth. Of course all the governments hurl up all these missiles into space to destroy this rock before impact… it works. Problem is the fallout hitting earth causes all the animals and insects to mutate into large monsters that begin wiping out humanity and force people into underground bunkers. Seven years later Joel is a single bored early twenties dude who cannot help fight the monsters but can make a great minestrone but wants out of the isolation he feels. So he heads out on a mission to find his high school sweetheart Aimee at a bunker on the coast. Along the way he makes friends with Michael Rooker and an eight year old girl who have been living on the surface with the mutated things and teaches Joel some valuable lessons. Joel does find Aimee and there is more to the story but why spoil this amazing creature filled film that you need in your life! This film is sure to be a favorite of most in 2020 as I give 4 stars.
10) Becky (On Demand) – We have two parallel stories going on in this deliciously brutal film that centers on a young girl named Becky. First, Becky and her father are in disagreement as usual since her mother’s death. Now, it is being forced upon her that dad has found a new woman and wants to be a family. Second, we are introduced to a couple of inmates who are super Neo-Nazis that have escaped transport heading to this isolated home in the woods looking for a hidden key. After another argument Becky runs off into the woods shortly after the inmates come a knocking for some bad ass mean shit to go down. The Neo-Nazis find out that Becky has the key so they try to make a deal but Becky refuses after watching her father being killed. From there we go into a downward spiral into some brutal scenes of revenge as Becky fights back. We get a sick eye gouge that requires the eye being snipped off, a new way to use school pencils, and a little girl (Becky) getting heart punched! The film is just plain screwed up and I loved it as don’t be surprised this sneaks its way into my “2020 top ten” as I give it 4 stars.
Honorable mentions of 2020
Snatchers (On Demand) – A teenager named Sara who is trying to be popular with her friends has sex with the hot guy Skylar she was seeing a while back. Sara awakes the next day to her surprise to find herself nine months pregnant! Backstory is its 2012 and her boyfriend went to Mexico and messed with some kind of Mexican statue of a god with a big penis. Sara asks her ex-bestie Haley for help. They head to the free clinic only to destroy the doctor’s head with Sara’s “VAGE CANNON” (her words not mine) and the bad idea becomes worse as it is a weird creature that acts like a parasite to humans. It only gets worse from there for Sara as her and Haley find out there is a second monster inside her. After the police department is destroyed by the monster chasing down Sara and Haley, the two friends find Skylar’s computer and learn of his debacle in Mexico as the two come with a plan to destroy the parasites… hopefully. Great casting of the two best friends, cool creatures, hilarious story as this film could show up on my “Best of 2020 list” as I give 4 stars.
Killer Raccoons! 2! Dark Christmas (On Demand) – Holy Rutger Hauer, filmmaker Travis Irvine has earned my respect for not only making a killer raccoon movie. But he did it while doing a parody of ‘Under Siege 2: Dark Territory’! We normal lunatics smell our own… But really prisoner Ty Smallwood now named Casey has just got released from jail after serving ten years for underage drinking. He is jumping on a train to Washington D.C. to hang with his dead girlfriend’s sister to explain what happened on the camping trip several years ago? As Darlene wants answers Ranger Rick Danger takes over the train with his raccoon assassins so they can steal data to hold the U.S. hostage while they sell secrets to foreign powers just like the Steven Seagal less liked sequel. Travis and crew not only deliver the goods but I couldn’t stop laughing as film continued on with the Killer Raccoons being the focus throughout unless it was Casey Smallwood. The effort, the passion, and raccoons trained by the C.I.A. with mini machine guns made this the holiday comedy to watch in 2020 as I give it 4 stars.
Llamageddon (DVD) – This wonderful creation is about an alien llama that crash lands on Earth in a small community and begin its takeover! When the llama isn’t stomping a victim with its hooves it is killing people with its laser eyes. Yes, you heard me correctly people when its shoots lasers from its red eyes fireworks go off. The alien llama stumbles upon a house party of young people where it begins killing them one by one but also spits on one party goer to have him begin a transformation. This independent film has it all folks and I absolutely laughed my ass off as the alien llama tries to destroy us all! If that isn’t enough pay attention to their drinking game as the character Dan changes shirts in every scene (17 times if I counted correctly?) I cannot thank filmmaker Howie Dewin enough for giving us this amazing gem of cinema as I give it 4 stars all the way!
Psycho Ape! (DVD) – Oh for the love of Rutger Hauer 2020 has sucked a huge bag of dicks! But folks I believe we have been given the film we need to make it through this slow ass death they call a pandemic. It is a low budget film from the great minds of Addison Binek, Steve Albers, and Greg DeLiso whose passion for independent projects is off the scale! If you have heard me speak the name of Addison Binek then you know I feel this is one talented dude. For example: when I take over SyFy Channel or Full Moon he would my “second-in-charge” or if there was someone that I would trust with Lloyd’s legacy it would be Mr. Binek. Some will feel this film is senseless but some like me will enjoy this hilarious Troma throwback laughing their balls off several times throughout the feature. Let me tell you a little about this ‘Psycho Ape’ film. Supposedly 25 years ago this dude in a cheap ape costume (cough, cough) I mean murderous ape escapes The Detroit Zoo and comes upon an unsuspecting teenage slumber party. The killer ape goes bananas on the young ladies leaving only one survivor Nancy Banana. I personally was hoping it would be Hannah Banana for some reason because some kind of weird PornHub dream I had last night after watching the film but that is for a different conversation. Nancy Banana is thrown off course from her life dream of being the next Jane Goodall because this gorilla’s murder spree of her friends but 25 years later she gets to be friends with this crazed hairy killer. But if Dr. ZOOmis has anything to say about he will he won’t let another 25 years of tracking down this deadly ape and several deaths later from breaking up the relationship between Nancy and Psycho Ape. The movie is hilarious, complete chaos, and like a lost film never released from Troma in the mid-80s and for that I am happy to report this treat of a film deserves 3 ½ out of 4 stars. And take my word on this I can see this following the same path as the ‘Leprechaun’ series or maybe not?
Zombie House Party Massacre (YouTube) – Finally a no budget film that lives up to its name as zombies are just trying to live civil lives in their home. But damn young humans come to rush the house to party and have unprotected sex! The zombies stay quiet in the upstairs room until one of the party goers hear the baby and take it. The zombies just wanting their zombie baby back chase the humans throughout the home and call for help from their zombie friends. What makes it hilarious as they chase the humans around the home they make fun of themselves that they must act a certain way in order to stay scary. Otherwise they are no different than any of us until they finally had enough and start eating the humans to get the zombie baby back! The short film is absolutely wonderful and I could not stop laughing at the zombie jokes as I give it 3 ½ stars.
In Search Of: Pittsburgh Bigfoot (Vimeo) – When you have no money, know a bunch of people who want to be actors, and your passionate about your project you get what filmmaker Luther Cosmo Ickes Jr. gets… a hilarious and entertaining independent movie about Bigfoot. Or is it Bigfoots? Don’t know that is always a conversation that gets started whenever I review a Bigfoot movie and plus this project has multiple Bigfoot/Bigfoots! Anyway three yinzers are interested in the latest Pennsylvania sightings of Bigfoot. They wait out for spring since the winters can be gawd damn cold around here n’at. So the three chums head to the woods for some camping, illegal or legal drug use depending how much now that Pa. has turned the corner on that stuff, and looking for evidence of Bigfoot. Oh these three are not the only yinzers looking for Bigfoot apparently the Devil is also according to the witch of the woods and a goat dude with a giant dong! Of course this spells hijinks for the yinzers in the woods as they get lost, screwed up on shrooms, and find themselves in a war between the Devil and the Bigfoots as Bigfoots hitch a ride to the burgh. Lou tries to bond and save these creatures but in the end we all know what happens when the church tries to get involved. The film has many flaws but that is the beauty of Luther’s film: it is a film you grab friends, a case of beer and enjoy its glory because it isn’t going to win an Oscar for the love of Rutger Hauer it’s a gawd damn Yinzer Bigfoot movie as I give it 3 out of 4 stars.
The Best Documentaries
1) Smoke and Mirrors: The Story of Tom Savini (Shudder) – Being a huge Savini fan since I was a kid this was huge. I remembered the really cool “Scream Greats” doc from Fango in the 80s so see his life story in full talked about it was a wonderful treat. With this documentary you get everything from his inspiration to the untimely death of his brother to why he did not go to L.A. with famous names we know. For me it also connected some stories I have always heard from filmmaker friends and artists and have read about in the past. Like him or dislike him I have always respected him because he was doing something that was completely amazing and without him I do not believe we have some of the cool talented make-up and effects people now. Horror fans if you didn’t like Savini before you will after this as you get finally get the full understanding and first complete look behind the curtain of Savini’s life. This gets 4 stars all the way as Savini will always be someone I have looked up too then and now.
2) Suck Fest (DVD) – BPO Films is at it again with their latest project which is a documentary or mockumentary (depending how you look at it) about the three talented fellows(Ben, Blake, and Ryan) taking a trip to a horror convention to promote their film “Slaughter Drive”. The film isn’t so much about the convention as much as it is about the three friends’ relationship as it breaks down quickly once they hit the road to the hotel and they lose luggage, stolen credit cards, stuff goes missing, too much coffee, not selling shit at the horror convention, and one of the three thinking they were going to kick each other in the balls to settle a dispute! The film isn’t just funny but a laugh a minute as these fellows show off even more of their comedic side in their documentary (sort of?) as I give it 3 ½ out of 4 stars. THIS WILL BE AVAILABLE AT GROSSFEST 2020 first time ever. Go check out www.bpofilms.com and get to know this great group of independent filmmakers.
3) Direct To Video: Straight to Video Horror of the 90s (DVD) – An excellent documentary from filmmaker Dustin Ferguson who brings together an abundance of critics, actors, and filmmakers to discuss not just their films but how this whole genre got started in the 90s. They discuss their favorites and how Hollywood and media was changing at the times and yes Charles Band gets a lot of credit as I give this really cool documentary 4 stars.
Worst movie I watched of 2020
Necropolis: Legion (On Demand) – Being a Full Moon fan I was very surprised they were reviving or reimaging this lesser known Empire Pictures film from the 80s. With Chris Alexander involved I had some high hopes going in… The movie begins with huge naked boobied women celebrating Satan. Hundreds of years into the future a female author who writes about the ‘dark unknown’ stays at an old farmhouse for her next project. Accidentally cutting her foot and bleeding into the wooden floor she conjures the witch that killed the original farmhouse owner. Now Eva the evil witch haunts the young author. Sorry Chris as much as I respect you this project was bad. It was uneventful and really doesn’t hold a torch to the original which wasn’t something of an accomplished film. If this was a short film… 15 minutes, okay I can see but 60 minutes of agony of an author who wants to be Goth but really isn’t. Nope, next time pass on the project my friend. I do not think the actress was bad as I believe there was nothing to work with as I give this new Full Moon project 0 stars and that is being kind. Sorry Chris I still respect you but this was a bad decision.
(Only mentioning this one for Joe Bob Briggs fans to be warned far in advanced)
Hogzilla (Shudder) – Joe Bob or no Joe Bob this film was terrible and Joe Bob Briggs was correct to rip it during one of his recent shows that had Darcy show it. A news crew heads into the Florida woods (yep, you heard me) to do a story on a rampaging giant mutant hog. Save your time, your effort, and being angry you made yourself watch this and go watch ‘Razorback’ again? Or check out the recent ‘Boar’ with Nathan Jones as this flick was just complete hot garbage and should have stayed lost as I give the 2008 film 0 stars.
Most disappointing film of the year!
Hanukkah (DVD) – It opens up with a man on December 8, 1993 who has slaughtered people during the “Festival of Lights” or Hanukkah but never got to finish. 36 years go by and someone has decided to pick up the killing spree during the Jewish holiday. Some Jewish friends who are not exactly celebrating the Jewish holiday become the targets of this sadistic killer. ‘Hanukkah’ has a wonderful cast to kill for but this holiday horror film is such a misstep as it drags on too long and I was expecting more from the crew behind it. Also there are weird delays during dialogue and a few important scenes that don’t exactly make a lick of sense? Super disappointed with the film and another example of you can have an all-star cast but that doesn’t mean you’ll have an all-star movie as I give it a ½ star.