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NOVEMBER 3 VHS MOVIE REVIEW : THE TRYGON FACTOR (1966)
From britishhorrorfilms.co.uk

It’s groovy! It’s funky! It’s got saucy French hotel receptionists stripping down to their undies for no apparent reason! It’s got Stuart Grainger in it as an ageing lothario! And Susan Hampshire, before she moved to Glenbogle! It’s not really horror at all (ahem), but it does have a spooky killer and assorted mental nuns! So it’s going on this site!

Well, with all the exclamation marks used up already for this particular review, I suppose I’d better crack on. A moustachioed man gets drowned in a font when he gets caught sneaking around what appears to be a convent. Meanwhile, Cooper-Smith of the Yard (Grainger) is investigating a bank robbery, during which the thieves used a mortar gun (“They get cheekier and cheekier…” is his stiff-upper-lipped reaction). Somehow (don’t ask) his investigation leads him to the convent, which is actually an old stately home which is being rented to the Sisters Of Vigilance by the owner, a Mrs Emberley.

Anyway, it turns out that Mrs Emberley is smuggling precious jewels using the nuns’ pottery company as a front, with her brother (Robert Morley) running the import-export side of things. Cooper-Smith (who drives an Aston Martin and “doesn’t look like a policeman”, whatever that means) finds that all the young popsies he comes across (oo-er) start dropping like flies (usually after they’ve stripped off down to their undies). Mrs Emberley’s daughter (Hampshire) doesn’t strip off down to her undies, (boo) but she is a fashion photographer - necessitating lots of other young ladies to strip off down to theirs (hooray).

As the swinging plot whips along with plenty of cold English reactions to murder, we’re treated to a fair amount of double-crossing and a particularly great “isn’t Robert Morley fat?” joke (when it’s only the impact of his enormous frame which stops a seemingly unstoppable baddie).

With its barking mad script and screamingly camp approach to what is basically a cops v. smugglers tale, Trygon Factor owes more than a bit to The Avengers, with only the occasional nasty death (molten gold, anyone?) and bit of semi-nudity reminding you that you’re watching a film, rather than an ITC telly show. So, not horror - but worth checking out by anyone who enjoys the swinging stuff purveyed by horror companies like Amicus.


NOVEMBER 3 VHS MOVIE REVIEW : ZOMBIE 4 - AFTER DEATH
From stomptokyo.com

During the first hour of Zombie 4: After Death, we were ready to dismiss it as the worst kind of zombie movie -- annoying, illogical (even for a picture about the living dead), and unrepentantly derivative. The cookie-cutter cast of characters are too numerous and too noxious to provide the audience with any heroes, the zombies follow only those rules of behavior convenient to the shock gag that appears in the scene, and the script can never settle on whether these are zombies of the lurching, mindless variety, or ghouls of the semi-intelligent ass-kicking, Deadite clan. It's a mess of a movie, made on the cheap and shot at night using the equipment from another film in production at the same time and place. There's not a reason in the world to watch this picture, because you've seen everything that these zombies do, and done better, in some other movie.

Except.

Except for the fact that, after nearly an hour of the obligatory flesh-munching and stumbling about, the zombies in After Death actually manage to do something interesting: they take up arms and start shooting at their victims. So startled were we at this development that we thought perhaps something else interesting might happen, but afterward we surmised that the zombies had simply run out of ways to kill people, and decided to use guns only for the sake of completeness. Similarly, it is only for the sake of completeness that anyone would want to watch Zombie 4. Our initial impressions, it turns out, were correct.

Continuing in the grand Zombi tradition, Zombie 4 has no story connection to the previous three Zombi/Zombie movies. The script has enough trouble trying to maintain connections among scenes; keeping continuity with previous films would have been impossible. A group of scientists, looking for a "cure-all that would prevent death" take residence on a small island. The island is supposed to be in the Caribbean, but the movie was obviously filmed in the Philippines. When the local witch doctor's daughter gets cancer, the scientists attempt to save her, but she dies anyway. The witch doctor reacts as any grieving father would -- he opens a door to hell, drops his wife down it, and waits for her to pop back out as a slobbering, orthodontically challenged demon whose bite turns people into demons like herself. The scientists stumble upon the ceremony while looking to console the witch doctor for his loss. Though they had the foresight to bring automatic weapons, they are slaughtered by the wife-demon, all except the daughter of the lead scientist.

Twenty years later that little girl just happens to return to the island. Why? We don't know. What has she been doing in the last twenty years? We don't know. Heck, the film can't even afford an editing trick to let us know that twenty years have passed. The shot of the little girl running from zombies is cut directly to an establishing shot of a boat that turns out to be the same girl returning two decades later. Barely 10 minutes in, filmmaking inspiration has run out.

The girl, Jenny (Candice Daly, best remembered as "Girl in Hallway" from Girls Just Want to Have Fun), is in the company of some wanna-be mercenaries. The mercenaries, Rod and Mad, will only work for good guys, but only "if they can afford our lifestyle." Rod says this shortly after popping open a Budweiser, suggesting that only access to the beer case at a Piggly Wiggly is necessary to support his lifestyle.

Also on the island are three other people looking for the scientists' lab. These three find a clearing full of mysteriously lit candles and a book titled "Book of the Dead." Perusing through the book one of them finds four words that will bring the dead back to life (and kick start a horror movie), and of course he decides to say them out loud. Quicker than you can say "klatuu barada nikto" the island is swarming with the living dead and characters are dying spectacularly unpleasant deaths.

By about the halfway mark in the movie it becomes abundantly clear that Zombie 4 is nothing more than a rip-off of all the zombie movies that came before. They've even lifted the bit from Dawn of the Dead where a character bit by a zombie dies in bed and comes back to life. The one noteworthy thing about the film is that when Rod and Mad get zombified they somehow retain their personalities and ability to use firearms. They must have been NRA members, because you really will have to pry their guns from their cold, dead hands.

As the movie flails its way to closure, Jenny remembers that she's been wearing the "key to hell" around her neck the whole time, so she finds the door to hell and drops the key in. The result is the ending from hell. Italian horror movies tend to have odd endings, but the ending to Zombie 4: After Death is a head-scratcher even by Italian standards, with Jenny changing into a zombie or a demon because she's looking in the mirror. Or something. A better title for this film would have been Zombie 4: Lack of Depth.


NOVEMBER 3 VHS MOVIE REVIEW : ZOMBIE 4 - AFTER DEATH
From horror-movies.ca

Zombie 4 is as much a sequel to Zombi 3, as Zombi 3 was to Zombi 2. That is to say, not really a sequel at all. It was just another attempt to cash in on Fulci's superior Zombi 2. Keeping this in mind, you can pretty much already tell what kind of zombie film you're in for.

In the opening sequence we're treated to a crazy priest doing the typical crazy priest chant, and a woman acting as though she's possessed. I don't know much about it, but I'm sure she could have taken a few pointers from Linda Blair, as she looked like an intoxicated teenager, tumbling all over the place. This woman, sporting some fantastic hair, I might add, is then claimed by hell, where we learn her daughter is waiting for her, to exact a little revenge on Earth.

Minutes later a group of scientists appear and briefly argue with the priest about the death of his daughter. It would seem they are on the island to do cancer research, which she succumbed to. One of the scientists panics, guns down the priest, (why do scientists need guns?), and needless to say, this was a bad move. Immediately, his wife returns from hell as not really a zombie, but a super powered demon with ridiculously massive gums. All are killed but young Jenny who manages to escape protected by a magical necklace given to her by her mother right before she passed away.

Fast forward 20 years, and Jenny (Candice Daly) is grown up and has returned to the island with a group of mercenaries to try and discover what happened to her parents on that fateful day, and wouldn't you know it, the engine breaks. Also on the island are a group of hikers who stumble upon the old temple where the priest worked his voodoo magic many years before. One thing leads to another, and Jenny's group meets up with the last remaining hiker Chuck (Adult film star Jeff Stryker) and the rest of the movie turns into a typical run-and-gun with lots of zombies (demons), cheap gore effects, and terrible acting.

It may seem as though I did not enjoy this movie one bit, but in truth, it's quite the opposite. While Zombi 3 was bad/good, this movie was more good than bad. It had a different storyline than most zombie films, which I admired, and it was entertaining to say the least. It wasn't a predictable, poorly thrown together film like I was expecting.

My only beef was the horrible dubbing job. There were more scenes than I'd care to count in which the actor's mouths didn't even move, but there was still dialogue. Had this been done a little better, it would have made the movie much more enjoyable.

And a short review for a short film.

5/10.


NOVEMBER 3 VHS MOVIE REVIEW : ZOMBIE 4 - AFTER DEATH
From neohamster.tripod.com

CHARACTERS

Tommy - Tommy is the best dressed merc I have ever seen in the jungle. He is also the first to get bit. Coincidence? Read the book! I mean come on people, what's the point of wearing a sports coat and slacks while your trampsing through a mud filled jungle in the middle of no where? This man deserved what he got! ... feckin' pretty boy ...

Dan - Dan was the poor black guy. You know a brutha nevah makes it outtah these things ahlive! Dan was also the most intelligent bunch in the troop of traveling mercs and as such he gets shot by Zombie Mad.

Mad - Now why didn't everyone have cool nic names like this? I know I wanted to be known as "slightly Perturbed" by the end of this film! Anyway, he was leader of the rag tag merc group who landed on this God forsaken island. He also seemed to be the second stupidest person in the cast. second ONLY to Tommy of course!

Rod - Ok, maybe Tommy wasn't so bad when you compare him to the toothless wonder of Rod. This ex Jerry Springer misfit must have been the pity member of the group. Most people lose limbs, eyes, even their sanity in war, this man lost his teeth. He does end up getting munched by someone with teeth though when the Zombie Louise makes him her main course. (Neo shakes his head) Someone should have taught Rod that the man is supposed to be the one to eat the woman. heehee ... O.K. Let's move on!

Louise - This brunette whore probably would have slept with the whole merc group had they had enough beer. She was useless and utterly repulsive. After letting you all know that she was chowed by Tommy I see no other reason to continue talking about her.

Jenny - Jenny was the blonde babe who escaped the island as a 4 year old and yet has a hard time as a 20+ year old. She is also friends with Louise but I guess this stems from her lack of a parental up bringing. Long story. Keep reading.

Valerie - This is the female explorer searching for some sort of a sign that the scientist colony may still be alive. She loved to whine and gripe about how the jungle sucks. Right up until she became kibbles and bits for the Zombie hordes.

David - This man led the group of adventurers on the futile search for the scientists. Although I do believe he may have had an alternative for doing what he was doing. This brave man also ended up opening the door to Hell. Wait, did I say brave? I meant "stupid." Thankfully he too became Zombie chow.

Chuck - Now, as if Tommy wasn't bad enough, Chucky-poo here goes off to search for a jungle colony dressed like a reject from an 80's boy band. What's the matter Chuck, New Kids all filled up? Lord how I wished I could have been the Zombie that got to punch through him!

REVIEW

This film actually left me with more questions than just about any other film I have watched. Except Thir13en Ghosts of course! I mean why the hell were these two women traveling with the mercs? How did the little girl get off the island? Why did she even go anywhere near it again? Why would anyone read from the book of the dead when it plainly states, this will open the gateway to hell?! I mean come on, if I were to say ... "Anatanom Zombi, Baratom Zombi" I would deserve anything that happened to me. I suppose I should give you a brief plot synopsis though so you know what I am talking about.

We start off with a voodoo priest sending his wife to hell. Lord knows why since he doesn't really explain it. Anyway, the ground opens up and swallows her whole. In the mean time a group of scientists, who I guess cross class as mercenaries, burst in and try to explain to him that they didn't kill his daughter and to remove the curse of the living dead. This results in some little hyper guy blowing the priest away and summoning his wife back to help spread the plague. I guess he should have used those skill points to increase his intelligence a little more. Now we cut to a couple running through the jungle being pursued by zombies. Of course, like idiots, they decide to stop and fight. As if I needed to have an Oracle tell me, the parents end up dying and a 4 year old little girl is left to run through the jungles on her own.

We skip now to present day and are greeted by the image of a toothless idiot who seems to be a "soldier of fortune." If he has such a "fortune" you'd think he could buy himself some teeth. Him and his little buddies seem to be out for a quick jaunt through the local waters when they, and 2 women, run out of gas, forcing them to dock their ship at the Zombie filled island of Comon Iwana Eatcha, at least thats what it should have been called. Now here poses 2 of the most burning questions I have. Why were these two hot babes traveling with the mercs and why would the blonde babe (who we now find out was the little girl at the beginning) even think of setting foot back on that island KNOWING what the hell inhabits it?

Well anyway, it turns out the mercs aren't the only idiots on the island when we meet 3 explorers who are looking for a lost colony of scientists, and whatever bits of Machu Pichu or Incan or Seminole history they run across in the process. These idiots end up finding a book of the dead and unleashing even more hell fury upon the world. Thankfully 2 of them are killed before they could cause anymore harm. These people were a danger to themselves for Christ's sake. They shouldn't have been allowed out without their helmets!

This all results in a fire fight between the living and the not so living that has an ending that just about made me cheer. I wont ruin it for you but let's just say that if you have a group of idiots trying to fight hell, this was the only logical ending that could happen!

Now my overall opinion of the movie is somewhat good. I mean it did have some pretty good gore, the Fulci name, and the living dead. The only thing else it could have used was boobs! Hell, you have a hot blonde with nice lips and long gorgeous hair, so why not see her naked?? Am I right, am I right? Can I get a whoop whoop? Jigga who? Anyway, enough ranting. The story was also somewhat captivating. It did only take me 2 days to watch this one where as Curse of the Screaming Dead and Gates of Hell 2 took me about a week and another week of therapy. I suppose I would watch this again but it's no Let Sleeping Corpses Lie. Now on to watch Zombie 3 with the kung fu fighting Zombies.


NOVEMBER 3 VHS MOVIE REVIEW : ZOMBIE 4 - AFTER DEATH
From jackasscritics.com

Sometimes as a movie reviewer you have to take one for the team. You have to look at what you can do for the populace at large and just sacrifice yourself in the hopes that you might spare some poor soul from suffering through a movie so bad, so painful, that the psyche itself is forever scarred by the flickering images that its been subjected to. This is one such movie, and darn it, you better appreciate my sacrifice.

Zommie 4 is a movie that will stun and amaze you, an epic in scope and emotion that will take you places you had never even dreamed of going. It may be the next best film behind Citizen Kane. And if you believe any of that then you deserve the damn thing. Its really nothing more than another Italian zombie knock-off made with no skill and little ingenuity. The story, if you can call it that, follows a band of mercenaries as they wander across an island that, rumor has it, is cursed by the living dead. One of their party, an anonymous girl you never care much about at all, is there on the island as well to find the truth about why her parents were murdered by ninja zombies and darn it, she is determined to stop the madness. And I gotta be honest with ya, I cant even remember if that is really the plot. It is essentially but I found myself drifting off from time to time as my friend Oktober and I made our way slowly through this damnable mess.

Yes, you read that right, ninja zombies. I guess that, because the budget was so low, they had no way to up the action ante so they had the zombie actors spice it up by being very mobile, which actually just makes everything even more surreal than it already is. Most zombies walk after you kind of slowly, but then they will hide behind a tree, a bush, a wall, and leap out at you and put up a very good, if half-hearted, fight with you before you can dispatch them. Most of the zombies dont talk, but later in the film, when the main cast is getting picked off and become zombies they start to talk. And one even reasons with another about why he should want to be a zombie. The argument doesnt hold a lot of weight believe me. The direction, writing, acting, and cinematography, if one is to call all of those aspects of the film by those names, gives the viewer and appreciation for the direction of one Fred Olen Ray, and the acting talent of one Mr. Steven Seagal. Good god, the star of the thing is a porn actor from the eighties trying to go legit. Its that bad! The gore, what there is, is along the lines of what teenagers in their basement can cook up and embarrass the people that work in that trade professionally. I mean, you look at a movie like The Evil Dead and you see what they accomplished with little plot, and no money, and its amazing, yet these chumps, who actually have jungle locations to use, and more modern equipment, cant even muster enough energy to make you chuckle at how bad their film is. Its moviemaking of the hey, the other three (which are known in America as - Dawn of the Dead {Zombi}, Zombie {Zombi 2}, Zombie 3 {Zombi 3}) sold so why not make one more and rake in the easy cash. They didnt even bother with a real story, instead mixing some mumbo jumbo about meddling agricultural scientists (who carry sub-machine guns by the by) messing with the locals (who are into voodoo for some reason, even though we only see them as zombies) and so their witchdoc leader decided to raise the dead in order to please Hell, I think. None of it makes a damn bit of sense, especially the ending in which both our heroes die and for no real reason. Its as if they just ran out of money, or rather, ambition, and just called it a wrap. This is, in all honesty, the kind of movie that gives horror movies, zombie movies, and more than that, DVD houses a bad rep because who the hell would make this damned thing? And why? It is awful, is irredeemably bad, but it isnt even bad enough to be funny. Its just, well, sad really. There is so little talent and inventiveness here youd almost think the thing was a joke, but its not, and thats what makes it such an abomination.

As for extras, you get, whoo, some trailers for other movies, and three pointless interviews (one, with the female lead, which actually lasts two and a half fact filled minutes in which you would swear the woman was lying about even remembering being in this trash), the highlight of which being the interview with the ex-porn actor, in which the interviewer asks him why he never did any other movies outside of porn only to learn from the guy that, oops, he did do other movies, with the very director of that zombie movie even. Oops! And then there is the interview with the director in which he actually tries to make it sound like he was making a movie and not creating a form of celluloid torture that will be used on some international terrorist some day to get them to talk. I think what I really wanted in the extras was an interview with one Odd Al Festa who scored the film and added the rockin song After Death to the titles and credits, a song so deep and moving in its eighties splendor that I moaned aloud in sorrow as I realized I had no lighter to ignite as the song made love to my ears.

There are a lot of movies in the world, and there are a lot of really bad movies, and god knows I have seen more than my fair share of them, but this is easily in the top ten or even five I have ever seen. An atrocity so awful that all those responsible should be brought before a tribunal and should serve time for this crime against humanity. And I dont even get paid to watch this crap!


NOVEMBER 3 VHS MOVIE REVIEW : ZOMBIE 4 - AFTER DEATH
From zedwordblog.com

In what is either a clever homage to the way Italian filmmakers used to shamelessly name their films to associate them with unrelated franchises (i.e. Bruno Mattei's Terminator II) or in what was a shameless attempt by Shriek Show to justify a box set, Shriek Show released the Italian zombie film After Death as Zombie 4 although it was never known under that title until now. It has no real connection to the previous Zombi films and was shot by the infamous Claudio Fragasso in two weeks on a budget so small it might as well not have existed at all. That being said, even though Fragasso admits the movie stinks and says it is worse than Zombi 3, I adamantly disagree!

After Death is marginally better.

Yesterday, I called Zombi 3 so bad it's BAD. After Death is definitely worse, don't kid yourself there, but it is delightful in its total lack of logic and sense. With Zombi 3 you could tell people were trying to make a real movie and failing, but when Fragasso began work on After Death he must have said, "You know what? Fuck sense. Fuck sense in the ear."

That is why the film begins with a misleading voice-over that suggests a group of scientists on a remote island unleashed a zombie curse, but then those same scientists (touting semi-automatic weapons) encounter a voodoo priest who blames them for killing his daughter. He is the one who actually releases the curse, then a lot of the scientists die, and after an inexplicable cut later we see a family trying to escape the island. Mom and Dad die after Mom gives her daughter a mystical necklace, and the little girl runs into the bush. Mommy tells her daughter that if she runs really fast and is obedient then Mommy will join her. WTF lady! You know you're going to die, so when you don't show up later the kid is going to assume it was because she wasn't obedient. I guess if you're going to die getting munched on by zombies, why not add an additional layer of trauma to your child's psyche?

Without any sense of transition or time cut, a boat suddenly comes into the harbour. If you blink, you'll miss the fact that one girl on the boat, Jenny (Candice Daly), is that very same girl with the necklace, all growed up. She's traveling with two other attractive young adults (Tommy and Louise) and three scraggly mercenaries. Why a group of mercenaries are traveling with a bunch of floozies is never explained. I think they were all scammed into coming to the island by Zombi Island Timeshares, Inc. They can be very persuasive on the phone. Regardless, Jenny doesn't appear to remember ever being on the island or how she ever got off it when abandoned by her psychologically abusive mother. Her amnesia is probably for the best: I would try to forget the beginning of this movie too if I were her.

Then we are "introduced" to three hikers trying to discover what happened to the scientists from the beginning of the film. The only hiker to survive and meet up with the other group is played by Chuck Peyton, otherwise known in the gay film business as Jeff Stryker. Jeff Stryker is not famous for the size of his roles but the size of something else, which has been immortalized on an erotic action figure and as a dildo. If you Google "Jeff Stryker" without any safe search barriers, you'll see exactly what I mean. Fragasso claims not to have known about Chuck's other work when he was cast, but Fragrasso obviously knew how to emphasize Stryker's assets. Instead of looking at the DVD time stamp, you can judge how close you are to the end of the movie based on how much of Chuck's chest and abs are revealed as his shirt becomes progressively more tattered.

So, before dying, the hikers awaken the zombies (again?) and Jenny babbles on about the Third door to hell. For a woman who doesn't remember shit about her childhood, she sure seems to know an intuitive lot about the occult. Ultimately, her knowledge and necklace do not help anyone. In fact, everyone in this film is completely useless. For soldiers of fortune, the mercenaries are incompetent. Tommy gets himself infected when he spots the first zombie on the island and inexplicably runs after it (yeah ,the zombies run). He throws it to the ground and beats the shit out of it before it bites him. Keep in mind, this is all happening while he's under the assumption the zombie is just a leper. I guess lepers killed his daddy.

Anyways, people are mauled (i.e. smeared with blood) by mute Filipino zombies identically dressed in shrouds and the Caucasian actors who come back as zombies that can talk. And by talk I mean mumble incoherently and talk like drunkards. The whole thing is wrapped up in a brisk 86 minutes with a bleak ending that is illogical and bizarre.

So why is this rash on film better than Zombi 3? Well, I have one word for you: Rod.

No, that's not another reference to Jeff Stryker. I'm talking about Rod the Mercenary (played by Nick Nicholson). This guy makes the movie worth watching. Rod looks like the stereotypically unhinged Vietnam vet who never left the 70s behind although he seems to have lost his teeth back in the 'shit. He goes insane in this movie during one of the most hilariously unconvincing fight scenes ever filmed, then he dies and becomes a goofy-ass zombie. He's more fun to watch than all the cast members of Zombi 3 put together.

The film also makes ample use of its cheesy title song by Al Festa, "Living After Death." It's a Survivor wannabe band, and the song sounds like it's trying too hard to be an 80's montage theme like Paul Engemann's "Push it to the Limit." Yet, it is loveable in an ironic way.

With that in mind, I leave you with a special video presentation celebrating the two best things of Zombie 4: After Death. Enjoy!


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